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Charge Up for Success: Tips and Tricks on How to Charge Your Trolling Motor Battery

by HuangAlex 22 Mar 2023
How to Charge Your Trolling Motor Battery

Are you tired of your trolling motor battery running out of juice in the middle of a fishing trip? Don't let a dead battery ruin your day on the water. Instead, learn how to properly charge your trolling motor battery and maximize your time on the boat. Now let’s dive in.

Part 1: Understanding Trolling Motor Batteries

1.1 Types of Trolling Motor Batteries

To summarize, there are three main types of deep-cycle 12-volt batteries recommended for use with trolling motors: Lead Acid Wet-Cell, AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), and Lithium batteries.

Lead Acid Wet-Cell batteries are the most common and affordable option. They can handle frequent draining and recharging associated with trolling motor use, but require occasional maintenance and are prone to vibration and spillage. They last between 2-3 years and can be purchased for less than $100.

AGM batteries are a type of sealed lead acid battery that last longer on a charge and typically have a longer life span than traditional deep cycle batteries, lasting up to three or four years. However, they cost up to 2x more than lead acid wet-cell batteries, making them less of an option for those on a tight budget.

Lithium/LiFEPO4 batteries are starting to become more popular due to their extremely lightweight, significantly longer battery life (up to 10 years), 100% depth of discharge, more power, and smaller footprint. Although they have a higher up-front cost, they can save money in the long run by not needing to be replaced as frequently. If you plan to keep your boat and trolling motor system long-term, Lithium could prove to be a smart investment. With some manufacturers offering up to 10-year warranties the total cost of ownership may come out to be a wash vs. re-buying flooded batteries in the same time period.

While Lithium boat batteries may not fit the budget for most cost-conscious anglers, they have a significant advantage of being significantly lighter than other battery types. This feature can improve your boat's maneuverability, enable faster take-off, and slightly increase top-end speed. In addition, these batteries are well-known for their ability to maintain higher voltage levels over extended periods and may last several years longer than traditional battery types.

It's essential to note that regardless of the type of battery you choose, it's crucial to find a "deep cycle" battery. This will be clearly labeled and simply means that the battery is specifically designed for using small amounts of energy over an extended period.

1.1.1 What is a Deep Cycle Battery?

A deep cycle battery is specifically designed to provide consistent and sustained power over an extended period. Unlike standard car batteries, which deliver high bursts of power for short periods, a deep cycle battery discharges at a slower and more consistent rate. This makes it ideal for applications that require a continuous flow of energy, such as solar power systems, golf carts, boats, and RVs.

Deep cycle batteries are constructed with thicker plates than standard batteries, enabling them to endure repeated charging and discharging cycles without damage. They also have a larger capacity and can store more energy than standard batteries.

The key advantage of deep cycle batteries is their ability to discharge deeply without harming the battery. This feature enables users to maximize the stored energy before recharging, resulting in increased battery efficiency and lifespan.

The alternative to a deep cycle battery is a standard cranking battery, which is designed to use a lot of power all at once, such as when starting the engine of your car. These battery types are also commonly found in marine applications but are generally used to start outboard engines and power auxiliary accessories.

While you may not always find the term "deep cycle" when shopping for Lithium marine batteries, LiFePO4 batteries are designed to operate this way, providing long-lasting performance with minimal maintenance requirements. Whether you're looking for a traditional lead-acid battery or exploring the benefits of Lithium-ion technology, make sure to choose a deep cycle battery that meets your specific needs for optimal performance and longevity.

1.2 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Trolling Motor Battery

Output: When choosing a trolling motor battery, it's crucial to take into account its capacity to handle the load. Your trolling motor must have sufficient power to support your boat's weight. Depending on your desired speed, you may require a motor with a capacity ranging from 0.5 to 2 horsepower. It's important to have a battery with enough amperage to run the motor, and it's recommended to select one that can last for an entire day of use to avoid getting stuck without power.

Cell Type: Boat manufacturers offer diverse types of trolling motor batteries, each having its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Before purchasing, boaters should evaluate the pros and cons of wet-cell, AGM, and gel batteries.

Trolling motor lithium batteries are often engineered to retain voltage and charge quickly with minimal exertion. Compared to conventional lead-acid models, lithium batteries are lighter and have a longer lifespan, making them a wise investment.

Quality: Boat rides can be rough, and weather conditions can be unpredictable. Therefore, it is essential to choose a durable trolling motor battery that can withstand the elements.

While many modern batteries are designed to prevent spills, taking steps to maintain maximum performance is still necessary. Regardless of the battery type you select, remember to store it in a cool place when charging or during the off-season to prevent damage.

