There’s nothing like a day on the open ocean—whether you’re out there to catch some fish, feel the salt spray, take in a sunset, or simply cruise toward that boundless, shimmering horizon. It’s a supremely refreshing adventure: provided, of course, that your boat’s lithium marine battery is reliable.
The open waters are a famously volatile environment. The weather can turn on a dime, and waves can pick up at unpredictable times. Therefore, it’s important that critical systems such as lights, communication devices, trolling motors, and navigational equipment remain tied to a reliable power source. Furthermore, the failure of non-essential items like refrigeration devices can quickly ruin a trip. So, as the captain of your ship, you need to know you can trust your marine battery to keep vital safety equipment and other appliances up and running.
With this in mind, not just any battery will suffice. You need a trusted power source that will keep you and your passengers safe and happy. Now, let’s find out what quality means when it comes to marine batteries.
Different Types of Marine Batteries
First, it’s worth noting that there are two basic marine battery types on the market. Advances in battery technology have led to significant improvements in both alternatives. However, to choose the right one for your boat, you need to know the key distinctions between them.
The lead acid battery type is one of the oldest options available on the market. Flooded lead acid (FLA) batteries produce oxygen and hydrogen using a liquid sulfuric acid housed between lead plates. As such, they require ventilation as well as regular top-ups of distilled water. That said, the newer absorbent glass mat (AGM) lead acid batteries are sealed, meaning you don’t need to add distilled water. Nonetheless, they still possess a pressure valve that calls for ventilation.
The alternative is lithium-ion (or Li-ion) battery technology—the latest option and one that’s also making strong inroads in the market. Lithium-ion batteries have quickly become the gold standard for storing energy across devices, including smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and (of course) boats. Their strategic differentiator is a higher energy density contained within a lightweight shell, rendering them more powerful and versatile. The power storage is based on an entirely different chemical makeup. Essentially, the battery’s anode uses a material that absorbs and releases lithium ions to charge and discharge the stored energy.
Further, there are three principal varieties of marine batteries:
- Starter batteries (generally lead acid) are built to crank out a large but brief burst of energy to power up the boat’s engine.
- Deep-cycle batteries provide steady power to your electrical devices throughout the trip.
- Dual-purpose batteries are designed to combine both of the above functions. That said, this added convenience comes at the expense of performance in terms of energy storage and deep-cycle capacity.
Lithium-ion vs. Lead-Acid Batteries for Energy Storage in Marine Vehicles: Where Li-ion Stands Out
When comparing and contrasting your two main battery categories—namely lead acid and lithium marine battery variants—there’s a clear winner in energy storage. For starters, lithium-ion offers significant size and weight reductions. As a result, these batteries power your boat’s electric engine or safety equipment and other appliances mentioned above without taking up too much space or overburdening it. Plus, regardless of whether you’re using an AGM or an FLA lead acid battery, you have to perform regular maintenance to keep the equipment’s lifespan intact. By contrast, lithium-ion solutions need minimal maintenance to sustain an extensive lifespan.
On top of all these benefits, lithium-ion alternatives have a much greater energy storage capacity. Using this technology, you're able to take more power on your boat in a smaller and lighter package. Plus, while lead acid batteries can sustain significant damage when they’re drained below half their storage capacity, the most advanced lithium-ion batteries are able to discharge all their stored power with no ill effects.
At present, the one drawback keeping boaters away from lithium marine batteries is their relatively high cost. Nevertheless, if you’re taking the long-term view, you’ll have to factor in the lifespan of both choices relative to the price tag. Lithium-ion variants last longer. You’ll get years more use out of your lithium marine battery and likely, as a result, spend less on energy storage over time.
Best Practices in Choosing a Lithium Marine Battery
It’s clear that lithium-ion batteries are the best option available on the market. However, not all lithium marine battery selections are manufactured equally. Therefore, to maximize the benefits of your boat battery, it’s advisable to source your equipment from a reputable manufacturer that produces high-quality lithium-ion products.
Moreover, the top manufacturers also offer customers technical support in setting up and using their products. This level of service is invaluable when you’re dealing with specialized technical equipment.
Additionally, you may want to consider your energy needs. For instance, do you need a starter, a deep-cycle, or a dual-purpose marine battery? Deep-cycle batteries offer the highest sustained energy capacity. They’re the most reliable and powerful option for your boat’s critical functions and devices. The energy density of the battery is particularly important if you have limited space on your boat.
Taking the life cycle of the lithium-ion battery you’re choosing into account is another vital factor. Of course, this element ultimately impacts the longevity of the product.
Finally, also consider a battery management system (BMS) to monitor the equipment’s performance and maintenance needs, as this will prolong its usage.
Sourcing the Best Lithium Marine Battery
You can’t go wrong with lithium marine batteries—that is, if you’re sourcing your equipment from a first-rate manufacturer. The company's manufacturing standard directly influences the quality of your battery product. This makes it crucial to go with a leader in deep-cycle lithium-ion technology like Battle Born Batteries.
Battle Born’s LiFePO4 Marine Batteries have been powering oceanic voyages for years. They charge faster and sustain power to your boat for longer than other battery options, so you don’t need to worry about depleting energy resources during your journey. Plus, Battle Born Batteries offers their customers superior technical support in setting up systems, as well as an industry-leading 10-year warranty and a built-in sophisticated BMS that ensures your power system will operate safely and efficiently.