If you ever feel like you’re buying a new battery for your jet ski every year, then a battery charger is a must-have for you. The reason why your battery dies so quickly is that you’re not using your jet ski enough.
Batteries go flat if they don’t get used, the same thing would happen to your car’s battery if you left it to sit as much as your jet ski.
The next question you might have is “what’s the best jet ski battery charger”? This is what we want to answer in this post.
It’s not what you might expect.
The Best Battery Charger/Tender For Jet Skis
The best battery charger for jet skis has got to be a solar charger like this one here*. The reasons are simple…
- It’s easy to set up.
- Most are water-resistant (It’s a jet ski, so you’ll be near water).
- Better for the environment (uses the free energy from the Sun).
- Works if there is a power outage.
- Doesn’t need to be in direct sunlight, just needs to go on the outside of the watercraft.
- It can be stored away quickly and put out just as quick.
- Don’t need to be plugged in – great if you store your PWC somewhere with no power.
It honestly only makes sense to have a solar charger for your jet ski. I’ve had customers in the past have me install complicated battery switches and wall chargers for their watercraft to fix the battery dying issue. The results were never that great, especially for battery switches; the ease of the solar charger and the results it delivers is the best solution we got for most people.
Keep in mind, a solar charger is not meant to charge a dead battery, it’s meant to keep the battery alive and topped up. The solar charger keeps the battery from sulfating which causes the batteries to die.
To use the solar charger, all you got to do is connect it to your jet ski battery and have the panel somewhere outside. The panel doesn’t need to be in direct sunlight, in the picture above I have it hanging off my Sea-Doo and it works fine.
The biggest thing to consider when it comes to solar chargers and your jet ski battery is that you want to stay under 5-watts. I find a solar charger between 1 and 2 watts as ideal. If you go over 5-watts you’ll need a charge controller, and it complicates things more than they need to be.
You can still use wall chargers, but I only do when the battery is completely dead.
Remember, the solar charger is only for maintaining the battery, so you’ll still need a normal wall charger if the battery is dead. Plus, it’s nice to have around for other things, like your cars or lawn mowers.
When it comes to wall chargers, you want ones that are 2-amp max, at 12-volts, along with it being a smart charger*. When I say smart charger, I mean it shuts off and on as the battery needs it. If you can get one with a desulfator option, that would be even better!
Keep The Battery Connected To Charger All The Time?
It’s okay to keep the battery connected when charging, so long as the charging rate is under 2 amps, it’s a smart charger and the battery can vent.
Going over 2 amps could fry the electronics or cook the battery (explode), and this is why they say never to jump a jet ski from a car because it supplies far too many amps.
Fast Charging Jet Ski Batteries
It’s best to avoid using fast battery chargers, as they go over the 2 amps that I recommend keeping under.
Plus, a fast charger could fry the electronics of the watercraft.
If you need to quickly start a jet ski, you can use a jump starter pack, but it’s best you go ahead and replace the battery. To find out what battery you need, you can go here.
What Drains A Jet Ski Battery?
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to jet ski batteries, one is that people think there is a constant draw on the battery.
There is some draw on the jet ski battery, especially older jet skis, but it’s not enough to run the battery flat.
What actually kills these lead acid batteries is inactivity of the battery. Sulfation of the plates inside the battery raises the resistance of the cells and kills any power that is in the battery.
What happens most often is that people won’t ride their jet ski for months, do to the winter and such, and when they come back to ride the jet ski may not start due to a dead battery.
The good news is that there is a 50/50 shot the battery only needs to be charged, which removes the sulfation on the plates, and it’s back to normal. It’s also possible the battery will charge, but it’s a ghost charge, which won’t stay for long, and the sulfation has won.
The solution to this problem is to keep the battery active when you’re not using it, and the easiest way is to use a solar battery charger under 5-watts. The solar charger doesn’t even need to be in direct sunlight, just outside, and the battery will keep its charge. I do this and normally get 5 years out of my jet ski battery.
Are Jet Skis 6 Volt or 12 Volt?
All jet skis use a 12-volt battery, and you must use a 12-volt battery charger.
Also, you must not charge the jet ski battery over 2-amps when using a wall charger, or stay under 5-watts for solar chargers.
Going over the amps and watts for a jet ski battery will fry the battery or destroy your electrical systems.
23 thoughts on “PWC Battery Charger — What to Buy”
How would this work on some of the new PWCs that have dual batteries? (e.g., GTX 300)?
The best way to go about charging dual batteries is to disconnect both and charge each one separately. You can charge both at the same time if connected in parallel, but the batteries need to be 100% the same (voltage, manufacturer, condition, etc.). More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfvLcTxgvzo
Overall, it’s best to charge each one separately to get the most life out of them. If your jet ski has a battery switch, it’s not that bad, as you can swap to each battery.
I am going to add a 2nd battery to my SeaDoo GTX. I am using the OEM kit to add the second battery. I am considering a NOCO onboard charger. Would you use a 2 bank connected to each battery or a single bank connected to the original battery.
I would use one battery charger. The kit is turning two batteries into one big one so no need for a second charger.
Just purchased a 2021 SeaDoo GTI170 and want to keep a solar charger on it while parked on the jet ramp. What solar charger would you recommend. I plan to connect the harness to the battery and plug in the panel and attached to ski once the cover is on. Thanks in advance for your recommendation.
Any 12-volt 5-watt solar charger will do. You’ll want the quick disconnects for your setup, many solar chargers come with them.
