Charge up those internal and external batteries

On a recent trip to Canada, I was reminded we all have to take some time out of our busy lives to rest and recharge those “internal batteries.”
Nature, time, and patience are the three best physicians. I enjoy being outdoors and I am truly amazed at the beauty nature has to offer. I also respect nature and the power it has on–and over–us (some people are affected by lack of sun or humid weather).
Just like you, your marine battery also requires proper care in order to perform well and provide years of service. Such care does not require a great deal of effort but a little maintenance and proper storage can bring big payoffs in protecting a vital part of your boating investment.
A good marine battery should provide about five years of strong engine starts and power to run a boat’s electronic accessories. But even new, well-built batteries can have their lives cut short if they’re not checked periodically and stored correctly.
Proper battery care includes maintaining a proper acid level. It is normal for batteries to lose some fluid during use but if the acid level becomes too low, metallic plate oxidation can occur–and that can hinder the battery’s performance and shorten its life.
The plates are coated with an active, paste-like material which actually does most of the work. When all of the acid in the electrolyte has entered the plates, power production stops. The battery then must go through a recharging process that forces the acid out of the plates back into the electrolyte before it can produce power again.
To prevent metallic oxidation, check the acid level every month. If it’s too low, add some water (make sure to add distilled water, not tap water).
To provide maximum life, batteries also should remain fully charged while in use. This sometimes can be difficult if you’re using a battery to run electronic accessories or using more than one battery at once. One way to ensure batteries remain charged under these conditions is to use an engine with an adequate charging system.
A good engine will generate plenty of power for batteries not only at full throttle but at mid-throttle and trolling speeds. Mercury outboards, for example, feature High Output Charging Systems.
The system also separates the starting battery from the accessory battery when the engine is off, ensuring that the starting battery retains enough power to get the engine going again.
If your charging system works fine, yet the battery remains undercharged, test the acid strength with a hydrometer. If, like most boaters, you do not have a hydrometer, then have a marine dealer perform the test for you.
Proper storage also can increase the life of a battery. Whenever your battery sits idle for more than a month, remove it from the boat and place it in a warm, dry area. If your garage has a concrete floor, place the battery on a piece of wood to keep it insulated from the cold ground.
Just like on the water, batteries should remain fully charged while in storage. To do this, trickle charge the battery every month for 12-24 hours at 10 percent of its amp/hour rating. For example, a battery with a 80 amp/hour rating should trickle charged at no more than eight amp/hour.
The difference between the “flooded batteries” and Trolling Thunder batteries (these are the ones that I use) is that the latter are an absorbed glass matt (AGM) battery. These use pure virgin lead (99.9 percent) pure and medical grade acid.
Conventional batteries use lead alimony, which contains impurities and this lessens its life.
The other difference is when you take a “flooded 105 amp battery” and draw it down below 10 volts, it is considered 100 percent discharged. When you recharge that battery, you will smell the battery acid as it is being vented.
This venting actually decreases the life of the battery.
Trolling Thunder batteries, on the other hand, have internal vents and will not allow dangerous gases to build inside the case.
The conventional battery will lose about 40 percent of its amps anywhere from one to 10 charges, which means the 105-amp battery suddenly became a 40-amp one. This will not happen with the AGM batteries because there is no loss due to venting.
Essentially, AGM batteries will last longer (about three-four times longer) and will weigh less because they don’t have to have all the extra electrolyte.
Trolling Thunder batteries will give you three-five years of life with a design of eight years. These are capable of 100 percent recharge in four-six from full discharge. And they will give you 70 percent longer cycle life than conventional deep cycle flooded batteries.
Truly a maintenance-free battery, with a totally dry system that is completely sealed, aids the angler because there are no more acid spills or acid burns to contend with.
Most important for cold climates, Trolling Thunder batteries are ideal for outdoor applications. There’s no need to winterize this unit, and it can be left in the boat all winter long.
All of this with less weight to carry in the boat!
Enjoy the outdoors and respect nature. If you remember the old Chinese proverb, “The physician heals, nature makes well,” you will get those “internal batteries” recharged in a very short time.
And by watching over your other batteries, you will enjoy the outdoors even more.

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