Choose the Best Battery for Your Boat
Make sure you are selecting the right battery for your craft. Marine batteries come in different types and chemistries. They are purpose-built and their internal structure will reflect their use and their limitations. Here are some basic considerations to ponder before purchasing. Boat Magazine gives some tips:
Battery group (i.e., 24, 27, 31, 34, 6D, 8D, etc.) refers to the physical size of the battery. All manufacturers build to group sizes, although slight dimensional variations allow for handles, post height, etc. Match the group size on the label to the physical space you have available.
Starting batteries deliver short, high-amperage bursts of juice to spin the starter. These do not like being deeply discharged. Deep-cycle batteries tolerate deep discharges (generally up to 50 percent) to power accessories and can be discharged and recharged many times before becoming scrap. Hybrid or dual-purpose batteries combine the qualities of both.
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Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is the number of deliverable amps at zero degrees F for 30 seconds and is needed to determine starting suitability. Marine Cranking Amps (MCA) is basically the same as CCA but determined at 32 degrees F. Reserve Capacity (RC) is the number of minutes a fully charged battery at 80 degrees F will discharge 25 amps until the battery drops below 10.5 volts and dies. Ampere Hour (Ah) is a rating referred to for deep cycle or house batteries and is typically based on a 20 hour draw on a fully charged battery.
Flooded-electrolyte batteries are the old standby, delivering reasonable performance at a low price. They self discharge at a high rate and require maintenance in the form of checking and filling the electrolyte (aka acid). Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries use fiberglass coils soaked in electrolyte so they can not spill acid. They offer a slow self-discharge rate and more power in a smaller footprint than do flooded electrolyte batteries. All of this comes at a higher price.
Battery labels indicate the date of manufacture. The month is indicated by letters and the year by numbers. For example, D2 denotes a battery manufactured in April 2012. Always buy the freshest one on the shelf.