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What's the Difference Between Car Batteries and Marine Batteries?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 7/31/2023

Auto battery and Marine battery sitting on a counter

While they may look the same on the surface, automotive and marine batteries are built very differently with different types, purposes and technology.

How Are Boat and Car Batteries Different?

If you are new to boating, or even a seasoned veteran, you might wonder what makes these batteries different from car batteries. To the naked eye, both batteries look the same, but you will be surprised to find out that marine batteries have quite a bit more to offer than your traditional car battery.


  • Made with more, thinner lead plates to allow a higher discharge current to crank the engine.
  • Designed to provide a large burst of energy to start the engine.


  • Made with thicker, sturdier lead plates to withstand the harsh boating environment.
  • Considerably more vibration resistant than traditional car batteries.
  • Terminals are designed specifically with boats in mind.
  • Comes in many forms: Starting, Deep Cycle, Dual Purpose (Starting and Deep Cycle) and Lithium Deep Cycle.

Are Marine Batteries Better Than Regular Batteries?

Marine batteries are not better or worse than car batteries, they are just meant to be used in two different applications and are built differently to accomplish that. The main purpose of a car battery is to provide power to the starter to crank the engine. Marine batteries are used for this purpose as well but are also used to power all of the electronic accessories on your boat and are designed to be used in the harshest conditions when out on your boat. They need to be able to withstand the bouncing, vibrations, and shaking that are common while out on the lake enjoying a day of watersports or fishing.

Marine batteries also come in different designs to suit your needs. Marine starting batteries are designed to provide that jolt of power to start your boat's engine and then will recharge as you are out boating. If you need a workhorse battery that will start your boat and power the electronics, then the marine dual-purpose batteries are for you. For boats that have a lot of power demands, trolling motors, fish finders, etc. where just a starting or dual-purpose battery won't be enough, marine deep-cycle batteries will provide the power you need to run all of those toys.

X2Power Batteries

If you are looking to power your passions with relentless power to keep you out on the water all day long, you need our exclusive ultra-premium X2Power batteries. X2Power offers both AGM dual-purpose and lithium deep-cycle batteries.

Premium AGM Marine

  • 28 times more vibration resistant than traditional marine batteries.
  • Lasts three times longer than a traditional marine battery.
  • Brass terminals provide a highly conductive connection for maximum power
  • A true dual-purpose battery combining cranking power and deep cycle performance into one battery.
  • Includes a 4-year free replacement warranty.

Lithium Marine Deep-Cycle with Bluetooth

  • Charges 4x as fast and is 50% lighter than comparable lead-acid batteries.
  • Provides relentless all-day power and reliability for deep-cycle power demands.
  • Equipped with an advanced Battery Management System (BMS) that monitors the parameters of the battery for optimal safety.
  • Bluetooth-enabled batteries allow for the tracking of battery status, cycles and health using the X2Power app.
  • Backed by a 10-Year, 2000 Cycle Limited Warranty that can be tracked in the app.

The X2Power app is available in the Apple App Store   and the Google Play Store  .

Can You Use a Car Battery in a Boat?

Marine batteries are uniquely engineered to be used on a boat, featuring threaded studs for eyelets to easily connect accessories, like your onboard chargers. They are constructed using materials that are suitable for the extreme conditions that you may encounter on the water.

While it may be tempting to save a couple of bucks and use a flooded automotive battery to start your boat, it's not recommended. Automotive batteries are not designed for the harsh conditions that boats endure and they would not be a wise choice, most likely resulting in the need to replace the battery more frequently.

The most important thing to consider when purchasing a new battery for your boat is whether or not that battery fits the needs of your boat. Marine batteries come in several designs to provide a solution for your boat and are designed for the harsh environments seen with boats and are the clear choice for a replacement battery. There are four different types of batteries for marine applications: Starting, Dual Purpose, Deep Cycle and Lithium Deep Cycle which will offer a solution that is best for your boat.

What Makes Marine Batteries Special?

