The most common complaint I get from jet ski owners is that their battery would die every year.
The solution is simple, just keep the battery charged. Unlike a car, you don’t drive your jet ski every day, so the battery goes flat. Having the battery on a charger will help to keep it alive much longer.
While simple, a battery charger can’t be used everywhere, and it’s more work than most people want to deal with. The good news is that there is a simple solution!
The Better Way – Solar Charger
The best way to keep your jet ski battery charged and happy is to use a solar charger*.
Not only are solar chargers easy to install, but they can be cheaper than wall chargers, and they hold up better to the elements as they don’t have many electrical parts. You also don’t have to worry about the solar charger getting wet like other wall chargers.
The solar panel doesn’t need to be in direct sunlight for it to work! You can just hang it over the handlebars, and you’ll be okay. Or lay it on the seat or deck and that would be okay too.
What I like to do is keep the solar panel always attached to the battery, and when I’m going for a ride, I just put it in the storage compartment.
Most storage has the battery next to it, like in the Sea-Doo GTI Hull. If this is not an option, you can still keep the solar panel attached, as most will have quick-disconnects on them, so you can easily remove the panel.
What Solar Charger To Buy?
When it comes to the batteries on jet ski’s, 1 to 5 watts solar panels chargers are the best; never exceed 5 watts without a charge controller.
The reason why you don’t want to go past 5 watts is that you could cook the battery if you don’t have a charge controller. The charge controller will shut the power on and off as it needs it.
The smaller wattage panels don’t output enough power to do anything except maintain the charge.
Why Solar Chargers Work So Well?
The reason why solar chargers work so well to keep a jet ski battery alive is that it merely “maintaining” the battery.
The reason why the battery goes dead in the first place is that it’s not being used.
A jet ski has a stator that also maintains the charge, but only when the engine is running. When left to sit for long periods of time, the battery starts to sulfate, which is a coating that forms on the plates of the battery that restricts power, and the battery dies.
The way to keep the battery from sulfating is to either ride the jet ski more often, at least once a month, or keep the battery on a battery charger.
Why Don’t Jet Skis Come With Solar Chargers Built-In?
Using a solar charger can take a jet ski battery from only lasting one season to lasting 5 years.
If it’s such a good idea, then why don’t the manufacturers have solar chargers built into the jet skis?
The only reason I can think of is that it makes them more money selling new batteries every year. Sure, some customers may never charge their jet ski battery and get 2 or more years out of it, but for a lot, it’s a yearly problem.
Jet ski batteries are not cheap, and if someone needs a new one constantly, it’s good money for the person selling them.
To give credit, Yamaha did have something similar on a few jet boats with it being built into the cover, but it’s not much of a thing today.
Battery Switch For A Jet Ski?
Before I would suggest getting a solar charger for jet ski batteries, I had several customers have me install battery switches.
It was boat switches and after doing several of them I learned they were not that great. In fact, they often caused more problems than they solved.
At the time, I was playing with small solar panel systems, and I wondered if I could simply use them for jet skis. After playing with several panels, I found what worked the best and started pushing customers towards that option instead of a battery switch.
Several customers would come up to me years later telling how much better the solar chargers are and how much easier it’s been. I use a solar charger on my jet ski battery and got 5 years out of the last one, so if you ask me, it’s a no-brainer to use a solar charger.
The Future Of Jet Ski Batteries?
The solution to jet ski batteries could be super capacitors. Super capacitors are like batteries, but they don’t hold much of a charge, but can be charged superfast.
What this could mean to jet ski owners is that you remove the super caps (they can be small enough to fit in a soda can) and you take them to the home to charge them. It would take a couple of seconds, and the caps would charge enough to start the engine.
Then the stator of the jet ski keeps them charged so if you turn the engine off you can restart it. Plus, super caps can hold the charge long enough so that you can go out to eat and jump back on the jet ski and ride away.
This may sound crazy, but people have done this with their cars. Here is a video of a guy starting his car with super caps…
Warning! – Don’t try this at home! This is a lot of current, and this is to only show that it can be done.
Super Capacitors have a long life and probably won’t need to be ever replaced with the life of the ski. So, no more buying batteries.