Your Guide to Charging PWC Batteries

Charging your PWC battery can seem complicated at first, but it’s really quite easy. Just make sure you have the right equipment and a dry place, and you’re ready to go. It’s sometimes difficult to get something down the first time you use it, and PWC batteries are no exception.

How to charge your PWC battery? In order to charge your battery, you’re going to need to:

  1. Locate a safe location and outlet.
  2. Access the battery.
  3. Connect the charger cables.
  4. Wait for the battery to charge.

Each PWC is different, and these steps will be different depending on your make and model. We recommend keeping your owner’s manual in a safe place and make use of it when embarking on this process.

Most commonly, as I’ve posted, your PWC battery will be located near the front or under the driver’s seat of the jet ski. Make sure before you start that you locate the battery and check all the surrounding wires and cables to ensure that nothing is faulty. It’s not recommendable to receive a nasty “ZAP” when you’re in the middle of trying to have fun. In this article, we give you everything you will need to know to charge your PWC battery and keep it in good condition.

How To Charge a PWC Battery

Although every PWC will be a little different, you should be able to follow these step by step instructions in most cases. Here’s what to do:

  1. Ensure you have a dry place away from water to leave the battery
  2. Secure your watercraft so that it can’t roll or slide away
  3. Locate a safe outlet near your watercraft for easy access
  4. Remove any access panels encasing the battery
  5. Before plugging in the battery, remove the black cable (for the computer)
  6. Connect the RED charging cable to the RED post on the battery
  7. Connect the BLACK charging cable to the BLACK post on the battery
  8. Ensure that the any charging light on the charger is on and the charger is functioning properly
  9. Wait for the battery to charge
  10. When removing the charging cables, remove the BLACK cable first, and then the RED one. DO NOT allow the cable heads to touch one another before the unplugging the charger, and leave them separated until the charger has been unplugged and allowed to sit for a minute or two for the electricity to drain.

Pro Tips for Charging Your PWC Battery the Right Way

Remember not to allow the battery charger to sit on the battery for longer than the charging period without a smart charger. This can overcharge the battery, damaging it and potentially the charger as well. Smart chargers are a great investment (see my recommendations) if you plan on leaving the charger on the battery for longer than it takes to charge. 

 

When replacing your PWC battery, ensure that the battery you buy is the exact same size and power output as the one you are replacing. Connecting the wrong battery could result in expensive damage to the electronics. Most manufacturers recommend buying the replacement directly from the company that made the watercraft to ensure the correct battery is used.

Many PWC owners will purchase a portable smart jump-starting box to keep on-hand while out on the water as a back-up. If you decide to do this, make sure you keep everything in a dry spot on your ski, and be sure to know how to safely use the booster unit.  Battery boosters are now very small in size while still storing enough power to start a personal watercraft several times between charges.  We carry this NOCO unit from Amazon on our boat and one in the dry box of our Sea-Doo RXT.  Just be sure to take them home occasionally and keep them charged.  Ours can also be charged using the 12-volt connector on our boat.


Click on the image for the latest price on Amazon

If you find that charging your PWC battery is difficult or something isn’t right, consult your owner’s manual or the manufacturing company for additional help and tips. If your battery is defective, it may be under a warranty, so be sure to check with the manufacturer before you spend money on a new battery!

It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to charge a battery depending on the brand and model, so don’t forget it on the charger. Also, DO NOT attempt to use a fast-charging device unless your battery is manufactured to do so. Typically, a charger set under 1.5 amps is safe for a jet ski battery.

How To Charge a Sea-Doo Battery

When charging a Sea-Doo battery, the steps are just about the same. Just in case you’re still having trouble, here are some steps to get the job done.

  1. Follow steps 1-4 on the previous list of steps for charging a PWC battery
  2. DISCONNECT or entirely remove the Sea-Doo battery before charging, so as not to damage the ECU
  3. Follow steps 6-10 on the previous list of steps for charging a PWC battery

Remember that the Sea-Doo battery must remain disconnected for the entire period of time it is charging, and keep it away from the terminals on the watercraft.

Some experts and enthusiasts recommend using trickle chargers, but this can be potentially risky, since a trickle charger will continuously supply power to the battery. Instead of risking an overcharged battery, consider using a smart charger (my review) as previously mentioned. This way, the charger supplies power only when the battery needs it.

