What You Need to Know to Keep Boat Batteries Charged
There’s nothing worse than getting out in the middle of the lake and having your boat’s battery die. Been there. Done that. Don’t want to do it again. Especially not with a boat full of upset kids! To help you avoid a scene of mutiny, we’re giving you the basics of what you need to know and do to keep your boat batteries charged. In this post, we’re going to focus on AGM and Gel boat batteries, and explain the differences and benefits.
AGM Boat Batteries
AGM (absorbed glass mat) is a special glass mat designed to wick the battery electrolyte between the battery plates. AGM batteries contain only enough liquid to keep the mat wet with the electrolyte, and if the battery is broken, no free liquid is available to leak out.
For the most part, you can keep your AGM boat battery charged using a good quality standard battery charger or engine alternator. The life cycle expectancy of AGM batteries remains excellent if the batteries are not discharged more than 60% between recharge, although some deep-cycle boat batteries offer excellent 80%+ deep cycle abilities.
Gel Boat Batteries
Gel cell batteries contain a silica-type gel that the battery electrolyte is suspended in, and this thick, paste-like material allows electrons to flow between plates but will not leak from the battery if the case is broken.
Gel cell boat batteries are little more finicky when it comes to keeping a charge than AGM. They must be recharged correctly, or the battery will suffer permanent failure—this is when your 3-hour tour turns into a nightmare. If you own a gel cell battery and you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: The battery charger being used to recharge the battery must be designed or adjustable for gel cell batteries.
With both types of batteries, it’s a good idea to invest in a battery charger made for marine use. How do you pick the right charger? You’ll find varying advice on the internet, and often it’s contradictory. We walk you through the steps you need to take to choose the right charger for your needs.
In addition to charging your battery, there are a few other steps you can take to keep your battery happy and healthy:
- If using more than one battery in a bank, don’t mix battery types, or old and new ones.
- Keep your batteries clean and store them in a cool, dry place during the off-season.
- Check for corrosion. It can be cleaned off using a solution of baking soda and water.
Keep your marine batteries charged and the kids happy this summer!
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