Moderated Discussion Areas
ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
|Author||Topic: Battery life|
posted 04-20-2015 04:51 PM ET (US)
What is the estimated life of a marine battery? I know there are a lot of variables involved. I have a classic Montauk with a  Ficht engine. The only electronics are a Garmin chart plotter and depth sounder. The only other electrically powered items are the navigation lamps. I have a Perko battery switch that allows me to completely cut power from the battery to the boat to eliminate any slow drain. The voltmeter on the depth sounder shows anywhere from 13.4 to 14.4-Volts when the engine is running, so I know the alternator is doing its job.
How long can I reasonably expect this battery to last?
posted 04-20-2015 06:15 PM ET (US)
I get around five to seven years. That's never letting them get deeply discharged and they live on a 1.5-Ampere maintenance charger all winter long every year.
posted 04-20-2015 06:53 PM ET (US)
Optima Blue Top on year seven running a Montauk with similar setup and main isolation switch, a Mercury 90, Garmin chart plotter and sound, VHF radio, lamps, bilge, 12-VDC car charger, spot light and two electric downriggers.
I drained the battery a few times, mainly by leaving the bilge pump running over a few days. Luckily I can still pull start the engine, if warranted.
I do not trickle charge over winter, I just do a full charge every two months with a 12 or 20-Ampere charger.
On a side note, I was fully expecting my downrigger usage to require a second battery, but that has not been the case, as I run the boat long enough to get a decent charge getting to the fishing grounds. I think running the engine is really the key.
posted 04-20-2015 08:34 PM ET (US)
For years I changed my battery every four years, thinking it was much cheaper to swap it out than to deal with a dead battery on the water.
Last year I upgraded my 160 Dauntless to dual batteries, so now I'll switch to a five-year schedule instead.
posted 04-20-2015 10:12 PM ET (US)
A maintenance or "float" charger will de-sulphate the plates over a period of time and is the reason why I leave it on all winter.
posted 04-21-2015 08:59 AM ET (US)
Thanks. I was thinking around five to seven years. I'm able to run my boat year round, although winter usage is much less than warmer months. I hope that helps extend the life since the battery gets charged when I run the boat.
posted 04-21-2015 10:42 AM ET (US)
On my previous boat with a 1999 Evinrude Ficht engine I was at the eighth year of use with dual Optima Blue Top AGM batteries. Three years later I was on the boat with the buyer and the batteries were still in service.
Those year 2001 Optimas were made in the USA and were going strong after 11 years of Gulf Coast use. I believe the current Optimas are made in China. I now use Sears AGM batteries made by Odyssey in the USA.
I believe a quality AGM battery will deliver ten years of service. If dual batteries are used there is little risk in stretching battery use until one fails. Perhaps, with hard use involving electric down riggers or a trolling motor, a shorter life should be expected.
I believe 1999 era Ficht engines demand more current to operate the fuel injectors than do carburetor engines.
posted 04-21-2015 10:52 AM ET (US)
Battery life if a function of initial battery quality and then subsequent care. The anticipated service life of a battery can be inferred from the length of the manufacturer's warranty. A few years ago I replaced a car battery that was sold to me with an 84-month warranty. The battery had been in service for just over seven years.
posted 04-22-2015 06:49 AM ET (US)
I concur with Jim,
Obviously, battery companies are in business to make and sell batteries, they do their research and know exactly how long their products should last. The warranty for "x" number of years is from my experience the average life expectancy the battery should be viable for service...
With that being said, my 2003 Ford E350 van had it's original battery for 11 years... A pretty good run as far as I'm concerned...
posted 04-22-2015 11:20 AM ET (US)
Battery life also depends on how you treat them...
-Accidentally run them down completely a few times by leaving an accessory on- that shortens their life.
posted 04-22-2015 03:34 PM ET (US)
If you have a "-Use a standard (vs. smart) charger- that shortens their life." old transformer based "dumb" charger that will go as low as 1 or 2 amps charging current, save it. It's the only way to revive a battery that has been totally discharged to the point that a "smart" charger will throw an error code saying the battery is defective. I know, I've revived three batteries that my smart charger said were toast using my 70's vintage Sears charger. Just put it on 1 or 2 amps for a day or so and it'll probably take a enough of a charge to then put it on the smart charger.
posted 04-22-2015 08:41 PM ET (US)
The battery on my Montauk was on the boat for at least a year or two before I repowered it back in 2004. It will/needs to be replaced this year. Flooded cell manufactured by Deka (East Penn). Always abused but only had to crank first a 3 cylinder 70hp, now a 90 hp E-Tec, bilge pump on a float switch, just running lights left on while night fishing.
The battery I just replaced on my 22 was new in 2009 purchased from West Marine (unknown manufacturer). It went bad two years ago but I kept it nursed with a charger and always had a second battery (once again, a Deka) so I tolerated it. This one had to crank a 250 hp E-Tec and run a bilge pump with a float as well as night lights and a sounder.
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