How to Choose the Best Marine Battery | Boat Battery Buying Guide (2024)
Are you tired of constantly replacing and maintaining your boat's lead-acid batteries? What if there was a better solution that offered longer life, lighter weight and faster charging?
Marine batteries are a vital component of any boat, providing a reliable power source for starting, navigation, lighting, and other electrical systems such as fish finders and trolling motors. Choosing the right battery depends on several factors such as the purpose, type, group size, capacity and more.
This guide will provide an overview of what to consider when selecting and installing the best marine battery for your needs, with tips, FAQs and advice on proper care and maintenance.
Learn about the differences between different types of batteries, understand their respective pros and cons and gain insight into how to extend the life of deep-cycle marine batteries and store them correctly.
Finally, explore the right type of battery for your vessel, including size considerations and installation techniques. Let's dive in and power up your boat for maximum performance!
Of course, we’re going to lead you to understand why our lithium batteries are the perfect match for your marine applications. But let’s start at the beginning of understanding the role and importance of owning the best deep-cycle marine battery for your boat.
- When selecting a marine battery, consider the type, purpose, group size and capacity.
- Different types of marine batteries offer unique benefits and must be chosen based on their capacity in Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Amp Hours (Ah).
- Lithium batteries provide increased efficiency, extended lifespan, greater capacity, lighter weight and smaller size and their ability to discharge more power compared to lead-acid counterparts while ensuring safety through proper installation and maintenance.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Marine Battery
A marine battery is essential for initiating the boat's engine and supplying power to all onboard equipment. When selecting the ideal marine battery, it is essential to consider the type, purpose, group size, and capacity of the battery.
When selecting the most suitable marine battery, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of the various battery technologies available, including lithium, AGM, gel, and wet cell batteries. The marine battery size chart serves to classify each marine battery according to its size.
Lithium batteries boast impressive capacities, C-rates, and DOD, but come with a higher price tag. Marine AGM batteries offer good discharge currents, high capacities, and a good performance-cost ratio. Gel batteries have a longer lifespan than AGM models. However, they require more delicate charging. Wet cell batteries are robust, resistant to high currents, and have high capacities, but require regular maintenance.
Purpose (Type) of Marine Batteries
In most boating applications there will be more than one purpose for your battery. So before you can select the best deep cycle marine battery you will need to evaluate what kind of battery you need based on what the purpose of the battery will be.
The three types of marine batteries are available based on their purpose are starting, deep-cycle and dual-purpose.
Starting marine batteries are designed to provide a short burst of cranking amps to the engine when the ignition is activated, and should never be used to power appliances or as a trolling motor battery.
Lead-acid batteries, such as AGM batteries, tend to offer superior performance to lithium-ion batteries when a starting battery is required.
Deep-Cycle Marine Battery
Deep-cycling is the process of repeatedly draining a deep-cycle battery to 80% or more of its capacity without causing any damage. A deep-cycle marine battery is used in running the electrical systems in boats, with applications ranging from radios and speaker systems to fish finders, navigation and trolling motors.
Typically lithium batteries are the best type of battery for this purpose as they can be discharged to nearly all of their battery capacity without harming the battery. This also gives them approximately twice the usable capacity of their lead acid counterparts which can only deliver about 50% of their capacity.
Dual Purpose Battery
A dual-purpose marine battery is designed to provide both deep-cycle and starter capabilities, offering a combination of the benefits of a starting battery and a deep-cycle battery. Deep-cycle marine batteries are engineered to deliver a consistent power output over an extended period, whereas starting batteries simply provide a jolt of power when needed to start the engine.
Because marine starting batteries generally possess a limited capacity, sufficient to start the boat's engine without any difficulty, they should not be relied upon for more than what is necessary.
Thus the dual-purpose battery provides the best of both worlds in being able to deliver a lot of power in a short period, while also being able to deep cycle when powering electronics.
Depending on the design of your boat's electrical system, this can either be a good or bad thing. The best fishing boat battery setup will ensure redundancies in the system such that you never go without power when you need it.
Battery Types for Marine Deep Cycle Batteries
Boat owners have a range of battery options to choose from, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. The three primary kinds of deep-cycle batteries suitable for marine applications are flooded lead acid, AGM and lithium.
Flooded lead-acid batteries, tried and true, offer affordability and dependable performance but require regular maintenance and can be heavy. We don’t advise purchasing these because you will be left struggling to maintain them and will ultimately replace them more than once during the lifetime of your boat ownership.
AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are a popular alternative, offering a maintenance-free design, resistance to vibration, and spill-proof operation, making them a convenient choice for many boaters. These can be great as a starting battery, but they lack many features that make them ideal for all battery purposes.
On the cutting edge of marine battery technology are lithium batteries, known for their high energy density, lightweight construction, extended lifespan, and fast charging capabilities. While lithium batteries are often more expensive up front, their exceptional performance and longevity can make them a cost-effective investment over time, especially for those seeking optimal power, efficiency, and reduced maintenance in their boating experience.
