How to keep your boat's battery in the best health
The key to keeping your boat battery healthy? Maintenance. Conducting regular checks of the battery's vital components is a surefire way to guarantee longer shelf life for this crucial piece of boating equipment.
Here's how you can get the most out of your boat's battery for years to come.
Maintain fluid levels in flooded lead batteries
While there are many types of boat batteries, flooded-cell (lead) are one of the most popular. They typically last longer than their counterparts and are the best choice for backup power applications and grid energy storage.
Lead batteries rely on a consistent flow of liquid electrolytes to move freely within the cell compartments and lead plates. Unlike AGM and GEL batteries, flooded variations are not sealed and do not recombine the gases produced into internal liquids. Instead, this type of popular battery releases all internal gases into the environment through vents. Through this process, some of the important electrolytes are lost.
Therefore, boat owners with this type of battery must regularly replenish lost liquids. Failure to do so can result in corroded and failed batteries. This is because lead plates begin to deteriorate when exposed to the atmosphere.
Ensure that your flooded battery is adequately covered by distilled or deionised water, never tap water. The trace minerals found within tap water can seriously harm battery plates.
While there are many types of boat batteries, flooded-cell (lead) are one of the most popular.
Keep the battery well ventilated
It's always important to give your battery breathing space, but more so if you're dealing with a flooded battery. During the final stages of charging, lead batteries break down some of the electrolytes into hydrogen and oxygen, which are then released into the atmosphere. Hydrogen is a lot lighter than oxygen, and therefore rises a lot quicker if given room to. However, this gas is also highly flammable.
If a flooded battery isn't given sufficient ventilation, escaping hydrogen can become trapped. This build-up is especially prone to explosions which can be ignited by a single spark from something as simple as lighting a candle. This can cause significant damage or injury.
To avoid such dangers, ensure your battery isn't blocked by any furniture or obstacles and place in an upright position in a dry and safe area.
Keep terminals free of corrosion
Cleaning away any corrosion is one of the easiest ways to increase the longevity of your boat battery. As your vessel and its components are always exposed to moist elements, your battery is just one factor susceptible to corrosion. Over time, this can affect the battery terminals and plug wires of your boat's electrical system. Without a functioning battery, your boat won't start!
Keep your battery in the best condition possible by ensuring it's clean, dry, and free of dirt and grime. If you notice signs of corrosion around the terminals, there are a few options for cleaning:
- A wire brush post cleaner: Swirling this around your terminals will remove corrosion.
- A solution of baking soda and water: Baking soda neutralises the acid found on the terminals and prevents conductivity.
At the same time, inspect terminals, screws, clamps and cables for damage, breakage or loose connections. These should be tight and corrosive-free.
If you're having trouble with your battery, get in touch with the servicing team at Hunts Marine. We can help get to the bottom of the problem and get you back on the water in no time. Alternatively, if you're in need of a new battery altogether, we have a superb range to suit every boat style and preference.