Four Boat Battery Basics You Should Know

Spring is in the air (we’re pretending anyway), and so are the sights and sounds of boaters everywhere hauling out their rides and getting it ready for the water. Sure you know how to clean it up and make sure the motor is in good working order, but what do you know  about your boat’s battery? Let’s get back to basics before the season is in full swing.

  1. Getting to know you

Well, in this case, getting to know your boat battery. Bottom line, all batteries are not created equal. So please don’t just grab the cheapest one on the shelf, odds are it’s not the right one for your boat and you won’t even be able to pull away from the dock let alone go motoring around the lake. To understand what kind of marine battery you need you can check out the manufacturers’ recommendations or take a good look at the battery that is already in the boat.

The main things you are looking for is the size or group number of the battery and the CCA or MCA rating. CCA is the cold cranking amp rating which tells you how many amps will be delivered to the engine in cold temperatures. MCA or marine cranking amps is conceptually the same rating, however, the CCA rating is based on amps delivered at 0℉ and the MCA rating is done at 32℉.

  1. Options are good

Now that you know what size of battery you need and how much amperage you require to start the boat, you can look at the different types of batteries and see what might work for you.

  • Lead-acid or wet-cell batteries definitely have their pros and cons. While they are serviceable and can have a greater capacity than other batteries on the market they can also be harder to care for and require a user that will pay attention to maintenance needs.
  • AGM Batteries (Absorbent Glass Mat) are relatively maintenance free due to their construction. AGM batteries are sealed and contain mats that absorb the sulfuric acid making the battery spill proof. These batteries are more expensive than a traditional lead-acid battery, however, they have the ability to deep cycle and are more resistant to the vibrations a boat battery will experience.
  1. Get what you need ahead of time

As you’re shopping for a boat battery you will see Amp hours come up a lot. If you don’t already know what you will need, now is the time to find out. An amp-hour is the amount of charge that will allow the battery to provide one amp to flow for one hour.

In order to understand how much you’ll need, you’ll need to understand how much you use. While it’s unlikely that you will use every electrical device on your boat at once, there is still the underlying draw that each device places on the battery. Check out this handy chart to help you determine exactly what you’ll need.

  1. Out of sight can’t mean out of mind

Despite the claims of “maintenance free” that you might see from the different battery companies, no battery is fully maintenance free. Not unless you just want to keep replacing it that is. As all true boaters know, boat stands for Bring On Another Thousand, so of course, you’ll want to look for as many ways to cut costs as you can.

Pro tip: instead of cutting back on expense by way of cutting back on quality, try creating a maintenance plan that keeps all the components of your investment working longer.

Simple battery maintenance can be fast and go a long way in keeping your battery at peak performance levels.

  • Charge it up! After a long day on the water, don’t wait until next time to charge your battery. Charge it before you walk away. Letting your battery sit undercharged for a period of time will cause performance level drops sooner than necessary.
  • Give it a scrub! Dirt and sulfate build up on the outer casing causing the battery to continue to discharge at a faster rate than if it were clean. This build-up can also create a resistance to charging which will just add to its early life cycle failure.

Get Ready for Spring: Golf-Cart Battery Care and Charging Tips

Everyone’s guilty of some mistakes with their batteries. The results of these well-intentioned actions are often dead batteries, including lead-acid models used for golf carts.

Short story: golf-cart batteries need to be replaced on a regular basis. But, you can fix those mistakes you might be unknowingly making. Avoid common habits and mistakes by understanding the science behind the power. Prolong the battery’s lifespan with just a few simple changes.

Don’t: let the battery drain down

There’s a common misconception about batteries that involves charging frequency. Many people believe they must drain the battery before it can be charged. The battery creates a memory otherwise, if it’s charged at the midway point. You’ll actually lose out on power if you don’t drain it.

This typical mistake has killed off a lot of batteries. Golf-cart batteries work better when they’re charged after being used. It doesn’t matter how long or far you drove either. If the machine was used at all in a single day, it’s time to give it a full charge.

Resting the battery on a charger

Golf-cart batteries require a specific charger. It can be either manual or automatic. Hook up the battery, and let it charge overnight. However, you’re killing the battery if the charger runs for too long.

For manual chargers, you must remove the power source as soon as it indicates a full charge. Automatic chargers are easier to use because they shut the power down with internal programming. If you continuously leave the charger on, the battery’s internal cells will break down over time.

Using an improper charger

Some people pride themselves on being able to jury-rig a charger to the golf-cart battery. However, improperly charging the battery is a sure-fire way to break it down.

In fact, these issues might occur to a battery matched to the wrong charger, such as:

  • Breaking down the internal cells
  • Heating the battery to an unsafe temperature
  • Possible fire hazard

Ideally, use the charger designed for the battery. Purchase an extra charger so that you always have one on hand otherwise.

