The battery onboard your marine vessel is the lifeblood of the whole system and requires some tender loving care to make sure it runs as it should do and that its health is maintained. As marine batteries are not cheap, you want to ensure they last a long time, so make sure you aren’t lured into purchasing a cheap marine battery charger as this would not be an economical choice.
Have you ever thought about powering your marine battery by solar energy? It couldn’t be more appropriate as your boat takes you into the great outdoors all day long so you can really benefit from turning those rays of sunshine into an efficient and energy source. Once you have a solar system set up on your marine vessel you can safely charge your onboard batteries. Read on to find out more about setting up a solar kit on your boat, as well as hear about some other smart battery chargers currently on the market.
Best Marine Solar Battery Charger Kit
Renogy 200 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit Review
If you are looking to go the whole hog and get yourself hooked up to a green and off-grid energy system on your boat, then Renogy’s excellent starter kit provides you with everything you need. With high quality monocrystalline solar panels efficiently converting the suns rays, the included charge controller ensuring the right charge gets through to your battery, superb safety features and all the necessary cabling, you will love this setup.
The 200-watt solar panel means you’ll have plenty of power to play with and up to 1000-watt-hours per day under the best conditions, and even on overcast days, so this is a great option if you plan to be off-grid for a while but want to keep your boat batteries juiced up. The intelligent 30-amp charge controller included in the kit is also suitable for up to 400-watts of power if you decide to upgrade your energy system when you realise the power solar offers to you (almost) of charge.
With an extensive 8-foot tray cable and 20-feet of cable with MC4 adaptors provided to link your battery to your controller, you have flexibility where to install both as well as where to best position your solar panels for maximum sunshine. The mounting equipment included consist of 2 sturdy and durable z-brackets and a couple of branch connectors. If you are looking to test the waters with solar power, this is likely the kit you need.
With a range of safety features included across the devices, you can feel safe in the knowledge that any inexperience you have in setting up solar-powered systems will be protected against. So if you want to invest in a piece of kit that comes with everything you need, provides an immense amount of power suitable to begin your off-grid adventure, and is packed with safety features, you’ve found what you are looking for with this powerful solar battery charger kit.
Q&A: Will this charge controller work with a 24-volt setup?
A: Yes, this charge controller is suitable for both 12 and 24-volt connections
Best Single Bank Charger For Marine Battery
NOCO Genius GEN1 10 Amp 1-Bank Waterproof Smart On-Board Battery Charger Review
If you are after a lightweight, small, and portable marine battery charger suitable for charging a single battery bank, then this smart and safe NOCO Genius GEN1 is an excellent option for you. Suitable for 12-volt batteries including wet, gel, lead-acid and AGM, this charger is versatile enough to efficiently charge most battery types and uses its smart onboard technology to ensure they will all get the treatment they need to live long and prosper.
This device is built to be portable, weighing just over 4 Lbs and having dimensions of just 10.2 x 9.2 x 5.8 inches. Rated at 100 per cent waterproof, this is the perfect onboard marine battery charger that you can test in the most extreme weather conditions and still find your batteries charging safely. This works great with solar energy too, if you want to provide off-grid power for longer periods. This great range also has models suitable for charging multiple banks, if charging a more than one bank is what you’re after.
A great feature of this charger is its intelligent vosFX processor which automates charging decisions ensuring your battery gets appropriate charge rates for different stages of the charging cycle as well as whatever battery type it is attached to. The vast array of safety features included makes this one of the safest chargers on the market. Reverse polarity protection, spark-proof, overheating protection, you name it, if it’s a safety feature, this product’s got it.
You won’t be disappointed with charging times with this unit either as smart rapid charging technology means it charges batteries up to two times faster than traditional chargers. So if you like portability, versatility, highly secure and super-intelligent chargers, this little clever clogs likely has all the answers you are looking for.
Q&A: What warranty does this product come with?
A: You get a 5-year limited warranty, with the first 2.5 years providing full coverage.
Best 2 Bank Portable Battery Charger For Saltwater
ProMariner 43012 ProSport 12 12 Amp, 12/24 Volt, 2 Bank Generation 3 Battery Charger
For those with bigger energy needs, this two-bank 12-amp marine battery charger is both waterproof and highly durable, enabling it to cope with tough weather challenges and resist the corrosive effects of saltwater. The intelligent device has a built-in microprocessor that gives your batteries just the right charge to keep them happy throughout the charging cycle. With excellent care being given to your batteries you can focus solely on enjoying the sea breeze in your hair.
