Ice fishing tip: Cold weather battery maintenance
Most ice fisherman use multiple types of batteries whenever they hit the ice – from big, deep-cycle batteries, ATV batteries, sealed flasher batteries, to small alkaline batteries in headlamps and other gear.
Cold weather is a battery’s enemy and can cause premature failure. Cold and improper maintenance ruin more batteries than anything else. Here are a few steps you can take to be sure to get the most life out of your batteries.
Make sure all electrical connections are tight. Always keep all battery terminals clean and free of corrosion. You can clean the terminals with a wire brush or sandpaper. You also can use baking soda and vinegar to remove extreme corrosion. Just sprinkle a little baking soda over the corrosion, wet it with vinegar, then wipe clean when it ceases bubbling. Repeat if necessary.
Charge your batteries after each use. Batteries have memory, and the more you keep that battery charged to full capacity, the higher its memory remains. The longer a battery is left discharged the less likely the battery will take a full charge ever again.
You also can reduce battery life by over-charging, so use a good automatic charging system. To avoid frying a battery, use a charger that shuts off when the battery reaches its full charge.
Most deep cycle batteries and all unsealed lead acid batteries require additional maintenance. Make sure to check water levels and top them off to manufacturer specifications.
Get those batteries out of the cold when possible. If you must leave them out in the cold, ensure they have a full charge. If you leave a discharged battery in the severe cold, the water in the batteries can freeze and expand. This can cause the lead plates to become loose, touch, and short out – thus being unchargeable. A fully charged battery will not freeze. A partially charged one can.
Alkaline batteries also will freeze. Many permanent ice houses have battery-operated smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors in them. It’s best to take the batteries, or even the entire smoke detector, home with you to ensure longer battery life. Just don’t forget it next time you visit your fish house.
Good Luck Fishing!
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