Forgetting to wipe the battery down

It may not seem important to wipe down the battery, but make this quick task a monthly priority. Taking a rag to the battery’s exterior and wiping it down engages your eyes. The task forces you to inspect the battery, especially when it comes to evaluating corrosion. Any white residue is suspect as corrosion. Batteries die back at rapid paces when corrosion grows out of control.

Overlooking the water aspect

Your golf-cart battery depends on a level of water to keep up with electrical flow. If the electrolytes don’t have enough water, the battery will break down and fail to start. As you wipe the battery down each month, take a look at the water level. Fill it with distilled water if the level is too low. The battery lasts much longer when it has the resources to continue charging and powering up your vehicle.

Off-Roading with the golf cart

It’s a fact that some golf carts can go as fast as 25 miles per hour. With this speed, the cart might be taken on less-than-ideal terrains, such as:

  • Bumpy rides
  • Uphill areas
  • Downhill sprints

Golf-cart batteries are designed to work on a level surface, however. You can certainly take the battery off-roading at some point, but it may not bring you back from your journey. The battery can break down under such pressure.

Leaving the accessories on

Both car- and golf-cart batteries have the same issues with electrical accessories: leaving the items in the “on” position kills the battery over time. Be a responsible driver by shutting off every accessory before turning off the golf cart. Upon ignition next time, the battery simply needs to power the motor instead of the auxilary devices.

Don’t forget to pose your questions to our team at Northeast Battery when you aren’t sure of the answers. Our team searches for the most honest answers to your complex queries. Saving your golf cart batteries for another run is our goal. Leaving you without power isn’t acceptable in our world.

Battery 101: 5 Tips You Need For Boat Maintenance

Owning a boat can be a pricey adventure so finding ways to save money is a must. One of the easiest ways to keep your boat expenses down is by properly maintaining it to avoid costly repairs.

Unfortunately, so many boat owners are unaware of what boat maintenance entails and end up spending good money to either have someone do it for them or it just doesn’t get done at all. Using these 5 no-fail tips will not only help you maintain your boat, but it will save you money in the long run.

  1. Keep it clean

The most consistent thing you can do to help maintain your boat is to keep it clean. After each ride, take a few minutes to wipe everything down. This gives you a chance to remove moisture that would otherwise begin to rot the interior of the boat.

It also gives you a chance to give the boat a once over and see if there is anything that requires further attention. This daily once-over can provide you with the clues you need to head off any future issues before they get out of hand.

  1. Maintain the fluids

It’s really important when you are maintaining anything with a motor to check and top off the oil and transmission levels often. Sadly, the transmission fluid is something that is overlooked all too often, resulting in major repairs. Neglecting to check the oil regularly is also a good way to ruin your engine and cause you to sink with repair bills.

A good rule of thumb is to check the fluid levels before you hit the water. Not once a week, but each and every time before you take the boat out. This regular checkup will tip you off immediately to even the smallest leak.

  1. Make sure your battery survived 

If you aren’t sure that your battery was fully charged before you stored it for the winter, you’ll want to make sure to test it and give it a good cleaning. The cold weather can really do a number on your battery so if you live in an area that experiences cold temperatures during the winter, you’ll want to pay extra close attention to the condition of your battery.

A deep cycle battery is designed to be discharged at or near full capacity and then recharged, whereas most batteries need to be recharged before they have been fully discharged. Most marine batteries are designed to be discharged to 20% which means that if the battery has discharged beyond that point it will no longer be rechargeable. Deep cycle marine batteries are available and can provide a benefit depending on your boating needs.

Pro-Tip: Before you go upgrading your boat’s battery, make sure you check the manufacturers’ specifications first. Any battery that does not meet the manufacturer’s requirements will end up doing more harm than good.

  1. Check the filter

While you are checking the fluid levels it’s a good idea to check the filter as well. This is one of those maintenance items that need to be done regularly. It doesn’t hurt to just make it part of your pre-excursion routine.

If you tend to frequent waters that are muddy, have lots of plant life, or even have trash floating around, it’s even more important to check and clean the filter as often as possible. Every time you take the boat out, you are pulling all of the debris in the water into the intake system where it finds a final resting place in the filter. A clogged filter can lead to massive engine issues, costing you money and time on the water.

  1. Test your impeller

The water and ballast pumps on your boat have impellers that, when clogged, can put undue strain on the engine as well as the pumps themselves. Removing the lid on the pump will expose the impeller so you can see if anything is caught or if the blades have been compromised in any way. These impellers are pretty easy to replace, so should there be a problem, it’s easy to just remove the old one and replace it.

While this may sound like a lot of work, each check will only take a few minutes and then you’ll be safe to hit the water. Skipping these 5 easy steps each time you take a ride could leave you up the creek without a motor!