Palmer: A lot depends on budget to the average guy but as you know, in the marine field we have three types of batteries we see the most. The first is lead acid, which is the least expensive. The second is AGM, which stands for Absorbent Glass Mat, and the third of course is the relatively new kid on the block in this space, lithium batteries. No matter which one you choose, plan on having one dedicated to electronics.
Lead Acid: As we mentioned, they are the least expensive but they are super heavy and less efficient than the other two types of batteries. Their discharge rate is about 50 percent as a guide. Most lead acid marine batteries are sold based on Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) but if they’re used for things other than starting, that decision should be based on Amp Hours. When looking at lead acid, buyers should buy batteries with pure lead and a high reserve capacity at a minimum. You can usually tell the better lead acid batteries by their price as most are not marked well. Ask an expert for specs of the battery when buying. Maintenance free is the best option but also remember a good charger and maintainer is critical to make sure you get the most out of them. Lead acid batteries for electronics can last 3 to 4 years where starting batteries will normally have a shorter life. CCAs are important on the starting battery. Remember, each instance is different and based on how they will be used but generally speaking, lead acid batteries are least desirable if cost is not an issue.
Post corrosion can be an issue with lead acid batteries and should be periodically checked. Corrosion can make them even more inefficient and a good practice is a small dab of dielectric grease or anti-corrosion lubrication should be put on the posts before anything is added to the terminals.
If you live in colder climates where freezing is an issue, remove the fully changed batteries at the end of the year, put them in a warmer location and make sure they are put on a maintenance schedule for charging over the winter months while not in use.
AGM: AGM, or Absorbent Glass Mat batteries, are an advanced lead acid that are much more efficient and, generally speaking, have a much better discharge rate at 70 to 75%. They are normally lighter and are maintenance free. They can be laid on their sides to save space, too. These are the next-best option for battery buyers but they are more expensive. They normally have a longer life and can last 6 to 7 years if charged and maintained.
Lithium: These are the top-of-the-line for marine batteries today and there are two types being used today as well. One is a lithium ion and the other is a lithium phosphate and these are very efficient batteries with a 95 to 97% discharge rate. They are sold based on Amp Hour and generally are more expensive with Amp Hour number being higher. A 54 AH is normally less expensive than a 100 AH, for instance.
Today’s lithium batteries are not all created equal where some may be less desirable. They tend to have longer warranties but be sure to read the warranty before purchase. They produce a cleaner power source and last longer and remember, they may take a special charger too. They typically will not have corrosion issues and are maintenance free. If you keep your boats for a longer period of time the cost/benefit of lithium can be significant.
We covered a lot of ground here but this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We will be drilling down with Scott Palmer even further in future articles. You can contact The Bass Tank experts by visiting their website or calling 918-509-7864 and remember, all of their team are fishermen, too. They have seen just about everything that can happen in a boat so they are a solid resource for purchase, install and questions, too.
Power, wiring considerations and proper installation can make your install and use of the equipment more pleasurable and fun. Nothing is worse than having a failure on the water and The Bass Tank wants you to know what you are buying. With guys like Scott there, rest assured they are doing their part to stay up on latest trends, equipment and services.