Boat batteries are probably one of the most overlooked items on any boat. Usually, they are tucked away in a compartment and difficult to get to. That means out of sight, out of mind, until something goes wrong. Honestly, most often they do not need much care or attention but some simple maintenance tips can make your batteries last longer.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Crown Service Department Manager Mike Burkett to learn how boaters and anglers can get the most out of their batteries and make them last longer. I know just how important batteries are on the Elite Series Tour and wanted to pass some information on to help other anglers.
There are some simple things to look for and a couple of items that need to be cleared up.
“Number one, lets dispel a couple of myths” said Burkett. “Storing your batteries on concrete floors will not hurt the performance of your boat battery and adding an aspirin will not help charge your boat battery”.
Over the years Burkett has seen several items that can adversly impact your batteries life. He puts them in three categories:
1. Dirty terminals with built up corrosion (reduces power)
– with a tooth brush add grease to your terminals to reduce corrosion
2. Dirty casings (reduces power)
– clean with warm water and towel at the end of each season
3.Vent wells not topped off with distilled water (reduces power)
– distilled water should be filled 1/8â€ to ¼â€ below the vent well
All battery’s have a set service life. This means that no matter how well you take care of your battery it’s only going to live so many cycles. That means how many times the battery is drained and recharged. If you start to notice your battery losing its energy faster than normal, you may have used up all of its cycles or you may have a dead cell.
Burkett recommends using a hydrometer for the most accurate way to tell if you have a dead cell. If you find out that you do have a dead cell then unfortunately it’s time to buy a new battery.
Onboard chargers have made life much easier for tournament fisherman who get back to there motel late in the evening after a long day on the water but an onboard charger that’s not working correctly can actually overcharge your battery and in the long run do serious damage to your battery. The best way to see if your onboard charger is not overcharging your batteries is to pop off the vent caps and look for a heavy black residue on the bottom of the caps.
Minn Kota makes the best onboard chargers available, they come with enhanced status codes that provide feedback on your batteries charge stage, maintenance mode status, error notification, and when your batteries are fully charged. It’s best practice to unplug your batteries as soon as you notice they are fully charged. This will reduce any chance that your batteries are being overcharged.
Burkett finishes the meeting by recommending that all boaters keep their batteries clean, corrosion free, filled correctly with distilled water, charged at least twice over the winter, and never over charged.