How Simple DIY Battery Connection Checks Can Help Your Boat

Are your battery connections the best they can be? Here are some simple do-it-yourself checks that you can perform to help maintain the connections to the heart of your boat. These are simple checks and tasks that take no more than 10 minutes and will lead to peace of mind when you are at sea. Next time you are on your boat, take a look at your battery banks and their connections, and check for the following:

  • Do I have nuts and lock washers on ALL my terminal connections?
  • Are the cables on tight? Can I pull on them without them budging?

Just these simple questions and their solutions can help keep your boat on the water for longer. The best connection for a battery post is a nut and spring washer, no two ways about it! Wing nuts and nuts without a spring washer are not ideal, since they have a reputation for coming loose. When motoring, your boat is also sending vibrations throughout your vessel, causing items to shake; this leads to rattling but hopefully not rolling. These vibrations along with waves slapping your boat can cause connections to come loose if not done properly the first time. It won't cost much to replace them and it doesn't take long. If you do replace the connections, be sure to do them one at a time to avoid reconnecting a cable to the wrong post.

So this brings me to my next point. How tight should the connections be? How much force can I put on these posts? If you have both feet on the battery and you are hanging off the wrench, you've gone too far. Approximately 10-12 Nm of torque is ideal (depending on the quality of your battery). As a rule of thumb, just tighten the nut till it feels firm, then try to wiggle the cable. If it wiggles, tighten it some more and so on. When you have finished, NO cable should move.

These two checks will also help with getting the most out of your batteries. Also, don't forget to keep the tops of your batteries clean and clear!