The Best Batteries for a 17-Foot Boat

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    Starting Battery

    • An outboard-equipped 17-foot boat will need a battery designed to start the outboard motor. Starting batteries are designed to provide a large burst of power to the motor's starter and then be quickly recharged once the motor fires to life. Most 17-footers won't be fitted with outboards much over 100 horsepower so they don't need a battery of the size needed to start large outboards or automotive engines. Still, check the space allotted for the battery in your boat and choose a unit with the highest amp rating you can find or afford that will fit the space. If this is the only battery to be used on your boat, hooking your radio, sonar and other electronics to it is acceptable.

    Deep Cycle Battery

    • A 17-foot boat with an electric motor as the primary or secondary propulsion unit needs to have a deep cycle battery to power the electric motor. Deep cycle batteries are designed to deliver peak amounts of power over a long period of time and won't be damaged by repeated discharges. You can run them until they are completely dead or nearly dead, then recharge them time and again. Deep cycle batteries are rated by amp hours. Think of the amp hours in the motor as gas in a tank. The more amp hours, the farther you can go on a charge or the larger the motor you can run. Choose the electric motor for your boat depending on whether it's the primary or secondary means of propulsion, the weight of the boat and how much you will run it. Use these specifics to decide the size of the deep cycle battery you'll need.

    Marine Batteries

    • Both starting and deep cycle batteries are available as marine batteries or standard batteries. While both will work in a boat, choose the marine-grade batteries. They are engineered to suffer the constant motion and wave-pounding jolts common on small boats without being damaged. Marine batteries will cost more initially, but the pay-off will come with longer battery life. If you have a deep cycle battery on your boat, hook the boat's electronics to it. They'll operate just as well and will be less subject to interference from the outboard's ignition and charging systems.

    Dual-Purpose Batteries

    • A few companies produce batteries that are a compromise between a power cell with deep cycle and starting battery capabilities. These may be fine for boats that are used only occasionally. Realistically, they don't perform either function as well as batteries made specifically for deep cycle or starting. Using a dual-purpose battery on a boat you will use regularly might save money in the short run, but you'll quickly be disappointed.

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