Batteries, like anything else on your boat, are an investment that need to be maintained properly to achieve maximum longevity. If you don’t want to be constantly buying new batteries, you should take the following steps
- Perform regular visual inspections – look for signs of leakage,loose battery caps or bulging on the sides of the battery
- Inspect cable connections – look for signs of corrosion or loose connections – if you find corrosion, you should remove the cables and clean properly. Corroded connections can cause your battery to self-discharge
- Keep your batteries in closed boxes to ensure they stay dry and clean
- Check periodically to see if your charger and alternator are actually charging the battery properly and not overcharging.
- Keep a hydrometer on board and periodically check the state-of-charge by take a reading from one cell. Use a different cell each time. If the specific gravity reads above 1.225, the battery should be properly charged
- Check fluid levels in batteries often. Only add distilled water if needed – water with mineral content will degrade the life expectancy of your battery
- Do not leave a battery on an external charger for more than 36 hours. If battery feels hot while charging, disconnect at once
- If you are not using the battery for extended times, disconnect (unless you need it for bilge pumps). If you do leave connected, make sure other items which may draw down the battery are turned off or disconnected.
If regular maintenance is performed properly, you should expect to get 4 to 5 years from a set of marine batteries.