Unsure how long your marine battery will last? It’s better to find out now rather than wait for your engine to die leaving you and your boat stranded out on the water.
Experienced boat lovers understand the importance of a reliable marine boat battery. Because having a battery that’s dependable and easy to use truly makes all the difference in the world. That’s why knowing how long marine batteries last, choosing a good one, and knowing how to either repair or replace it when the time comes is important for all boat owners to know.
Not to worry, we’ll cover all that here so you know how to best care for your deep-cycle marine battery. Read on to discover the life expectancy of each type of marine battery!
What is the Life Expectancy of a Marine Battery?
A few factors contribute to how long marine batteries last. The biggest factors that determine marine battery life are the type of battery, the number of charge cycles it has, how often it gets used, and the condition of its use and storage. At the low end, marine batteries can last 2-5 years while on the high end, some batteries can last 10+ years (LiFeP04 batteries).
How to Know if Your Marine Battery Needs to be Replaced
Improper care or use might cause marine batteries to deteriorate faster. With a lead acid battery you’ll need to pay special attention to its electrolyte level. Depending upon frequency of use this may mean refilling flooded lead-acid batteries with distilled water every 2-4 weeks or as needed.
You’ll also need to watch for corrosion and clean the terminals as needed. And lastly, you need to be careful to not discharge the battery too low. If there’s excessive leaking, discoloration, cracks, or a broken terminal then you’ll likely need to replace your battery. Lead acid batteries contain toxic sulfuric acid, so a leak can be extremely harmful. Any abnormality to your battery signals the need to replace it. With careful marine battery maintenance, you’re looking at 2-5 years of use for your lead acid battery.
On the other hand, lithium LiFeP04 batteries don’t require marine battery maintenance and aren’t made of toxic chemicals, so things just got a lot easier. But of course you want to treat your battery with care. Over time, a LiFeP04 battery will start to age. This means your cells will degrade and lose capacity. You may notice changes to your battery’s performance and that will signal the need for replacement. With Ionic LiFeP04 deep cycle batteries, most last 8-10 years but even go beyond that.
Marine Battery Maintenance Tips to Extend Their Life
In order to make your marine battery last longer, avoid the common problems listed above that cause early battery death. Storing your marine battery correctly when not in use is very important. The ideal temperature for storage is anything within plus or minus 20 degrees of 59°F (15°C). You should avoid extreme temperatures such as anything below 32°F (0°C) or over 100°F (38°C) at all costs. Some types of batteries handle temperature better than others, but it’s best to take precautions.
Proper storage also involves performing regular cleaning when not in use. Dirt and debris on the top of your marine battery can cause damage over time. When you first put it into storage, you should charge the battery fully. Then it’s recommended that you charge your battery to full at least once every 2-3 weeks. Some people even invest in a trickle charger to help make things easier. This is especially necessary with a lead acid battery. Once they’ve been discharged too low, they become unusable. LiFePO4 batteries can be discharged to 100% DOD and still function. However, it’s best to only discharge down to 80% for optimal health.
Speaking of charging, take care not to overcharge or undercharge your marine battery, if you have a lead acid, gel, or AGM battery. Overcharging a marine battery can create unstable conditions inside the battery which increases the risk of a short circuit. It can also cause head damage and corrosion. Meanwhile undercharging can lead to a risk of sulfation which worsens the battery’s performance and shortens its lifespan. LiFeP04 batteries come with a built-in BMS (battery management system) that will do the monitoring for you, so no need to worry about overcharging/undercharging with them.
Types of Marine Batteries
Not sure which type of marine battery to choose for your boat? We’ll break down the pros and cons for each to help you make the best choice.
- The most inexpensive type of marine battery
- Rechargeable multiple times (500-1000 charge cycles)
- They break easy
- They need the most maintenance
- You must check and refill the water level every couple of weeks to avoid sulfation
- Leakage can cause environmental harm to marine life
- 2-5 year life expectancy
- Doesn’t need much maintenance
- Rarely ever leak
- Hard to repair internal components if damaged, easier to replace
- Need more charges (500-1,300 charge cycles)
- Only discharged to 50%
- 4-7 year life expectancy
- Don’t need to recharge often (200-800 charge cycles)
- Able to store for a long time without draining the battery
- Slow charge cycle
- Must not leave unattended while charging since overcharging can cause irreversible damage
- 2-5 year life expectancy
- Longest life span (8-10+ years)
- 3,000-5,000 charge cycles
- Weigh much less
- No maintenance
- Not toxic to the environment
What Type of Marine Battery is the Best?
Reviewing the above pros/cons list, a clear winner emerges. Lithium batteries are widely regarded as the best marine battery on the market today. Not only do they last the longest by a large margin, but they’re also lighter, more efficient, and don’t need any maintenance. When it comes to marine battery maintenance and how long they last, there’s no contest, lithium is the best choice.
Are Lithium Batteries Worth the Upgrade?
Our money is on yes! While getting an inexpensive marine battery might save money in the short term, over the years the cost of constant repairs and replacing will add up. Over the long term, upgrading to a lithium marine battery will save boat owners money and hassle. If your boat already has a different type of marine battery such as lead-acid, not to worry. You can make the switch without damaging anything. There’s no time like the present to upgrade your marine battery to lithium.
We’ve covered how long marine batteries last, marine battery maintenance tips for extending their life, and knowing when to replace them. Knowing all this, consider what type of marine battery is the best choice for your boat. If you’re ready to upgrade to lithium, make sure to check out our Ionic deep-cycle lithium marine batteries for the absolute best quality.