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Using SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) batteries on fishing kayaks
11:23AM 9th Sep 13

Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries on fishing kayaks

Key points:

• It’s important to select the right battery size
• Do not flatten SLA batteries more than 50%
• Always fully recharge SLA batteries as soon as possible
• Always keep SLA batteries “topped up” when not in regular use
• Valve regulated lead acid batteries are commonly referred to as SLA batteries
• There are two interchangeable types: AGM and Gel batteries


Summary:

SLA batteries are an excellent means of powering electronics and other accessories on kayaks, especially as they won’t leak if tipped upside-down. They do have one characteristic that’s often misunderstood: they do not like being run flat and will perform best if constantly kept fully charged. This makes it critical to purchase a SLA battery that’s large enough to supply your power needs for the day and not use more than 50% of its capacity. It’s also critical to recharge a SLA battery as soon as possible, even if it’s only been used for a short period.

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Using fish finders, sounders, and GPS navigation on fishing kayaks has become routine. One of the factors that’s helped make this possible is a rechargeable battery system that’s affordable to purchase and inexpensive to operate. Sealed lead acid batteries are a boon to kayak anglers, giving us reliable power to keep marine electronics operating all day long.

Correctly termed a VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) battery, many kayakers call them “gel batteries”. In reality the gel battery is one of two types of VRLA battery, the other being an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) type. This is the least expensive and most common of the two. The performance characteristics of both battery types in kayaking terms are so similar they can be used interchangeably. In this article we’ll to both types as SLA batteries.

SLA batteries give us a power source that copes exceptionally well with the movement and vibration associated with kayaking. Further, they’re not bothered at all if tipped upside down when rolling a kayak, and will continue supplying clean power to electronics without leaking or risking damage to sensitive equipment. This is where the no-leak robust nature of SLA batteries really comes to the fore.

One very important characteristic to be aware of with SLA batteries is they don’t like being run flat. Doing so on a regular basis risks compromising the life expectancy of the battery and eventually it will lose capacity and fail to hold a charge.

“I used to get several days out of the battery, now it will only run my sounder for a couple of hours!”

This is the classic result of repeatedly running a SLA battery flat and/or not completely recharging it as soon as possible. Unlike some battery systems that prefer being cycled flat, SLA batteries function best if no more than 40-50% of their capacity is used, followed by an immediate and complete recharge. This point cannot be overemphasized – do not run your SLA battery until it’s completely flat if you want it to last well. It’s also worth remembering the same can occur if the battery is stored for long periods without having the charge maintained (SLA batteries slowly discharge, even when not in use).

The message here is:

• Recharge after every use, even if your electronics were only run for several minutes.
• Always recharge your SLA battery as soon as possible after use.
• Always completely charge the SLA battery, don’t part-charge it.
• When not using the battery make sure it goes on the charger once a month to keep it “topped-up”.


Follow these suggestions and your SLA battery will give many years excellent service.

In summary:

SLA batteries are an excellent means of powering electronics and other accessories on kayaks, especially as they won’t leak if tipped upside-down. They do have one characteristic that’s often misunderstood: they do not like being run flat and will perform best if constantly kept fully charged. This makes it critical to purchase a SLA battery that’s large enough to supply your power needs for the day and not use more than 50% of its capacity. It’s also critical to recharge a SLA battery as soon as possible, even if it’s only been used for a short period.

Looking for a new sounder but can’t decide which way to go? Want to find out which battery is best suited to your sounder, GPS, or Chart Plotter? Get in touch with local Viking Kayaks fishing specialist Stephen Tapp for more advice.

Viking Kayaks