Charging life into electric motor batteries
  |  First Published: January 2010

It's rare to see a serious sportfishing craft without an electric motor on the bow these days.

I certainly can’t imagine being without one for my bass, barra and snapper work, so I have always had an abiding interest in deep cycle batteries and how to keep them adequately charged.

While a car cranking battery can work for a while it certainly does not have the capacity to really power an electric motor for any length of time. And once discharging the battery will run out of power very quickly.

That's why a battery like the big Fullriver DC120-12 Absorbent glass-mat lead acid deep cycle battery is such a good investment. It’s made for the job, is very powerful and has a lot of capacity for hard work.

On a recent trip up north chasing barra in the big impoundments I had the chance to give one of the Fullriver DC120 12 batteries a good work out via the electric motor set up on the 4.2 Tabs Bullshark.

This battery is a top shelf job and it's a very powerful unit with a rating of 120amps and 20 hours.

With the Water Snake 54 drawing plenty of power I gave the battery some hard yards over three days of flyfishing as we used the motor to move from point to point on a regular basis. At the end of the three days – without any charging between each use – the battery appeared to be holding up well.

The Fullriver DC120 12 is a glass-mat lead acid variety battery, which means it's not only a top quality battery but acid won’t leak out of it. This battery can be mounted on an angle because the acid is absorbed rather than free flowing within the battery and there are no exit points whatsoever. It also comes with a solid warranty.

A handy carry strap plus bolt-through terminals ensure complete connection with the electric motor at all times.

The price of the Fullriver DC120 12 battery, as provided by R & J Batteries of Stapylton (ph: 07 3382 0620) is $361. Purchasing one of these units is an investment in prolonged and reliable battery use for the dedicated sports angler.


To keep the electric battery going is the Xantrex Truecharge 2. This 20amp Hi Tech charger is a top of range unit that has evolved over the last 15 years.

Not only is it a very compact appliance at a mere 70x170x250mm, but it also meets global safety and regulatory standards, has low electrical interference and has extremely efficient charging ability.

These Xantrex chargers are designed for marine, mobile and commercial applications and are unmatched for reliability and safety. A Xantrex charger could even be hard wired into a boat’s engine room if necessary. Lugs on the charger are provided to assist in hard wiring installations.

The charger’s performance (the 20amp model was the subject of this review) had a host of features that really impressed me. First was reversed polarity protection, which is a vital feature as anyone can make a mistake with connecting terminals especially in bad light.

Over temperature and over charging protection is also standard.

There are also three full current rated outputs and a battery monitoring ability while in 'float' or 'rest' mode. Most importantly this charger can handle generators or other low quality power sources to ensure the battery will still be correctly charged.

There's also an automatic charge resumption feature after AC power interruption as well as a fully discharged battery charging capability as well.

User friendly

There are plenty more technical features surrounding this unit but I'll leave them to the boffins.

I gave the Xantrex Truecharge 2 some work topping up the Fullriver battery while in use on Monduran Dam after our sojourn at Teemburra. The Xantrex kept the battery topped after each day’s fishing in less than one hour.

Once at home I purposely selected an old deep cycle battery that serves now to power camping lights. My tester indicated the battery was as flat as a lizard drinking as it's an old stager that won't hold charge for long enough to be used in any heavy duty application.

From the Battery Type range I selected 'Flooded' lead acid battery from the line up and pressed the stage 2 cycle button to give the old girl a good charge.

After running the Truecharge 2 over night, the fully charged light was illuminated the next morning with the charger in float mode. Mission accomplished.

Again, this is a premium product with the potential for a once-off lifetime purchase. At $560 the Xantrex Truecharge 2 represents a fair investment in technology but given the efficiency of the unit plus the potential to be hard wired in to boat it should give a long-standing return on that investment. The unit also comes with a comprehensive booklet describing each feature and explaining how to get the best use from the unit.

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