What causes batteries to rundown prematurely?

When a battery is discharged too deeply, internal damage will occur. Damage, that often cannot be repaired. A battery that is overcharged is also more likely to fail. How deep you can discharge a battery depends on the type of battery. In general, AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries can be more deeply discharged (75 percent) than regular lead-calcium batteries (35 percent) because the internal composition of the battery plates is different, and the acid is trapped in glass fiber separators.

Depending on the quality, use and whether the correct type of battery has been chosen, a battery normally lasts about six to eight years. The lifespan of a battery is expressed in the number of charge cycles it can have, which in turn depends on the percentage of discharge. The battery lasts the longest when it is properly maintained; do not discharge too deeply and recharge in time extends the lifespan. This keeps the cyclical load as low as possible. Remember that a battery has a self-discharge of up to about three percent. When not in use, it will also slowly deflate. That is why you should recharge your battery right after you use it, if you want to make it last longer.


Seven tips on how to keep your battery running

1. Trickle charger
During the winter, keep your batteries full with a trickle charger. This type of charger knows exactly how much to recharge and will keep the batteries in good condition. At some storage companies, boats are not allowed to the stream, due to fire safety and insurance. Then it is advisable to fully charge the batteries, disconnect them and recharge them regularly. Fully charge gel batteries at least once every two months and AGM batteries at least once every three months.

2. Secure everything properly
When you are de-winterizing your boat, put the batteries back in place and make sure they are securely mounted. Make sure all electrical connections are tight to prevent sparking and possible short circuits. And cover your battery terminals to prevent contact.

3. Acid-free petroleum jelly
Coat the battery terminals with acid-free Vaseline to prevent corrosion.

4. Ventilation
Make sure that the batteries have enough space and ventilation. This way you can be sure that the heat that is generated during use, can escape properly. In a battery box you can keep your batteries protected and dry.

5. Battery monitor
A battery monitor indicates the status of the batteries (Voltage), the amount of current (Ampere) and how long you can still use the battery. When using a battery monitor you can see immediately when your battery needs to be recharged.

6. Set your battery charger properly
If the boat is on shore power, there must be a good battery charger on board. Each type of battery has its own charging voltage. If the charging voltage is too high, the battery will be damaged and is the charging voltage is too low, the batteries are not charged to its full amount. That is why it is important to make sure that the settings of your battery charger are correctly. Most, more expensive battery chargers, have general settings that can be used.

7. Main switch
In the event of a prolonged absence, turn off the main switches of the batteries to prevent draining by standby consumers.

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