The intuitive LED system helps you monitor charging and battery condition, whilst the smart technology figures out just the right charge to either or both batteries connected, helping to improve charging times. With 4 charging profiles on offer, which includes a monthly reconditioning setting, pulse charging, and a maintainer setting, you have a lot of power at your fingertips to help you keep your energy system healthy for years to come.
Despite the fact this is a heavy-duty unit that is both waterproof and shockproof it is also surprisingly lightweight, weighing in at just 6 Lbs. It is also briefcase in size so can be mounted easily wherever needed, whilst also being highly portable and a great option to be linked into a solar powered system. Excellent safety features include dual in-line DC safety fuses, perfect for trolling motors, as well as over-voltage, reverse polarity and overheating protections.
This unit comes pre-wired making it easy to install, whilst the two-year warranty provides you with a decent level of security. So, if you are after a charger built to last, loves the rough and tumble, and won’t mind getting wet, this model will be just what your marine batteries have been looking for.
Q&A: How long are the cables provided?
A: The pre-wired battery cables provided are 6-feet long, or extensions are available separately.
Best 3 Bank Onboard Marine Battery Charger
Schumacher SS-15A3-OB Ship ‘N Shore 15 Amps 12V Automatic On-Board 3-Bank Charger Review
If you have three batteries that you need to charge onboard your marine vessel then the Schumacher SS-15A3-OB Ship ‘N Shore 15 Amps 12V Automatic On-Board 3-Bank Charger will sufficiently meet your battery needs. Fitted with 3 banks, you can charge all of your batteries at the same time – and this is the case whether your batteries are flooded, AGM or gel cell. Just select your battery type and the charger will remember your selection ready for the next time you use it – this product really earns its name as a smart charger.
Suitable for 12-volt batteries, this charger has an impressive amp rating of 15 which means it will take about 5 hours to charge your batteries if they are on a low charge. You can’t deny this is pretty speedy. This onboard battery charger works great linked in to a solar powered system and also doubles up as a jump-starter, so if you have let your batteries completely deplete it can be used to give them a boost start.
It delivers a smart charge to your batteries, so you can be assured that they won’t overheat or overcharge. It also has a maintainer function – so you can leave it attached to your batteries and it will maintain them at a safe level of charge. With LED indicator lights installed, you will be kept informed about your batteries charging status.
The safety features don’t stop there. This charger is constructed with a weather tight seal which makes it weatherproof, and leak-proof so you can confidently store this on your boat throughout the year. This charger really has everything you need to keep your boat running happily and healthily.
Q&A: How heavy is this onboard marine battery charger?
This Schumacher product weighs 7.2 pounds, and if you’re interested, measures 14 x 10 x 4 inches.
Q&A: Does this battery charger come with the necessary cables included to connect to the batteries?
Yes, it does, included are six-foot input and output cables so you can get charging straight away.
Best 4 Bank Marine Battery Charger
Minn Kota Precision On-Board Charger Review
If your boat’s power needs are great and you don’t like hanging around waiting forever for your batteries to charge, then this sleek but powerful four bank battery charger will be right up your street. The waterproof and saltwater resistant design make this your perfect onboard companion, even if you are likely to be seeing some tough weather conditions and some big waves. Great safety features and being both UL listed and FCC compliant also add to this product’s appeal.
With 6 and 10 amp charging outlets and smart charging, this unit is able to charge different battery types across banks, ensuring you can get back out on the water quickly with all your power needs catered for. With over and under-charging protection built in your batteries are also cared for well. The useful inbuilt LED system for each individual bank is also useful, allowing you to monitor the per cent the battery is charged, power status, and what battery type it is set up for.
The safety features of this model include reverse-polarity, short-circuit and over-heating protections whilst the three-year replacement warranty gives you superb additional security. Nevertheless, this model is built to last and withstand the corrosive efforts of the harshest saltwater, with cables equally tough, so you are unlikely to be calling this warranty into action. This sturdy unit will truly take some battering without breaking down under the stresses you test it with.
So if you are after a 4-bank battery charger built to the highest safety standards, has excellent features that help you to care for your batteries, and suitable for working with you out on the water, this is one of the best Minn Kota battery chargers available for your needs.
Q&A: What battery types is this unit suitable for?
A: This is suitable for AGM, gel, or flooded lead-acid battery types. Each battery bank can be separately set to the battery type as required.
