Battery Basics for Personal Watercraft Applications

After a season or two, you may be thinking your Personal Watercraft (PWC) battery has seen better days. Perhaps it’s time for replacement. It’s essential to have a healthy, fully charged battery to crank your engine, but you may also need to power your lights, radio or any other electrical accessories that draw power from your PWC.

There are a few things to consider before making a battery purchase.

For one, don’t let price be the primary consideration when purchasing a PWC battery. Choosing what appears to be a less expensive battery may not prove to be economical over time. It could require additional maintenance, including regular replacement and hours of unnecessary manual labor, which could be otherwise used as time for enjoyment on the water. Always refer to your owner’s manual to make sure the battery you select meets all requirements for safe operation.

Choose a battery for the application

Not just any 12-volt battery is suited for this demanding application. Marine batteries are best because they are built to withstand moisture and extreme conditions.

Battery capacity determines how long it can power electrical equipment. Generally, watercraft batteries have 12–30-amp hours of capacity. Newer PWC models are more likely to have batteries with an 18-30-amp hour capacity. Applications with 4-stroke engines need more battery capacity than those with smaller, 2-stroke engines.

Deep cycle batteries are ideal for this application because they can be discharged more than 50% without damage and recharged frequently without shortening battery life.

Battery types

While flooded lead acid, gel and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are available for PWC applications, one type stands out above the others.

At one time, flooded lead acid, or “wet cell” batteries were the most commonly used batteries for PWC. This type of battery is still available and lower priced but is far from ideal. Because they are not sealed batteries, flooded lead acid batteries require maintenance to ensure the correct water level and to check that the vent line is fully clear, uncrimped and functioning properly. Explosive Hydrogen gas which is produced by conventional lead acid battery operation could vent to the interior of your PWC. In addition, this type of battery can leak corrosive acid—particularly if the jet ski flips.

Gel batteries require far less maintenance and are non-spillable, but more expensive, offer fewer size options and have a shorter battery life than AGM.

Rugged, non-spillable, AGM sealed batteries are virtually maintenance-free. This means no need to add water or to inspect the vent line and they hold a charge much longer without frequent recharging. AGM ODYSSEY® batteries from EnerSys®, for example, are engineered with proprietary Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology to offer several desirable benefits for PWC customers including:

  • up to three times the life of conventional batteries in the same application
  • the highest recharge efficiency of any sealed lead acid battery
  • extreme temperature tolerance
  • shock and vibration resistance

Get the AGM advantage

Comparing the various battery types and weighing the advantages, it’s easy to see why AGM batteries are such a popular choice. After all, your PWC was built for fun. Selecting a battery built specifically for these types of on-water applications will help ensure the fun lasts longer.

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EnerSys, the global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications, manufactures and distributes energy systems solutions and motive power batteries, specialty batteries, battery chargers, power equipment, battery accessories and outdoor equipment enclosure solutions to customers worldwide. Energy Systems, which combine enclosures, power conversion, power distribution and energy storage, are used in the telecommunication, broadband and utility industries, uninterruptible power supplies and numerous applications. Motive power batteries and chargers are utilized in electric forklift trucks and other industrial electric powered vehicles requiring stored energy solutions. Specialty batteries are used in aerospace and defense applications, large over-the-road trucks, premium automotive, medical and security systems applications. EnerSys also provides aftermarket and customer support services to its customers in over 100 countries through its sales and manufacturing locations around the world. With the NorthStar acquisition, EnerSys has solidified its position as the market leader for premium Thin Plate Pure Lead batteries, which are sold across all three lines of business. More information regarding EnerSys can be found at


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