Battery care makes the difference
There are many different types of batteries you can purchase for your boat, but when it comes down to the performance and life of your batteries, it really depends on how you take care of them. Basically, a battery is just a storage device–it stores the energy necessary to start your boat and use your GPS and VHF radio, and other electrical devices. Longevity of your boat batteries depend on maintenance, temperature and the amount your battery discharges before being recharged. If you let your boat sit, the batteries will self-discharge over time even when the battery select switch(es) are in the off position.
Basic battery maintenance includes keeping them clean by removing corrosion from the terminals. This can be done with a baking soda solution. If you see a white powdery substance, you need to clean them. If your battery is a flooded battery you need to check the electrolyte levels. If low, you can simply add water, but it is best to use distilled water to prevent any mineral build up. The batteries installed by the Grady-White factory are not flooded, but rather AGM sealed batteries that do not require the electrolyte level to be checked.
When your boat is not in use, be sure to turn off the battery select switch(es). Your bilge pump float switch(es) are directly wired to the battery so turning the battery select switch(es) to the off position does not prevent your bilge pump(s) from working. You can read about your boat battery settings here. Remember also not to operate your boat while the battery select switch position is set to “both.” Click here to read more on that topic.
Temperature can also affect the life and performance of your battery. Many people assume that extreme cold is the most concerning, but extreme high temperatures are also not good for extended battery life. If possible, when storing your boat in extreme hot or cold temperatures, consider placing your batteries in a temperature-controlled location.
As you use the energy from the batteries, it must be replaced or the batteries become run down. The best way to recharge the batteries is by running your boat. Since the engine(s) charging systems produce more output as the RPM’s increase, it is optimal if the boat is operated on plane for an extended amount of time. This allows the charging system to replenish the batteries at a rate faster than they discharge. Often boat owners are perplexed when their battery loses its charge because the boat has been in use. However, if you use your boat to cruise to dinner, over to see your friends, never getting on plane and all the while playing the stereo, running the lights and other electronics, you may find yourself with a dead battery.
Your battery can also be charged with a battery charger; however the proper battery charger varies depending on the type of battery. Before you buy a charger, research the correct device for the battery type you own or ask your dealer or marine parts supplier.
Another charging method frequently used is charging with dockside power and a permanently installed battery charger. Many of the larger Grady-White models are available with this feature either standard or optional. You can read more about this method here.
Battery replacement is not inexpensive, but if properly maintained, they can provide you with years of use.