Care for your onboard battery system

Make sure you’re using marine-type batteries.

Automotive batteries are not designed to handle the demands created by marine applications. Marine batteries are designed with thicker plates and other heavy-duty features that help them withstand the jarring life aboard a boat.

Use deep-cycle batteries for running electrical accessories.

A boat equipped with electrical accessories such as Tolling Motors, GPS, VHF Radios, Bait Pumps, Windless, and Fish Finders should be using one or more “deep-cycle” marine batteries. While most other kinds of batteries are designed to provide a lot of current in a short burst (such as when starting your engine), deep-cycle batteries provide smaller amounts of power for a longer time. Deep-cycle batteries also stand up better to repeated discharge/recharge cycles.

Inspect your battery condition regularly.

Test your marine battery system on a regular basis to ensure that it’s in top working condition. This is especially important after winter storage. Check the battery exterior for damage or cracks, and replace immediately if any are found. Inspect the cables and terminals, and make sure they are firmly attached, without cracks or corrosion. Coat the terminals with an insulating film of grease, install anti-corrosive washers, or apply protective battery terminal spray. If your battery is the “open cell” type, check its water level. If low, refill with distilled water.

Consider a dual battery system.

If you fish long distances offshore or cruise to remote locations, you should consider a dual battery system. This virtually doubles your onboard electrical power and provides an important back-up of reserve power. Options include a system with a selector switch, allowing you to choose one or the other battery (or both), or a battery isolator, which automatically directs your engine’s charging power to the battery that needs it most. Note: never switch battery selector while engine(s) is (are) running.

Re-charge your batteries immediately after each trip.

Waiting several days after a trip to charge your batteries will allow deposits to develop on the internal plates, reducing their capacity to provide power. Suzuki’s high-output alternators help to minimize this, but if your batteries need to be recharged, do so immediately to minimize deposits and extend the life of your battery.

Use at least a 10- to 15-amp battery charger.

Do not use a “trickle” charger, and make sure you bring your batteries up to 100 percent state of charge before using again.