Charging a Sea-Doo battery is as simple as charging an ATV battery, but remember to take all the necessary precautions to avoid danger or harm to the battery and watercraft. It is always recommended to read the owner’s manual and any provided instruction included with the battery. 

If you are still unsure, remember that you can usually seek further assistance through the manufacturing company by visiting their website. There are also additional forums online that may answer a specific question you have.

How To Prevent Jet Ski Batteries From Dying

Nobody wants their jet ski to die in the middle of a fun adventure. Fortunately, there are a few ways to prevent your jet ski battery from dying when you need it most.

  • Store your battery below 70 degrees Fahrenheit 
  • Keep the battery above 12.4 volts using a trickle (maintenance) charger or a smart charger
  • Don’t store the battery without a full charge
  • Avoid overcharging the battery
  • Don’t leave the key on when not in use

Keeping your jet ski battery well-maintained is a must in order to avoid sulfation and damage. Once the battery has been damaged or has sat un-maintained for long periods of time, it is unlikely that your battery can be rescued, so make sure that you follow proper charging and storage instructions to avoid cutting your battery’s life short.

Another thing to consider is keeping an extra battery around, under the same care measures, in case your battery decides to quit. Having an extra battery is a great back-up plan if you think your battery may be near the end of its life. 

It’s good to know that when you maintain your battery properly, it lasts much longer. However, sometimes a battery can be faulty, so if your battery seems to be malfunctioning even under the recommended care regimen, you might have a defective battery. If your battery is defective, don’t attempt to fix it; doing so could potentially be dangerous to you and your PWC.

How Often Will I Need to Charge My Battery?

This question seems like a no-brainer: charge it when it runs out. However, when heading out for a day of riding, you need to understand that your ski may not start if it hasn’t been used in awhile unless it has been stored on a charger.

If you are riding your ski regularly, you may never need to charge the battery separately. It’s only when it isn’t used for a period of time that the battery loses charge. Modern skis all charge their batteries as the engine runs, although they do so using different techniques.

PWC charging system explained

All things considered, if your jet ski battery fails to start on a regular basis, you might consider testing it or replacing it. If your battery dies on the water, at the launch ramp or at your dock, DO NOT try to start it using a car battery. This will fry the whole thing, battery, computer and all. Bad day all around. 

However, consider bringing the correct charger or portable jump box with you in case this should happen. If you plan to use a charger, make sure you have access to an outlet before you take off. This simple act of preparation can save you tons of frustration down the road should you encounter a dead battery.

How To Store Jet Ski Batteries in Winter

Unfortunately, jet skis are usually a warm-weather activity. During the winter months, however, there are a series of steps to take to ensure that your battery makes it through the season with no casualties.

Here are some tips for storing jet ski batteries over the winter:

  • Store them off the ground in a dry place
  • Use a smart charger or a trickle charger to keep the voltage up
  • Avoid storing the battery in places that are cold or that accumulate moisture
  • Remove the battery from the watercraft
  • Avoid storing on concrete or metal
  • Keep an eye on the battery occasionally to ensure there is no sulfation

When storing PWC batteries in winter, it can be easy to forget to check on them. An occasional peek to make sure that the maintenance charger is connected properly and that there is no buildup on the battery terminals can make all the difference when it’s time to break out the jet skis again. 

In addition to these tips, it helps to charge the battery all the way up one last time before putting it on a maintenance charger. If you don’t have a trickle or smart charger, batteries can be charged monthly in the off-season to prevent damage from battery drain. 

Be sure to store the battery on a safe surface away from children and pets. You can store the battery on most any surfaces, just avoid materials that get cold or that could be damaged if your battery leaks or vents a small amount of acid. Make sure that the storage area is not in danger of freezing.

How Long Does a Jet Ski Battery Last?

When purchasing a jet ski battery, check the expected battery life of the brand you buy. Some brands and models are meant to last longer than others, so having an idea of how long it should last helps to determine when you’ll need to buy a new one.

On average, a jet ski battery can last anywhere from 3-5 years with proper maintenance. If the battery is not properly maintained, the battery can stop working in as little as one year. 

