Boat Rigging Part 8: Battery Install

When you are experiencing connectivity issues in your boat, chances are the root is a poorly connected battery. Here’s how to do it right from the word ‘go’.

Batteries can be the root of a lot of problems. Taking a few steps before you install new batteries can ensure problems are kept to a minimum. The first step is to make sure you select a cranking battery with enough cold cranking amps (CCA) and enough reserve power to fill your needs. The engine manufacturer will have the specs for the minimum that is required.

I prefer five Optima D31M AGM batteries in my boat. Three for my 36-volt trolling motor and two cranking batteries run on a battery switch. While this may be overkill for some, it really isn’t for a heavy fishing boat that has a lot of graphs, pumps, lights and a big engine to turnover. Better safe than sorry!

Below are a few steps to consider that will make your rig ready for the water in no time!

  1. Lay out the batteries by setting trays in the compartment to make sure everything will fit. Look to use good battery trays with metal buckles that are less likely to break.
  2. Set batteries in place after securing the trays, but void using long screws that could enter another compartment or even worse, the bottom of your boat.
  3. Place short jumper lines to connect the batteries to create 24- or 36-volt system for your trolling motor. Attach it to the positive on one battery and the negative of the next battery, and visa versa for the following battery.
  4. Get rid of the wing nuts that come with most batteries and replace them with nyloc nuts. Tighten them slowly and put some type of lubricant on the threads to avoid galling the threads. Stainless steel hardware likes to lock up and could ruin the battery connection permanently.

Rigging the “juice” in your boat isn’t difficult, but when done improperly it can cause damage. Make sure to have a breaker in place for your trolling motor and fuse everything where possible. As previously mentioned I prefer to place a battery switch on my boats to be able to completely shut off power when the boat is in storage, not in use or when I’m working on it. <\p>

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Capt. Ross Robertson

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