According to statistics, the average battery life for the non-sealed lead acid batteries typically used in boats is somewhere between 24 months to 48 months, even though some owners could swear it's even less.
The seasonal usage habits for people who own boats cause their crafts to lay dormant for most of the year, shortening battery life to such a point that many owners simply buy new batteries every season.
But it doesn't have to be that way, according to Terry Fellner, a battery service veteran and president of Thermoil, Inc., a manufacturer of products designed to enhance the lives of non-sealed lead acid batteries.
"Deep cycle batteries require more maintenance than a starting battery, and are more expensive because of the amount of power they need to generate, so it really does pay off for owners to take some basic precautions and protect their investment in these types of batteries. Many of these batteries will just flat-out die if they are left dormant for months at a time, so owners should really be vigilant in their service of them."
Fellner offered some tips for boat owners to help them get the most from their batteries, including:
Why did my battery die?
The most common causes of battery failure are:
Loss of electrolyte due to heat or overcharging
Using tap water
If your pontoon or deck boat is not in use, you should charge the battery at least once every other month if it's in a cold climate and once a month for those stored in the warmer climates.
Remember that all batteries self-discharge when they are not in use. In cold climates, they lose about three percent per month, while the hotter climates can cause a battery to lose between eight and 10 percent of their charge per month, just from sitting there!
Use a battery de-mister
"When a battery de-mister is added to a battery it will increase battery life, increase shelf life, maintain battery chemistry, reduce charge time, eliminate corrosion and greatly reduce water consumption," says Fellner. "It also greatly reduces the risk of explosion and will help to keep your battery working under most conditions."
Watch The Volts
When not in use, you should never let your battery fall below 12.45 volts. This is when they will start to sulfate and go bad. Once sulfated, they become very difficult to completely charge back up. Trying to charge a battery once it has sulfated usually results in the battery heating up, causing the plates to warp, and ultimately destroying your battery.
For more information on Thermoil, Inc. visit www.batteryde-mister.com.