Batteries not cared for, especially when not in use, are batteries wasted. They need to be maintained, cleaned, and kept charged. (This goes for all types of batteries, not just marine batteries.) Batteries that aren’t kept cleaned and maintained, end up with sulfated plates. Sulfation happens when a battery is starved of a full charge.
Here are some tips on caring for your marine battery during the offseason.
Decide on storage
If you’ve never removed your battery from your boat to store it for the winter, you’re not alone. Quite a few people leave the battery in the boat, as long as the boat itself is being stored somewhere dry and preferably above freezing temperatures. For those that live where it’s cold and remove the battery completely, you’ll want to make sure the battery is kept in a dry environment and away from extreme temperatures.
Don’t leave the battery connected
Unless your battery will be hooked up to a trickle charger for the winter months, it’s not a good idea to leave it connected to anything.
By leaving the battery connected to the boat you run the risk of increased corrosion and an increased rate of discharge. Dirt and debris can find great hiding places when the battery is left to sit.
You may think you have everything cleaned and ready for the winter, but there’s always something you can’t see unless you remove the battery completely. This is also a good time to check out connectors and wiring as well. If there are repairs to be made, now is the time to find out.
Check the charge
Check the charge on the battery to make sure you are not storing a battery that is only partially charged. A non-fully charged battery will die an early death over the winter. If the battery is not fully charged you’ll want to make sure that you juice it up and then keep checking it during the offseason.
If you aren’t using a trickle charger you’ll want to make sure you monitor your periodic charging very closely. When charging your battery you’ll want to ensure proper ventilation and make sure you never walk away and leave it for long periods of time. Depending on how much of a charge the battery needs, the process could go quickly and if you’re not there things could go bad fast!
Clean the battery
Cleaning the battery reduces corrosion and discharge rates. The best way to go about this is to make sure the battery is completely disconnected and moved away from the boat.
Using warm water and baking soda, clean the battery casing and terminals will a wire cleaning brush or even an old toothbrush. Once you have all of the dirt and corrosion removed, wipe away the baking soda and dirt with a clean towel, making sure to get the battery and the terminals completely dry. Dirt is a conductor that can easily increase the batteries rate of self discharge, so make sure you get it all.
As with all batteries, marine batteries are powerful and need to be treated with an air of safety. While working with your battery, make sure you are wearing gloves and protective eyewear. By taking care of the battery the right way, you can feel confident when you hit the water next season. It’ll be like you never missed a beat.