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Marine Batteries Near me: The difference between marine and auto batteries?

So you’ve figured out you need a deep-cycling battery, a starting battery or a combination of both to get your boat back up and running, but where do you go to buy it? How much will they cost? How long will they last, and how do you maintain them? In this post, we will take you through the answers to all these questions and more.
Amazon’s 100 Batteries: The Complete List (2021)

Where to buy marine batteries near me

So if you’re looking to brush up on your battery knowledge or are a battery novice, read on for some top tips on marine battery care. Use our store finder below to find marine batteries near you.

What is the difference between marine and auto batteries?

If you are a new boat owner, you may be surprised to learn that marine batteries are not the same as car batteries, although they do share some common features. Indeed, marine batteries are designed very differently. This is due to the fact that car batteries only have to start the engine, as once the engine runs the electrical systems of the car are powered by the engine, whereas boat batteries often need to be able to start the engine and power onboard devices as well.
A car battery simply has to act as a cranking battery to start the engine. A marine battery typically has to start the engine with the short jolt of energy required and provide this more general power supply. Obviously, if it were to continually provide energy surges to your onboard devices, they would quickly break so it needs the more general functionality of being able to deliver a constant supply of energy as well.
In some instances, you may prefer a simple cranking battery for your boat, if you have no onboard devices, for example. The three main battery types you need to understand when it comes to running a boat are:

#1 Cranking Batteries:

These batteries are designed to get the engine started. This is done with a quick burst of energy. They do not provide a consistent power supply and with break onboard electrical goods.

#2 Deep-Cycle:

Deep cycle batteries provide lower, steadier currents than cranking batteries and are great for powering smaller electrical goods depth finders, GPS, and fish locators etc. whilst you are out on your boat without having to worry about it running out of power or damaging the electrical goods.

#3 Dual-Purpose:

A dual purpose battery is effectively a deep-cycle battery with the necessary cranking amps to get a boat started as well as run your trolling motor or other onboard devices. However, many boaters prefer to use a dedicated battery for starting their engine and a separate battery for onboard devices to ensure they are not caught out without a means to start their engine. AGM batteries are more shock resistant than other batteries, but weigh a lot more too.

Design differences of Marine and Car batteries

Another difference with marine batteries is that they are designed to withstand rougher journeys. Whilst a road is (largely) predictable and smooth (save some unexpected potholes) the sea is much more unforgiving, changeable, and often bumpy. To deal with this, marine batteries have housing made from much thicker plastic. This helps to ensure a longer lifespan for your battery.
In addition, marine batteries typically use thicker internal plates than car batteries as car batteries aren’t required to discharge their energy. These design differences mean that, even if you plan to use your battery on a boat that only requires a cranking battery, you’re still better off investing the extra money for a marine battery over a car battery as it is likely to last longer, be better suited to the job, and save you money in the long-run.

How long do marine batteries last?

This will largely depend on the way you care for your battery. With good care, marine batteries last 5-6 years. However, if you do not look after your battery, then you will soon be needing a replacement, especially if you leave your boat in storage for long periods of time. Here we outline 5 top tips outlining how to maintain marine batteries:

#1 Charge and discharge slowly

If you want to know how to charge deep cycle marine batteries, then the answer is clear – do it shallow and slow. You should also try and prevent your marine battery from discharging below 80%. Charging little and often also helps to prolong battery life but be sure to complete a full charge at least once every month – especially if you are not regularly using the battery.

#2 Use often

If you don’t use a battery for a long time, then something called ‘lot rot’ can occur, effectively meaning you will need a replacement battery. However, if you make sure to run a battery regularly, even if you don’t need to actually use it, you will actually prolong its life. Just connect it to your phone or another device that you can easily connect it to often enough to stave off the rot.

#3 Clean & Test

This is perhaps the most import part of maintaining your battery. Make sure you test your battery at least quarterly for balance and keep fluid levels topped up with distilled water. If you notice corrosion, you can clean this off by making a paste from baking soda and a little water. You can also prevent the appearance of corrosion with electrolyte grease. You should always make sure your terminal connectors are clear of dust for optimum conductivity.

#4 Don’t mix ages or types

Many boats require multiple batteries. If this is the case with your setup, you should not mix old and new batteries in a single system as the older batteries make the newer one deteriorate to their level.
If one battery has become a complete dud, you can either replace the whole lot and use the functioning batteries in single unit systems or replace the dud with a similar age battery. Obviously, you should also not mix AGM batteries with other battery types (such as wet cell or gel) within a single system either.

