How to Safely Charge a Deep-Cycle Battery

Deep cycle batteries are unique power sources for marine applications. They’re designed to be discharged down to practically no power at all, and then you can charge them back up to a brand-new state. There’s a lot of science that goes into charging a battery so learning how to safely complete this task is paramount. Understand some of the best tips from the professionals as you get more life out of your battery pack.

Prepping the Battery

There are many different batteriesin the marketplace today. Most deep-cycle batteries have water within their construction. Before you begin with a charging session, inspect the battery for these features, including:

  • Proper liquid levels for that battery type
  • No cracks on outside housing
  • No corrosion on the contacts

If any issues are present, rectify them with repairs or replacement. Lack of liquid within the battery is a worst-case scenario. Always add distilled or drinking water to the battery when it’s low. It declines very quickly without proper water levels.

Selecting the Charger

A charger for your deep-cycle battery should be qualified for that particular system. These chargers commonly have these outputs, such as:

  • 5 amps
  • 10 amps
  • 15 amps

If the charger has been used for a long time, make a visual inspection of the wires and connectors. No frayed wires should be used. You want steady current to the battery. Both the charger and battery can be compromised in operations with irregular electricity coursing through them.

To Discharge or Not to Discharge

An old-fashioned theory suggested that it was necessary to completely discharge a battery and power it back up for the longest lifespan. This idea has been debunked over the years, however.

It’s ideal to:

  • start charging deep cycle battery components at 50-percent capacity or higher
  • not allow the battery to dip lower in power amounts  (it will only shorten its lifespan)

You’re technically straining the battery when it drops to low power values. Most people who’re starting charging battery activities after a day’s worth of tasks have used partial power from the unit. There’s no need to employ every ounce of power from the battery at once.

Checking the State of Charge

The experts measure a battery’s state of charge as a percentage quantity, reports Energy Matters. For example, the state of discharge on a battery that’s been under a load for most of the day might be at 25 or 30 percent full. Use a voltmeter with the battery detached from the system to see the true voltage. This value will dictate how long you should be charging deep cycle battery components.

If you have a smart charger, being aware of the state of charge isn’t as important as when you apply other charging units. The “smart” portion of the device will determine the current charge and the right timing to top it off.

Setting a Timer

As a charging battery session carries on, it’s imperative that you set a timer for the entire period. Batteries don’t operate very well when they’re overcharged. It diminishes their capacity, reports Trojan Battery.

The time it takes to properly charge a battery depends on its current discharge value and your charger’s amperage specification.

  • A charger with 15 amps, for instance, will take about two hours to fully charge a battery at a 25-percent discharge value.
  • Chargers with only 5 amps, however, will need a full six hours with the same battery.
  • Online charts provided by your battery and charger’s manufacturer can make this timing session a simple one to calculate.

Avoiding Extreme Circumstances

As you get set to charge your deep-cycle battery, remember that extreme temperatures aren’t ideal for the components. Keep the battery and charger away from extreme heat or cold. The charging process is dependent upon a certain range of temperatures. Room temperature is optimal. The storing process can operate without any strain. You may notice charging times changing when it’s too hot or cold. The battery is also permanently affected with a shorter charge time than before.

Northeast Battery is here for all of your battery purchasing and charging needs. Ask us all about the latest components that can update your boat’s power options. Batteries will always be the most important part on your vessel. Give it the reliable power that it needs.