Heading out on your boat is a fun diversion from life’s responsibilities. The surrounding water lulls you into a relaxed state, and the (hopefully) warm sun is heaven after a long week.
Your boat, however, has its own set of requirements from the captain. Engine and exterior-surface care are often prioritized. Think about your marine battery, too. This tool is one of the most important items on the boat. Can it get wet? Although marine batteries are designed for boat living, they shouldn’t be wet for several reasons.
Moisture on the terminal side
If you’re a boating enthusiast, you know that vibrations are a concern with marine batteries. Every effort is made to secure the battery from movement in its isolated location. However, water can drip into this area at times.
Ideally, keep water away from the battery’s topside. The terminals reside in this area, which creates power issues. Consider this situation:
- Water drips onto the terminals
- A puddle of water forms between the terminals
- Current begins to run between the terminals
- The battery discharges with incredible speed
The water creates an electrical pathway, which leads to power leaving the battery. The boat can be stranded during this scenario.
Submerged base in water
Understanding your batteryis an incredibly important thing when it comes to keeping it charged and ready to go. A common myth surrounds the battery’s housing. Many people believe that the plastic base can be submerged in a little bit of water.
Although the plastic housing is meant to be an insulator, a charge will slowly move out of the battery. Water on the terminals or at the base is typically saltwater. The salt molecules in the water allow the electricity to move with ease. Boating enthusiasts must be aware of the battery’s condition at all times. Water isn’t healthy around any electrically charged item.
Secret leak areas
You may not realize that the battery terminals and housing aren’t the only areas where water becomes an issue. The battery may be installed in the perfect location, but the wires are drooping down into some water. It’s possible for some energy to discharge through the wire insulation and into the saltwater. The salt molecules perform their conductive action again to draw power away from the battery.
Ideally, secure the wires along a wall where water cannot make contact with them. Electricity may only trickle out of the battery, but it makes an impact over time.
The Freshwater Aspect
Freshwater doesn’t have the same impact on marine batteries as saltwater. There is some conductive action, but it’s muted to a certain degree. The lack of salt in the water is the main difference. All water, however, is corrosive. Continual exposure to freshwater will break down the battery with rust and slow, discharge rates.
If you notice that the battery is submerged in freshwater, you should react in the same way as saltwater. Dry the housing and terminals. Marine batteries will always be negatively impacted by any type of water. Be cautious by staying dry in the hull.
Treating the batteries with care
Aside from keeping the battery dry, there are several tasks that you can perform to prolong the battery’s lifespan. Try these tips, including:
- Applying dielectric grease to the terminals
- Adding distilled water to batteries requiring the liquid
- Installing a cover or boot on the positive terminal
Each care tip reduces the possibility of power leaving the battery. There’s no perfect way to keep a battery for as long as possible. However, trapping the charge inside the battery until the power is needed is the best way to boat. You’ll always have power when needed. Simply keep an eye on the battery in case of any water infiltration into the vessel.