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Length of battery time on the water?

Old 10-12-2008, 06:27 PM
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Default Length of battery time on the water?

Hey guys,
How long should I be able to sit and use my equipement, with the motor off?
The reason I ask is I took my new boat(my first boat) out last week and it had trouble starting. seems it was running out a juice

I stayed in one spot chunking for 2 hours. All that was on was my Lowrance GPS/Sonar and my Uniden VHF. Do they draw so much energy that they kill a battery in two hours?
Or is my battery waning and I need to buy a new one at the start of next season?

My vessel is a : Pro-Line Sport 19', Mercury 125 2S, Lowrance 520C, Uniden UM525
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

I have wondered the same thing...how long can I run my electronics before I get int the "danger zone"?
I ran my sonar/GPS and my cd player while drift fishing for a few hrs yesterday as well and didnt have any trouble starting but it could be the difference in batteries/equipment/etc
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Old 10-12-2008, 06:38 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

all that vessel info is not what we need - how many batts? - what kind and what size? (MCA or CCA size)

and what's the resting voltage (engine off)?

but quick answer? anything less than 12.4 on your voltmeter and you are nearing the no go point....

and all my archived battery stuff here:

http://www.veradoclub.com/smf/index.php?topic=161.0
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Old 10-12-2008, 07:10 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

Hey Glen,
sorry heres a little more info

1 battery, 525 MCA. I do not know the resting voltage.
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Old 10-12-2008, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

BoozeMonkey - 10/12/2008 10:10 PM

Hey Glen,
sorry heres a little more info

1 battery, 525 MCA. I do not know the resting voltage.
not enuf batt to be turning the engine off for drift fishing - add another one bigger and start reading about how to rig one for the engine and one for the house - with both being charged by the engine...do a search here for "ACR".
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Old 10-12-2008, 08:08 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

525 is a small battery on a boat. Get a bigger battery, AND as Glen advised, get a 2nd one. I'd get 2 Group 27 AGM's, make one the starting battery for motor ONLY, and the 2nd a house battery. You could run a Group 27 AGM all day long with stereo, GPS, Sounder and still not kill it.
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Old 10-12-2008, 09:57 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

Thanks for the advice guys. If I want to stick with just a one battery setup, how big can i go? I dont want to damage electrical comonents or fry my starter motor. Also what brand do you like?
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Old 10-13-2008, 03:21 AM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

You can go as big as you want. You are confusing capacity with voltage. I am not aware of any marine battery that is more than 12 volts. People who have 24v systems connect two 12v batteries in series to double voltage.

What kind of engine are you using? My Mercury Optimax calls for a 1000 cca battery. If you are unsure what battery capacity your engine calls for, consult the manual.

If you insist on a single battery configuration, then get the battery with the largest capacity you can - considering how much you want to spend and how big your battery storage area is. Marine "house" batteries can have really large capacities - and a really large size and weight to go along with that. They are not cheap either.

Like I said, so long as whatever battery you get is 12 volts - it will not damage anything.

However, a dual battery setup is better. I have two batteries, one is my 1000 cca starting battery, the other is a deep cycle. When I get somewhere and want to drift (or anchor) with the electronics on, I simply switch to battery 2. That way if I run that thing down I can just switch to 1 and start up. It is a good insurance policy. Some people also carry one of those portable automobile jump starter things.

Batteries last longer if you keep them on an automatic charger when you are not using the boat. Make sure the charger is "100% automatic" before you leave it connected unattended. Many automotive chargers are not automatic and will not drop to a trickle charge once the battery is full. I believe that marine chargers are all automatic. I could be wrong however.

If your battery is only lasting a few hours, then it is possible it is starting to fade. You can take it to an auto parts store and have it load tested. If it fails, or tests good but low - replace it. I would suspect that with only a GPS/sonar and a VHF radio on, the battery is going out on you if it drains after only 2 hours. VHF radios draw almost nothing on standby, and your GPS/Sonar does not draw that much.

A new battery is much cheaper than a tow. Not to mention the hassle of being stuck on the water while waiting for the tow. But you should get the unlimited towing contract from either BoatUS or Sea Tow anyway. The yearly price for the contract is a whole lot cheaper than the cost of one assist.

As for brand names - I do not have a favorite. I like AGM batteries as they are lighter than same capacity wet cell batteries. AGMs are also totally maintenance free, you never have to check the water level in the cells. Some wet cell - but not all - are maintenance free.

Some people have reported problems with Optima AGMs, but by now the problems should have been worked out.

The only battery I would avoid are Auto Zone deep cycle marine batteries. I bought two of them and kept them on an automatic charger when not in use. After a year - one was starting to go out on me. Ill never buy them again.

Sears batteries have a pretty good track record for reliability.
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Old 10-13-2008, 03:27 AM
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Default RE: Length of battery time on the water?

