5 ways to make your boat batteries last longer

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Not understanding your boat batteries can be an expensive and chronic problem. Batteries could also be a real party breaker. Most of us have experienced this scenario: the wind is just right, the sky is perfectly clear and the boat is prepared to sail away to new adventures. Just before grabbing our favourite sailing shoes and hitting the docks we check the battery bank.

Dead … Does it seem like you are replacing your boat batteries every time you turn around?

Decent batteries are expensive, yet they might lose most of their capacity in a couple of seasons. Treat your batteries well and they will keep charging!

1. Monitor the battery state

Good battery management is the key factor to prolong their longevity. Monitoring brings data (and your battery) under control. Discharging batteries below 50% will dramatically shorten your battery’s life. Furthermore, regularly flattening the battery can destroy it and lead to failure in a few months.

Simarine monitoring battery solutions can monitor up to 6 battery banks, 14 tanks, and 20 independent current sensors. Pico is equipped with a Wi-Fi module to communicate with the application. The application allows accessing live data and analysing history data.

Pico’s main display presents some of the most important data just with a brief look, it shows:

  • remaining charge of the main batteries in percentage (SOC),
  • remaining time before discharge/remaining time before fully charged,
  • charging indicator,
  • current direction,
  • air pressure and air pressure trend.

Operating modes present battery and electric currents, fluid tanks, barograph, battery state of charge graph and battery health data. Information is golden, a true sailor does not allow to be surprised!

2. Calculate your daily power use

You should choose the right battery size for your needs. If your batteries are too small, you will be taking out too much charge each day. Ideally the batteries should be sized three times larger than the boat’s daily electrical consumption (the current in Amps of each electrical device on board x number of hours for which you expect to use it per day).

3. Minimize your power requirements

This is the cheapest, the most effective, the most environment-friendly method to improve your boat battery life. Yet with all the devices we can not live without, not an easy one at all. You could try not leaving lights on or changing to LED bulbs, keeping the fridge insulated and organized.

4. Add a solar panel, a wind turbine or hydrogenerator

For keeping your batteries topped up you can, among others, use renewable resources and buy marine solar panels, fit a wind turbine on board or build a hybrid system.

5. Add an alternative smart charger

With a normal alternator, only a small percentage of the output will reach the boat batteries. A smart charging regulator will prevent the charge rate from dropping over time. As it will keep the charging rate near the starting figure, the alternator can recharge the battery within a shorter period.

It’s not encouraging, yet it’s a fact: batteries degrade over time. A marine environment does not offer the best conditions for a battery. The key to preventing battery failure is to look after them:

  • ensure you are getting the right battery for the intended task,
  • keep the battery healthy with proper charging and maintenance.

Make sure to check your batteries before you head out. Wishing you fair wind and calm seas.

Bon voyage!