I’m recently back from one of my annual rituals acting as one of the Boat of The Year (BOTY) judges for Cruising World magazine. I love participating in this event because I get a chance to crawl through 20 some odd new boats each year and compare all of the nitsy little details that most folks never notice when looking at new boats. Myself and my fellow judges take this all very seriously and do in fact really take the entered boats apart as we do our at the dock inspections. No other magazine that I’m aware of even comes close to the level of inspection that our team does. Anyhow, I discovered on one boat this year something that I find all too common on newer boats and that is battery(s) sitting directly on wooden surfaces. This certainly flies in the face of ABYC standards which require that batteries be installed in a dedicated area that is made of materials that won’t e attacked by any electrolyte from the battery. Now in the photo above several issues are immediately evident to me. One, the battery is sitting directly on a wooden surface. Two, the locker the battery is in is by no means dedicated, so its quite likely that other gear is going to get shoved into that space. Depending upon the gear, it could induce a short circuit between the positive and negative posts on the battery or in the worst case maybe even crack the battery case causing an extreme leak of electrolyte into the boat. As for this install, one could argue that the battery is of the sealed variety and therefore electrolyte is unlikely to leak out causing damage. Every time that argument comes up at an electrical committee meeting, the counter argument is the same, yes, but what if someone decides to replace the battery you see with one that has open, serviceable cells? Not too far out of the realm of reason I would say. Remember, the USCG nor ABYC offer any special breaks for sealed or AGM or Gel type batteries in their installation requirements for that very reason, who knows what will get installed once the battery you see gets replaced? Keep batteries in dedicated boxes with covered terminals and if you must use wood, paint it with epoxy to seal it from any acid exposure.
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