Keep On ChargingPublished: Fall 2013
It's that little box that keeps the whole show running. Show it the respect it deserves with these tips.
Load Testing Your Batteries
On a boat, the easiest way to apply enough load to a battery for a meaningful test is to use the starter motor on the engine as the load. Disconnect the ignition coil, if yours is a gas engine, so the engine won't start up, connect your voltmeter to the battery, and have a friend crank the engine. If the voltage falls below 9.6 volts, you need a new battery.
It Won't Stop Your Heart, But ...
Direct current (DC) might be less likely to shock you than alternating current (AC), but there's a lot more to safety than not getting shocked. DC sparks around charging batteries can cause an explosion. Battery electrolyte is made from sulfuric acid, which can cause severe burns or blindness. DC systems are relatively safe, but still demand your respect and caution.
Just Add Water ... Carefully!
When topping off lead-acid batteries (wet cells), use a turkey baster to put the right amount of water perfectly into the holes on top of each cell. The acid may ruin the baster but they are cheap.
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