How to Install Lithium Batteries on a Sailboat

Running any power-related device on a sailboat used to require lead-acid batteries. Hauling these heavy batteries around was your only choice.

With battery and solar options evolving every day, however, you have more choices than ever before when it comes to power resources. Lithium batteries for a boat is the latest trend. It’s gaining momentum for good reason. Discover the details surrounding the lithium ion boat battery and installation tips. You’ll never turn back to lead-acid batteries again.

Considering the Major Benefits

Before you install lithium boat batteries, understanding their benefits is a must. Lithium technology doesn’t produce fumes like lead-acid batteries, which can be hazardous when you’re exposed to them over long periods of time.

Several other benefits are inherent to the battery’s internal chemistry, such as:

  • Significant weight save on the vessel
  • Rapid power absorption from a proper battery charger

Fire safety is always a concern on a sailboat, and lithium batteries are incredibly safe. They rank much better than their lead-acid relatives, states Gone With the Wynns.

Choosing Manufactured or DIY Banks

You have a choice when it comes to installing a lithium ion battery on your sailboat, such as:

  • Engineered products
  • DIY or homemade battery banks

If you have a technical background, you can string together individual batteries to make your own bank. Always test it before adding the bank to your sailboat, however.

Most captains opt for the engineered batteries that are carefully balanced at the manufacturing facility. These products can then be matched to your power system and adjusted as necessary, reports Nordkyn Design.

Looking to Lead-Acid Equivalents

Battery manufacturers are always looking for shortcuts that benefit consumers. Lithium boat batteries that are advertised as lead-acid equivalents are attractive. They look like exact swaps for your lithium upgrade.

Use caution if you choose these products. Their voltage and current can exceed the rating for your sailboat. By choosing an equivalent, you take on the task of matching the ratings as carefully as possible.

Be sure that the current doesn’t rise above the sailboat’s maximum values. The battery may break down, or the system receives the brunt of the damages. If you’re unsure of the technology, opt for other options for your vessel.

Prioritizing the Battery Management System

As you add the batteries onto your vessel, be sure to incorporate a protection system into the design. A battery management system or BMS protects the cells from harm, such as:

  • Excessive temperatures
  • Out-of-spec currents and voltages

Although a BMS is an additional installation step, consider it a mandatory accessory. You’ll increase the life on the batteries so that you aren’t recycling the productsshortly after their purchase.

Managing the Battery’s Use

Install lithium technology with a high amount of usable amp hours. They might be as high as 240 A-h, for example. Your vessel will have enough power to activate multiple items at once over a long period of time.

Lithium technology can also be discharged to astoundingly low rates. Lead-acid batteries will break down in rapid time when discharges drop below 50 percent. Remember to charge the batteries, and run them down as far as possible. They’ll last much longer as a result.

Adding Extra Banks

Lithium batteries for a boat have reliable power, but you have a unique system. You might have a lot more items to power up compared to other vessels. Consider an installation that involves three or four banks of batteries. Split the power between your accessories and the motor or generator.

With additional banks, the sailboat can run almost entirely off of lithium energy. Carrying propane or other fuel isn’t required anymore. The vessel remains lightweight and agile in the water.

Get to know your lithium ion boat battery options with a call to Northeast Battery. Our collection of boat batteries can solve most of your sailboat-power dilemmas. Head out to sea with safe, lithium technology. You’re in control of your power volume.