Winter is Coming: Prepare Your Marine Battery Now

Glistening water with a blue sky is a dream day out on a lake or ocean. You enjoy the great outdoors, but winter’s fury is just around the corner, so now is the time to get ready Whether you’re an experienced captain or new to the boating scene, most vessels are docked or hauled before winter storms arrive. Part of the preparation involved is winterizing the electrical system. In particular, the battery must be saved so that it’s operational come springtime. Learn how to winterize boat battery components this fall as the temperatures drop outside.

1. Charge it Up

Before the concept of “battery winterize” enters you mind, charge up the unit. You never want to store a battery with a partial charge. This strategy reduces the battery’s lifespan with poor operations in the springtime.

Use a voltmeter to verify that you have a full charge. According to Boating Magazine, a good and solid charge equates to about 12.5 volts on the voltmeter. Remove the charger when the charge is good. Overcharging the battery won’t improve its functions.

2. Clean the Contacts

When you winterize marine battery components, removing the corrosion from the contacts is critical, reports Optima Batteries. Use cleaning solutions to remove these particles. Any corrosion left on the battery will spread during the winter.

Think about another step as you battery winterize your unit. Apply anti-corrosion spray onto the terminals. This liquid creates a fine film on the metal so that corrosion cannot set in. Dealing with excessive corrosion in the spring will wear the battery down in the long run.

3. Top it Off

Some marine batteries are flooded-cell designs. They have water built into their design so that electrical conduction is possible. Always winterize these batteries with a full, fluid level.

For exposed plates, add distilled water before a final charging session. Other batteries have hidden plates, which require a charging session and then a topping-off process. Think of the liquid as an important part of the preservation process. With a low water level, the battery may not function very well after storage.

4. Clear out the Refrigerator

A key part to a successful off season is using cold storage. Winterize the battery by placing it in the refrigerator. The average refrigerator has a temperature that’s not too cold or warm. There’s science to back up this strategy too.

When a battery is cold, its internal functions slow down. It’s comparable to a hibernating animal. The battery’s metabolism or discharging power diminishes. It holds onto the charge for the most part. Batteries stored at room temperature or above will have problems with lost power.

5. Check it Each Month

You may have properly winterized the battery, but don’t ignore it until the spring. Set a timer once a month so that you can check the battery’s power levels. Use your trusty voltmeter to verify the 12.5 volts.

It’s natural for some of the charge to diminish over time. A trickle charger attached to the battery each month can keep up the voltage without shocking the battery.

6. Maintain Dry Conditions

During the battery’s storage period, it’s important to prioritize dry conditions. Any moisture that remains stagnant on the battery can contribute to corrosion and poor operations in the spring.

When you place the battery in the refrigerator, don’t secure it in a bag. Allow it to remain open. Bags only allow condensation to develop, which leads to damaged batteries. If you store the battery in any other location, think carefully about the conditions before you close the door on it.

7. Inspect in the Spring

Pull the battery out of the refrigerator. Allow it to slowly reach room temperature. Examine the battery for any damage. Storing it for several months can lead to some damages. Verify that the case isn’t cracked or warped. The contacts shouldn’t have any corrosion built up on them.

Test the battery out before you install it back in the boat. A good battery will still reflect around 12.5 volts on your voltmeter.

Ask all of your questions to our Northeast Battery team today. Our team works diligently to help others with their winterizing tasks. Your battery has a chance to last through several seasons with the proper care taken before the winter. Spring’s warm breezes will return again.