By selecting a high-quality and robust trolling motor battery and following proper maintenance procedures, you can ensure reliable and long-lasting power for your boat's motor, enabling you to enjoy your time on the water with peace of mind.

Find the Battery That Fits Your Needs: The type, size, and quality of the marine battery you choose will entirely depend on your situation. Learning about your boat and its engine will make it easier to find the right one.

Knowing what to look for when choosing a trolling motor battery will allow you to find the best solution without wasting time and money.

Charging Time: Consider how long it takes to charge the battery fully.

Warranty: Consider the warranty offered by the manufacturer in case you meet some problems in using the batteries.

1.3 Maintaining and Prolonging the Life of Trolling Motor Batteries

Maintaining and prolonging the life of your trolling motor battery is essential to ensure reliable performance and extend its lifespan. Here are some tips on how to maintain and care for your trolling motor battery:

Proper Charging To maximize your battery's lifespan and prevent damage, it is crucial to charge it after every use with a compatible charger designed for your specific battery type. Avoid overcharging or undercharging the battery since both can significantly reduce its lifespan.

Regular CleaningRegularly cleaning your battery is essential to prevent corrosion and maintain optimal performance. Use a wire brush or appropriate battery cleaner to remove any buildup on the terminals and connectors. Keeping the battery clean helps prevent electrical resistance, which can lead to power loss and damage the battery over time.

Storage If you plan to store your battery for a prolonged period, make sure to fully charge it before storing it in a cool, dry location. To maintain the battery's good condition, recharge it slowly every three months, even when not in use.

Water Levels If you are using a lead-acid battery, it is essential to check the water level frequently. Make sure to keep the water at the recommended level, which is typically above the plates' top. This helps prevent sulfation, which can reduce the battery's capacity over time.

 Avoid Deep Discharge Avoid discharging your battery below 50% of its capacity, as deep discharging can damage the battery and significantly reduce its lifespan.

By following these maintenance tips, you can prolong the life of your trolling motor battery, ensuring optimal performance and maximum efficiency. Regular care and proper charging can save you money in the long run by reducing replacement costs and downtime due to battery failure.

Part 2 Charging Trolling Motor Batteries

2.1 Step-By-Step Guide on How to Charge Trolling Motor Batteries

1. Gather Equipment: Before beginning the charging process, make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You will need a compatible charger designed for your battery type, protective gloves, and safety glasses.

2. Turn off Power: Make sure the power is turned off before attempting to charge your battery. This helps prevent electrical shock or other accidents.

3. Connect Charger: Connect the charger's red (positive) clamp to the battery's positive terminal and the black (negative) clamp to the negative terminal. Make sure the clamps are securely attached to prevent them from coming loose during the charging process.connect charger when charge trolling motor batteries

source: Connect-Ease Youtube Channel

4. Set Charging Parameters: Depending on your battery type, adjust the charging parameters on the charger to match your battery specifications. For instance, AGM and lithium-ion batteries require different voltage settings than lead-acid batteries.

5. Start Charging: Turn on the charger and let it run until the battery is fully charged. The charging time depends on the battery's capacity and discharge level, but generally, it takes several hours.

6. Monitor Charging Progress: During the charging process, monitor the charger frequently to ensure that it is functioning correctly and there are no issues with the battery. If you notice any problems, stop the charging process immediately and investigate the issue.

7. Disconnect Charger: Once the battery is fully charged, turn off the charger and disconnect the clamps. Be sure to remove the negative clamp first before removing the positive clamp to avoid electrical sparks.

8. Store Battery: After charging, store the battery in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

By following these simple steps, you can safely charge your trolling motor battery and extend its lifespan while maximizing its performance.

2.1.1 How to Solar Charge a Trolling Motor Battery

  1. Determine the charging requirements of your trolling motor battery: Before you start, you need to know the charging requirements of your battery. This information can be found in the battery's manual or on the manufacturer's website. You need to know the battery's voltage, capacity, and type (i.e. lead-acid, AGM, etc.).
  2. Choose a suitable solar panel: You need to choose a solar panel that can provide enough power to charge your battery. The size of the panel will depend on the charging requirements of your battery. A general rule of thumb is to choose a solar panel that is at least 10-20% larger than the battery's capacity. For example, if your battery has a capacity of 100 Ah, you should choose a solar panel with a capacity of 120-140 watts.
  3. Install the solar panel: The solar panel should be installed in a location that receives direct sunlight for most of the day. You can mount the solar panel on the boat or on a separate stand. The panel should be angled towards the sun for maximum efficiency.How to Solar Charge a Trolling Motor Battery               Picture source: William Fraser Youtube Channel
  4. Install a charge controller: A charge controller is necessary to regulate the voltage and current from the solar panel to the battery. It prevents overcharging and ensures that the battery is charged efficiently. Choose a charge controller that is compatible with your battery's type and voltage.
  5. Connect the battery to the charge controller: The battery should be connected to the charge controller using appropriate wires and connectors. Follow the instructions provided by the charge controller manufacturer carefully.
  6. Monitor the charging process: Check the battery's voltage and state of charge regularly to ensure that it is charging properly. You may also need to adjust the position of the solar panel to optimize its performance.
  7. Disconnect the solar panel and battery when not in use: When you are not using the solar panel to charge the battery, disconnect the panel and battery to prevent overcharging or damage to the battery.