I keep my sea doos on a covered lift. I’d like to install a smart trickle charger. The guy at West Marine told me to put an onboard charger in, install an AC plug port in the hull, and then use and extension cord. That is all easy enough. But I can’t find anywhere on the internet anyone else doing that. Is that bad advice. Is there a more simple solution that is that easy?
This is something you see more on boats and not on jet skis. I personally would not do it because it requires drilling a sizable hole into your fiberglass. What I found to be the simplest solution is to use a 5-watt solar panel charger. The batteries in jet ski die because they’re not being used and a small solar charger keeps the battery active and that is all you need. I do this on my Spark and just now after 6 years replaced the battery where others who don’t charge the battery get 1 to 2 years out of a battery. I have quick connections on the solar charger and when it’s time to ride I disconnect and store the charger away. This will be the easiest thing to do as it does not require any extension cords to worry about tripping over or getting shocked.
Thanks, Steven. I saw that in earlier posts. I like the idea, but my jet skis are under a covered dock and with trees / shade nearby. Getting a cord out to good sun would involve having to mount the solar panels (which I’d rather not do) and run pretty long wires. Any other suggestions for a convenient plugged solution?
It seems the inboard charger is your only option. I’ve done this in the past and routed the cord out of the glove box because it was easier than drilling the fiberglass body, plus it cheaper to replace the glove box then fix a hole in fiberglass. You can make it look good with the right flush mounts. It’s an involved process so I would talk to your local dealer about installing one. The guy I did his for had an electrician come out with me so he can have custom cord length and proper fittings installed on his lift and skis. He had the cords come down from above and it was easy for the rider to open the glovebox and plug them in. It was a really cool system.
I just changed the battery in my 2000 sea doo GS two weeks ago. I’ve been extremely busy and didn’t ride it for two and half weeks. I went to ride it the other day and the battery was dead. Is that normal to die that quick?
No, a new battery should not die that quick. Some 2-strokes do have bad current leakage so that is possible but not always the case. It could be the battery is bad from the factory, I’ve seen that happen a few times.
Steven, thank you for the advice. I purchased the charger you recommended and it is perfect. I did take it one step further and added a marine grade cigarette plug to my front compartment so now all I have to do is plug in the charger. Thanks again!
I just replaced my battery in my 2007 gtx 4tec 155 about a month ago and everything was going good until today i got on and the start button would not work I put a trickle charger on it (Battery tender) and a few hours latter it turned over no problem… So I do a lot of tubing with the kids so I stop and start the machine a lot could that be the issue or is it something else like a draw?
thanks for the great info!
I would replace the battery if you do a lot starting and stopping. It could be an old battery that is worn out and the battery charger just gave it a surface charge and might die again if you let it sit again for a few days. A new battery is a safe bet.
Steven, your recommendation on the 2 amp charger not being a problem is not accurate. I bought the YUUSA 2 amp units for both of my Yamahas and left them on for the months when not in use and they completely dried out the batteries in 8 months and fried them. I replaced the factory installed acid filled battery’s with AGM units but am not sure about the effects of leaving these chargers on all the time and intend to use a timer on them now. Crazy thing is I cannot find any info on this anywhere on the web. Shame on Yamaha or any other manufacturer putting acid filled battery’s in their $15,000 machines to save $30, absolutely disgraceful! Worse yet is there is absolutely no caution on this problem. YUUSA customer service told me that there is instruction in their tech manual and in the battery instructions that owners should check the fluid in the battery once a month and refill as necessary as trickle chargers will cook the fluid out the pressure release tube if left on for months.
The expectation that any pwc owner is going to disconnect the battery and pull it out of the machine once a month to check the fluid is absolutely moronic. These pwc manufacturers should be called out for this atrocity as I understand they all put acid filled battery’s in new machines.
Yea, the batteries that come from the factory are not that great. You’re kind of damn if you do and damn if you don’t with those batteries. If it’s a smart charger it should have turned itself on and off as it needs it. The 2 amp is the highest you want to go with these small batteries, but you can go lower in amps for chargers. I often tell people to go with the solar chargers instead since they naturally turn off when there is no sun. But the AGM batteries are far better and Sea-Doo has been going to a cross between AGM and Liquid batteries with there latest models. These batteries Sea-Doo is using now are quite good, I still have my 2014 Spark with original battery that I’ll go ahead and replace at the end of the year and all I did was keep it on a solar charger when I’m not using it. At least Sea-Doo sees the issue with the old style of batteries and is doing something about it.
What should I do during long term storage? I live in the north and only get to use the machine a few months of the year. The rest of the time its under cover on the trailer in my garage.
Winterize your machine and keep the battery on charge over the winter months with a smart battery charger.
What is your recommendation for battery charger if I store the jet ski at marina storage indoors? Thank you.
Only worry about keeping the battery charged if you don’t plan on riding your jet ski for more than a month or two. Honestly, the battery won’t die if you don’t ride or charge it for a month or two. It’s when people forget to ride or charge the battery over the winter which can last for several months. If you live somewhere that gets cold and you have to winterize your jet ski I would recommend pulling the battery out and keeping a smart battery charger on it through the winter. It’s important to use a smart charger as it will turn on and off as the battery needs it.
I’m an old guy that just bought a 3 up IBR Spark to pull my grand kids around. I’ve rented jet skis before, but never owned. I greatly appreciate your advise…I thought I new a lot but now I know much more. One great thing was the assy of the rear step, which the dealer forgot to put on. I told him I would put it on myself…just two screws and the holes are already drilled. I did not think about the chances of the holes leaking….. I am also keeping it in the water. THANK YOU…I will definitely use sealer.