Ultimately, the choice between these battery types depends on a boater's specific needs, budget, and preferences for their watercraft.
Related: Learn more about the pros and cons of AGM vs lithium batteries.
Boat Battery Group Size
Marine batteries are divided into various group sizes to make it easier to select the appropriate option. Group 24 batteries are suitable for boats with low to moderate power requirements, while Group 27 batteries are more expensive but offer a higher capacity. Group 31 batteries are becoming the norm for performance boats that require a balance between more battery capacity and performance on the water.
When selecting a marine battery, it is essential to consider the size that will best fit the available storage area on your boat. The batteries are categorized by size, so it is important to choose carefully. Specialized batteries specifically designed for kayaks and canoes are also available.
Marine Battery Capacity
Battery capacity is an essential factor to consider when selecting marine batteries, as it determines the amount of energy the battery can store. Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) measure the instantaneous output of a battery, while Amp Hours (Ah) indicate the battery's reserve capacity.
CCA is typically used for starting batteries, while Ah is used for dual-purpose and deep-cycle batteries. The more cold cranking amps the battery has, the more cranking power it can provide in a short burst. Thus larger engines would require a starting battery with a large amount of CCA.
When it comes to how long you can expect to use your marine battery for a day of fishing or enjoying the water, the amount of stored energy is important. For this, you will need to look at the capacity of the battery, which is typically indicated in Amp Hours, but may also appear as Reserve Capacity.
Once again, the larger the amount of stored energy, the longer you can use that to power your water adventure. But know that there are limitations in how much of that power you can use depending on the type of battery you select. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries offer 100% depth of discharge, allowing you to use far more power than other batteries.
For a full eight-hour day of use under normal conditions, lithium-ion deep-cycle marine batteries with at least 100 to 120 amp hours are recommended. Other battery options offer only a fraction of the power and at half the weight of lead-acid batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries offer even more reason to invest in them.
Why Consider Investing In A Lithium Battery For Your Marine Applications?
Lithium boat batteries offer a multitude of benefits for marine enthusiasts and boaters alike. First and foremost, they provide significantly higher energy density compared to traditional lead-acid batteries, resulting in a lighter and more compact power source that allows for extended runtimes and increased efficiency on the water.
A lithium battery also boasts a longer lifespan, enduring more charge and discharge cycles, and requires minimal maintenance, reducing downtime and hassle for boat owners. Moreover, they charge faster, providing quick turnaround times for boating adventures.
Additionally, lithium batteries are environmentally friendly, producing no harmful emissions, and they have a flat discharge curve, ensuring consistent power delivery throughout their charge.
Overall, these advantages make lithium boat batteries a superior choice for those seeking reliable, long-lasting, and efficient energy solutions for their marine adventures.
Although they have a higher initial cost, the savings over time are well worth the upfront investment. Plus, we back all of our batteries with a 10 year guarantee that they will continue to meet and exceed your expectations year over year.
SHOP OUR PROCONNECT SERIES LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR MARINE APPLICATIONS
Tips for Proper Care and Maintenance of Marine Batteries
Regular inspections are critical for maintaining the optimal performance of marine batteries and for detecting any potential issues before they become more serious. The optimal method for charging a marine battery is to use a charger specifically designed for marine batteries and to adhere to the manufacturer's instructions.
It is essential to ensure that the battery is not overcharged or undercharged. Additionally, it is recommended to recharge a marine battery after each use and at least once a month when it is not in use.
If a boat is not utilized for an extended period, it is recommended to check the battery every few months to ensure it is in optimal condition. Additionally, the battery should be charged prior to use, as batteries can self-discharge if not used over time.
A lithium battery requires a higher charging voltage than a standard flooded cell battery. So when you choose to invest in a new battery, be sure to spend the money to ensure you have the right boat battery charger.
Overall, marine batteries offer a reliable source of power for boats of all kinds and purposes and choosing the right one can make all the difference when it comes to safe operation. Considerations such as type, purpose, group size, and capacity are essential for making sure the battery meets the requirements of the boat’s power system.
It is important to note that marine batteries have three primary purposes - starting battery, deep-cycle battery, and dual-purpose battery - each having marine battery options best for it. And you have the option to choose from lead acid batteries and lithium iron phosphate batteries to meet your needs.
Lithium batteries are typically preferred over conventional batteries for marine applications due to their longer service life, greater capacity and ability to discharge more power.
When replacing a boat battery, make sure you select one that is compatible with your boat’s system according to specifications. A marine battery charger with proper settings will be needed to charge the battery and keep it in good health. Regular inspections and appropriate charging techniques will also help extend the life of any marine battery.
As for storage, marine batteries should always be kept in cool and dry environments with clean, corrosion-free terminals. Charging them every few months and disconnecting from the boat during off-peak usage is also recommended.
Regardless of which marine battery you choose, keeping up with inspections and protocols for proper care and maintenance can ensure optimal performance and safety on the water.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a marine battery for my boat?
The best boat battery setup will account for every purpose a battery or batteries will provide when on the water. Marine batteries are essential for boating as they are designed to withstand wet environments and provide superior power capacity for marine electronics compared to car batteries.
