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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In my homemade bass boat I got three batteries. One for the Honda 50 hp., one for the electronics and one 24 V for the trolling motor. With all the new electronics that they are coming out with how many batteries do you carry on board? I'm running out of room to put mine. Lawdog

P.S. - Sorry for getting personnel again Skipper :D
 

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For the last 3 years I have been running Deka brand Sealed Gel batteries and love them. I will never willingly have another boat with lead acid batteries. The sealed gels will never leak, never corrode on the terminals, can be ran upside down if you wish, never have to have water added or checked. They don't leave an acid puddle in the bilge, and you don't have to worry so much about them developing memory. In my rig I have been using 2 D4 Seamates. These are the small Cat size battery. I run a 24 volt trolling motor hard, all my lights at night and even the engine off just the 2 batteries. I have fished 2 tournaments 2 weeks apart without recharging. I goofed once and cut the power off to my outlet in the garage and didn't catch it till I was pulling out that morning. No problem what so ever. Had plenty of power. These batteries also come in Group 31, 29 and 27 as well.

Gel batteries charge very fast. My D4's will charge after a day's tourney in less than 8 hours and they are the size of 2 Group 29's put together. One of the reasons you have to change the cards in the Dual Pros are the fast rate of charge. Since they charge so fast, you have to lower the voltage to slow it down so as not to blow the caps off of them. The 1 downside to a gel is it has slightly less amps than the equivalent size Lead Acid. Where a group 29 Lead acid has just over 800 MCA, a group 29 Gel probably only has about 700 MCA. Early on, there were some gels and AGM's introduced that were much much smaller in size than the normal group 29 and 31 marine batteries. People hated them because they didn't last. My suggestion with gel would be to go 1 larger size than you used with lead acid. If you use group 29 normally, then go with group 31 in gel. A gel will also discharge much more fully than a lead acid, and unlike lead acid, it gives full power till it quits. Prior to going to the gels, I used to have 3 group 29's all the time, and sometimes carried 2 extra trolling batteries in heavy wind or at night. Since I went to gels, I have never ran short of power, and maintenance for them is plugging the Dual Pro in. In my way of looking at it, batteries have been a major pain in the you know where on boats for years. Going to gel has eliminated those chores and problems for me.

You do have to do a little trick to your charger though. I use a Dual Pro onboard charger, and I had to send it to CSI in Nashville to have the cards changed over to Gel Type cards. The regular lead acid card charge too much voltage for the gels. Figure out how to stuff that onboard in there, it will save a lot of trouble.

Skipper
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Skipper,

First let me thank you for the information on the Deka brand Sealed Gel batteries. I'm looking to see if someone near me carries them. The constant maintenance you have to do for old lead acid batteries is getting "old hat". Takes some of the joy out of fishing. I too use a Dual Pro on board charging system and seeing that I'm going to be changing over to gel cell batteries your suggestion of having the cards changed over to Gel Type cards makes very good since. Again, let me Thank You for the information. See, even old dogs can learn new tricks. Lawdog
 

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You are most certainly welcome.

Changing the cards is real important. Gels need a Max charge voltage of 14.1 volts. (I think that number is right) Regular chargers on automatic or manual run up to 14.9 volts before they shut off. This extra voltage will cause you batteries to crystalize and cause you to loose power.

I do run my engine off of 1 of the gel batteries. That is not reccommended by the battery people. The alternator, like the regular chargers charges at too high a voltage. I figure it like this: Yes, 1 of my 2 batteries is going to die early. If it does, then I learned a lesson, but still had the advantage of the extra convenience. Also, I don't do a lot of running with the outboard. (Example: Trolling) Most of my runs are short and brief. I originally had a regular battery for the starting battery, but it failed in line to blast off for a tournament. As a quick fix, I just stuck the cables over on the trolling battery, and they have been there ever since.

To me the No Maintenance is the main advantage. Mine have been in my boat for 3 years. No water added, no terminals cleaned, no leaked acid in the bilge, no appreciable loss in power. How many times has a corroded terminal caused you problems? Not with these batteries.

They are a little more expensive, but there's a lot to be said for a dependable battery in a boat.

