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Marine Batteries

  • The Best AGM Battery No One Knows About

    Back in the summer of 2013, we sang the praises of the Drakon labeled Pure Lead Acid AGM battery. It was indeed among the best AGM batteries in the world and went head-to-head with Continue reading

  • What’s the Difference between the IOTA DLS-55 and the SDC-12-55?

    In this addition of What’s What we will be comparing the ever popular IOTA DLS-55 M Series converters to the new 55 amp SDC Series converters. Both of these units are a DC power supply that can be retrofitted to become a smart charger. We first introduced the SDC series back in August 2016 where we highlighted its features and Iota Engineering’s legacy of excellence. We thought it would be useful to list the attributes of both the 12V 55A variations side by side to better contrast the changes. Continue reading

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  • Battery Desulfation

    Lead-acid Batteries

    Although lead-acid batteries have many disadvantages when compared to other types of batteries, these types of batteries are among the most common batteries on the planet. One of the major reasons for the prevalence of lead-acid batteries is their ability to be recharged multiple times. The internal reaction that creates electricity is reversible, allowing a spent battery to be restored to a functional state over and over.

    Over time, however, lead-acid batteries lose their ability to hold a charge. This gradual loss of charging capacity is due to a process called sulfation. While discharging, the lead dioxide plates within the battery react with the sulfuric acid electrolyte, causing lead sulfate to build up on the plates. As lead sulfate builds up within the battery, it loses its ability to provide electricity. When the battery charges, the voltage of the charging mechanism causes the lead sulfate to return to its original state. Over repeated charges, however, some of these lead sulfate deposits crystallize and harden, making them hard to remove. These crystallized deposits interfere with the battery's operation, making the battery harder to charge. Eventually, the sulfate deposits Continue reading

  • How to Get the Most from Your Motorboat Batteries

    Motorboat batteries require proper care and maintenance in order to provide optimal performance. The first step is to ensure that your boat is equipped with marine batteries. Automotive batteries are not designed to withstand the vibrations and jarring that occurs on the water.

    If you have a dual battery system, verify that you have a deep cycle battery and a regular battery. The deep cycle battery is designed to run your onboard electronics and motor. The regular or cranking amp battery provides the short-term power that is required to start your engines. It does not have the capacity to provide continuous power. If you have a single battery system, ensure that your deep cycle battery is properly charged so that it can provide the energy required to start your main engines. Selecting the wrong battery for an application will cause the device to fail prematurely.

    How to Maintain Motorboat Batteries

    It is better to store your batteries in a warm dry location during cold weather. You should inspect your batteries on a regular basis, especially during long-term storage. Wear protective gloves and safety glasses when working on or near the batteries. Inspect the batteries for cracks or swelling. If you find any defects, replace the battery immediately.

    Check the battery cable for wear, and ensure that the clamps are firmly attached to the correct terminals. For a battery to function properly the polarity must be correct. Use baking soda and water or a commercial cleaner along with a wire bristle brush to remove any corrosion from the terminals. You can prevent corrosion in the future by installing anticorrosion washers and applying a layer of insulating grease. Always remember to connect the red (positive) terminal last.

    If you have an open cell battery, remove the covers and check the electrolyte level. If it is beneath the top of the plates, refill the cells with distilled water. A sealed battery has color-coded dots that indicate the condition of the internal components.

    Charging and Recharging the Batteries

    A motorboat battery should be recharged after every use. A battery that has a partial charge accumulates deposits on the internal plates. This reduces its ability to generate power. If you use an external charger, ensure that it is powerful enough for the task. You should fully charge your battery before you take it back out on the water.

    If your boat has a two-battery system, start the motor on the cranking amp battery and switch to your deep-cycle battery to support your onboard electronics. When it is time to head back to shore, set the switch to both batteries and start the engine. The engine will charge both batteries as you return to the dock. Ensure that both batteries are fully charged before your turn off the motor.

    Following a regular maintenance plan and proper recharging procedures will ensure that you get the most out of your motorboat batteries. Contact your battery retailer for more information on how to care for your marine batteries.

  • How to Measure a Marine Battery's State of Charge

    The batteries used in boats today are high-tech and expensive. The operator should be able to measure the charge and translate the reading into the condition of the battery. Here are a few methods for measuring the charge of a marine battery.

    There are measuring tools available for purchase that can be used to measure the state of charge of a battery if you do not have a voltage metering system installed. For batteries that use electrolyte there is something called a Hydrometer, which can detect the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte and displays this reading as a charge. The amount of sulfuric acid will change with temperature so in order to ensure consistent readings, be sure the battery is around 80F. Additionally, electrolyte batteries will have multiple cells so the hydrometer readings should be taken from each individual cell. Use the owner’s manual of your hydrometer to determine if the reading is good or bad. A bad battery will typically have deviations between cells. A good battery will have consistent readings between cells.

    Marine Batteries

    At your local hardware store you can purchase a very convenient tool that all boat owners should have called a Voltmeter. A handheld voltmeter will have two leads, typically red and black. The red is positive and the black is negative. If measuring the charge of a marine battery, you are measuring DC voltage. DC voltage is indicated (in most cases) by a straight line with three dots above it. (Alternative current or AC is a wavy sinusoidal line). Turn your selector switch to DC and place the black lead on the negative battery terminal and place the red lead on the positive terminal. A fully charged battery will indicate on the low end 12.6 volts and on the high end 13.2 volts on the read out. A dead battery will read about 10.5 volts. We recommend using a digital volt meter as the reading is more accurate than an analog. NOTE: in order to get the most accurate reading using a voltmeter, we suggest keeping the battery in a steady state for 24 hours.

