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Houseboat Battery Chargers Guide - charging batteries properly on boats

by IAN from
(Houseboat battery charger guide for boat batteries)

Battery Chargers - properly charging houseboat batteries

Battery Chargers - properly charging houseboat batteries

When it comes to battery chargers for your houseboat, there are some basic characteristics that you need to keep in mind to properly charge your marine batteries. To put it simply, a good quality marine battery charger will pay for itself in no time.

The Houseboat Battery Charger guide will help boaters of all kinds to identify, evaluate, and choose the right battery charger for the boats electrical charging needs and demands.

Before we begin, please don't compare standard inexpensive automotive chargers with the higher quality and safer marine multi-stage chargers. The current amperage needs of a houseboat are in no way comparative to a modern automobile.

Common Boat Battery Types and Sizes:

The common marine battery lingo that you will hear relates to the actual battery sizes and composition. You will hear terms like Group 24, 27, 31, and also the larger 4D or 8D sizes. The Group 24-27-31 batteries are very similar in size to the ones you find in your car.

You will also hear terms for the battery composition such as the popular and very common lead-acid or flooded batteries, and terms like spill proof AGM (absorbed glass mat).

Starting or Deep-Cycle Batteries?

You will hear terms like deep-cycle, starting, and dual-purpose styles battery types. Deep-cycle batteries are designed to provide lower current discharge but for longer periods of time which is useful to power the lights and accessories on your boat.

Starting battery types are designed to provide high current discharge for shorter periods of time, like for starting your engines. Dual-Purpose batteries are a trade-off and are designed to provide an adequate combination of both. The verdict is still out whether this is marketing hype or a reality.

Marine Battery Chargers:

The newer technology marine battery chargers are often whats called as 3 or 4 stage chargers. The stages represent the amount of current/voltage that the "brain" of the charger senses and provides in charging capacity.

The actual charging stages are often called the bulk, acceptance, float, and equalization or maintenance phase. These different stages are what is important to properly charge and maintain marine batteries for a long life. Long life means less battery problems and less battery replacement and expense.

Some of the popular marine chargers are listed as 10, 20, 40 amp/hour battery chargers. The more batteries on board, the larger the charger capacity needed to properly bring the battery levels back up to fully charged capacity.

What Size
Charger Do I Need?

You ideally want a charging system that can bring or replenish your batteries, or your battery banks to @ 85% of their capacities in the short time period.

The are hundreds of articles on the internet to help you discuss what size charger you need, but if you are pressed for time, you can use the minimum basic guide below to get you started if you are using typical Group 24, 27, or 31 size marine batteries.

* 1 battery (group 24, 27, 31): use a 10 amp/hr battery charger

* 2 batteries (group 24, 27, 31): use a 20 amp/hr battery charger

* 3 batteries (group 24, 27, 31): use a 40 amp/hr battery charger

Tips for Marine Chargers and Boat Batteries

Here are some simple tips to help you achieve long-life out of your charging system and extend the life of your battery bank.

* don't under or over-charge your boat batteries.
* do a spring and fall battery water level check.
* don't drain your batteries below 50% capacity.
* don't combine old and new batteries together.
* don't leave batteries discharged for long periods.
* use deep-cycle batteries for lighting accessory needs.
* do preventative maintenance on connectors terminals.

Where to Buy Marine Battery Chargers:

If you are looking to buy a new unit or looking to upgrade your existing battery charger, you will definitely enjoy the selection and the prices found at West Marine and also found at Boaters World.

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Lastly, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their own houseboat battery charger 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

More Information on Battery Chargers?

Houseboat Battery Maintenance Tips - make marine boat batteries last longer

Tips on Charging Houseboat Batteries - How to keep the Battery Bank Charged

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

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Comments for Houseboat Battery Chargers Guide - charging batteries properly on boats

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Houseboat Batteries - how to hook-up a 6 volt battery
by: Anonymous

OK, so if I understand this right, to use 6 volt batteries, you guys are using pairs. The pairs are connected positive to negative to get to 12 volt, then each pair is connected to the next pair, in parallel? Please help me understand this, Tim

Houseboat Power - 6v vs 12v and solar panels
by: Dave

Ian has hit it right on the head with the whole 6 volt battery vs 12. The principle reason for going to 6 volt/deep cycle is the amount of AMP hours (ah) you get with a 6volt system vs a 12.

The amp hour rating (varies with the batteries you buy) is ultimatley what determines how much juice you have available. For example, a 200ah battery set can sustain a 10amp draw for 20 hours before complete discharge.

A 300ah set for 30 hours and so on. The more AH's the better for those times you can't necesarily get to a charger. Most 12V batteries are not designed for the constant stresses of charge and deep discharge that occur with houseboats. Keep in mind, you must buy these in sets of 2 if your running a 12volt system.

The other thing I wanted to mention was I currently run with 2 solar panels, (will be adding a 3rd this spring). We live up here in Canada (our boat is in the Shuswap in the interior of B.C.) and do not currently have access to power.

But with solar, we're completely independant and never have to worry about recharging from the grid. This time of year (mid April) under sunny skies, our bank of 6, 6volts, is completely charged by noon or sooner.

The only reason I'm installing a 3rd panel is because of the low sun in the early spring and late fall as the sun is so much lower. We also run a 2500w inverter and we can power anything our heart desires, 15 amp table and chop saws etc.

We built our entire dock hooked up to the houseboat's power and good old mother nature kept the juice flowing. Running with solar also means not having to worry about pulling your batteries for the winter and keeping them charged or putting a charger on once a month.

Mother Nature looks after that for you as well. If you're considering solar, bigger panels do not mean better or more power. Check dimensions vs wattage and amp output. Do your research. And you can do it all yourself.

For what it's worth, we're running one 125w, and one 130w and will be adding another 130w panel soon.
What you'll need are panel(s), appropriate wire, a good charge controller and inverter (optional, if you want to convert your 12V power to 110V). There's my 2 cents worth. Have a great season.

More Houseboat Battery Charging and Battery Choices
by: John

Okay.......I've owned boats for over 45 years and a houseboat for 11 years. In my opinion, I advise all houseboaters (and anyone overnighting or longer on any boat) to phase out their expensive, archaic and inefficient 12volt batteries and go with 6volt golf cart-type.

I bought four sets of used 6volt golf cart batteries from a local independent battery house and connected them together as my house bank. Three sets are for the 12v receptacles and one set for my fridge-freeze unit.

I bought a nice used Schumacher-brand 55amp charger online and have it hooked up to all the batteries and to my 12kw generator. About 1-2 hours of generator running charges all of these 6volt units FULLY. We can last about 36 hours of hard use before needing to recharge.

I have 3 inverters (portable) to run those few items that require 110volt, but I have saved thousands of dollars and have a quality house bank/charging system. My total cost for eight (used) 6volt golf cart batteries, charger, three portable inverters, wiring and terminals was $1350.

I did this in the Spring of 2010 and have encountered NO problems and real comfort and reliability. I still use group 24 twelve volt batteries for starting my engine and generator. They are recharged by their alternators.

Reply - Answer
Well John, thanks for posting such a complete reply, and congratulations on installing yourself such a big system.

As you are aware, there is no end to the size and amount of features that we can add to a boats battery banks / charging system, as money is your only limiting factor.

Glad to hear that you have had great results with your installation, and yes, 6 volt golf cart batteries are an excellent choice.

IAN from

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