If you enjoy boating, you understand the importance of a reliable marine battery. It provides a reliable power source for your vessel, enabling you to start the motor and get where you need to go.
Although marine batteries are designed to withstand the harsh water environment, they can still degrade over time. Here’s how to prevent your marine battery from corroding.
The best thing you can do for your marine battery is inspect and clean it regularly. During operation, cells can accumulate dust, debris, and other materials that interfere with the connectors and cause them to erode. By inspecting and cleaning your marine battery, you can avoid premature wear and tear.
Start by using a small wire brush to clean off the terminals. You can use water and baking soda to help lift corrosion off the equipment. Make sure you wipe everything away before attempting to use the battery. Otherwise, you could cause unnecessary damage to the cell.
Once you’ve cleaned the battery, you can apply a coat of grease to prevent future buildup. Doing so will ensure your terminals remain clean for extended periods. The nonconductive properties of grease create a barrier between the electrical connectors and moisture in the air.
First, ensure the battery cable is connected and tight. Then, apply petroleum jelly or silicone dielectric grease to the exposed metal. Be careful because using too much or getting it between the terminals could prevent the battery from working correctly.
Store in a Safe Location
Even durable marine batteries will degrade if they’re constantly exposed to the elements. Too much heat, cold, or moisture can cause the battery’s materials to break down and erode. If you’re planning to not use your boat for a while or you’re about to retire it for the winter, remove the batteries and put them in storage.
You should keep the batteries in an out-of-the-way location where they won’t get bumped, knocked over, or spilled. Elevate them off the ground on a wooden surface to avoid unnecessary exposure. Lastly, they shouldn’t have a full charge, but they shouldn’t be allowed to completely discharge either.
Consider Cell Type
Some types of marine batteries are corrosion resistant, making them easier to maintain over their lifespans. Corrosion occurs when hydrogen gas leaks from the cell and mixes with the air around it. Depending on the manufacturing process your marine battery underwent, you may not have to worry about corrosion.
For example, a lithium-ion trolling motor battery is one of the best options to avoid battery corrosion. However, no matter the type of cell you decide to purchase, you’ll need to learn best practices for care. Adhering to manufacturer guidelines will ensure your battery cell continues functioning at maximum capacity for as long as possible.
Overheating, leaking, and corrosion can occur in overcharged batteries due to increased pressure forcing the electrolyte through the plate. This means that even a slight overcharge can damage your marine battery and impede its performance.
Therefore, charging your marine batteries to the correct capacity is essential for their longevity. Remember to unplug cells when full so they don’t get worn out prematurely. If the voltage gets too high, it can cause the terminals to corrode, damaging the cell and decreasing its lifespan.
Use the Correct Charger
Keeping marine batteries at just the right charge level can be difficult, especially if you’re storing them for the winter or if they see a lot of use. It can be tricky to keep an eye on batteries over long periods, so getting a suitable charger is key. Luckily, smart chargers can keep batteries at a specific, ideal power level.
The charger you get should depend on the amp hours of the cell. You’ll most likely want to get a charger with about 10 percent of your battery capacity. For example, a battery with 100 Ah would need a 10-amp charger. Don’t go over 30 percent of the amp hours to avoid overcharging.
Check the Connections
Loose connectors can also lead to corroded battery terminals. If the connectors aren’t tight enough, the resistance increases, making the battery work harder and increasing the potential for corrosion. Loose connections could also cause problems with your boat’s electrical system.
To ensure your connections are tight enough, first attach the red cable to the positive terminal. Carefully tighten the nut until it’s secure but make sure not to twist too hard. Then, attach the black cable to the negative terminal and do the same thing.
Keep Secured While Operating
If your marine battery slides around or gets hit by moving objects, the casing could puncture and cause increased corrosion. Spray from water can also add to the problem. Therefore, keeping your battery secure while operating is essential if you want it to last as long as possible.
Most boats have a specialized box you can put your battery in to keep it safe. Make sure your cell fits snugly, and strap it down so it doesn’t move. Keep it clear of loose items and electrical components. If you use a lead-acid battery, you may want a spill-proof box so leaks don’t pose a hazard.
Replace if Necessary
In some circumstances, your battery may be too far gone to deal with. You should immediately replace batteries that have been damaged or overcharged or are simply at the end of their lifespans. Leaking fluids, overheating, and corrosion are sure signs you need a new battery.
In most cases, you should replace your marine battery every few years. However, you can potentially make yours last longer with proper care, including the above tips in this article. Consult your owner’s manual to get an idea of the manufacturer’s expected lifespan and charge cycles for your cell.
Take Care of Your Marine Battery
Marine battery cells are designed to withstand a lot. While they can resist corrosion due to the elements and ongoing use, they will eventually give in to old age. Ignoring the problem could result in getting stranded or having an accident while on the water. And if you don’t take the time to learn about proper care procedures, you may end up with a dead or damaged cell. Although your battery won’t last forever, learning how to prevent your marine battery from corroding will ensure you get the maximum life out of your cell.