Serious boaters understand the importance of marine battery maintenance. It can make the difference between an enjoyable excursion or a miserable trip. Nothing can ruin a boating or fishing trip more than a dead or low functioning battery.
There are a few things you can do to prevent battery failure.
Why is marine battery maintenance so important?
Marine batteries supply the power that is needed to start your boat. Weak batteries may get you out into the main current, but they put you at risk for becoming stranded on the water.
When the engine won't start you could end up in a dangerous situation. At the very least, it is frustrating and can ruin a good trip. Who wants to paddle to shore?
In addition, constantly replacing your boat battery can get expensive. The best solution is to take care of your battery. By doing so, you'll extend the life and save some cash.
It's important to know how to maintain a marine battery so you get the very best performance. First, let's go over the key points for marine battery maintenance.
- Keep your battery fully charged
- Store in a clean and dry place
- Regularly inspect battery for corrosion
- Clean cables, terminals and posts, removing all corrosion
- Avoid overcharging your battery
Each of these five tips are very important for properly maintaining your marine battery. Here are the reasons why.
Charge battery after each use
Allowing marine batteries to become fully depleted decreases their life and their ability to hold a good charge. This is why you should charge the battery to full capacity after each use.
While it's true that you may have enough power for multiple starts, in time, the battery will weaken. Keep it strong by keeping it charged.
Care when not in use
The worst thing you can do is to let your marine battery sit in damp or freezing conditions. Remove the battery from the boat and store it in a dry and clean place.
Batteries that are exposed to constant moisture develop corrosive buildups. They tend to weaken faster if not properly stored. This is another way to extend the strength and life of your battery.
Look for issues
Whether you're actively using your marine battery or placing it in storage, it's good to give it a visual inspection a couple of times a year. Check for any cracks in the case, buildups of corrosion or excessive moisture.
If a problem develops you can address it quickly. This also includes inspecting the fluid level for batteries that are not sealed.
Keep your battery clean
Most batteries develop buildups of acids on the posts and terminals over time. I happens faster when the battery is exposed to moisture. This can cause weakening and poor performance.
Throwing a charge on your marine battery can be easier when you use the right type of charger. If you value convenience, choose a charger that has an auto shutoff feature.
This helps to ensure that your battery will fully charge without going over. Batteries that are overcharged become very hot and there is a danger of explosion.
Even if the battery doesn't blow up, the heat will lessen its capacity to hold a full charge and it will need replacement sooner.
How to maintain a marine battery
Now that we've covered the key points of marine battery maintenance and their importance, it's time to get into the details of how to do it. The following steps will help you to know precisely how to take care of a marine battery the right way.
- Use safety precautions for skin and eyes. This includes rubber gloves and eye goggles.
- Mix a solution of Clean Water and baking soda.
- Use a wire brush to apply cleaning solution to the dirty areas including cables, clamps, screws and battery surface. Scrub lightly until all debris is loosened.
- Go over surfaces with a clean cloth to remove any lingering grime or debris.
Knowing when to recharge
One of the best gadgets that you can own is a multi-meter. It lets you check the energy level of your battery so you will know when it needs to be recharged. The ideal voltage range is between 13.0 and 13.2 volts. Recharge when it reaches 12.55 volts or lower.
How to charge
- Begin with a clean battery that is free of corrosion, grime and moisture.
- Check all cables, clamps screws, battry case and terminals to ensure that they are not damaged or loose.
- Apply high temperature grease in a thin film to cable connections and posts.
- Inspect electrolyte levels in non-sealed batteries. If level is below the splash barrel of the split ring, fill with distilled water. Do not overfill.
- Only use decriminalized water. Secure caps when done.
- Only charge battery in a well ventilated area.
- Follow manufacturer's instructions for charging times. This varies from battery to battery.
- With battery charger off, attach clamps to the battery posts.
- Plug in and turn on charger. Allow to charge until the battery is fully charged.
- Turn off and unplug charger.
- Allow battery to cool after charging before use.
It's vital to keep up with every action that we've recommended. Failure to do so or allowing the battery to become depleted will decrease its charge capacity and result in a faster decline.
Proper marine battery care and regular maintenance will give you the dependability you need for less hassle and more fun on the water.