Hydraulic Boat Lift Battery Etiquette

Posted by Jim Ampulski on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 @ 10:43 AM

Increase your stamina, Have more energy, Feel more powerful...  It's not exactly what you think...  Actually, it's better.  We're talking about boating here.  More specifically, Boating with Hydraulic Boat Lifts.  So, often I'm asked how many cycles can I expect from my Summit Marine Retract Hydraulic Boat Lift.  Viable question.  The answer may be a bit involved.  Straight forward, but involved.  Let's take a look at the factors.

  1. Location, location, location - How shallow is the water where the lift is installed?  Or better put, is the lift raising your boat 40" or 20"?  Get where I'm going here??  I'm kind'a a nut about efficiency, so my boat is in 4' of water and the lift is as low to the bottom as possible....  So, when my Lift Bunks are all the way up, they are 14" out of the water, my Boat Hull (with out the running gear) draws about 8" of water, that means I lift about 22"...  And Snap!  I almost doubled my battery life.
  2. Battery Type - Look for the extra X chromosome.  Seriously, a Deep Cycle Battery is best for our application.  Although a Cranking Battery is better suited for the short, intense amperage we draw, it falls short when it's fully discharged and we tend to forget about insignificant things as Hydraulic Boat Hoist batteries (until they puke on us), so the more we can abuse our power and fully discharge it and have it spring back to life, the better.
  3. Battery Size - Yes bigger is better!  The smallest I would recommend is a 600MCA and best would be a 800MCA...  What would determine which to chose?  Well, if you have 110 power (make absolutely sure it's Ground Faulted) down at the describe the imageshore, I would ride with the 600 battery and use a  fully  automatic 2/10 amp charger.  Schumacher SSC 1000A is a great 2/6/10 amp charger, and the Schumacher SC600A is a great 2/6 amp choice.  And it should fit into the poly box nicely.  If you use a manual charger, you'll need our HD Charge Controller to keep from form overcharging.  You'll also need to drill a couple of 1.5" holes for ventilation on the sides of the box near the top of the battery to expel hydrogen gases.  Or better yet, a sealed battery such as a Optima Gel Cell, (with screw posts) although a bit more expensive, we've had great luck with them and expect double the life of a standard wet cell.  For a wet cell we like the Everyready E24DC. 
  4. Multiple Batteries - Here's my take...  If you use your boat a ton on the weekends and little during the week and 1 battery isn't cutting it, add the second battery...  Remember it will take twice as long to charge (and discharge) as 1 battery.  If you live on the lake during the week and use you boat more regularly then 1 battery with a good charging system should work fine.
  5. Charging Rate - Solar or 110 volt charger... I have both... (of course, remember I'm the nut from item #1 above), and I'm the owner of a hydraulic boat lift company and it would be extremely embarrassing if my Retact Boat Lift developed battery related lifting issues... But also, I try to abuse every part of our designs a head of the curve, to make sure you have a trouble free experience with our products.  So I fill the sacks to the brim and ride several times a day in the summer with the "Phatties"... Pretty abusive.  Back to the topic.  A 10 watt Solar Panel (SMSP10W) does very well for most boaters.  Casual use during the week and hit it a couple extra times on the weekends...  Good to go... All our panels have a blocking diode (discharge block) and a charge controller (expensive part) which assures a full level battery as needed without overcharging and subsequent acid boil... (yes - that is bad...).  If you have 110 volt at the dock, refer to the previous item (#3).  If you still need more charging power, like our Pro Riders and don't have 110v available then our mammoth 60 watt panel is the choice...  6 times the power, 3 times the price... And worth every penny...  It maintains the best charging curve as it heats up in the sun...  (Cheaper panels loose their charging rate and what we think we paid for is now half what we're getting).  One final note on Solar Panels - don't be alarmed if you still need to put the battery on a standard 110v charger every now and again... describe the image
  6. Boat Weight - Big factor, of course.  Heavier boats - more energy... Remember to include fuel, gear and ballast into the equation, and the design of the lift will also play a part.  You see, we use larger cylinders to allow for lower operating pressure per lift capacity.  That keeps us in the power band of the pump motor better for maximum efficiency.

My set up you ask???  I run (2) 12 volt Optima Batteries, a 10 Watt Solar Panel and I have a 110v automatic 2/10amp battery charger...  but also I tend to leave a bit of weight in my wake boat when it's on the lift...

Give us a call if you have any questions or comments.  Let us know what works for you.

Now you take charge!

Topics: Hydraulic Boat Lift Cycle, Battery Life