With summer fast approaching, it’s time to throw off the covers and get your boat ready for the water. Rick Rovelli of Probe shares valuable advice on choosing the ideal battery to suit your boating needs. Established over 50 years ago, Probe is South Africa’s leading importer, wholesaler and distributor of batteries, starters and alternators.

The right kind of battery for your boat depends very much on the purpose of the vessel.  Similar to the requirements of a sports car compared to an off-road vehicle, different boats serve different purposes.  To ensure that you’re getting the optimal battery to suit your needs it is important to recognise whether your boat has been designed for maximum speed over short distances, or whether it is more suited to longer sailing times.   The size and capacity of your vessel should also be taken into account when selecting your battery.  

Probe supplies a variety of batteries that are suited to marine applications, which include starting batteries, multipurpose and deep cycle batteries. 

The starting battery cranks the boat’s engine and is able to deliver short, high bursts of energy.  Compared to a deep cycle battery, the plates on the starting battery are more numerous and much thinner so as to provide the maximum surface area to yield the necessary burst of amperage.  Probe’s Xtreme Series Performance + delivers those short but high bursts of energy required for ignition and speed, and are ideal for outboard and entry level boats.  While offered at a competitive price, the Xtreme Series Performance and Performance + still provide superior performance when discharged under a rate of 50%.

Probe’s multipurpose or recreational batteries also work well in a marine environment.  They are able to handle a deeper discharge than the starter battery, but somewhat less than a deep cycle battery.  This means that they are well suited for small powerboats that would use a single battery for both starting and running loads with the engine turned off, and boats that have one battery bank used for both starting the engine and house applications.

Probe’s deep cycle batteries, those “long-distance runners” of the battery world, are available in flooded, Gel and AGM chemical formats.  These have much thicker plates than starting batteries and are able to tolerate a discharge rate of as much as 80%.   Flooded or wet batteries, while discharging at a higher rate than AGM and gel, are best for sailing conditions that do not cause intense levels of vibration.   If you’re going to be sailing under unpredictable and choppy conditions, AGM batteries are the best option in that they can withstand heavy vibration thanks to a robust shock protection.   Additionally, Probe’s batteries are calcium/calcium and therefore have a slow discharge rate.   Coupled with an isolation switch, this battery will retain its power for longer and thereby extend “unused” time for longer. 

The rule of thumb for deep cycle batteries is that they should be sized to store three to four times the expected amount of energy used between recharge cycles.  Probe’s deep cycle batteries serve larger, higher-end boats and yachts given the greater power demands of these types of vessels.

Never underestimate the importance of choosing the right battery to meet your boat’s requirements.   I can personally vouch for this, having had the same battery power our family boat for over 7 years.  Apart from providing the utmost reliability, the right battery gives you peace of mind so that your only worry, when out on the water, is catching that perfect fish.