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1 December 2013

The Marine Battery; the sea vehicle’s power horse

Among other components, the marine battery goes a long way in powering boats and other water vehicles. Different types of these batteries come together to power the boat’s engine and any other necessary accessories that may be installed. Different types of these batteries further come with varying strengths and weaknesses, suiting different boat owners differently.

Types of marine batteries
Different marine batteries are categorized on the basis of different factors like use, power and running time. They include the following:
• Starting batteries
These are used to produce the power necessary to start the boat’s engine. They are designed to produce a high power voltage over a short period of time, basically the time required to get the engine ready. They hence produce about 75 to 400 amperes of power in a period of 5 to 15 seconds. After this, they are quickly recharged by the engine’s alternator and the energy stored.

To facilitate this high intensity current production, these batteries come with many thin plates that increase the required surface area. However, this is what makes this type of marine battery very fragile as it cannot tolerate deep discharging for faulty engines.

• Deep cycle batteries
The deep cycle marine battery is designed to power all the necessary electrical accessories on the boat. As such, it comes with a different design and different features compared to the starting battery. For starters, it comes with thicker and heavier pates to facilitate continuous discharging. Consequently, it also has to store a lot of power to be able to power all the electrical appliances that may be on the boat. The thick plates complemented with high level antimony facilitate more and longer energy storage. Unlike the starting battery, the deep cycle battery is recharged after it is substantially discharged.

Battery chemistry
In addition to difference in functionality, batteries also come with different chemical make-ups, and this goes a long way in determining their different features. The different chemical marine battery components include the following:
• Flooded batteries
These are the most common. They make use of liquid sulfuric acid to produce the required energy. However, their nature comes with several benefits and shortcoming as well. For starters, these batteries are able to handle overcharging better as compared to others. However, they also require regular maintenance which basically entails frequent topping up with distilled water. The sulfuric acid also produces hydrogen and oxygen when being recharged. The battery is hence designed to vent the gases out, but further caution is advised as hydrogen is an explosive gas.

• Gel batteries
The batteries come with additional gel as compared to flooded batteries which primarily come with the sulfuric acid. The additional gel gives this marine battery additional benefit and conveniences like:
• Slower discharging.
• They are maintenance free as they are sealed.
• They don’t leak, making the safe.
However, for long life, these batteries need regulated and smart charging.

• Lithium ion batteries
This is one of the latest and best types. These batteries are able to store a lot of power, making them particularly ideal for heavy applications. Furthermore, they can easily handle high current voltage, allowing fast recharging. Their composition also requires little maintenance as all they really need is recharging.

• AGM batteries
Absorbed Glass Mat batteries are made of highly compressed microfiber glass separators. They are then saturated with acid to activate the battery. This allows them produce high power currents for longer periods of time. Furthermore, they are not as expensive as they lithium ion batteries (and consequently not as powerful), making them very popular with most people.

Conclusion
When looking for the ideal marine battery for your use, ensure that you take the above factors into consideration.

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