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Battery service is something that is commonly forgotten about. Batteries are the heart of your boat. Without them, there is no power to start the engines, operate the bilge pumps, or keep the beer cold in the fridge!

Having the right type of battery and keeping it in good condition will ensure hassle-free boating. Read on to find out how to maintain your batteries and make sure you have the correct type installed.

First, some common questions:

MY BOAT IS LAUNCHING SOON. WHAT DO MY BATTERIES NEED?

If you booked Battery Service with us, you don’t need to do anything; we have already charged and disconnected them, and a few days before you launch, we will reconnect and charge them again.

If you didn’t book Battery Service, please consider doing so. It’s a surefire way to make sure engines start easily when you go to take your boat from the dock. If your batteries are dead, you may have to wait several hours before they are charged enough to start the engines.

If your boat is stored with us, you can request battery service right here.

IF I TURNED BATTERY SWITCHES OFF WHEN I STORED MY BOAT, DO I STILL NEED BATTERY SERVICE?

Yes! Even though the battery switches are off, there are some accessories that are permanently connected such as stereo memory, dash clock, engine control unit and the carbon monoxide detector. These, and many other items, will slowly drain the batteries over the winter.

If you didn’t turn your battery switches off, well, you need Battery Service!

ISN’T BATTERY SERVICE ONLY FOR OLDER BATTERIES?  MINE ARE BRAND NEW!

No! If your batteries are new, it’s even more crucial to service them. Batteries have a limited lifespan and letting them discharge below 11.7 volts will quickly reduce their lifespan.

When your boat is in its slip, you have shore power connected, and the battery charger will keep the batteries topped up.  Out on the lake, the engines will be running and keeping the batteries charged. However, if you‘ve anchored in Chicago’s Playpen with the fridge running and stereo blasting, you may have noticed your batteries struggle to start the engines at the end of the day. A similar thing happens over the winter if you don’t charge and then disconnect the batteries, like we do for Battery Service.

DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT BATTERIES INSTALLED?

With Battery Service, it’s confirmed that your batteries are the correct type for their intended purpose (i.e. starting batteries used for engine starting, Deep Cycle batteries used for service loads for things like lights, stereo, electronics, etc). 

Starting batteries are like 100 meter-sprinters; they give a lot of power for a very short period. Starting batteries must be kept fully charged. Discharging a starting battery by using it for service loads will drain and kill it very quickly.

Deep Cycle batteries are like marathon runners; they can give a lower amount of power but over a very long period. They are not suitable for engine starting purposes. They are great for service loads, which require a fraction of the power needed to start an engine.

Some boats may also have “Dual Purpose” batteries. These are intended to handle both engine starting and service loads on smaller boats.

WHAT ABOUT REPLACING BATTERIES?

On some boats, two or more batteries are connected together to make a bigger battery (known as a “battery bank”). If one battery in a bank fails, all the batteries in that bank should be replaced at the same time. The reason for this is that the failed battery will constantly draw charge from the good battery(s), increasing the drain and wear on them. If only the failed battery is replaced, the other, older batteries will start to drain the new battery.

In other words, the battery bank will be unbalanced, shortening the potential life of the batteries.

Also, don’t assume that automotive batteries are okay to use instead of marine grade batteries. Most auto batteries are used to start a car engine, and nothing else! Marine grade batteries are also purpose-designed and built for the marine environment.

TIPS TO PROLONG THE LIFE OF YOUR BATTERIES

  • KEEP BATTERIES FULLY CHARGED. Don’t let them fall below 11.7 volts.
  • FULLY CHARGE AND DISCONNECT BATTERIES for any extended storage (i.e. winter).
  • KEEP TOPS OF YOUR BATTERIES CLEAN AND DRY. Dirt/liquid can cause a short and discharge them.
  • REPLACE CONNECTED BATTERIES AT THE SAME TIME. Don’t mix battery types in the same bank.

If you have any questions, please reach out to our service team at: Service@ChicagoYachtWorks.com

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