Keeping batteries charged

Discussion in 'Boat Tips' started by McDreamy, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. McDreamy

    McDreamy New Member

    Messages:
    279
    State:
    nc
    im having problems keeping my batteries charged up esp if im running underwater lights i have a trolling motor and a main battery then i always carry another along to run my lights but after about 5 hrs it goes dead then i have to switch to my trolling motor battery is there any way i can keep this from happening
     
  2. RiverKing

    RiverKing New Member

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    2,232
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    Yellow Spr
    How old is the battery
     

  3. McDreamy

    McDreamy New Member

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    279
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    nc
    about 3 or 4 yrs old
     
  4. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

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    2,553
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    MO
    What kind of battery are you using for your lights and trolling motor? You need a deep-cycle marine battery for long-duration use like that; a regular car battery isn't designed to last very long.

    An old battery like you have, especially if it's been mistreated, won't hold a charge for very long. You probably need to replace the battery. If you do, get the biggest capacity marine battery you can afford and then buy a good "smart" charger to charge and maintain the battery - if you're using a simple car battery charger, it won't necessarily charge the deep-cycle batteries properly. A "smart" charger knows how to properly charge that kind of battery and keep it fully charged between uses.
     
  5. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    How long a battery holds up depends on 3 things: the amp capacity of the battery; the amp draw of your lights, or whatever else you hook up to the battery; and the age of the battery. I can definitely vouch for the fact that age lessens the ability to do things that were commonly possible during the prime of life.
    But now that I think about it, I used to get a battery additive at Auto Zone that seemed to work at times. I remember using it on a trolling motor battery one spring, and it improved the battery enough to get me through the season. But more often than not, the stuff didn't seem to help much. I don't have any idea whatsoever as to why it would dramatically improve one battery, then seem to have no effect on the next two. I don't know if Auto Zone still carries it, and can't remember the name; an employee told me they were going to discontinue it. Funny how you forget things like that. I've got a couple of auto batteries that are really marginal, and that stuff might just do the trick...or not.
     
  6. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

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    2,553
    State:
    MO
    My dad says he always heard that putting an aspirin in each cell will rejuvenate a battery. Says he tried that on an old battery in a truck several years ago and it brought the battery back to life enough that it was still in the truck when he sold it not long ago. YMMV.
     
  7. jim

    jim New Member

    Messages:
    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    Jerry I'll have to give you points for the age comment.Currently Minn Kota makes a very good liquid additive for batteries that desulphates the plates.One once goes in each cell.It is available at Walmart and costs about 10$ which is far cheaper than a new battery.Sulphation is the biggest enemy of batteries and happens when they are not immediately recharged after use and thru age.Knocking the sulphates off the plates allows the acid to flow again.As Jerry said life is a function of draw,(Amps) and reserve capacity (Minutes).Reserve capacity is rated as the amount of time the battery will function with a continous 25 Amp draw on it.The Trojan SCS series 31 has 225 minutes of reserve capacity which means it will run something almost 4 hrs.How many amps are your lights,then what is your batteries reserve minutes?The Optima batteries everyone mentions were rated low in a recent test in a boating mag because for their size they don't have much reserve capacity.So you have to trade off advantages against disadvantages.:)The aspirin trick is not recommended by most battery companies because aspirin is alkaline and neutralizes 'Acid".Its ok as an emergency procedure because evidently the chemical reaction causes a burst of power,but will seriously reduce the batteries capacity long term.
     
  8. Mr.T

    Mr.T New Member

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    2,553
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    Thanks for the info about the aspirin - I had my doubts it actually did anything useful - more of an "old wives tale" I think.

    My "smart" battery charger has a mode that desulfates the battery when it detects sulfation is a problem. Yet another reason to use a modern computerized charger.
     
  9. copycat

    copycat New Member

    Messages:
    1,841
    State:
    New Jersey
    You can buy a battery switch at a marine supply for use with two batteries. The switch allows you to use any battery you chose or both at the same time. Allways use deep cycle batteries.
     
  10. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    After my previous post, I looked on the web and found several electronic products that claim to de-sulphate the battery with high-frequency pulses. I even found a report by someone in the Army Reserve stating how well they worked and how much money had been saved, but it sounded more like someone blowing their own horn for coming up with the idea than scientific fact. Has anyone on this board actually used one of these devices? And how well did it work?
     
  11. Nobody Special

    Nobody Special New Member

    Messages:
    614
    State:
    TN
    My battery charger has a desulfation mode. My son's battery in his truck went dead and the charger kicked in and tried to bring it back to life but it didn't work.

    My advice is just buy a new battery. A big one with the most amp hours you can get and don't be throwing money at an old battery that may have seen better days.
     
  12. SeedTick

    SeedTick New Member

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    1,414
    State:
    Conway Arkansas

    Man ain't it so.

    ST
     
  13. jim

    jim New Member

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    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    Jerry I use the Solargizer and it works beautifully.DON"T expect one to revive a dead battery in an hour but if you leave it on for a few days they work fine.The principle is similar to using a hose.You know if you point a hose directly at something you want to wash off it will work but if you shake the hose so it give rapid little pulses it works better.The ARMY and USMC units use these all the time.They aren't cheap so costs and benefit have to be considered carefully.:)
     
  14. jtrew

    jtrew New Member

    Messages:
    4,404
    State:
    Little Rock, AR
    The chemical de-sulphators may be a good bit cheaper, but they are definitely one-shot fixes. And it's a crap shoot. It may help and it may not; either way, you're out the cost of the chemical. The Solargizer company lists the price at $59.95, but would seem to be transferrable from battery to battery, leaving it on each battery at least a couple or three weeks. If transferring the solar panel seems a little daunting, they say they have a model that is battery powered. Kind of bootstraps itself, I guess. I haven't checked at Auto Zone for the chemical desulphator, but looking online, I can't find it cheaper than $10 a shot. That means that once I have used the Solargizer on 6 batteries, I have broken even. Shoot, I have two marginal batteries that either need to be rejuvenated or discarded right now because they don't hold a charge very long, and another that's beginning to be that way. Looks like I'm halfway to the break even point before I even start.
     
  15. jim

    jim New Member

    Messages:
    2,579
    State:
    Jacksonville NC
    With that many batteries you would do well to invest in the solargizer.The one I have is very easy to transfer and quite frankly I will leave it on full time like my onboard charger at least during the summer.The Minn Kota chemical is available at Walmart but as you say it sone shot which is ok for someone wanting to revive one battery or prevent sulphation in a new one.:)