Are Lithium Batteries Safe On Boats?


Lithium ion batteries have been seen to begin taking the lead from lead acid batteries as a durable and popular option. Despite its popularity, devices containing smaller lithium-ion batteries have been known to catch fire. With that said, you may be wondering if that is the case with lithium ion batteries on boats? 

Lithium batteries last longer and perform better than many lead-acid batteries. They are lighter and take up less space. They can give a higher percentage of nominal capacity than lead-acid batteries while lasting longer. When used and maintained correctly, lithium batteries are safe on boats.

But what about that bit about catching fire? Not all lithium batteries are “lithium-ion,” the word used to designate all lithium batteries, whether inserted in a tablet or camera or mounted in an engine room. So, what are some reasons a lithium battery could be dangerous on your boat?

Reasons Why Lithium Batteries Could Be Dangerous

Lithium batteries have been the focus of much discussion in recent years, and not all of it has been positive: Lithium-ion batteries in e-cigarettes have caught fire in the pockets of unlucky smokers, and airlines have banned the carriage of lithium-ion batteries for the same reason. 

In September 2019, a dive boat docked off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, California, caught fire, killing 34 guests and crew members sleeping on board. According to one explanation, the fire was caused by lithium batteries in portable devices that caught fire while charging. 

With that said, here are five reasons lithium batteries could catch fire.

1. Defects In Manufacturing

Metallic particles (impurities) can permeate into the lithium-ion battery during the manufacturing process due to manufacturing flaws. To manufacture batteries, battery manufacturers must ensure that cleanrooms are strictly controlled.

Another flaw could be separator thinning, which could be problematic in practice. Before being sold, cells should be subjected to stringent quality-control tests and certification.

2. Flaws In The Design

Automobile manufacturers strive to make their vehicles as sleek and small as possible while providing maximum range and performance. These restrictions force battery pack producers to create compact designs by cramming high-capacity cells into a smaller body, thereby jeopardizing a well-made battery.

The electrodes or the separator may be damaged if the design is compromised. A short circuit could result from either scenario. Furthermore, as the flammable electrolyte heats up, the absence of a good cooling system or vent can cause battery temperatures to escalate.

If left unchecked, a chain reaction of cell failures could occur, leading the battery to overheat and spiral out of control.

3. Use In An Abnormal Or Improper Manner

External factors can cause the battery to explode, such as keeping it too close to a heat source or a fire. Whether on purpose or by mistake, Penetrating the battery pack will result in a short circuit and the battery catching fire. As a result, unlawful battery pack disassembly in electric vehicles results in warranty lapse.

It would be best if you only had your batteries tested and repaired at approved service centers by the battery supplier, manufacturer. The battery might be harmed by high-voltage charging or excessive discharge.

4. Problems With The Charger

The battery can be harmed if you use chargers that aren’t properly insulated. If the charger shorts or produces heat near the battery, it can cause the battery to fail. While lithium-ion batteries have built-in precautions to prevent overcharging, using non-authorized chargers can cause long-term damage to the battery.

5. Components Of Low Quality

Low-quality components, in addition to manufacturing flaws, are one of the leading causes of battery failure. As battery prices fall due to increased competition, battery manufacturers are cutting shortcuts where they shouldn’t be. 

The risk of battery failure rises when low-quality electronics, such as a low-quality battery management system, are used. Battery safety and performance are dependent on the battery management system or (BMS). It prevents the battery pack from going beyond its safe functioning range.

Because batteries are such a valuable component of boats or energy storage systems, investing in a smart battery management system that can detect cell problems quickly and prevent the battery from bursting is critical.

What Are Some Of The Best Lithium Batteries For Boats?

Sailors have traditionally relied on lead-acid or agm batteries to power their onboard electronics, minor appliances, and electric trolling motors. They are, however, weighty, short-lived, and have limited storage capacity. Lithium batteries are now ideal for coastal purposes, thanks to recent advancements.

Today, dozens of brands are available. The following list represents three of the most reliable and best quality options.

  • Lion Energy 12V, 105Ah

The Lion Energy UT 1300 is the greatest lithium boat battery option. It has all of the characteristics necessary for storing electricity in a tough marine environment. It will keep your boat’s electronics and appliances running for years without requiring any maintenance.

We use the Lion Energy battery for our travel trailer in battery boxes located outside the camper and have had an excellent experience. They have performed great in our case giving us much more amp hours than our old lead acid batteries. The BMS in this battery is one of the top that is available in any battery on the market today.

It has a long life span and an included limited lifetime warranty. Furthermore, if the battery is not used, it will hold its charging state for up to 2 years. Lead acid batteries can lose up to 1% per day. There is zero maintenance on this battery and only weighs about 23 pounds which is less than half that of a comparable lead acid battery.

Use code “savvycampers” for 15% off of your purchase.

Conclusion

Many people have posed this question over the years, but the answer hasn’t always been clear. There was a time when there were safety worries about lithium batteries early on in their development. With the introduction of newer lithium technologies, it is now obvious that lithium batteries are indeed safe.

However, that does not rule out flaws that may exist with lower-quality products. Various reputable stores sell the perfect lithium battery tailored for your boat. Like any other battery, managing a lithium battery correctly will prove it to be safe, reliable, and effective.

Eric

I have been an avid boater / jet ski fanatic since I was a kid.

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