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Breaking Down Batteries: Answers to Common Boat Battery Questions

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 2/25/2021

Father and Son on a boat in the water

When selecting the right battery for your boat, there's a lot to keep in mind. Starting versus deep cycle, determining the right number of amps - it can all get pretty overwhelming. To help make things easier, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked boat battery questions.

What are the different types of marine batteries?

Boat batteries fall into two basic groups, starting batteries and deep cycle batteries. Just like the battery found in your car, starting batteries provide the initial burst of energy needed to turn over your boat's engine. Deep cycle batteries are designed to power fish locators, radios, trolling motors and other applications that use power over a long period of time.

If you don't use many additional applications on your boat, you can probably get away with just a starting battery. If your boat is loaded up with radios, depth finders and other tech, you'll want to have both a starting and deep cycle battery on your boat, or pick up a dual purpose battery that does a little bit of everything.

Can I use a regular car battery in my boat?

As mentioned above, car batteries are starting batteries, so technically a car battery can work in a boat, but that doesn't make them the best choice. The biggest difference between a car battery and a marine battery is the terminals. Marine batteries have specific "marine terminals" that are dual-posted, allowing for multiple connections on a single battery. Ultimately, you're better off using a marine battery in your boat to ensure that the battery posts and terminal connections are compatible.

How many volts should a boat battery have?

This is completely reliant on the voltage of your boat. For both starting and deep cycle batteries, 12V batteries will usually be the standard. From there, it's just a matter of calculating how much power your boat requires. For instance, if you have a 36V trolling motor, you'll need three 12V deep cycle batteries set up in a series to power it properly. If you have a variety of different applications running, be sure to consider the voltage requirements for all of them.

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