  • Marine batteries are built using stronger materials and thicker plates to handle the harsh environment inside a boat, making marine batteries 15% more resistant to vibrations.
  • The feature threaded terminals in addition to standard posts to easily connect accessories.
  • A larger, stronger polyurethane casing is used to withstand the extra bumps.
  • Marine batteries also feature different ratings. Your car or truck battery will be measured using Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) which tells you the Amps delivered at 0℉ whereas marine batteries list the Marine Cranking Amps (MCA) which tells you the Amps delivered at 32℉ in addition to the Cold Cranking Amps.
  • Marine batteries come in several different types to fit whatever power demand your boat has. Starting, Deep Cycle, Dual Purpose (Starting and Deep Cycle) and Lithium Deep Cycle are all available to address any power need on your boat.

Can You Jump-Start a Car With a Marine Battery?

There is nothing worse than having a fun-filled day out on the water fishing, wakeboarding, or spending time with your family on the pontoon than getting back to the car and discovering that you left your headlights on. You're in a tough spot, you need to get your boat out of the water, what do you do?

Because you are a savvy adventurer, you came prepared with a lithium jump-pack. It's all charged up and stored safely in your glovebox just for this occasion. Just connect it to your battery, turn on the jump-pack, start the truck and off you go.

If you don't have a jump-pack, there is probably another truck near you that you could get a jump from. Always keep a set of jumper cables in your truck, you never know when you will need them.

If you don't have either of those things, you may be tempted to use your boat's battery to jump your car. While that may work, it's not the best option. One of those reasons being your boat is probably still in the water, out of reach. Using a marine battery to jump-start your car or truck could potentially introduce some unnecessary risks to your vehicle. Depending on the age and features of your vehicle you will be at a higher risk of damaging the electrical system in your car or truck.

Can I Use a Trickle Charger on a Marine Battery?

Absolutely! Trickle chargers are very good for your battery in the long run.

Trickle chargers are a great way to ensure your boat's battery stays healthy in the off-season, during long transport times or if your boat isn't being used regularly. Newer chargers, like the NOCO GENPRO 10x4, are completely smart and automatic so not only is it a trickle charger but also a battery maintainer and desulfator. It is a single, onboard charger that can be used for many applications.

Using an onboard charger is ideal for keeping your boat batteries charged and ready for the next adventure. These chargers are permanently mounted inside your boat and are connected to the batteries at all times so when you get home after a long day on the water you can just plug in the charger to an extension cord and you are all set. The batteries will charge and will be maintained until your next trip out. Onboard chargers come in many sizes from single to four banks, charge up to four batteries at once, and are built to handle water. Check out our high-quality X2Power onboard marine chargers for your boat.

Can You Use A Marine Battery Charger to Charge a Car Battery?

Most marine battery chargers are designed to charge with many types of batteries. If you have a marine battery charger handy you can use it to charge a car battery.

The main difference between a marine charger and a standard charger is that the marine charger is typically more rugged and waterproof. Many can also be mounted as an onboard charger. Most newer chargers are smart and automatic so they will detect the type of battery and select the correct mode of charging to suit that battery's needs.

An important consideration is that some marine chargers, specifically ones designed for use as an onboard charger, will only come with connectors for marine batteries and may not be suitable for connecting to a car battery. Look for a charger that includes interchangeable connectors, like the X2Power SLC10005, to be able to easily use it for your car or boat.

Is a Marine Battery the Same as an RV Battery?

Generally speaking, Marine and RV batteries are interchangeable. Depending on the brand of battery, you will see hybrid Marine/RV batteries that are designed for both applications. The most important thing is to get a battery that best suits your needs and the power demands of the vehicle.

If you are just looking for a cranking battery to start your RV, you will find that many standard automotive batteries are used. In many cases, you will want a battery that can both start your RV and power the home electronics. In that case, you would want to look at our Duracell Ultra and X2Power lines of Dual Purpose Marine/RV batteries.

For large RVs with many electronic power demands, you will often see two or more batteries in use. One to crank the engine and then one or more Deep Cycle batteries to power the home part of the RV.

Shop Our Broad Selection of Marine Batteries at Batteries Plus

Are you starting to see less power out of your marine batteries? Bring them by your local Batteries Plus and have the professionals at Batteries Plus test your batteries, free of charge. If a new battery is in your future, our team of battery experts will help you find the best replacement for your boat, including our exclusive X2Power Lithium Deep Cycle batteries.

For more information, be sure to check out our helpful Marine Battery Buying Guide and our blog, "Why Do Boats Have 2 Batteries".

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