Q&A: Will this charge controller work with a 24-volt setup?
A: Yes, this charge controller is suitable for both 12 and 24-volt connections
What charger problems could I experience if I buy a cheap marine battery charger?
First off, we want to warn you of the dangers of being tempted by a cheap charger for your marine batteries. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t fuel your Rolls Royce with low-quality gas so why would you power your precious marine batteries with a cheap charger that could potentially damage your batteries?
While initially a cheap charger is likely to be able to charge your batteries it lacks the features required to protect them and maintain them. This type of battery charger won’t be able to protect your battery from overcharging, so if you leave it plugged in it won’t automatically switch off when the battery is fully charged meaning it will overcharge which is not good for the batteries health. They also don’t have mechanisms in place to protect from overheating or short circuits so could also be potentially dangerous if you forget to unplug your batteries from the charger. All of these scenarios lend themselves to reducing the productivity of your batteries and their lifespan.
What are the best type of marine battery chargers?
So, what is the alternative to cheap chargers? There are marine battery chargers on the market, known as smart chargers, that are fitted with advanced technology which enables them to great the perfect ambient environment to charge your batteries in. They are fitted with temperature monitors that ensure the batteries are charging at the correct temperature and won’t overheat, and they will also automatically switch off when the battery is fully charged.
Some smart chargers also have the ability to maintain the charge on your battery, so you can keep them plugged in and the charger will go into ‘float mode’. If your batteries charge dips below a safe level the battery charger will kick in and get your batteries back up to a safe voltage so they are protected from sulfation damage.
With smart chargers, they do all the work for you so you won’t be faced with the charger problems you would encounter with a cheap marine battery charger. Just plug them in and relax knowing your batteries are being well looked after.
Should I get an onboard or portable marine battery charger?
You will notice that you can buy onboard marine battery chargers or portable marine battery chargers. True to its name onboard battery chargers are kept on your boat and are wired into the mechanics of your boat so it sits there permanently. It can be left continuously plugged into your batteries so that it keeps them charged up and monitors the voltage so that it doesn’t drop to an unusable level. This is the most powerful type of marine battery charger and a good option for those of you with boats on the larger size that you use frequently.
Some smaller vessels, however, will not require an onboard battery charger and a portable marine battery charger will suffice. These devices, also true to their name, are much smaller and are not installed onto your boat. Instead, you can carry them with you and bring them out when your boat batteries need some juice.
In terms of price onboard chargers are more expensive, but you do get your money’s worth due to how well they look after your batteries and are super convenient as they are permanently installed on your boat. Portable marine battery chargers are cheaper and are a good option for smaller boats. There are some quality portable chargers out there that have smart technology installed to make sure your batteries are properly cared for.
Where do I mount an onboard marine battery charger?
Once you have purchased your onboard marine battery charger the next stage is installing it onto your boat. If you like a bit of DIY and have some hand tools then you can install your charger yourself without too much trouble.
Start by selecting the right location for your battery charger. This can take some deciding – you want it somewhere where it can stay relatively dry but it also needs to be ventilated. It also needs to be close to your batteries – but not too close otherwise as your batteries may cause corrosion to your charger through the gasses that your batteries inevitably give off.
Once you have decided where the charger will go, you then need to secure it to your boat. To be extra secure it is a good idea to bolt it to your boat (preferably using fasteners made out of a strong material such as stainless steel).
The charger then needs to be wired to your batteries. To put it simply, the DC wires are connected from your onboard battery charger to your batteries, and then the AC wiring comes from a panel on the batteries to the charger. Make sure you check the instruction manual for your charger to do this properly and consult an expert if you are not sure.
Considering solar power as a means of powering your marine batteries is a smart choice. Not only will it help to improve your carbon footprint, it can also save you money in the long run as once you have the solar system set up you will be receiving energy from the sun. As boating is an outdoor activity your opportunity to soak up the suns rays are ample, so it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of this and unlimited energy source.
If you are opting for the more traditional means of powering up your batteries investing in a good quality marine battery charger is essential when it comes to maintaining your batteries well. Smart chargers will ensure your battery is charged to the correct level and will not overcharge or overheat, they can also maintain your boat batteries if you are not using them for a period of time.
Think about whether an onboard or portable marine battery charger is the best fit for your boat and make sure you have a good read of the instructions if you are installing an onboard charger. Whatever you decide, remember that you want your batteries to last a long time and for this to occur you need a premium battery charger that takes care of their maintenance for you.