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atv223

Color fish finder/GPS power consumption

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When I was doing research on fish finders and GPS combos, I would regularly read people make mention about high power consumption of the color units and a particular prejudice against units with GPS. I picked out a Lowrance Elite 4, which is both color and GPS. The specs on the unit said it consumes 250mA (0.25A). I bought one of those small cube sealed 12V batteries that is rated at 5Ah. Simple math 5 / .25 = 20 hours of run time. Something seemed wrong to me because even a 10 hour fishing day would leave half the battery in reserve. That seemed more than enough to me (I figure I can charge the battery over night). So why all the issues people raise? Well I assumed that maybe these things draw way more power than they claim.

 

Due to another hobby of mine, I have some sophisticated battery chargers that tell you how much power you put back into a battery when you charge it after use (kind of like using mileage driven and how much gas you put back in the tank). This weekend, I used my Lowrance Elite 4 for about 3 hours and 20 minutes. Based on the tech specs it should have consumed 3.333 hours X 250mA = 833mA. When I charged my battery, it only put in 658 mA, meaning actual consumption was more like 197mA, less than the claimed consumption. Now technically, the current consumed will increase as the voltage in the battery drops, so maybe it averages out to 250mA, but at least the testing doesn't show 250mA as a gross under estimate of power consumption.

 

This may not be the solution for everyone, but I thought I would put some numbers to this instead of just "high power consumption". Maybe you are going to fish for 3 day, 10 hours a day with no opportunity to recharge or maybe you want to go the AA battery route and fish for 12 hours, if that's the case the color GPS combo may not be right for you, but now you have the numbers and can crunch your own solution.

 

Hope this is helpful to someone.

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Thanks for posting this! I am looking for a FF/GPS for my yak and really would prefer a color display but was hesitant because of the concerns I read about on here. How do you like your Elite 4 so far? Its on my list

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Great Post, I have the same FF/GPS Elite 4 run 8 AA's in my Hobie have been rigged this way for 11 yrs,  and also have an Ocean Trident 13 w/597 hd Humminbird 7HA for 2 Yrs now no problems just set the FF finders up correctly and backing lite. will last longer I also have a car charger if needed. 


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Thanks for posting this! I am looking for a FF/GPS for my yak and really would prefer a color display but was hesitant because of the concerns I read about on here. How do you like your Elite 4 so far? Its on my list

 

I am not fish finder expert, but so far I really like the Elite 4 and am happy with my purchase. I think it's a great size for a kayak and has all the features I think I will need.

 

Originally I was going to mount it in the sail mast (Hobie Outback) so I could do the "no drill" method. I am really glad I didn't do that. If all you are doing with a fish finder is reading contour and depth than it's probably fine up there because you can set it and forget it. For me, it would be too far away for the size screen to seen a lot of detail. More importantly, because it's a GPS too, you will be messing with it a lot, switching between screens and marking way points. Having it was up front would make that a HUGE pain. I put a 1" ram ball in the tray on the left side and used a Hobie Through Hull mount kit to run the wires (oddly enough almost exactly the same spot as it is in the 2014 Outbacks). Basically, put it someplace easy to get to or you won't use the functions.

 

What I really stressed about with the Lowrance were issues people have had with corrosion of the cable. Here is a list of things to follow to prevent this issue:

 

  1. Ample use of dielectric grease on the connector every time it is connected/disconnected
  2. Absolutely disconnect the battery before you remove the connector from the fish finder
  3. Cover the end of the connector when not is use. A 3/8" screw protector from Lowe's works well for this
  4. Even when it's all connected up, disconnect the power to the unit (either with a separate switch or disconnecting the battery) if you aren't using the system

 

Lastly, the slot for the SD card can easily open up. Some people permanently seal it with Marine Goop, but I want to try downloading way points to the card for safe keeping on my computer, so I used some duct seal to keep it shut and dusted the duct seal with some corn starch to make it less tacky.

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Just curious, anyone use a solar panel to charge batteries while in the yak?

 

I've heard of it done on a touring yak (freshwater), salt water with so many connections? Not sure about effectiveness due to the continual rocking motion though, probably not very efficient.

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In case anyone is interested, the charger I use is a Turnigy Accucel-6 50W 6A Balancer/Charger w/ accessories. The charger itself is only $23, but you do need a power supply. I have an old IBM Laptop power supply that works great, but you can buy a similar power supply for about $10. You can also directly hook this same charger up to your car battery for charging. These cool little chargers were primarily developed for the RC Hobby Market, so they can charge Li-ion, LiPo, LiFe Ni-Cd, NiMH batteries and for our purposes here, Pb (lead batteries). They have digital readout and are microprocessor controlled. You can set the charge rate and they have profiles for each battery type so it won't ever over charge or damage the battery (assuming you set it up right in the first place). Be forewarned, while this is a great little charger, it isn't just "plug it in and go", you will need to set it up, basically battery type, number of cells and charge rate. Once set though, you just press start, it checks the battery's current charge state and starts charging. Towards the end of the charge it slows the charge down to get a maximum peak charge and automatically stops when it's done. If anyone has anymore questions about this charger, please ask.

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Running a Lowrance Elite 5 HDI with a 12V 12Ah battery. I get around 3 days of fishing out of a charge. The battery is only 7 lbs so good enough. Iv been doing all night fishing so the screen brightness is turned down. Im sure this helps the battery alot.

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Update on power consumption. 4.5 hours in the kayak on Saturday (I trolled 7 miles and not a bump! :mad:) used up 880mA 880mA/4.5 hours = 196mA/hour which is right at the same rate the last time I went out so it is seeming quite consistent. I'll continue to track and update.

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I finally got in a long fishing trip on one charge to see how the math works out for an extended trip. I was at the Jamaica Bay tournament this last weekend and put 18 hours on the water. The 5Ah battery lasted the entire time on my Elite 4. When I charged it up, it took 3756mA to fully charge it. So 3756 mA / 18 hours = 209 mA/hour. So it is pretty much one target as I expected. 18 hours used up 75% of the battery, which is a safe discharge point for a lead acid battery. Could probably run it to 20 hours without issue.

 

So now I can confirm both mathematically and empirically how long the battery lasts and it's quite consistent.

 

Hope this is useful to someone!

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These are interesting points, and I will take your word for it, but out of curiousity what is the reasoning behind these:

 

 

Absolutely disconnect the battery before you remove the connector from the fish finder

 

 

Even when it's all connected up, disconnect the power to the unit (either with a separate switch or disconnecting the battery) if you aren't using the system

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