Marine batteries often spend part of the year in storage if you live where the boating season is limited to the summer months. Keeping your batteries in good shape while not in use can be challenging, but there are some things that can help.
Marine batteries are similar to automotive batteries in a lot of ways. Often they are a lead/acid design that uses lead plates submerged in acid to create and store current. The lead/acid battery has been in use for many years and is dependable and the primary battery type in cars, boats, and other vehicles that need to store electricity to use in bursts to start an engine.
In recent years, battery manufacturers have created batteries that use the same principle, but the acid is in a gel form to reduce the potential for leaks. Marine batteries are available as gel cell batteries, but the cost is typically higher than standard boat batteries.
Gel cell batteries often have a more durable case and are intended for harsh environments. They tend to be more vibration resistant, so they last better when you spend a lot of time bouncing around in heavy seas, which can cause impacts to the craft.
Storing Your Batteries
When your boat comes out of the water for the season, there are a number of things that the boat needs to ensure cold weather does not cause damage to the engine, outdrives, and other parts components. Removing your boat batteries is on the list of things to do, but what you do with them is equally important.
Batteries last best when they are in use, and cycling between charged and discharged is often necessary to keep them ready for use. When your boat batteries are in storage, attach a battery tender to them to monitor the condition of the cells.
The battery tender will slowly charge the batteries and then discharge them. The cycle will repeat many times while the batteries are sitting to simulate use and ensure they are ready to reinstall in the boat when spring arrives.
Warm And Dry Storage
When choosing a spot to store your marine batteries, you should look for a location out of the weather and moderately warm and dry. Place the batteries on a pallet or other object that ensures they are not sitting directly on the ground.
When storing your boat batteries, shoot for a temperature that keeps the batteries from freezing but is not hot enough to boil the acid or melt the case. A moderate temperature works best, so a shop or garage in the fifty-degree range all winter is a good location. Check on the batteries throughout the storage season.
Check the temperature of the case and remove the tender if the battery case feels hot. You can also add some dielectric grease to the posts or connections to keep corrosion away.
Contact a local boat battery supplier to learn more.