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Author Topic:   Battery Winter Storage Charging Techniques
North Beach posted 01-23-2003 10:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for North Beach  
[During winter storage the author reports that] every once in a while I charge [the battery], but this is a new approach for me. Past approach: put on trickle charger with timer, but I don't really know if better
Drisney posted 01-23-2003 11:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
I just bought solar panel trickle chargers ... I am rigging cigarette lighters direct to battery so the main switch can be off and still connect panel to battery..Dave
lhg posted 01-23-2003 11:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Assuming you are in a cold climate, they can be taken out of the boat for the winter, and stored inside, or trickle charged continuously, in place in the boat. I am doing the latter this year, with a 1 1/2 amp automatic trickle charger. These turn the charge on or off as needed.
Tom W Clark posted 01-24-2003 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The best thing for a battery during the winter is to bring it inside to a thermally stable environment. I used to bring mine into my basement and charge them up and leave them. They would be fine come spring time, though somewhat depleted.

But I now have one of the newer generation of battery chargers which are very small and solid state. These are called automatic chargers and they can sense when a battery is charged up. Once the battery is charged, it becomes a trickle charger to keep it topped off. You can leave them hooked indefinitely. I bought mine at West Marine a few years ago for less than $50 (and probably paid too much at that).

If you just have one battery, leave it hooked up all winter. I have three batteries so I periodically switch them around and keep them all charged up. Many people with boats, cars or even planes stored indoors have these chargers hooked up to their batteries when ever they are just sitting around.

I still have one of those old fashioned three position charger/starters. I think it's a Schumacher or something. You know, thing type of charger that will boil the water out of your battery if you leave on there too long or charge at too fast a rate. Anybody want it?

lhg posted 01-24-2003 01:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Since my Whaler is kept in a garage all year long, I now trickle charge the two batteries, one for each engine, 12 months of the year.

From Walmart, I bought their "Everstart" brand 1 1/2 amp solid state automatic trickle charger (that's all it does) for about $25 each. Each one will only charge one battery. It's a little black box with no working parts, about half the size of a brick, with green (charging) and red (fully charged) indicator lights. This sounds like what Tom has. I have found that even a small capacity charger like this keeps my combo starting/deep cycle batteries right up to speed.

I have permanently wired the trickle charge leads into the boat and battery terminals, one each side under the gunwales, terminating in a 2 pronged trailer style plug near the rod rack. The trickle charger leads have the mating plug. By doing this, I do not have keep removing the battery box top and thumb screw terminals for charging, but simply plug the chargers into the boat leads when taking the boat in and out. I think it's a slick idea, and saves a lot of time and effort. It's an alternative to installing the trickle charger itself on board.

triblet posted 01-24-2003 08:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
We'll at least nobody brought up the "don't
store it on concrete" urban legend.

Drisney: The cigarette lighters shouldn't
be direct to the battery, there should be
a fuse or breaker in between.

LHG, are those trickle chargers sorta six
sided? If so, they are Schumachers and $25 is
a pretty good price. I have two, one keeps
the whaler charged and one keeps the 'Vette
charged. They must be pretty good because
the battery in the 'Vette is 11 years old.
You'll find Schumachers with a variety of
names on the side, including Sears.

I wired the one for the whaler with a
cigarette lighter plug, and just plug it
into the cigarette lighter socket on the
boat, which I've wired so it's between the
Aux breaker and the Aux switch (i.e., always
hot). I do have to be careful with the
cigarette lighter plug because it's hot, but
there's a fuse built into it, the charger
is current limited, and I plug into 110 last.


andygere posted 01-24-2003 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
I have a dual battery charger (got it for free) that I thought I'd wire with connectors that match my downrigger plugs. Each downrigger is wired directly to the battery closest to it. There is an in-line fuse on the positive lead from each battery in the downrigger pigtail. Is there any problem with charging the batteries through this set up? The charger is not an on-board type, but was made for bass boats that live on a trailer.
Jimm posted 01-24-2003 01:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
Posted by triblet:"We'll at least nobody brought up the "don't
store it on concrete" urban legend."