BoozeMonkey - 10/12/2008 9:27 PM
I stayed in one spot chunking for 2 hours. All that was on was my Lowrance GPS/Sonar and my Uniden VHF. Do they draw so much energy that they kill a battery in two hours?
Or is my battery waning and I need to buy a new one at the start of next season?
Your sonar and VHF draw practically no power - probably less than 3 amps between them.

Your battery on the other hand, sounds pretty small - and might be on its way out anyway. A 1000 CCA battery is probably as big as you will be able to fit, but should be plenty. Do some measuring and see what works. You should be able to get a traditional lead-acid battery for under $100, or an AGM for $150ish.

It is also possible that your engine is not charging correctly - if you have access to a voltmeter you should check the battery voltage when the motor is off and again when the motor is running.

Your requirements are minimal though - so don't overthink this one. On a single 1000 cca battery I can drift for 4+ hours with the stereo, livewell, VHF, chartplotter, and lights running without a problem starting.

The bigger battery will actually be much BETTER for your starter as it will suffer less voltage drop when you turn the key. Also make sure all your connections are clean and tight.
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Old 10-14-2008, 09:39 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

You do need a bigger battery as mentioned, but I am supprised no has mentioned using your electronics. Most chartplotters have an alarm setting most everything including voltage, set to acceptable level and it will sound an alarm at that point so you start your motor to recharge
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:36 AM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

If you wish to monitor the condition of your battery install a battery voltage meter if you don't have one. You can also get a portable device that simply plugs into your 12 volt receptacle. Also a second house battery is a must to me and I like the AGM's from Sears.
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

Display your resting voltage on your lowrance head unit as an overlay and when it goes to 11.5 it is time to start the motor and recharge for a bit.
Your VHF radio may also have a low voltage warning built in that will sound off when your battery goes below a preset limit so you don't get stuck in a no start situation but two batteries is almost a must do these days
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Old 10-16-2008, 04:33 AM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

start 'em at 12.0 - that' 50% discharged - see here:

http://www.veradoclub.com/smf/index.php?topic=59.0
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:11 AM
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Default RE: Length of battery time on the water?

If you know the approximate current draw of the electronics you are using while not moving, you can pick a deep cycle battery based off of its Amp hour rating. Basically if you determine you are going to be drawing about 15 amps of current for a period of 2 hours, you would need at least a battery with a rating of 30 Ah (amps x hours). There really isn't a way to determine how long a cranking battery will last that I know of... however I'm pulling around 100 amps off a single group 24 700 CCA battery and I park for 4-5 hours at a time and have yet to drain my battery.
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Old 10-16-2008, 11:58 AM
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Default RE: Length of battery time on the water?

lknTP17 - 10/16/2008 2:11 PM
....................... and have yet to drain my battery.
Famous last words.

To feel safe on the water if you're turning the engine off and using electronics, lighting, stereo, etc. for any length of time, install a deep cycle battery as a "house" battery and leave the starting battery for just that, starting your engine. Keep them both charged with a battery combiner. Forget the 1, 2, both, off switches.

You can run the house battery completely down (you shouldn't but that's another topic) and still start your engine to get home.
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Old 10-16-2008, 12:01 PM
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Default RE: Length of battery time on the water?

lknTP17 - 10/16/2008 2:11 PM
.............. I'm pulling around 100 amps off a single group 24 700 CCA battery and I park for 4-5 hours at a time and have yet to drain my battery.
I think you're missing a decimal point somewhere. 100 amps for 4 hours is 400 amp hours and you won't find that capacity in a group 24. You won't find it in four group 24 batteries.
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Old 10-16-2008, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

I generally run out to the fishing grounds with the battery switch on "ALL", then if I intend to drift I switch to one or the other so If I run it low I still have a fully charged secondary battery to start. At least I hope so...
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:31 PM
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Default RE: Length of battery time on the water?

lknTP17 - 10/16/2008 11:11 AMIf you know the approximate current draw of the electronics you are using while not moving, you can pick a deep cycle battery based off of its Amp hour rating. Basically if you determine you are going to be drawing about 15 amps of current for a period of 2 hours, you would need at least a battery with a rating of 30 Ah (amps x hours). There really isn't a way to determine how long a cranking battery will last that I know of... however I'm pulling around 100 amps off a single group 24 700 CCA battery and I park for 4-5 hours at a time and have yet to drain my battery.
It is unrealistic to run a battery down to zero. With your example of 15 amps for 2 hours then you would want a battery with at least 70-80 amp hours in it. Considerably more if you are going to crank an engine with it after drawing it down.
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

I was looking at the Cabaela's AGM batt. wow, the group 24 models weigh 53 pounds! I know i cant live without one but couldnt they find a way to cut the weight. I know its the backpacker in me that wants ultra light, i just figured i would weigh my boat down with freshly caught cod not batteries lol
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Old 10-16-2008, 06:37 PM
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Default Re: Length of battery time on the water?

Sorry for not clarifying... the Ah rating is how long it takes to drain it from fully charged to 10-10.5 volts depending on the brand. I think most go to 10.5.
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