Since most jet ski batteries are fairly small, they tend to have a shorter life span than bigger ones, such as car batteries. Keep in mind that maintenance is the key to getting the most out of your battery. Sometimes, a battery can be defective, so if it doesn’t last under proper maintenance, you likely have a dud.

It is important to make sure that you use the right charger for your battery. Using the wrong charger might work at first, but in the long run, it will damage the battery, making it useless in no time at all. Use chargers with output less than 1.5 amps, and you avoid damage at all times. Don’t follow the advice of other sites that inappropriately recommended recommend higher power chargers. Manufacturers recommend staying under 1.5 amps.

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How Do I Know When My Jet Ski Battery is Spent?

When it comes time to start thinking about the life span of your battery, it can be hard to know when a battery has really had it. There are a handful of telltale signs that make a dying battery easy to spot.

Slow Charging Times

If your battery seems to be taking an awful long time to charge, it might be time to replace it. Slow charging times are a key indicator that a battery has been cycled too many times, and this will usually accompany a weak charge.

Short Battery Life

A dying battery will usually run down quickly and require charging much more often than usual. In this instance, the issue could be the charger or the battery, so make sure you know which one is causing the problem before you shell out for a new battery.

Jet Ski Won’t Turn Over

If the jet ski won’t turn over with multiple clicks of the starter, the battery is either close to the end of its life or it isn’t charged properly. Don’t confuse this issue with a problem with the starter, however, because a bad starter will not provide the clicks you hear when the battery is toast.

If your battery is out of order, buy a quality replacement that is matched for your PWC so it will fit in the correct space and provide the proper output. Consult your manual, your dealer, or any of the battery stores that have a list of compatible cross-referenced batteries. These can be found online, as well.


Fits multiple brand and model years. Check dimensions.

Getting comfortable with one kind of battery also makes the experience easier. If you have to buy a different battery for some reason, make sure that you familiarize yourself with the charging and care instructions to avoid any mishaps.

Remember to properly dispose of old batteries once they no longer hold a charge. Some retailers will offer a small trade-in allowance for old batteries. Others will take you old battery for free and ensure it the disposal is properly handled.

Other Potential Battery Issues

When your battery isn’t working properly and isn’t defective, there are some other factors to consider. Battery issues other than defects are fairly common, and they can usually be remedied. These include:

  • Computer malfunctions
  • Damaged components (cables, terminals, wiring)
  • Blown fuse
  • Insufficient ground
  • Sulfate buildup
  • Damaged terminals

In instances such as these, the problem can usually be a quick fix. The very first thing to check if you know your battery has a charge and the ski still won’t start is the terminal connectors. Hidden corrosion on the underside is common. Remove the cables, lightly sand off any corrosion and dirt, apply a thin coating of battery grease, reconnect tightly, and try again.

However, if you’re unsure of how to repair the issue, it’s best to take the battery to a battery shop, dealership, or other professional in your area. In many places, there are shops near to the recreation areas where watercrafts are frequently used. Most places will run a quick battery test for free.

If you have a problem that you can’t diagnose, it’s best not to tinker and risk damaging something. If you decide to work on your battery or the related components, disconnect and remove the battery before proceeding. Leaving the battery connected can cause a variety of additional, avoidable problems.

Waverunner replacement battery
Sealed Yamaha Waverunner 1987-2008

Where Can I Go for More Help and Advice?

When you’re out of options, or you just need some helpful advice, there are some online resources to help you troubleshoot your battery. Here are some helpful websites to check on for information:

There are tons of online resources available for tips and advice on PWC batteries. If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for, try visiting an online jet ski blog; chances are, someone has asked your question before. Make sure the information you find is specific to your jet ski and battery.

You can also visit a local dealership. Local dealerships have experts who would be happy to help you with your battery problems and usually carry the most common jet ski batteries. If a battery can be repaired, some dealerships will offer to fix it or replace it.

The next time you take out your jet ski, remember to use safe practices when charging your battery. When the season is over, take care of your battery so that it will last for more seasons to come. Maintenance is easy and saves you time and money in the long run. If it’s time to replace your battery, here are a few options:

My RXT260 battery lasted 5 years, finally had to replace it.

Articles contain affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. The site is also an affiliate for other brands covered in our the content. We may earn a small commission when readers purchase through these links at no extra cost to the buyer.

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.

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