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Ideal Battery Setup 90's Boats? Optima BlueTop?

Fastguy888Fastguy888 Posts: 36 Baller
edited February 15 in Boat Talk
Bought my '94 Tige SLM 454 efi that came with a smallish 600cca Battery. Boat also has a 1,000 amp watt stereo with single 10" Sub and 4 mids/high speakers. She has always started but rarely with much authority. I'm thinking the 454 needs more juice to turn over quickly. Nothing like getting to the water and loosing confidence from your crew when the boat sounds like it might not start. I would also like confidence to run the stereo occasionally at loudish, but not lake deafening volumes for maybe a 15 minute period. Between the Big Block, Stereo, Blower, Perfect Pass, and frequent starts-stops and short run times seems a boat battery does not have a easy life.

I have read that it may be better to get a single strong battery like the Optima Bluetop D31M AGM as this is friendlier to the alternator than a duel batter set-up? I also like the idea of keeping things simple with fewer wires, fewer connections as well as maximizing storage space. The battery is located behind the observer seat, an additional battery directly interferes with closed bow storage.

I would appreciate info on your favorite battery setups and why?

Comments

  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,120 Mega Baller
    edited February 15
    1,000 Amps? How do you keep that much current from melting the entire boat?

    Edited: I see the change to 1,000 watts. Unfortunately, I probably have a battery setup about like you have now, so no recommendations.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • Fastguy888Fastguy888 Posts: 36 Baller
    edited February 15
    @MISkier thanks for calling me out, lol. I edited the post. Never get your amps and watts crossed up.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,120 Mega Baller
    edited February 15
    Yep. I got a chuckle as well.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • kurtis500kurtis500 Posts: 91 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I run a 454, 1500 watt stereo and similar accesories. I have always run dual batteries on a switch. When we stop and have the radio on for a while I switch to one battery. Relying on one battery to turn over a 454 with and efi is more risky than if it was a carburator. You can run a second battery with a solenoid setup. If the Tige has one battery Id say you've done well without getting stranded after using the radio and etc.

    Fastguy888oldjeep
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,550 Mega Baller
    edited February 15
    You have two separate equations here; when freshly charged does your boat start with authority or does it crank slowly?

    If it doesn't crank well properly charged you may want to look into a geared high torque starter, heavier wire between the battery and the starter/block ground and that higher amp battery you referenced always start with this before doing more wiring because troubleshooting a slow crank is going to get more complex.


    I am not a huge fan of using dual battery rigs on ski boats (of course I'm not a fan of big radio installs on ski boats either - that's when you get a pontoon) But if you have to have both I think the nicest/cleanest install is to get a cranking battery installed as close to the starter as possible (less resistance in short fat wires) and then you install the larger deep cycle battery up near the radio using an automatic charging relay between them. The relay then takes care of charging the batteries as is appropriate and the radio has no access to the power of the starter battery so if on a long day you run down the house battery listening to tunes the cranking battery is still there ready to go. From the charging relay you can run a smaller primary lead to handle just the charging voltage for the house battery just the same gauge as your alternator wiring.

    Disadvantage to this is that if you should kill the cranking battery you'd have to manually disconnect and move the deep cycle battery over to start the boat. But big advantage is you minimize the amount of wire between the battery and the starter = MAX starting cranking.



    Fastguy888ReallyGottaSki
  • PurdueSkierPurdueSkier Posts: 199 Baller
    I agree with what @BraceMaker said. I used to have a 94 echelon with a 454. It was set up with dual batteries when I got it and still struggled sometimes. I replaced the starter with a high torque marine starter and it was night and day difference. I went back to a single battery after that and never had an issue.
    ReallyGottaSkiFastguy888
  • WindsurfnutWindsurfnut Posts: 161 Baller
    Blue Top Optima is a great ski boat battery. With the frequent starts/stops its a smart choice to use. I used one on my 88 prostar and 2002 SN196.
    Alternatively, on my speed boat, with a large stereo and a 502, I use a dual set up, and found the Exide Dual Purpose AGM to be one of the best performing for long stereo run times and start up. I run 2 of them, but the boat is not started and stopped a lot like a ski boat is. Long battery life is more important, and works well.

