A critical aspect of your boating experience is your onboard batteries. They need to hold a strong charge in order to run motors or electronics. If you don’t have a strong charge, you may not even be able to start your engine. Having a battery charger onboard is essential for both operability and your safety. It’s important that you have a charger that’s not only capable of restoring your power as efficiently and quickly as possible, but also performs reliably and safely over time. Here are some outstanding models to consider.
1. ProMariner Tournament 360 Elite
ProMariner Tournament 360 Elite is a three-bank charger capable of supplying multiple charges at 12, 24, and 36 output volts at 36 amps, and operates on 90 to 135 VAC inputs. It’s engineered to deliver maximum on-demand power distributed safely to all attached batteries, and extras like trolling motors, while still delivering the majority of amperage to ensure your cranking battery stays charged.
It’s made with a easy-to-understand LED display showing five-stage charging including an energy-saver mode, errors, operating temperature, and status, as well as finger-push test mode to show the current percentage of full charge. ProMariner’s 360 is enclosed in a shock-resistant, waterproof aluminum housing with dual DC fuses to prevent over-heating and reverse polarity. The charger uses forced-air cooling and temperature compensation technology to give accurate temperature readings.
At dimensions of about 7 x 9 x 4 inches, and under 13 pounds, the 360 Elite is smaller and much lighter than the typical marine battery providing this kind of performance. The charger can be connected to batteries up to 12′ away.
This charger is a great device that delivers on its performance and technology features, however some users have reported heating problems that shorten the useful life of the charger, so it’s important not to overuse it in hot conditions and follow manufacturer instructions. Under normal use it’s a durable, compact, efficient charger for smaller boats. ProMariner’s 360 is on the pricey side, but may be well worth it considering that for a long time to come it won’t overcharge your batteries or leave you dead in the water.
2. Noco Genius GEN3
NOCO’s Genius GEN3 is a 30 Amp, 3-bank charger allowing up to 10 amperes of charging per bank. It’s designed for 12-volt batteries of all types including gel and AGM models. It’s engineered for safety with no sparking from reverse hook-ups, short circuits, and resistance to overheating and overcharging. The GEN3 is completely sealed to meet Coast Guard standards and given an IP68 waterproof rating.
NOCO maintains that it will charge marine batteries in as little as half the time of previous models, with built-in VosFX smart technology that distributes, monitors, and manages inputs and charge distribution so you don’t have to worry about the right settings. This includes automated diagnostics and recovery, so there are no worries about power interruption. Just hook up and forget it. You never have to disconnect the batteries unless you’re replacing them.
At roughly 11 x 6 inches and a little over 16 pounds this charger is still compact and portable. You can easily re-mount it on tractors and other vehicles when you need extra batteries and devices. The charger comes with a detailed user manual and registration card for the 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The ability to leave the GEN3 plugged in and charging with no worries about over-charging and damaging your batteries is a definite plus. NOCO’s GEN3 is built for long-term use with minimal headaches. It’s easy to use even for absolute beginners, with no switches or dials, just indicator lights to show normal operation and any charging problems.
The Genius GEN3 is simple to install, silent during operation, and small enough to mount just about anywhere. On the negative side, the cables are a bit short and you may have to purchase extra connectors if you want to charge anything unusual or make quick disconnects. It does get a little hot when charging but it seems consistent and doesn’t seem to have a problem with overheating. In sum, the NOCO GEN3 will be the right choice for a charger that you can count on with minimal fuss.
3. MinnKota MK 315D
The MK 315D is an onboard battery charger with three banks delivering a total 15 amps of power at five amps per bank. It provides multi-state charging with smart temperature and charge control from an internal microprocessor. More precise regulation of charging will extend the life of both your batteries and charger while giving you no-worry confidence that the 315D is doing it’s job.
MinnKota’s charger is corrosion resistant for durable performance in fresh or saltwater. It has a built-in display for keeping you informed on temperature, charge state, maintenance mode, error notifications, and full charge status. It charges even faster at higher temperatures. You can also connect two banks to the same battery for faster 10 amp charging. It’s possible to even connect multiple batteries in a series if you have the need and the time.
The MK 315D is a little bulky at 15.6 pounds and dimensions of roughly 16 x 8 x 7. It’s contained in a vibration-proof, waterproof aluminum housing with mounting hardware and wired for protection from short circuits, ignition problems, and reversed polarity. MinnKota provides three 6′ output cables, a 6′ AC power cord, detailed user manual, and a three-year warranty. It can be used with either 12 or 24 volt systems and wet-cell, MF, and AGM batteries. Full charge recovery can be done in 10 to 12 hours.
While it doesn’t have the power of some other models, MinnKota MK is yours for a low price, considering it delvers a smooth, controlled charge. It’s still small enough to place almost anywhere, does it’s job well, and has a clear, bright indicator to let you know when charging is complete.
There are really no negative things to say about the MinkkKota MK 315D, other than perhaps needing some longer cords for larger boats. It’s a genuinely “smart” charger that does what it’s designed to do very efficiently. That’s a steal at a very affordable price.
4. Marinco Charge Pro
The Charge Pro is a 3 bank charger delivering 10 amps per bank. It will work in 12, 24, 36 volt systems to deliver 12V output to wet-cell, gel, or AGM batteries. It has a built-in processor for controlled charging and accurate display readouts. The processor monitors the state of your battery and delivers a charge when necessary. It’s rated as IP68 waterproof and meets all UL, CSA, global, and CA state guidelines for safety and efficiency.
The charger itself measures about 13 x 16 x 3 inches for a flat profile that you can install easily and tuck away almost anywhere on your boat. The Charge Pro weighs a respectably solid 15 pounds and is completely sealed against the weather in a layer of corrosion-proof epoxy. It comes with a 120/230V universal AC connector. The Charge Pro stays surprisingly cool even when pumping out all 30 amps. You can leave your batteries connected with no concerns about overcharging.
Marinco’s charger can allow for some creative wiring assemblies, but be advised that may not be the best thing for the charger, or your batteries, in the long run. If there are any complaints, you’d think that for this price they’d provide some longer cables or a remote status indicator. But if you’re willing to pay for quality, you’re pretty safe with Marinco’s Charge Pro.