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Charging a Boat Battery on the Water – Introduction, Methods and Connection

Jan 21, 2021   Pageview:67

The boat battery plays a vital role in the day-to-day performance of the boat. Suppose the battery fails while sailing, it means that the boat's equipment will not function. It is good to ensure that the battery is working in the best way possible.

Sometimes, you might need to charge the battery on water because you cannot park the boat to charge the battery. Therefore, you need to know the best and effective ways that you can use to charge the battery.

Most boats use deep cycle batteries, meaning that they can provide a steady current for a prolonged period. The good thing is that the deep cycle batteries charge faster than the regular batteries; thus, you will need a few minutes to charge it.

Therefore, I need to pass some knowledge on how you can easily charge your boat battery. It will be wrong to get stuck on water because you do not know how to charge your battery. Follow me throughout this article, and I am sure you will gain a lot.

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Does a boat battery charge while running?

There are two or three distinct battery types that are used in boats. One of them is a marine starting battery or cranking battery used to start the boat's outboard motor. The starting batteries offer a short burst of high current, and they are not discharged quickly.

Once the outboard is running, the boat's alternator will recharge the cranking battery to compensate for the power lost during cranking. The starting battery shouldn’t be used to power the boat’s motor because it is not designed for such purposes.

Deep cycle batteries are made to offer a low to moderate current for an extended period to power the trolling motors. The battery can be discharged to a deeper level than the cranking batteries. The deep cycle batteries are designed to sustain large numbers of deep discharge/recharging cycles.

The boats have alternators that help in charging the deep cycle batteries. The battery charges faster when the boat is running. When the boat is running, the crankshaft turns faster, and it is connected to a belt that runs the alternator in the boat.

More electricity is produced when the alternator is turning very fast, which charges the deep cycle faster. Revving the boat without running will also charge the battery, but you will be wasting fuel charging the boat while it is stationary.

There are dual-purpose batteries that can perform the two functions of starting the boat and at the same time running the devices. Therefore, it is good to use the right battery for the right purpose. However, the dual-purpose battery will not supply the same starting power as a good cranking battery nor offer the same number of charge/discharge cycles as the deep cycle battery.

The wet-cell or flooded-cell batteries are the most popular and the battery type most people are familiar with. Flooded-cell batteries have several cells inside that contain a liquid mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled water.

They are charged by the boat's alternator, too, because they serve the same purpose as the other batteries. Therefore, you do not need other means to charge the deep cycle batteries while the boat runs unless the alternator has failed.

What happens if a boat battery gets wet?

Vibrations are often a significant concern with marine batteries, and it can be challenging to protect all parts of the boat. Water might drip into the interior parts of the boat and reaches the battery. The water creates a pathway, which leads to power leaving the battery.

Some people often assume that the plastic casing of the battery acts as an insulator. However, even with the plastic casing, the charge will slowly move out of the battery when submerged in water. The salt molecules in water allow electricity to move with ease.

Freshwater does affect the battery differently as compared to saltwater. The lack of salt in freshwater has a muted effect. However, all water is corrosive and continual exposure to freshwater will break down the battery with rust and slow discharge rates.

It is essential to know that if the battery gets wet, dry the terminals immediately and dry the housing. Saltwater conducts electricity, and it is vital to prevent the battery from being submerged into saltwater.

The plastic casing of the batteries prevents acid from escaping out of the battery. It also has vents that allow the escape of gases produced during charging. However, if the battery is submerged into water, the water can enter the battery through the air vents and mix with the acid.

The water will make the contents of the electrolyte to be unstable, and this may affect the functionality of the battery. Therefore, it is important to avoid submerging the battery in water and mostly in saltwater because even a little drop on the terminals will drain the battery.

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Can you charge your boat battery while it is connected?

It is not harmful to charge your battery using Halford's type battery charger while other electrical items are connected. The battery will be a smoothing device, and it will absorb most of the ripple or noise unregulated power supply will produce.

You can trickle charge the marine battery because it is the primary method of keeping your battery ready for immediate use. Trickle charging ensures that your battery doesn't die in the middle of the lake.

The trickle charger has an electrical cord and two cables with clips on the end of them. Connect the black wire to the battery's ve terminal, then connect the red wire to the battery's +ve terminal.

After connecting the clips, plug the battery charger into an electrical source. The charger will indicate a red light, which will turn green when the battery is fully charged. Disconnect the charger once the green light is seen by unplugging the electrical cable from the wall then remove the clips from the battery.

A boat battery charger must be rated between 1.5 to 2 amps. Your battery's life span is extended by providing a slow charge because it keeps the battery from overheating.


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