They are stuffed in the console, hidden in tiny lockers, generaly neglected and always relied upon.
In spite of little or no care, overloading, and down right neglect they are depended on to start our motors, run a miriade of accessories and light our way home. Truley the un-sung hero --your battery.
Boy oh boy do we cuss them when they fail and leave us stranded and we have to be towed in. Here are some tips to extend their life and reliability.
First do not run ten different wires to each terminal and then try to tighten them down. More terminals mean more corrosion and more resistance, less power and more liabel to short out. That crusty green patina on the terminals is not your friend! I have seen batteries with the terminals melted off because of this condition.
Despite the fact they do not have the old caps, they do need to be checked for water level, more if you charge them alot. Do not use water from the hose, use clean distilled water only. Charging tends to "boil" the water out of them.
The above photo shows a dual switch battery instalation (we feel this should be a standard on all boats) with a terminal board. Note only one main cable to each terminal and they are clean and tight. The battery switch supplies current to the terminal board and all other circuts runoff it. These are also keep clean and tight. Each battery is in a tray or box and securley held down, not able to bang around or fall over when the boat gets thumped about. Using the swicth to alternate from one battery to the other keeps them freshn and charged, and one is always in reserve if needed. In addition the switch lets you turn off the batteries when you are done for the day, thereby isolating them from the boats wiring so that no short or forgotten switch can run them down.
A final tip, batteries are filled with an acid solution and they tend to emit an acidic gas. If they are in a contained area, like the console, this gas can cause sever damage to other items stored there and to the other wiring conections. Make sure there is adequate ventalation in the compartment to remove these gasses.
We will disscuss different types and sizes and applications of batteries in future tips. For now: have your batteries properly installed, have them checked by your shop twice a year and serviced. Keep the terminals clean and tight and they will be the heros we want and always get us home.