When it comes to a boat’s essential items, people think about life jackets, outboard engines, depth finders, fire extinguishers, and trolling motors. A rod and reel might also be among the first things you’ll consider carrying on your next marine trip. However, we tend to forget a very crucial part of the boat called a battery.
Have you ever had an 80-degree perfect day where you’re with a loaded boat, there’s no wind, and fish are chomping but your battery is dead? An engine that won’t start and trolling motor that can’t run can turn your seemingly great moments into a nightmare.
Experienced boaters understand the importance of trolling motor battery maintenance. Badly maintained batteries can turn your enjoyable expedition into a miserable trip. There’s nothing as terrible as having a low functioning or dead battery on your boating or fishing excursion.
Marine batteries supply the necessary power for starting your boat. A weak battery puts you at risk of getting stranded on the water, which can turn out to be dangerous or frustrating. Moreover, it can be expensive to be constantly replacing batteries.
The best thing to do is to maintain your battery properly. This way, you can save some cash by extending its life. Fortunately, taking some simple steps can help you stay on the safe side. Some of them are as simple as keeping your batteries fully charged on every trip and storing them properly.
How Long Should a Trolling Motor Battery Last?
There’s no standard answer as to how long your trolling motor battery should last. The standardized testing that manufacturers put these products under do not account for the rigors of actual usage in harsh conditions. However, you can maximize your battery’s life by following guidelines and conducting proper trolling motor battery maintenance.
At a minimum, your lead-acid battery should serve you for 2 to 3 years. Under proper maintenance, it can go up to 5 seasons. The same applies to AGM batteries. With good charging habits, your AGMs can even last more than 5 seasons.
A number of factors affect how long your battery can last during a trip. The main contributors are the quality, age, and maintenance of the product and weather conditions. A new, well-maintained battery with a high ampere-hour rating can last you longer. When the weather is windy or stormy, your cell is likely to push for less time.
The type of motor you use also affects your battery’s performance. A motor’s amperage draw determines how long your battery lasts. The higher the rating, the more current the motor draws. This results in your battery lasting for a shorter time.
When Should It Be Replaced
Trolling motor battery maintenance is so important that if you do it correctly, your products can last for at least 5 years. However, there comes a time when you’ll have to do replacements. You don’t want your battery to die in the middle of your trip. To have peace of mind, you could opt to do replacements once every two years.
However, if you keep monitoring your batteries, there’s no reason to panic and replace them often. Just ensure that their capacity doesn’t fall beyond 70 or 80 percent. With proper trolling motor battery maintenance, you’re sure that your products are going to perform optimally and not let you down on the next voyage.
How Should It Be Charged
Proper trolling motor battery maintenance keeps you from having to replace your boat’s batteries often. One of the best practices is to charge them the right way. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with trolling motor batteries:
Frequently using a partially charged battery can significantly reduce its performance and life span. With time, even new batteries can gain memory and may never attain full charge. That’s why you should always ensure they’re fully charged after each trip. Even if your battery has enough power for multiple starts, it can weaken with time. So, keep it charged.
You also need one or more good battery chargers. Although a portable charger is great, it is recommended to use an automatic option. It either shuts down to trickle charge or off after fully charging your battery. It’s even worth to spend on a multistage charger that recognizes charge levels.
Overcharging a battery can cause it to become very hot and even blow up. That can be a health hazard. Even if your battery doesn’t explode, the heat lessens its capacity to hold a full charge and you may need to replace it sooner.
It’s not a good practice to leave your batteries uncharged for long periods of time, especially when its off-season. It reduces their performance and life span. Use a battery tender or trickle charger to keep a small amount of power flowing through the batteries. Alternatively, re-charge them every month to make sure they retain their charge.
In the past, people recharged batteries by moving the acid around the batteries’ containers. However, this involved a lot of physical effort and was a slow process. Thankfully, the progression of battery technology has made things easier.
Since there are several types of trolling motor batteries today, there’re also different ways of recharging them. As such, you should use different approaches and even chargers. Here are the most common types of modern batteries and the recommended ways of charging them:
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery. A solar pack, outboard, or onboard charger can work well on Absorbed Glass Mat batteries. They are easy and quick to charge. Ensure you review your AGMs’ charging cycle closely to avoid damaging them.
Sealed Gel batteries. Dead cells make it difficult to refill these batteries as a whole, so avoid undercharging or overcharging at all costs
Flooded cell batteries. Simply pour the acid directly into the battery box to create an electrical reaction in the cells.
How Should It Be Stored
- Good trolling motor battery maintenance includes proper storage. Improperly storing your batteries affects their performance and lifespan. Here are some key issues to consider:
- Storing batteries on the floor ruins them
- Always clean your batteries before storing them to avoid corrosion
- Store them when they are fully charged
- Store them in dry, temperature-controlled environments when it’s cold.