#5 Store carefully

If you are leaving your battery for some time, then you should make sure to store it somewhere cool, dry, and clear of dust and dirt. If you can store the battery in an acid-proof box, that is even better. If you know the weather is going to drop below zero and you can easily disconnect it, it is a good idea to prevent your battery from being exposed to this by storing it somewhere warmer (but still cool!). This is also how to store marine batteries over winter.

How to wire dual marine batteries

If your boat only has a single battery, it is a good idea to add one to your system for extra capacity or backup supply. This is easy to do with dual battery switch which allows you to choose either battery individually or both at the same time. This means you can predominantly use one battery as a cranking battery to help give the other a longer life.
Make sure to pick a switch suitable for use with two batteries and that has a continuous amps rating of at least 250 amps. When you install additional batteries to your boat make sure they are securely attached with brackets and tie-downs and, if using wet cell batteries, they should be contained within boxes. Non-conductive boots should also be used to cover the positive terminals. Install the switch on your boat and connect the positive cables to your battery first and the negative cable last.

How much are marine batteries?

The cost of marine batteries depends on the type of battery you need (cranking, deep-cycle or both), what its chemistry is (wet-cell, lithium-ion, gel, or AGM), and whether or not you want to go with a well-known brand or not (eg. Interstates, Deka, and Duracell). Depending on your specific requirements, marine batteries cost anywhere between $20 and $500 apiece.
Make sure to do your research to check that the battery you are buying is completely suitable for your boat. If you are running a multiple battery system, you will not want to be adding a new battery alongside an older one, so factor these things in when deciding on whether you want to go for batteries at the top end of the spectrum. Obviously, the more cranking amps you need, the bigger the price is likely to be.

What are the differences between Lithium-ion, Wet Cell, Gel, or AGM batteries

You also need to decide whether you want a Lithium-ion, Wet Cell, Gel, or AGM battery. Lithium-ion are new to the scene and highest performing but will set you back more than the other types. Gel batteries don’t need to be topped up with water meaning they are more maintenance-free than most. Wet cell batteries are probably the cheapest but do not cope well with rough vibrations.

What are the benefits of Interstate batteries?

Interstate batteries are designed at the top end of industry standards and have a huge distribution network making them easy to get a hold of when you need a new one, or even to find a similarly aged battery if you need to in a multiple battery setup. Their batteries are designed to withstand rough treatment on the high seas and when maintained well using the tips above, will last you well over 5 years. Find out where to buy interstate batteries using our store finder above.
Their product line includes:

  1. Marine starting batteries
  2. Deep-Cycle marine batteries
  3. Dual-purpose marine batteries
  4. M Line marine batteries
  5. Personal watercraft batteries

What are the benefits of Deka batteries?

The benefits of Deka batteries comes from their rugged design and capacity for deep discharges without leading to massive degradation in lifespan. Their spill-proof marine batteries have incredible vibration resistance that makes them suitable for boat rides that you know are going to get to get rough, whilst the ability for deep discharge means you can go on longer journeys knowing you won’t damage your battery.
All their marine batteries are dual purpose, capable of providing high amps, and lightweight, making them a versatile choice popular among marine enthusiasts. They are also made in the USA guaranteeing the highest quality and safety standards. Check out their Intimidator range for their best marine batteries.

What are the benefits of Duracell marine batteries?

The benefits of Duracell marine batteries are that they are suitable for high starting power as well as moderate deep-cycling and have the longest lifespan of the three brands listed here. Their re-enforced components are second to none and help them to live up to their reputation as the battery that keeps ongoing. Their product range is not as extensive as Interstate’s but they do offer starting specific, deep-cycle, and dual purpose marine batteries.
Other benefits of Duracell batteries is their consistency over time with cranking power that you can rely on whether you are just setting sail or are pulling up the anchor out at sea. They are also capable of long and slow discharges making them the perfect choice for trolling motors and helping to ensure their lifespan is increased. Duracell’s dual purpose batteries also have built-in protection to prevent deep discharge damage.

Conclusion

When it comes to buying powering your boat you should always choose marine-specific batteries. As tempting as car batteries can be to use as a starting battery in your boat, they are not going to provide the versatility, durability or reliability that a marine battery can. Indeed, choosing auto batteries over marine batteries will likely end up costing you more as their lifespan will be reduced due to their sub-optimal usage.
Follow the tips above to help make marine batteries last longer and choose the right brand for your individual needs. If you want access to the largest marine battery market, go for Interstate, if you want the best deep discharging marine batteries, go for Deka, and if you want the longest lasting go for Duracell.

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