Skipper
 

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Just did a search and checked out the Deka batteries. Couldn't find the D4 Seamates like yours. The ones I did find were a little pricey and heavy. Other than the no maintaince are they really that much better than lead acid deep cycle batteries? I usually get two full seasons out of my batteries before I replace them.
Savage
 

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I've got 3 on mine, and still going strong. They are guaranteed for 6 years, pro-rated I assume. A D4 is heavy, its the size of 2 group 29's put together. They come in Group 29 and 31 as well which are comparable weight to regular batteries. Previous to switching, I was carrying 4 group 29's and a starting battery on night tournaments. I would swap the trolling batteries about 3 am to finish the tournament. The 2 D4's run every thing I have including the engine. They are pricy up front, but the damage acid does to things in the bilge like your pumps and hoses is as well. I'd rather pay more and have a more reliable system. In those 3 years, I have yet to clean a terminal, and they have 0 corrosion on them.

Skipper
 

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They had 2 styles of these sealed batteries when I bought mine, Seamate which was the Gel Type, and Dominator which was a AGM type (Something Glass Matt). Both were sealed. When I bought mine they were new out and in testing. I am a test subject for the Seamates. They may have settled on the other type which is very similar in nature. Both are sealed batteries. I think you will like the advantages of sealed batteries and the no mess factor.

Skipper
 

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Batteries

The sealed batteries you mention are indeed very good but there is a BUT involved. I have worked for a battery manufacturer for several years and here is my take on the situation. The typical deep cycle battery is rated in Amp Hours not MCA's (Marine Cranking Amps). Marine Cranking Amps is a measure NOT recognized by Battery Council International (BCI). The other recognized measures are Reserve Capacity and Cold Cranking Amps which are equally important but I won't bore you with definitions.

The 4 main battery groups we build for deep cycle operation are BCI groups 24M, 27M, 31M, & 4DM. A typical (Flooded) 4DM battery would have 198 Amp Hour capacity, with 385 minutes reserve capacity, approximately 150 plates and weigh around 115 pounds. The most common deep cycle battery is the group 27 which has 105 AH, 185 RC, 78 plates and weighs in around 55 pounds. notice that at 55 lbs the grp. 27 has more than 1/2 the AH of the 4DM but less than 1/2 the RC.

There are a couple of other points that need to be covered. First, today we can get almost twice the electrical energy out of a pound of lead that we could get say 10 years ago. Secondly, all affordable deep cycle batteries are lead acid with the main difference being in the nature of the sulphuric acid and how it is contained.

The problem with a truly sealed "gel-cell" battery is two fold. When a lead acid battery is charged, two things are released, gasses and heat. In a flooded battery the liquid acid bubbles thus releasing both. A "gel-cell" has a problem with this, therefore the restrictions on charging.

At this time the real problem is price. Dollars per amp the flooded battery is still champ! As we speak, you can buy at least 3 - 4 times more Amp Hours per buck. A battery that costs 5 times as much and requires a special charging system should last 5 times as long. Will it? That remains to be seen.
 

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I have been following this topic for some time. The type of fishing I am doing depends on the number of batteries I carry. When trolling for trout and kokanee, I leave the electric trolling motor and trolling battery at home. Instead I take a 9.9 trolling motor with me.

The primarly battery drain on my boat is starting and the fishfinder. I might have the cellphone plugged-in. The starting battery is a deepcycle rated for dual use. It is forty percent over capacity needed for starting. The other drain on the battery is my 13 year-old low power fishfinder. The manual gives no clue to watts or amperage use with the unit. I can put in a 14 hour day without any problems. Its screen is rated at 32x50 pixels. When I test the battery at the end of the day it is in good shape. I can fish and number of days without battery problems.

I have ordered a new larger screen(240x240) fishfinder which is rated at 500 watts. It also has a built in battery alarm. It has a dual beam transducer, and I will be hooking up a gps unit to it. My normal fishing day involves a lot of trolling using the 9.9 and watching the fishfinder. I might turn on the AM/FM radio to catch the news then turn it off.

My old motor charged at 5 amps and I had no problem. My new motor charges at 20 amps.

Do you think I am headed for battery doomsday?

Siskiyou
 

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Probably not.

Depthfinders and Cell phones are not major battery drains. Their draw is very very small. I have left my LCR on many times on the bow of my boat for weeks at a time and haven't ran a battery down with it.

Major drains on batteries are Trolling Motors and Lights. In my case, I run a trolling motor constantly. With a 20' boat, I'm using a 24 Volt motor with 65 lbs of thrust. That's a pretty big drain. I also run lights a lot at night. 2 blacklights and runing lights. Those are pretty hefty drains. I think with the few accessories mentioned, you should be fine. Your biggest drain of the gizmos is probably the radio, and without an amp, even a car battery will run one for several hours.

Skipper
 

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Thanks Skipper,

My night fishing is rather limited. Your answer fits in with my thoughts, but the larger fishfinder had me wondering. Looking forward to trying it out.

Siskiyou :)
 
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