top of page

This week's Feature Blog

Addressing Lithium Technology Head On

By: Mark Romanack


Late in 2023 Fishing 411 TV made the decision to rig their boats with lithium batteries for the house battery and also to operate the electric motor. We chose Abyss a leader in the production of lithium batteries. Most lithium batteries on the market are private labeled. Abyss manufacturers their own batteries to exacting standards.


   In case you haven’t noticed, we are living in a digital world. Analog technology and the old school lead acid batteries that powered that world are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur. Lithium battery technology is dominating almost every device that requires DC power.


            Lithium batteries aren’t exactly new technology, the truth is this technology has been powering your smart phone, smart watches and computers for decades. What is relatively new are larger amp hour and capacity lithium batteries designed to do the heavy lifting in a fishing boat.


            Traditionally lead acid battery technology has dominated in the marine industry. Lead acid batteries do a pretty good job of powering electric motors, starting outboard engines and powering up modern sonar units. The problem is “pretty good” isn’t good enough anymore. That goes double for anglers who are using the latest “live” sonar technologies that require significantly more amps to power up.


            Modern fishing boats aren’t equipped with one or two sonar units, these days our boats are equipped with multiple graphs on the bow and console of the boat. Whereas those graphs a few years ago might have featured a five or even seven inch monitor, today sonar units feature, 10, 12, 16 or even as large as 24 inch monitors! Powering all that electronics is just the tip of the iceberg.


            In addition to multiple large screen sonar units, modern fishing boats have large horsepower outboards, kicker motors, electric motors, trim tabs, electric pole anchoring systems, digital throttle controls, suspension seats, VHF radios, live-well pumps, recirculation pumps, bilge pumps, cockpit lighting and the list of accessories that require DC power goes on and on. Powering all of this electronic equipment requires more amps and reserve capacity than lead acid batteries can effectively provide.


            Sooner or later everyone who is serious about fishing will come to the conclusion that lithium battery technology is the answer to the need for increased DC power in a fishing boat. The stumbling block of course is cost. Lithium marine batteries are many times more expensive than traditional lead acid batteries or even AGM technology batteries.


            Justifying the cost of lithium marine batteries requires an angler to do a deep dive into what lithium can do and just as importantly what lead acid batteries can’t do. Lithium batteries are smaller and lighter than lead acid batteries that provide similar amps and reserve capacity. Less weight in the fishing boat means the boat performs more efficiently, burns less fuel, provides better top end performance and solves a lot of the “weight distribution” issues that plague so many models of fishing boats.


A modern fishing boat features a lot of accessories that require DC power. Traditional lead acid batteries can barely meet the power needs in a fishing boat and that goes double for anglers who are using multiple sonar units, pole anchoring systems, electric downriggers and a host of other popular accessories.


            Lithium batteries also charge much faster than lead acid batteries. A typical lead acid battery maintained with a 10 amp charging system will take up to 24 hours to completely charge. Meanwhile, a similar lithium battery system will reach full charge in about four hours!


            Lithium batteries can also support many more charging cycles. A typical lead acid battery has a life span of about two years, while Lithium batteries deliver excellent service for up to 10 years! In fact, most lithium battery manufacturers offer a five to 10 year warranty, compared to just one year for most lead acid batteries.


The reserve capacity is another area where lithium batteries far out perform lead acid batteries. You may have noticed that when lead acid batteries are used to power accessories like electric motors, as the battery juice is drained, the electric motor hemorrhages power and the thrust setting must be run at an increasingly higher number to keep the boat under control as the day wears on. This is because of something known as the Peukert Effect. The Peukert Effect states that reserve capacity decreases as the rate of discharge decreases. In other words, lead acid batteries don’t release their stored energy evenly throughout the fishing day. As the battery is used it’s power or energy level starts out high, but drops off sharply under a load.


            To add insult to injury, the Peukert Effect in lead acid batteries gets worse when operating the boat in cold weather. So anglers who fish early in the year and late into the season are handicapped considerably with lead acid batteries.


            Lithium batteries don’t suffer from the Peukert Effect. A lithium battery produces consistent power until the battery is completely drained, regardless of the air temperature.


