There are a vast array of sea vessels on our ocean and almost as many marine batteries to match, so how do you know if you have the right one? If you own a boat, have you considered there might be a battery better suited for your needs?
Whether you own a speed boat, yacht, or small motorboat, you will eventually need to buy marine batteries. However, there are so many different brands of marine batteries; which one do you choose? Finding the best one can often prove to be a challenge.
If you’re on the coast of Africa and you are considering replacing or buying a new marine battery, keep reading for a more detailed guide to marine batteries.
Not All Batteries Are Marine Batteries
One might be tempted to think that a car battery is the same as a marine battery, but that would be incorrect. The critical difference between the two is that a vehicle battery is not manufactured to withstand the rigours that being at sea brings.
The marine battery is built to cope with the jolts and bumps of the ocean, whereas a traditional battery is not made quite as robustly. Thus, while they cost less than a marine battery would, they wouldn’t last as long in your sea-going vessel, and you’d be out of pocket with all the replacements you’d be buying.
Types of Marine Batteries
There are four main chemical types of marine battery that each have their own purpose: gel cell, wet cell (also known as flooded), AGM (absorbed glass mat), and lithium. Your choice will be based on your requirements, the lifespan you want, and finally, your budget.
Choosing the right one can ensure a longer lifespan of your battery, which in turn will save you money.
Your second most expensive type of battery on the market, the gel battery, differs from a lead-acid battery because it adds silica to the electrolyte, forming a gel substance. This substance is thick, which renders it leak-proof.
A gel cell battery ultimately acts the same way as a lead-acid battery; however, there is no extra maintenance, and they don’t require top-ups. In addition, this battery is a deep-cycle battery which makes it an ideal battery for marine applications, golf carts, and forklifts.
This battery does come with some disadvantages, such as it takes longer than other batteries to recharge and that it requires you to remove it off charge the moment it’s full; otherwise, the battery can suffer irreversible damage.
- Can tolerate extreme temperatures
- Sensitive to overcharging
- Spill and leak proof
Wet cell batteries are typically rechargeable, and those that aren’t are only good for a short period. They’re a type of lead-acid battery which functions by mean’s of a liquid electrolyte solution, whereas a dry cell has a paste solution.
Wet cell batteries are priced in an affordable range; however, they do require maintenance and need to be topped up with distilled water periodically.
- High self-discharging rate
- Can tolerate overcharging
- It is not suited for vibration
- Requires maintenance
Absorbent glass mat (AGM) is another type of lead-acid battery as well as being a deep cycle battery. These batteries discharge more slowly than traditional batteries, and unlike traditional batteries, can also handle increased temperatures.
This type of battery is a sealed battery and requires no maintenance like filling with distilled water.
- Low self-discharging rate
- Sensitive to overcharging
- Long lifespan
The most expensive of the marine batteries, the lithium battery, comes with its pros and cons. Many consider their long lifespan reason enough to afford the purchase price; however, this type of battery requires a special charger.
When compared to lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries offer up to 10 times more battery life.
While some can, it’s essential to be aware that lithium batteries cannot typically be used as a starting battery.
- Extremely long lifespan
- Ideal for electric engines
- Lighter than lead-based batteries
- Can overheat, resulting in fire
What Size Battery?
There are a few things to consider when deciding what size marine battery you need. First, available space onboard will dictate how large you can go. Weight is another factor to consider. If you have a small vessel, you might be limited by how heavy you can go.
A safe option is to replace your existing battery with another of its size or consult the owner’s manual of your boat.
When Should You Replace Your Marine Battery?
Every battery eventually needs replacing, whether after three years or 25 years. So how do you know your battery needs replacing?
If you don’t already have a feel for your engine, you can always use a load tester or multimeter testing tool. However, if that seems too technical for you, it’s wise to consult a professional.
At the very least, lead-acid marine batteries should last 2 – 3 years if used regularly, and AGM batteries can last between 4 – 5 years with regular maintenance and a proper charging routine.
- Don’t mix types for onboard batteries and rather stick with one battery chemistry (i.e. gel cell)
- Recharge your marine battery after each day it’s in use
- Disconnect your battery if it’s going to lay unused for an extended period
- Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when charging, as you can overcharge the battery resulting in damage
- Don’t mix new marine batteries with old ones, as the new ones won’t perform to their peak ability
- Check regularly for and clean away any corrosion you find with a solution of water and baking soda
- If you have a wet cell battery, periodically check the water levels and replenish as needed (use only distilled water)
Find the Best Marine Battery for You
If you maintain good charging habits and routinely check your marine batteries for wear and tear, your batteries should last long. However, when it comes time to replace them, it’s good to know your options so you know you’re getting the best battery for your vessel.
If batteries are what you’re looking for, we have a wide range from automotive to motorcycle to marine. We have you covered, so contact us now and let us help you find the optimal battery.