Chuck, we had a fleet of 30 vehicles at work and I always enjoyed tinkering with their problems. Had one guy always telling me - "don't put batteries on concrete floors; it'll drain them". Never could understand where he got that from....Jim

lhg posted 01-24-2003 02:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Chuck - Yes, the small black trickle chargers from Walmart, sold under their "Everstart" brand, are six sided, about an inch and a half thick. They came with plated metal clamps, as I actually think the unit is designed for on-board, under the hood, automotive use. But they work great for my purposes, and I have found them to be excellent. One I have had for two years, and it cost about $19.95 back then. The other one I just bought a few weeks ago, and it was now $24.95. They must be popular, as I had to go to three stores to finally find one in stock. Since using these, my batteries are really lasting. Before, they were good for about 18-24 months max. Like you indicate, I think I have seen this same unit marketed under other brand names, usually for a little more money.

Speaking of batteries, I used to use Sears Diehard Marine batteries, combo starting/deep cycle style, size 24.
Several years ago I switched to the Walmart version, and have found them to be better, with a better warranty. And when on vacation, there is always a Walmart somewhere nearby for a warranty replacement, if needed.

Bigshot posted 01-24-2003 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I just drop the boat in and take it for a spin to keep the bats up to snuff.....what is wrong with you yanks.....little cold up there?
Samars posted 01-24-2003 03:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Samars  Send Email to Samars     


From what I hear in Florida these days...few are charging the batteries in this manner.

Hear it's kinda cold down south too. Wife told me one day last week 49 out of our 50 states recorded below freezing temps?

weekendwarrior posted 01-24-2003 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
I was out fishing night before last and it was a nice day. Temps in the 70's in the afternoon, ocean was as close to glass as it gets in the winter. Hooked a couple of big sharks 100 yards off shore. We were able to get one to the boat. We wanted shark for dinner, unfortunately the one we got to the boat was to big (I couldn't even lift it out of the water by a rope around the tail!). Today however it is COLD! The thermometer on my window says 52, I'm not going boating today!

And to qualify my response for this thread, I just leave the battery in the boat all winter. :)

triblet posted 01-24-2003 07:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
Andy: dunno what your downrigger plugs are like,
but if there's any chance of the charger side
of the plugs shorting, put a fuse in the hot
side right next to the charger.

Is there a switch on the boat for the downrigger
sockets, or are they always on? If there's a
switch, you'll have to turn it on.

Also make sure the charger is a smart charger
that will go to a real slow trickle or you'll
ruin the battery.


Tom W Clark posted 01-24-2003 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The charger I described above is not the same as Larry's and Chuck's. It is a little bit more sophisticated.

In addition to serving as a trickle charger, it will recharge a dead battery, albeit very slowly (takes several days). Larry's physical description is good. Is it a small black box about half the size of a brick. It has three stages, recharge, trickle charge and off (monitoring).

North Beach's initial post reminded me to go down to the basement and check my batteries (which are sitting on the concrete slab) I put the charger on one of the batteries I pulled from the boat in October. Red light came on steady indicating it is recharging. The green light stayed on for about 20 minutes then switched to green indicating it is trickle charging. It will stay that way for about 24-48 hours while it “tops off”. The it goes to blinking green which means it IS topped off. From then on it monitors the battery and trickle charges when needed.

So after three months, it took 20 minutes charging to get it close to a full charge and into the “maintenance level” of charging. These chargers are definitely worth the small investment.

andygere posted 01-25-2003 12:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
The plugs are 2 prong round marine style (Perko or CH) with a rubber boot. There is no switch on the pigtails, but I may add one since I don't like having hot leads hanging around. Good idea. The charger is not a "smart" type, and I'd just use it to top off the batteries before trips, etc. It came from an RTU cabinet, and was removed because over time, it did boil the back-up batteries and ruin them. The mfr. says check the water if left on continuously.

