What Type of Battery Should I Use for My Boat?

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Boat batteries- all boat owners need them and there are a few different choices, so which one is best for you and your boat? That depends on the type of boat you have and how you use it. We’ll focus your choices on three main types of batteries- flooded lead-acid batteries, AGM batteries and lithium batteries. Please note that we didn’t include gel batteries, because those are typically found in stand-alone power applications and are very rarely found in any marine applications. Most people confuse gel batteries with AGM batteries, so please know there is a difference and the “gel” batteries most folks are referring to are probably AGM batteriesFlooded Lead-Acid BatteriesFlooded lead-acid batteries are the most-common batteries in use today and they are also typically the least-expensive. The majority of boaters on the water today will have a flooded lead-acid battery in their boat, as most boats sold today come from the dealership (where batteries are typically installed) with a flooded battery. They work fine in most applications and while they are the cheapest in terms of initial cost, they also typically have the shortest lifespan.If you just bought a neighbor’s boat for $700 and just need a battery to get the engine started and get you out on the water, a flooded lead-acid battery is probably a solid choice. It’s also a good choice if your current boat battery needs to be replaced and you are selling the boat- why pay for a better battery, if the new owner won’t compensate you for it appropriately?AGM Lead-Acid BatteriesAll OPTIMA BLUETOP batteries are AGM lead-acid batteries. AGM indicates the electrolyte in the battery is Absorbed into the Glass Matting in the battery, as opposed to sloshing around freely, as it does in a typical flooded lead-acid battery. AGM batteries in general will perform better and last longer than flooded lead-acid batteries, but they will also cost more up front. There are a variety of AGM batteries on the market, most of which use recycled lead, which doesn’t perform as well or last as long as the 99.99% pure virgin lead found in OPTIMA BLUETOP AGM batteries.If you are planning on holding onto your boat for a while or you use it in demanding conditions- rough water (or rough roads on the back of a trailer), heavy electrical usage from radios, trolling motors or other significant electrical accessories, then it will make a lot of sense to pay more up front for an AGM battery.Lithium BatteriesWhile OPTIMA has introduced an ORANGETOP lithium battery, we do not currently offer a lithium battery for marine use, but we are very familiar with the space, as our parent corporation has been a longstanding supplier of lithium batteries to auto manufacturers. Lithium batteries are by far the most expensive option of the three choices we’ve presented, but their value proposition comes on two fronts- significantly less weight than lead-acid batteries and promises of significantly more cycle life.The challenge for consumers considering a lithium marine battery purchase is finding a reputable brand. We emphasize brand, because the vast majority of lithium marine batteries being sold today are not being sold by manufacturers who also make the batteries, but by individuals or brands, who sell a lithium marine battery manufactured by someone else. We’ve watched some of these brands promise a ten-year lifespan and/or a ten-year warranty, but vanish within ten months, leaving their customers with very expensive paperweights.The internet is full of seemingly incredible deals on some of these lithium batteries, but we would encourage you to do a modest amount of research, before you commit to spending thousands of dollars on lithium marine batteries and specific chargers for them. Look up the physical address of the marine lithium battery brand you are considering on Google Earth (you can see OPTIMA’s headquarters here and our production facility here). Reputable lithium battery brands, who are committed to being in the battery business will have a commercial building with a sign out front. If you can’t find a physical address or the address is a rented mailbox or someone’s home address, know that the brand you could be purchasing from may disappear shortly after your purchase. If you can’t find a lithium battery brand operating out of their own commercial building (not someone else’s third-party logistics warehouse), we would recommend buying a lithium marine battery from a well-established brick & mortar retailer near you. That way, the retailer will honor your warranty, even if the battery brand they are selling goes out of business or they change suppliers.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>