Car batteries are not suitable for marine use due to their inability to withstand the corrosive effects of the marine environment as well as to handle much of the movement on the water, making them prone to failure.
Deep-cycle marine batteries are ideal for powering a boat’s electrical systems, such as navigational lights, bilge pumps and trolling motors. Furthermore, having two separate batteries for the engine and the electrical system is also recommended to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. The
The best marine batteries are designed to provide reliable and consistent power, even in the harshest conditions.
How long do deep-cycle marine batteries last?
The life expectancy of a deep-cycle marine battery is contingent upon a variety of factors, including usage, upkeep, and quality. With appropriate care and charging, most deep cycle batteries can last for up to six years.
Lead-acid batteries typically have a lifespan of 500-1000 cycles. On the other hand, lithium iron phosphate batteries usually last three to five times longer, ranging between 3000-5000 cycles.
Factors such as depth of discharge, temperature, and quality of the battery can also affect the lifespan of the battery, with higher-quality batteries tending to last longer.
Should I buy an AGM or lithium marine battery?
When comparing AGM vs lithium batteries, there are several key features you should address as you shop for the best marine battery. Lithium batteries have a higher initial investment when used as deep-cycle marine batteries, yet they offer a longer service life and greater capacity than AGM batteries. As such, it is generally recommended to opt for lithium batteries for marine use.
AGM batteries are more cost-effective and are also maintenance-free. However, they have a shorter lifespan and lower capacity than lithium batteries due to their lesser depth of discharge (50-60% maximum).
On the other hand, lithium batteries are more expensive but boast a longer lifespan, higher capacity, and can discharge more power than AGM batteries.
In addition to the cost difference, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to each type of battery.
AGM batteries are often preferred for starting applications, as they can deliver high power quickly and efficiently. They are also more resistant to vibration, making them ideal for boats that experience heavy weather.
However, AGM batteries are not capable of deep cycling beyond 50-60% of their capacity, meaning they are not suitable for powering accessories or electrical loads over long periods.
Lithium batteries, on the other hand, are well-suited for deep cycling applications, making them ideal for powering accessories and electrical loads. Additionally, lithium batteries are much lighter than AGM batteries, making them easier to store and transport and have an impact on the boat’s performance on the water.
How do I store marine batteries when not in use?
Proper storage of marine batteries when not in use is essential for maintaining their performance and extending their lifespan. Marine batteries should be stored in a cool, dry environment, away from freezing temperatures. It is also important to ensure the terminals are clean and corrosion-free, as this can help to prevent sulfation and extend the battery's lifespan.
Additionally, it is important to charge marine batteries every few months when not in use, in order to prevent self-discharge and sulfation. This can be done by trickle charging or by using a separate battery charger. Additionally, it is recommended to disconnect the battery from the boat and store it in a separate, secure location to prevent theft and accidental damage.
What is the best marine battery out there?
The Enduro Power Batteries ProConnect Series offers the best marine battery out there. With its ability to withstand tough and long cycles and its longer lifespan, this high-end battery is sure to provide reliable power no matter the conditions. It is designed specifically for fishing and boating enthusiasts who care about quality and battery performance while not wanting to limit their time on the water or think about how much battery capacity is left.
Enduro Power Batteries offers several sizes of lithium marine batteries, all “drop-in” ready for Group 31 and all able to be wired in either series and/or parallel to provide you enough power for starting and running your onboard accessories and trolling motor.
What is a good CCA for a marine battery?
For marine batteries, it is recommended to have a CCA of 250 to 600, depending on the size of your engines. Higher CCAs will provide more power and reliability, so taking the extra step to ensure you purchase the right CCA can be beneficial in the long run.
It is important to consider the CCA when purchasing a marine battery, as it will determine the power and reliability of the battery. The CCA should be chosen based on the size of the engine, with a smaller engine.
Are AGM marine batteries worth it?
AGM marine batteries are designed to meet the demands of boaters. Starting batteries deliver high power in short bursts while deep cycle batteries provide more consistent power and can be discharged deeply without causing irreversible damage.
As such, AGM batteries are an ideal choice for marine enthusiasts who require performance and reliability from their batteries. They are more expensive than standard flooded cell batteries but are typically more affordable than their lithium counterparts.
Overall, AGM marine batteries are worth it for those seeking a durable and reliable battery that is suitable for marine applications. They are engineered to be more resistant to cycling than flooded batteries, which is highly beneficial for boats running lights, pumps, and electronics.
Furthermore, they come with a longer lifespan and longer shelf life, making them a great cost-effective choice.
Are lithium batteries worth it on a boat?
Lithium batteries are worth the investment on a boat due to their lightweight, increased efficiency and longer lifespan compared to lead-acid deep-cycle batteries. With proper maintenance, these batteries can provide reliable power for an extended period and help maximize performance and safety at sea.
If you are looking for the best marine batteries that you purchase once, install and virtually forget about for many years to come, lithium options are best for you.