RIGGING BATTERIES IN SERIES

            Traditionally, deep cycle batteries used for running an electric motor are rigged by taking two 12 volt batteries (24 volts) or three 12 volt batteries (36 volts) and wiring them in series to increase the voltage. The down side to wiring batteries in series is the batteries do not draw down equally. Over time, drawing down and recharging those batteries creates a situation where the batteries develop a memory and don’t take a full charge or deliver the complete reserve capacity the battery was rated for.                          

  

            A better rigging system is to use individual 24 or 36 volt lithium batteries. Abyss Battery, a leader in producing quality lithium deep cycle batteries produces individual 24 volt batteries in 50Ah, 60Ah, 75Ah and 100Ah models. They also produce individual 36 volt batteries in 60Ah, 72Ah and 105Ah models.


            Depending on the size of the boat and the application, one of these batteries is ideal for every fishing boat. Competitive anglers and serious weekend warriors are going to be best served with high capacity 100Ah and 105Ah batteries, while casual anglers will find the smaller and less expensive 50Ah, 60Ah, 72Ah or 75Ah models are the ideal choice.


            Using a single 24 volt or 36 volt battery compared to three 12 volt batteries wired in series creates cleaner boat rigging, less connections and fuses to fail and less chance of battery failure in general.


CHARGING AND BATTERY MAINTENANCE

            Because a typical fishing boat is going to be equipped with several batteries, it’s critically important to understand the importance of using multi-bank digital charging systems.


            For example, our Fishing 411 TV filming boats have been traditionally rigged with five lead acid deep cycle batteries including three 31 group batteries for the electric motor, a 31 group house battery to power accessories and a 27 group battery to start the engines.


            In this case a three bank and also a two bank charger are required to charge and maintain all five batteries. Now that our boats are rigged with Abyss lithium batteries, we have opted to go with one 36 volt 105AH battery for the electric motor, one 12 volt 120Ah battery for the house battery and a 12 volt 100Ah lead acid battery for the starting battery.


            One Abyss 12 volt/36 volt three bank charger maintains all the batteries in the boat. This system eliminates two batteries and one digital charger in the boat, saving space and reducing cost and weight in the boat. At the end of a long day of fishing, only one AC plug is required to charge all the batteries in the boat.


LITHIUM CRANKING BATTERIES

            Not all engine outboards have approved the use of lithium batteries as the cranking battery. Before using a lithium battery as your cranking battery, check with your outboard manufacturer to determine their recommendations. The Suzuki outboards used at Fishing 411 TV do not recommend lithium cranking batteries, so we have opted to use lead acid cranking batteries in our boats.


AREN’T ALL LITHIUM BATTERIES ALIKE

            In short, all lithium batteries are not created equal. The majority of the lithium deep cycle batteries on the market are private labeled from a host of different manufacturers. Abyss Battery manufacturers their own lithium batteries using the best quality cells and components. Abyss Battery also prides themselves with quality control standards that are second to none. In short, Abyss lithium marine batteries are the best money can buy.


SUMMING IT UP

            It’s true if you convert your boat from lead acid batteries to lithium batteries the cost is significantly more. Over time lithium batteries pay for themselves through superior warranty agreements, increased battery longevity and substantially better battery reliability.


            If you are in the market for a new boat, having lithium batteries installed at the git go, makes a lot of sense. Marine dealers can add the cost of lithium batteries into the total boat cost, spreading out the pain over a longer period of time.


            Those who already own a boat and want to upgrade to lithium batteries are going to have to come to terms with the fact they are expensive. Some might argue the best approach is to simply rip off the bandaid and start over fresh with lithium batteries that will provide better and longer service moving forward.


            As a bonus, the peace of mind of knowing your boat is equipped with the best batteries available also has value. After all, when it’s time to go fishing, the last thing you want to deal with is a nagging battery issue.

Comments


Feature Blog
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon

Get Weekly Newsletter FREE

    Each week the 411 team produces a new "how to" article, a new YouTube Tech Tip and more. Get it all in one place in your inbox! Feel free to share any of it on social or clubs.

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page