Boat owners usually perform some repairs and modifications to their boats as the years go by. Some of those changes can compromise the performance of some boat systems, such as the electrical system. This article discusses some principles that can help you to maintain the electrical system of your boat.
Use Two Battery Banks
Always make sure that your boat has two banks of batteries. One bank should be dedicated to providing the power which is needed to run the auxiliary electronics, such as the lighting and music system, on your boat. The second battery bank should be used for starting the engine of the boat. Why is this separation important? Having a battery bank which is dedicated to the engine system will prevent you from being unable to start the boat in case the only battery bank was drained by house loads (charging portable gadgets, for example). Secondly, having two battery banks ensures that your boat engine will always be able to start even if the battery bank connected to it fails. The second battery bank will be used during such a failure.
Don't Mix Battery Types
Another principle that you should always have in mind is that battery types should never be mixed in a battery bank. For example, don't add a lead-acid battery to a battery bank having "dry" batteries (batteries that don't use liquid electrolytes). Each of those types of batteries may charge or discharge differently. Mixing them can therefore compromise their service life and performance.
Timely Battery Replacement
When is the time right to replace an aging battery? Some people wait until the battery has dropped to about 20 percent of its rated capacity before finally replacing it. Others change the battery once two-thirds of its capacity has been lost. It is advisable to replace any battery that drops to less than half of its capacity. Such a habit will ensure that your boat's electrical system will always perform satisfactorily. You can use the old batteries for less demanding purposes, such as powering your gadgets when you go camping.
Get the Right Chargers
Make sure that any battery charger that you install on your boat has sufficient capacity to charge the batteries properly. For example, get a charger whose output is about 10-percent of the output of the battery that you will be charging. Chargers with a very low capacity may never charge the batteries fully. Refer to the battery manual for advice about the appropriate capacity for the charger you should use.
Always consult a boat service professional in case your boat keeps having recurrent electrical problems. Such a consultation will save you from spending money on temporal repairs that don't address the root cause of the problem.