When Wayne from Tuncurry Auto Electrics Batteries Chargers and Solar pitched me the spiel on his new accessory for tournament anglers, I wasn’t 100% sold. Actually, let me re-phrase that: I was 100% sold on the concept but I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to things that seem too good to be true as they usually are.
The Stealth charger is a small, waterproof unit that is mounted in your boat and connects to the battery system. In short, after your cranking battery is topped up by the alternator in your outboard, it diverts the charge to your electric motor batteries and charges them as your boat is travelling between spots on the main outboard. This happens when the voltage in your cranking battery exceeds 13.0V.
The Stealth can deliver up to 40 amps to your electric motor batteries – and it can charge up to three batteries simultaneously – not one at a time, like other voltage sensitive relays do.
You might think – like I did – that there’s no way that it could make much of an impact on the charge your trolling motor batteries hold, but Wayne was smart. When he installed the Stealth, he also added a dash-mounted voltage meter that constantly displayed the status of the 24V system.
I was amazed when I went for a day’s fishing after purposely not charging the batteries after the previous trip and actually returned with more charge that I left with! The manufacturers of the Stealth suggest that a 15 minute run in your boat delivers the equivalent of one hour plugged into the AC at home.
There’s a lot of evidence suggesting that the fewer times you fully discharge your batteries, the longer they will last. Using a Stealth means that you’ll ‘deeply discharge’ your electric motor batteries very rarely – as long as you’re moving around on the outboard occasionally. This in turn means that your trolling motor batteries will last longer. By doubling the life of your batteries, you’ll cover the cost of the charger.
I’ve had a Stealth charger mounted in the Fishing Monthly Stratos for six months. We don’t do a Testing Booth on a product until we’ve given it a good flogging, and after running the unit through plenty of tournaments and a trip to Tassie, I’m now a converted cynic and wouldn’t own a boat without one!
In the Stratos, the Stealth is hooked up to a 24V system that powers an 80lb Fortrex cable steer electric motor. It’d spend between 80 and 100 days a year on the water.
Naturally, you will still need to run a standard AC charger that you can plug in at night to get your batteries to 100% – especially if you spend a small amount of time on the outboard motor. Currently, I’m running a 3-bank 10A Guest that validates the voltmeter readings. Very rarely does the charger indicate that the batteries are anything but ‘nearly charged’ – a nice way to be assured that the Stealth is doing its job.
Off the shelf, you can buy a Stealth from Tuncurry Auto Electrics Batteries Chargers and Solar for $499. If you don’t want to put it in yourself, you can get it installed for around $200. Their contact number is (02) 6554 5591 or go to their website: www.batterieschargerssolar.com.auReads: 6434