Course How To

Houseboat Battery Banks - What Type of Batteries, Chargers, How to Install

by Mo
(San Antonio,TX USA)

What type of batteries to use in houseboat battery banks?

What type of batteries to use in houseboat battery banks?

When it comes to houseboat battery banks, it's confusing on how many batteries to buy, what type, and how to install them all?

Sooner or later I am going to need to make a decision on building a battery bank system for my 31' houseboat. What would be the best type of battery for a live aboard houseboat situation?

I hear about people using 6v golf cart batteries, some using 12 volt Gel and others AGM! Also, how many would make a good bank, four, six and what size APH (amperes per hour). Can you have too many or too big of batteries?

This picture is what I believe was the battery bank of the previous owner of my houseboat. :)

I would like to thank Old Houseboater, Mr.B, and Ian for their input on my outboard jet question. I am now looking at a prop drive Yamaha.

Thanks, Mo.

Advertise Houseboat Business Advertising
You can advertise here for pennies a day!
Are you a boating related business and want to
increase sales and profits with targeted traffic?
Act now to get our 1/2 price sale, limited offer

Reply - Answer
Well Mo, you can rest assured that you are not the only, or first person to have a battery bank setup like that on a houseboat.

When it comes to what types of batteries to buy, you will get a wide variety of explanations as to which to buy.

You basically have a few choices, you can use 6 volt batteries and put them in series to give you 12 volts, or you can use 12 volt batteries and put them in parallel to give you 12 volts. I haven't run across many people using 6 volt batteries, since 12v models are so popular and obtainable.

IMHO, when it comes to cost, value, longevity, and effectiveness, you really get your money's worth when you buy AGM Marine batteries. They cost a little more but they last and perform so much better.

Batteries have to be in secure, and covered battery boxes. They have to be easily accessible in order to be easy to maintain and check them. They have to have properly sized marine cabling, and connections.

The battery charger should be sized appropriately, thus providing @ 20% of the total battery bank amperage capacity. I have always preferred an automatic multi-stage 3 or 4 phase charger. More on
this below.

I find that the biggest factors that relate to battery life are related to the battery cables, battery maintenance, and the charging. Once you calculate what your needs are, you can size your battery bank accordingly.

You will find that you can use two banks, one bank of starting batteries for the engine(s), and one bank of deep cycle batteries for the household needs.

Now you will have to calculate how many items in your houseboat that you anticipate to run, and for how long, to not discharge your deep cycle batteries below 50% for extended battery life.

I am sure there will be many different opinions when it comes to batteries, it pays to do a proper installation and setup with a 3 or 4 stage battery charger.

Now when it comes to properly charging the batteries, I have had great success and no hassles with the Multi Stage ProSport Battery Chargers.

One of the best features is called "distributed on demand charging" which means that all the charging current can be used on one of the banks, and not divided between banks like all other chargers. This is great since it is usually the house bank that needs it most.

You want a fully automatic multi-stage charger that does bulk, absorption, and maintenance mode, which is also great for short or long term storage. And the best thing, you don't have to worry about over-charging them.

I have had a few battery chargers in my time and you can't beat a multi-stage unit like a 3 or 4 stage battery chargers and will definitely install one again in my next houseboat if need be.

Well Mo, as you can see there is many different things to look at, and there is no perfect or magic solution, and I am sure there will be many opinions and comments to your post.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat battery types and experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

Free Bonus Offer

To show our deep appreciation to all of our readers and visitors, here is the link to our free houseboat magazine, the INSIDER. Go ahead click the book and sign-up, it's free and filled with great articles, tips, information and website updates.

free Houseboat Magazine - The Houseboat Insider

Comments for Houseboat Battery Banks - What Type of Batteries, Chargers, How to Install

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Boat Batteries - cruiser versus houseboat
by: william joseph brown

I have a Carver with twins motors, two batteries, and a guest charge. Now I bought a Holiday Mansion houseboat and there are five batteries in the engine compartment and I'm trying to figure it out.

I'll will check to see if they are six volts and I didn't find the charger yet. The houseboat is a 1984, my Carver is an 88 mariner. Are they that different?

Houseboat Batteries - deep cycle battery banks
by: Mark of South Australia

I use four (4) deep cycle 6V batteries (Trojan T-105) to get two (2) banks of 12V. Each battery bank has its own fusible link so that the bank is protected when they are connected in parallel.

Without this protection, a failed cell in one bank could cook the all the batteries. Having said that, I have had these batteries over 10 years without any problems.

As a general rule it is better to have larger batteries than parallel banks of batteries, especially more than two (2) banks. Space can prevent the use of physically larger batteries, so sometimes banks may be necessary to get the capacity required.

The only inconvenience with the T-105 battery is that they are flooded cells and need to be topped up with water. When I go the boat, the batteries it came with were cooked because the owner never topped up the water.

The only charger I use is the solar panels. Although our winter is cloudy, there is enough sunlight to charge up the batteries.

I am about to increase the solar panels from 200W to 400W shortly as I got some cheap panels from a friend.

Houseboat Batteries - it's all compromises
by: Dan Pedersen

The best batteries by far is the 6volt forklift golf cart batteries and most expensive too. They are very expensive and last forever. They are very heavy too.

But you will probably find that a good quality AGM or Optima yellow top are the best compromise. Yellow top last @ 50% longer and cost a bit more.

Even if I could afford it, I'am not sure I would by forklift batteries. They last so long that it's another world when they are done. Maybe there is a better way in a near future.

But don't be cheap when you battery chargers. They determine the life of your batteries. But again, there's not one solution. You could use one charger to your bank or one per battery, If you use one per battery you don't ever have to balance your bank and you can bay more batteries if needed. You could split your bank in groups also and save a little on chargers.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Houseboat Parts and Accessories Reviews.

Continue Reading Our Popular Pages

Our collection of houseboat ebooks

Ebook Boats Collection on Houseboat Books

We just love houseboats, do you?
Join our monthly HB Insider for free

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.