Cold weather will degrade and discharge boat batteries in a negative way and we have certainly had our share of cold weather lately. I was reminded about the negative impact cold weather can have on batteries this week by a friend’s comment. My friend said that when he went to crank his motorcycle this week, the relatively new battery in his motorcycle was dead.

A less than fully charged battery that is exposed to cold weather can be damaged significantly and even a fully charged battery that is left to withstand cold weather without maintenance can also lose power and the life of the battery can be cut short.

It is extremely wise to monitor your marine batteries and, in fact, all your batteries whether they are used for boats, motorcycles, RVs, motorcycles, lawnmower or any type of equipment that might use batteries for starting the system’s engine.

For years, I could personally relate to springtime problems that can occur with marine batteries. I had my share of battery problems even though I attempted to keep a check on my batteries during any cold weather period when my boat was idle.

The only available option a few years ago was to try to move a battery charger around among your batteries in an attempt to make sure they were all kept fully charged. Unless you wanted to invest in several chargers, you had to keep a very close eye on the charging levels of all the batteries.

When you have multiple batteries on a boat, it is difficult even in warm weather to maintain those batteries with a simple battery charger. A few years ago, a new type charging system for batteries became commercially available. The charging system was none as an on-board charging system and it could charge multiple batteries at one time and maintain those batteries with a complete charge.

There were some initial problems with those new type chargers but those early problems have now been corrected and an on-board charging system is a wise investment for anyone having a boat or other type vehicle that might sit idle for any extended period.

The on-board charging system is also great to maintain and recharge your batteries after a day on the lake. During periods of frequent use, the cranking battery on a boat should be maintained or charged by your outboard motor but with all types of accessories connected to the cranking battery, even it can become less than fully charged.

Batteries that provide battery power for trolling motors, that may also have some accessories attached to them can become completely discharged after a day on the lake and should be recharged after each use.

Before on-board battery chargers came alone, this was a chore unless as I stated earlier you wanted to invest in several battery chargers.

The on-board battery chargers that are commercially available for boats now can recharge and maintain up to four batteries at one time. One of the best investments I have ever made was buying an on-board battery charger. The on-board battery charger has completely eliminated all my past battery problems. For my bass boat, I opted for a three bank charging system by MinnKota that maintains my boat’s cranking battery and two batteries that make up my 24-volt trolling motor system.

After each fishing trip or during any prolonged inactivity for my boat, I simply plug the charging system into a 110-volt circuit at my boathouse and the charging system maintains all three batteries. Prior to getting my on-board charging system, I would charge one battery at a time but had no way to maintain (trickle charge) all three batteries at the same time unless I purchased separate battery chargers.

Even though I have always been very careful to maintain my batteries, I still had occasional battery problems before I purchased the on-board battery charging system. Why I did not opt to make that move to an on-board charging system sooner I do not know but boy am I glad I finally made the move.

I now have on-board charging systems for both my bass boat and pontoon boat.

All marine batteries require regular maintenance if they are to be kept in good operating condition. Maintaining those batteries takes effort but many boaters fail to invest the time and effort to insure their dependable operation.

Purchasing an on-board charging system greatly simplifies battery maintenance. Next week

I will look in more detail at the types of batteries and types of on-board charging systems that are available. Good fishing and see you next week.

Outdoor Columnist Bobby Peoples can be contacted via e-mail at brpeoples@windstream.net.  

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