An overview of batteries
Batteries store electricity and form an integral part of numerous systems that need energy. Different types of batteries are available these days. Starting batteries are the ones that deliver a burst of energy for a short time and need to be recharged once the engine runs. Starting batteries fail when they are unable to start engines. Another type of battery is the deep cycle battery that is capable of providing a steady stream of power to run trolling motors. It is important to keep in mind that the batteries are subjected to deterioration over time.
The lifespan of deep cycle batteries depends on a variety of factors including use, maintenance, charging, and temperature among others. Sometimes, batteries which have been sitting for extended periods are dead on arrival when they are used. While certain factors influence this, the typical expectations for deep cycle batteries have certain ranges depending on the type. Starting batteries are expected to last for around 3 to 12 months. On the other hand, marine batteries are likely to last for one to six years, while gelled deep cycle batteries have a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years and AGM batteries have an expected lifespan of 4 to 7 years.
You need to realize that batteries are not 100% efficient. They lose energy in the form of heat via different chemical reactions, which result in a decline in their capacity. Losses incurred are due to the internal resistance generating heat since batteries tend to get warm when they are charged. Batteries with lower internal resistance tend to last longer. Sometimes, batteries that are fully charged hold less energy as time passes, gradually reaching to a position where they are unable to hold sufficient energy. Among the various causes of battery failure, one is that of thin positive plates which tend to erode over time. Thicker plates have a longer life, so this is something that you should keep in mind when you head out to purchase a new battery.
The basic bass boat batteries make use of a rather traditional technology. If they are equipped with removable caps, they need to be topped off with water. The maintenance-free batteries also need to be filled over time.
Gel cell batteries
These batteries contain a gelled acid, which is an acid which has been converted to a solid mass due to the addition of the silica gel. Therefore, it is impossible to spill the acid even if the battery is broken. However, these batteries must be charged at a slower rate so as to ensure that excess gas from damaging cells can be prevented. These batteries can incur damage due to fast charging on a traditional automotive charger. The sealed gelled batteries make use of tiny valves to maintain a slightly positive pressure.
It is seen that pro anglers now prefer AGM batteries, which cannot be filled and are sealed and valve regulated. These batteries make use of the tightly packed boron-silicate glass mats between plates. They are immune from potential freezing damage as they do not contain any liquid which would undergo expansion upon freezing. The mat of these batteries is 95% saturated instead of being fully soaked, which makes it certain that the acid does not leak. It is capable of withstanding shock and vibration, and it is safer to use and found to be a more economical option.
One of the situations which would lead to an early death for your battery is storing it in a partly discharged state for a few months. You need to ensure that a float charge is maintained when the battery is not in use. This will ensure that it survives for a much longer period. If you leave it for long periods, it should be trickle free so as to ensure that it is not culpable to damage. It might appear that the sulfated plates are fully charged, but sometimes they might go dead within a short span under load.
Charging voltages of these batteries are the same as the standard ones, so you do not have to make any special adjustments for the purpose. The internal resistance of these batteries is extremely low, thereby ensuring that you do not have to worry about the battery heating even under heavy charge and discharge currents. Lead-acid batteries charge to around 85 to 90%, while the deep cycle AGMs can approach around 98% and they even charge faster.
While AGMs tend to age in a rather graceful manner, the same cannot be said about the wet batteries. Their capacity decreases over time, and they also need more maintenance. They require more time for charging and need to be often watered as well.
How to charge flooded batteries
When you are charging flooded batteries, you need to ensure that the vent caps are kept on so as to ensure that water loss is prevented and no problem of splashing is encountered. Ensure that you do not add acid to a battery unless you need to replace the spilled liquid. The water should be added after charging unless the plates are exposed. If that is the case, add just the right amount of water which would cover the plates. After the battery is fully charged, the water level should be even in all cells. Ensure that only clean water is used for the purpose of cleaning the outside of the batteries. Refrain from making use of solvents and spray cleaners.
Replacing the batteries
When you want to replace batteries in a trolling motor system, ensure that the replacements are of the same size, type, and manufacture. The age and usage level should be the same as well. Do not mix new batteries with the ones that are more than six months old. When you purchase new batteries, it is advisable to use them quickly. Saving new batteries for use later is not something that often works out to your benefit.