    If you have a pricey battery system installed on your boat, it may be worth installing a meter that monitors amp-hours. This is the best way to get the most accurate reading of a battery that is in use. It will give the rate and the time of the current flowing out from or in to the battery to give you an idea of how much useful life you have left or how long you have until it is fully charged. If you do have this system installed in your marine electrical system, we highly recommend you become intimately familiar with the owner’s manual.

  • How to Jump Start Your Motorboat Battery

    Gone fishing lately with that electric trolling motor and had it die on you? Is your boat not starting because of an old cranking battery? Here are some tips for jumping your motorboat battery.
    A GPL-4CT LifeLine Battery

    If jumping the motorboat battery from a car:

    1. (1) Remove the battery from the battery compartment.
    2. (2) Place the battery on the ground (preferably on a piece of wood).
    3. (3) With the car off, attach the positive terminal (red) to the car and then the opposite positive terminal to the dead battery.
    4. (4) Repeat step three with the negative terminal (black) taking care not to touch the two terminals together.
    5. (5) Start the car and leave it running for about 30 minutes to let the battery charge.
    6. (6) Once the battery has taken a good charge, shut off the car, remove the cables, reinstall and reconnect the battery, and attempt to start your boat.

     

    If jumping the battery from another motorboat:

    1. (1) Open the battery compartments on both boats and ventilate for 15 minutes to reduce the amount of flammable vapors present.
    2. (2) Attach the jumper cables like in the steps before and attempt to start.
    3. (3) If your motorboat starts, remove the cables and let run for at least 30 minutes to provide a full charge.
    4. (4) If your motorboat fails to start, keep the cables attached and let the running boat charge your battery for about 30 minutes and re-attempt the start.

     

    If jumping the motorboat battery from a charger:

    Chargers provide a few different options and there are safety precautions that must be followed. Review the owner’s manual of your battery charger for proper operation.

    Here are some basic steps:

    1. (1) Your boat battery is probably 12Volt. Make sure the charger is set to charge a 12Volt battery.
    2. (2) Many chargers allow the use of a trickle charge which charges the battery slowly but more completely. If you use a high amperage setting, you will charge the battery faster but it won’t be as complete.
    3. (3) Your battery charger will have a positive (red) cable and a negative (black) cable. Connect the red cable to the positive terminal of the battery.
    4. (4) Connect the black cable to the negative terminal of the battery.
    5. (5) Read the owner’s manual to determine the charging time, hit start, and monitor about every hour.

    If you notice any strong heat or strange sounds or smells, disconnect the charger immediately and secure all power. The easiest way to stop an electrical fire is to shut off all electricity! Good luck!

     

  • How to Replace Your Motor Boat Battery

    If your boat batteries are properly maintained, you will be able to enjoy them for five to seven years! Some people use their motor boats far more often than others, and generally, those who do have batteries last longer. In order to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your engine and electrical system, you should start and run your boat regularly to maintain proper lubrication of engine parts and charge of your battery.

    How to Replace Your Marine Battery

    Boat batteries will power things like bilge pumps, lights, and sound systems. They are also different than car batteries. We strongly recommend that you use deep cycle marine batteries for your motor boats. Take extra caution if you keep your boat on salt water as exposure to salt water will accelerate corrosion of metal parts.

    Some maintenance tips:

    1. (1) If you store your boat in a region with cold winters, remove your battery and store at home in a dry location.
    2. (2) Do not place your battery directly on the ground or floor. Doing this may provide the battery with a grounding source and will drain its power supply. Place your batteries on a shelf or piece of wood.

    Some safety precautions when dealing with marine batteries include:

    1. (1) Remember that electricity and moisture don’t mix. Try to work in a cool and dry environment.
    2. (2) Wear eye protection.
    3. (3) If your batteries contain lead acid, baking powder is a good absorbing substance in case of a leak. Battery acid is corrosive, and you should wear gloves when handling it.

    Steps for Replacing Your Motor Boat Battery:

    Step 1: Open the battery compartment and check both the condition of your battery terminals and for acid leaks. Clean leaks appropriately. If you notice build up around your terminals, you may clean them gently with a wire brush.

    NOTE: Marine deep cycle batteries have coated terminals to prevent corrosion. Using anti-corrosion grease on your cable terminals and battery terminals is advisable as an extra precaution in wet environments… i.e. a boat’s bilge.

    Step 2: Remove the negative (black) cable terminal from battery first. This may require a socket wrench or pliers for those stubborn wing nuts. Take care as to not strip the nut if it is over-tightened.

    Step 3: Remove the positive (red) cable terminal from the battery. It is very important to not let the negative and positive cable terminals touch each other. It is even MORE important to not touch the terminals with your hands if you have a screwdriver or metal in them; if you accidentally touch both red and black at the same time, you will complete the circuit and not be around to enjoy your boat any longer (Just kidding, but you will begin "welding" instantly and be temporarily blinded by the" fireworks" display).

    Step 4: Taking the stability of the boat into consideration, carefully remove the old battery and place aside. Now is a good time to clean the terminals of the cables before you install the new battery. Again, use a wire brush to gently remove any oxidation or corrosion and use conductive and protective grease.

    Step 5: Place the new battery in the battery compartment and be sure it is seated properly.

    Step 6: Attach the positive (red) cable terminal to the positive terminal post on the battery. Re-thread the nut taking care to not over-tighten or strip the threads.

    Step 7: Using caution, replace the negative (black) cable terminal to the negative terminal post on the battery. Re-thread the nut as you did in step 6.

    Step 8: Replace the cover and straps. Boats tend to follow a jerky motion as they move through the water. You do not want your battery sliding around; ensure that it is secure for sea!

    After the new battery is connected, clean up, turn the key, and take the boat for a test run.

    NOTE: Batteries should not be disposed of in the trash. Please take your spent batteries to the nearest service station and ask for advice on how to dispose.

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