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Battery Chargers How-To's

Batteries and Chargers for a Boat

Basics to Finding the Right Battery Charger

The most fundamental component of your boat's electrical system is the battery, which is why we carry a huge selection of marine-grade battery chargers, battery boxes, trays, ties downs, switches, battery isolators, terminals, inverters and more. ... read more Some of the competition may offer non-marine-grade batteries and components; don't be fooled! When you shop at you can be confident that the battery parts and accessories you buy are made by brands such as Ancor, ProMariner, Xantrex, Guest, Minn Kota and SeaSense, which manufacturer products specifically designed for your boat and it's harsh and wet marine surroundings.

With so many battery chargers on the market and  a massive variety of specs and features, finding the right charger for your boat can seem quite daunting.

The first step will be to do is qualify the attributes of the battery charger you plan to purchase.  This includes determining the type of battery charger you'd like to use, how many batteries you want to charge at once (banks), amperage you'd like batteries charged at, AC input voltage, DC output voltage, and battery compatibility.  The fact that features & attributes are mixed-and-matched to form specific products means there are a lot of options, but most features and attributes have little variations, making the decision making process simple.

For example if you limit your boating to the USA, you know you'll need a charger that provides an AC input voltage range that includes 120 volts.  Have 3x lead-acid 12VDC batteries?  You'll need a 3-bank 12v battery charger compatible with lead-acid batteries.

For a more thorough break-down of the standard features and options used by most onboard boat battery chargers, check-out our battery-charger guide at the bottom of this page.
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Blue Sea Systems Tech Tip: Charge Coordination Explained

Here you can learn how charge coordination works with our Tech Tip's thorough explanation. ... read more Infographic: Tips for charge coordination explained

When charging batteries, the alternator plays the smallest part in the process. The alternator fulfills its duties in charging the battery, but the AC battery charger will maintain the charge. As the AC battery works to maintain the charge, this three-step charging stage must take place.

Bulk Charge

Bulk charge is a charge form that sends currents to batteries at the highest and safest capacity rate. It will accept voltage charges up to between 80 and 90%. The voltage amount usually ranges between 10.5 volts and 15 volts. Depending on the application, there might be limits on the maximum current that can be applied.

Absorption Charge

Absorption charge is the stage where voltage levels tend to remain the most consistent and then eases into an internal resistance that increases as it charges. The voltages will usually have risen to 14 to 15 volts.

Float Charge

The batteries, at this point, will have reached full capacity. The voltages will decrease their levels between 12 and 13 in order to prolong the life of the battery. Then a process known as pulse width modulation (PWM) takes control, in which, it seeks out tiny voltage drops in the battery and sends out short charging cycles to the battery. By the end of this stage, the voltage should be maintained at a level between 13.02 and 13.20 volts.

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blue seas p12 battery charger

Blue Seas P12 Battery Charger (Video)

A demonstration of the Blue Sea Systems P12 Battery Charger, presented by Blue Sea Systems. ... read more

Video Transcript

Hi! Chuck Hawley with Blue Sea Systems.

You know as boats becoming increasing more complicated, their battery banks get larger and larger. And with the new chemistries of batteries you get more reliable batteries but at a higher cost.

To solve your battery management problems, Blue Sea Systems has introduced the P12 chargers, available in a 25 amp or for larger vessels of 45 amp bottle.

These are pre-programmed for the four most common chemistries of batteries; flooded lead acid batteries, gel batteries, AGM batteries and TPPL batteries.

So built inside of this is the logic to precisely charge those batteries that both the bulk, absorption float stages. But Blue Sea Systems has gone one stage further; they actually have the fourth stage which they call “pre-float”.

You know most battery chargers will take their full output and put it into the batteries which we call “bulk”. They reach a certain voltage and then they taper off the ampere overtime without overcharging during absorption.

But if you have batteries of different sizes, say a large house bank and smaller starting battery bank; the large house bank may not be fully charged but the starting batteries had enough.

The P12 charger has the smarts to lower the voltage on the smaller banks of batteries, what we call pre-float and hold them at that voltage which is non-injurious until all the batteries are charged and then drop it down to float. This can greatly increase the lifetime of smaller batteries so that they’re not overcharged during a normal charge cycle.

And you know, with the development of these new battery chemistries, a lot of the battery manufacturers have very specific recommended charge voltages and they may not be exactly what the pre-set voltage sets. So the P12 charger is actually fully customizable. You can set the absorption voltage, the float voltage and the amount of time spent in absorption to perfectly match your battery manufacturer’s recommendations.

So rather than going with the generic setting, if you want, you can reset it to a custom setting to absolutely optimize your battery charging.

To maximize the performance and lifetime of your batteries, the P12 charger is a great choice. It’s designed, assembled and tested in the United States and it’s backed by Blue Sea Systems Industry leading 5 year warranty.
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