February 22nd, 2013
Pack More Charge With Every Plug-inby Grant Pentiricci July 10, 2015
Ever wonder what you can do to pack more charge with every plug-in and get more out of your batteries? Ever launch your boat after a full night of charging and find that your batteries are still not full? There’s a simple reason for this: you haven’t gotten a full charge. This can be easily remedied with the use of proper equipment, so let’s get down to it!
This is a topic which should probably be covered in an independent article since it is quite complicated. So, lets just cover the basics. Make sure you are using marine batteries that are for their intended purpose. Cranking batteries should not be used as deep-cycle batteries and vice versa it just wont work. Use a quality battery that you have confidence in and get the biggest batteries you can.
For a cranking battery, the CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) is the number that is most important. For a large outboard 150hp+ you will probably need about 900 CCA. Smaller outboards will have lower requirements, but generally speaking you will want to check your specific outboard’s power requirements to make sure you have enough power. Just remember, if you are running electronics, lighting and a stereo, you will need a larger battery to meet your power requirements.
For deep cycle batteries your most important number is the reserve capacity. The greater the capacity, the more power you will have throughout your day of fishing.
In a nutshell, buy the biggest and best batteries you can afford when the time comes to replace them.
Think of your extension cable as a river. The thicker the river, the more water you can have flow through it. This principle is the same when it comes to the extension cord you use and electricity. A higher gauge extension cord is thicker and will give you the best flow of electricity to your charger. For a 25-50 foot extension cord typically a 16ga cord is sufficient, but if the charger requirements are higher, you will want to purchase cords that are thicker such as 12ga. A good rule of thumb is to always get the thickest gauge cord you can afford. Unfortunately, a good 100ft, 10 gauge cord can run up to $300 bucks!
The length of your extension cable is also important. Use the shortest cable you can as there is a current drop as the cable gets longer. Bassmaster Pros keep several different lengths with them so they can choose the shortest cable possible to maximize current. Below is a simple chart that will give you a good idea on what gauge extension cord you should aim for.
tips for extension cords:
- don’t use cords that are frayed, damaged or have broken prongs
- have a storage solution for extension cords so they are not a tripping hazard and stay out of the way when not in use
- if you are plugging in with your boat in the water make sure your extension cord is not hanging in the water
- if possible plug into a GFI outlet
If a GFI outlet with surge protection is not available where you plan to plug in, or you need to run an extension cable from your motel room out to your rig, a great thing to have is a GFI on your cable. They’re not cheap, but a blown charger the night before a big tournament is an even greater letdown. I currently use a inline GFCI as shown in the photograph. It’s always in my truck and if I can’t locate a GFCI protected outlet, I simply plug this baby in and I know there won’t be any surprises.
Be wary of plugging into outlets that have no GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) built into them. Usually old motels don’t have them and large multi bank chargers draw a ton of amperage which could lead to trouble. So, when in doubt, just use your own so you know you are covered.
Depending on your power needs and how many banks (batteries) you use your charging requirements will differ. To make it simple just keep in mind that you will want a good charger that is capable of quickly charging all your batteries. Nowadays there are intelligent chargers that can do some pretty cool things such as clean the plates in flooded batteries, low line voltage compensation, temperature compensation etc. Chargers that put out more amperage per bank will charge batteries faster, but cost more. If you opt for a portable charger, ensure you are storing it safely and that the charging leads never touch.
tips for chargers:
- strongly consider mounting your on-board charger in a stable secure area away from moisture, above the water line
- mount your charger so it doesn’t interfere with other equipment or is not in danger of shorting out on battery terminals
- do not directly mount a charger to an aluminum boat hull- use some means of isolation such as a wood panel to prevent electrolysis
- make sure you have the right type of charger for your battery type. AGM and Gel batteries have different requirements which need to be met for longevity
In this article I’ve provided you with some simple charging/ power solutions for small fishing craft that should help you ensure your day on the water is a success. Getting a good charge is critical for your enjoyment, but more importantly, some of the points in this article are for safety as well. Packing a full charge for your batteries will keep you fishing safer and longer!
About AuthorMore info about author
Grant is the Founder of AnglingAuthority.com. While he primarily fishes for large mouth and small mouth bass, he’s passionate about sport fishing in general and an avid multispecies angler. Learning about new tactics, gear, species and conditions is all part of what makes the sport challenging and enjoyable. Grant also loves to travel, particularly to prime fishing destinations. Grant participates in regional tournaments and is a proud pro staff member of State Apparel, Power-Pole and Gambler Lures. Grant is a member of B.A.S.S, Canadian Bass Anglers Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters.More by Grant Pentiricci