Eventually, I may invest in a smart fixed mount onboard charger, but for now, the freebie will be just fine.

Roscoe posted 01-25-2003 12:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Roscoe  Send Email to Roscoe     
I use trickle ,and test with a Specific gravity Tester 5 bucks at pep-boys.Hope this helps.
ShrimpBurrito posted 01-25-2003 01:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
Larry - Do those trailer wire connectors you use to connect the charger corrode pretty quickly, or are they some sort of marine grade connector? That's a great idea.
lhg posted 01-25-2003 02:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
I use those two and three pole flat trailer style connectors all over the boat, wherever a quick disconnect makes sense, and they seem to last forever. No corrosion at all. The 4 pole ones on my trailer don't corrode either.

Besides for the trickle charger, I use them for the stern light pole, international console mounted light pole (needs to be disconnected when canvas is up) and all bilge pump connections, float switch connections and electronic connections. These allow me to disconnect any of the above for replacement or repair without a lot of wiring work in hard to access locations. I do make sure that none of these connection points are in water, however, even though they seem to be a waterproof connection.

I get them at either a Marine store (where they cost a little more) or Pep Boys.

whaler131 posted 01-25-2003 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for whaler131  Send Email to whaler131     
If you have a duel switch can you put it to all and charge both the same time?
North Beach posted 01-26-2003 10:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for North Beach    
Thanks much for the information. I think I figured out my problem--My charger is one of the old styles and is really niot trickle charging--prob. just a continous low volt charge which is nurting the batteries. Also, I just leave them in the garage (NJ winters).

My plan is to charge them up full, bring them inside (basement, maybe) and purchase a new type true trickle charger as discussed above.

This should get me some additional life out of the batteries.

This thread is an example of how the veterans can really help the rookies.

Thank you.

North Beach posted 01-26-2003 03:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for North Beach    
$84.95 at Boat US! When I wimpered at the price, the guy said local atomotive part store would have same thing for less. OF course, they had nothing in stock.

THe Boat US guy very sternly warned me not to store them on concete, though.

Tom W Clark posted 01-26-2003 04:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I just went and looked at what I actually have. It is a Guest model #2603, 3A, two stage automatic charger. I know I paid less than $50 for it in the summer of 2000. West Marine still sells this model but for $68.


I guess that old-wive's-tale still persists.

Russ posted 01-27-2003 02:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Russ  Send Email to Russ     
I thought the reason for not putting a battery directly on concrete is because any acid on the bottem of the battery will etch the concrete. It sure etched mine, and I've seen other examples too.


Montauk posted 01-27-2003 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Montauk  Send Email to Montauk     
Contrary to popular belief, it is not neccesary to store your battery where it is heated. We store about 200 batteries over the winter in an unheated battery shack without any problems. The batteries are brought up to a full charge when placed in the shack and left for the winter. Cold does not discharge the battery, but heat will cause it to discharge. If you do leave it in the boat for the winter simply disconnect it, and make sure it has a good charge. If you bring it inside make sure to keep it trickle charged. It was -15 degrees here last night, and we do not have problems with batteries freezing.
ShrimpBurrito posted 01-31-2003 08:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for ShrimpBurrito  Send Email to ShrimpBurrito     
I bought one of these 6-sided Schumachers, and so far so good. I took Larry's (lhg) suggestion and hooked up permanent disconnects to the battery so I can easily connect & disconnect the charger. Since I have a 15 SS, and often have water and splash near the battery, I chose heavy duty waterproof fuse holders as the quick disconnect (item g in from the link below). West Marine stocks them, but NAPA, and several other auto stores, have them for about half the price.

Another one of those Too-Long URIs

jimh posted 01-31-2003 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Read some more advice on battery care for over the winter at:

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