Following these steps can help you efficiently and effectively solar charge your trolling motor battery, giving you longer-lasting power while reducing your environmental impact.

2.2 Different Types of Battery Chargers and Their Pros and Cons

There are various types of trolling motor battery chargers available on the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most common types:

1. Linear Chargers: Linear chargers use a step-down transformer to lower the voltage from AC to DC before charging the battery. They are relatively inexpensive but tend to be less efficient than other types of chargers.

Linear Chargers

  • Pros: Inexpensive, simple design, widely available.
  • Cons: Less efficient, can take longer to charge the battery, limited features.

2. Pulse Chargers: Also known as desulfators, pulse chargers send short bursts of high-frequency energy to the battery to break down any sulfation buildup that can reduce its capacity. These chargers are ideal for restoring batteries that have been sitting for an extended period or have deep discharges.

Pulse Chargers

  • Pros: Effective in removing sulfation buildup, can restore damaged batteries, improves battery life.
  • Cons: More expensive than linear chargers, may require longer charging times, can be more complicated to use.

3. Smart Chargers: Smart chargers use advanced microprocessors to monitor the battery's condition during the charging process and adjust the charging parameters accordingly. These chargers are highly efficient and can extend the battery life while reducing overcharging and overheating risks.

smart chargers for trolling motor

  • Pros: Efficient, fast charging times, prevent overcharging, and overheating, extend battery life.
  • Cons: More expensive than linear chargers, requires electricity to function.

4. Solar Chargers: Solar chargers use solar panels to convert sunlight into electrical energy to charge the battery. These chargers are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who need a portable and eco-friendly charging option.

solar charger for trolling motor

  • Pros: Portable, environmentally friendly, free energy source, reliable for outdoor activities.
  • Cons: High upfront cost, dependent on weather conditions, lower wattage output.

When considering which type of trolling motor battery charger to purchase, consider your budget, charging needs, and portability requirements. By choosing the right charger, you can maximize your battery's lifespan and performance, ensuring reliable power for your trolling motor.

2.3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Charging Trolling Motor Batteries

Charging trolling motor batteries is a crucial aspect of maintaining their optimal performance and lifespan. However, certain common mistakes can damage the battery or reduce its efficiency. Here are some mistakes to avoid while charging trolling motor batteries:

  • Using the Wrong Charger:

Always use a compatible charger designed for your battery type to avoid damaging or shortening its lifespan.

  • Overcharging:

Overcharging the battery can lead to reduced capacity and lifespan; therefore, keep monitoring the charging process and turn off the charger once the battery is fully charged.

  • Undercharging:

Undercharging the battery can cause sulfation buildup and reduce its capacity. Always charge the battery fully after each use to avoid undercharging.

  • Charging in Extreme Temperatures:

Avoid charging the battery in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures as it may overheat and damage the battery.

  • Ignoring Safety Precautions:

Charging batteries can be dangerous; hence, always wear protective gloves and safety glasses. Ensure that the area surrounding the battery and charger is well-ventilated to prevent noxious fumes buildup.

  • Storing the Battery While Discharged:

Storing the battery while discharged can cause sulfation buildup and reduce its lifespan. Therefore, if you plan to store the battery for an extended period, fully charge it before storing.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your trolling motor battery remains in the best condition, delivering reliable power for your boating needs.

Part 3: Tips for Optimal Battery Performance

3.1 How to Properly Store Batteries During Off-Season

1. Charge the batteries one last time to ensure they are fully charged for the next season. Charging also reduces the risk of a frozen battery.

2. Disconnect the negative cable and wait a few hours before checking specific gravity or voltage. Use a hydrometer to check each cell's specific gravity, which should be between 1.265 - 1.285. Alternatively, use a voltmeter, with a reading of 12.6V indicating a fully charged battery.

 3. Disconnect all terminals to remove electrical loads from your batteries. Even if electronic devices are turned off, they still have parasitic ("vampire") loads that can drain the battery over time, leading to damage in the off-season.

4. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place where they won't freeze, such as on wood surfaces in garages or storage facilities.

 5. Ideally, trickle charge the batteries or charge them monthly to prevent self-discharge and extend their lifespan. Fully charged batteries are less likely to freeze.

 6. Store the batteries where they are easy to access to make charging easier

 7. Confirm that your charger is designed for your specific battery type. Flooded and AGM batteries often require different chargers and algorithms. Consider using smart chargers to prevent overcharging.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your trolling motor batteries remain in good condition throughout the winter season, providing reliable power for your next boating season.

3.2 Troubleshooting Common Battery Issues

Despite following best practices for battery maintenance, you may still encounter some issues resulting from battery deterioration, wear and tear, or other factors. Here are some common battery issues and solutions:

Low Voltage: If your battery voltage drops below the recommended level, recharge it immediately. Check the battery for damage, loose connections, or short circuits.

Slow Charging: If your battery is taking too long to charge or not charging at all, verify that you are using a compatible charger and that the battery is connected correctly. Also, check that the battery cables and terminals are clean and not corroded.

Sulfation Buildup: Sulfation buildup can occur if you do not charge your battery regularly, discharge it too deeply, or keep it stored while discharged. You can reverse the sulfation process by using a desulfation charger or adding a sulfate-specific additive to the water inside the battery.

FAQs about Trolling Motor Batteries

1. Can I charge my trolling motor battery with my outboard?

When it comes to recharging your trolling motor battery, there are various options available depending on your specific needs. One option is to use a regulator/retainer or a battery combiner with your outboard motor to recharge the battery. Another option is to utilize an onboard charging system or a trickle charger. In addition, you can also consider using a solar panel as an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to recharge your trolling motor battery.

2. How often should you charge a battery in storage?

Approximately every three months, test the voltage of each battery in storage, and if it's below 12.4 volts, slowly recharge it to full capacity.

3. Is it OK to leave boat battery on charger?

It's important to avoid leaving your batteries connected to a charger throughout the winter months as this could cause damage and pose a safety risk. After charging, the batteries should maintain their charge through their self-discharge rate until at least June.

4. Can I charge a marine battery inside?

In general, you should charge your battery at temperatures that are between 50 and 86 degrees, which often means that it's best to charge them indoors.

Extra Tip: Change the Trolling Motor Batteries to LiFePO4

Here are some reasons why you should make the switch.

  1. LiFePO4 batteries are more efficient

LiFePO4 batteries have a higher energy density than traditional lead-acid batteries. This means that they can store more energy in a smaller space. As a result, they are more efficient and can provide longer run times for your trolling motor. With a LiFePO4 battery, you can spend more time on the water without worrying about your battery running out of juice.

  1. LiFePO4 batteries last longer

One of the biggest advantages of LiFePO4 batteries is their long lifespan. They can last up to 10 times longer than traditional lead-acid batteries. This means that you won't have to replace your trolling motor battery as often, saving you time and money in the long run.

  1. LiFePO4 batteries are safer

Lead-acid batteries contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and your health. In contrast, LiFePO4 batteries are much safer and more environmentally friendly. They don't contain any toxic chemicals or heavy metals, making them a much safer option for the environment and for you.

  1. LiFePO4 batteries are more reliable

LiFePO4 batteries are more reliable than traditional lead-acid batteries. They have a much lower self-discharge rate, meaning that they can hold their charge for longer periods of time. This makes them ideal for use in trolling motors, as you can leave them sitting for long periods of time without worrying about them losing their charge.

  1. LiFePO4 batteries are more convenient

LiFePO4 batteries are much more convenient than traditional lead-acid batteries. They are much lighter and smaller, making them easier to transport and install. They also require less maintenance, as they don't need to be topped off with water like lead-acid batteries do.

Knowing more differences from [Newest] A Complete Comparison Between LiFePO4 Battery and Lead Acid Battery

In conclusion, if you want a more efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly trolling motor battery, you should consider switching to a LiFePO4 battery. While they may be more expensive initially, they will pay for themselves in the long run with their longer lifespan and lower maintenance requirements. Read on How To Choose The Right Battery For Your Trolling Motor to choose the right type batteries.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, knowing how to charge a trolling motor battery is essential for any angler who wants to maximize their time on the water. The process is straightforward, but it requires some attention to detail to ensure your battery is charged correctly and ready for your next outing.

Remember to use a battery charger designed for marine batteries, and to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Always charge your battery in a well-ventilated area, and never leave it unattended while charging.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your trolling motor battery stays in good condition and lasts for many seasons to come. So, the next time you head out on the water, you can do so with confidence, knowing that your battery is ready to power your trolling motor and help you catch that trophy fish.

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