  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 363 Solid Baller
    edited February 20
    I put an Interstate MTZ AGM starter Battery in my ski Nautique 5 years ago, still running strong. They are designed for modern cars with high auxiliary draw. 4 year warranty, made in the US.
  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,096 Mega Baller
    Optimas are overkill and in my experience have not brought anything "extra" to the table. Walmart Everstart does great and IIRC are manufactured by JCI.
    ALPJrMDB1056
  • jpwhitjpwhit Posts: 96 Baller
    No personal experience with Optima, but the word on the street is that their good reputation was built by the original company. Now that Optima has been acquired by Johnson Controls, the reputation is no longer justified...
  • dvskierdvskier Posts: 694 Crazy Baller
    1+ on Everstart (WalMart) brand batteries. The one in my Nautique is 7 years old. No problems, ever! Less than $100. I really don’t see why so many folks throw money away on Optima batteries?
    MDB1056ALPJr
  • DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 991 Crazy Baller
    take the stereo out and ski problem solved
    MDB1056
  • Ed_JohnsonEd_Johnson Posts: 2,255
    edited February 20
    I have been using the Optima Blue top in many boats for years. Best batteries ever. You can search the internet and find them at greatly reduced prices with free shipping.

    Not to long ago I was playing an outside Music Gig, took the Optima out of my boat, hooked an inverter to it, and it powered my Amps, PA System, my Guitars, Pedal Board, and 2 Keyboards for hours. Much easier than hauling a big noisy Generator.
    Special Thanks to Performance Ski and Surf and the Denali Adam's !!!
  • XH2OskierXH2Oskier Posts: 7 New Baller
    In the interest of full disclosure, I work for Optima Batteries, which means I do a bunch of crazy stuff with batteries. My 1994 GMC dually has a mildly-cammed 454 and last summer, I was in Arnold, Nebraska for the Sandhills Open Road Challenge. While we were out there, one of the event organizers invited us to use his trebuchet. We chucked a brand-new D34/78 YellowTop a couple hundred yards with it, it passed a load test and we installed it in my truck. I drove it 700 miles back home and continued using it for the next two months until it would no longer hold a charge. You can see the video here- Cranking amps is important for starting, Ah or reserve capacity is what you want to look at for extended use with your engine off.

    Compared to what we did with my truck battery, most boat batteries probably enjoy an easier life. Fastguy888, to answer your question about a bigger battery being friendlier to your alternator, versus a dual battery setup, the answer is it depends. Your boat is going to use the energy it is going to use, whether it comes from one battery or two (if they are not isolated). Using a single, larger battery can eliminate the chance of some additional loose connections or more resistance in wiring with a second battery, but either scenario could place a lot of demand on your alternator, perhaps more than it was designed to handle. If you are concerned about it enough, you may want to consider upgrading your alternator, but ultimately, your electrical system will only be as strong as the weakest link.

    It's refreshing to see people like Bracemaker call out the gauge of wiring you are using, as I rarely see anyone mention wire quality in towboat conversations about batteries. I guess that might be because the process of upgrading wiring is far more involved than changing out a battery. On the tournament fishing side, where guys are very serious about making sure their electrical systems work, there is a lot of focus on the gauge of wire being used, especially when they are running wires from batteries in the very back to trolling motors at the very front. The same is true for competition car audio (just google “the big 3”).

    If you want your system to work efficiently, you need a solid alternator (and good belts), a solid battery, a solid starter and good wiring connecting it all together. Try to push more current through a smaller wire and you won't be happy with the results. A lot of people in car audio use isolated starting batteries as others have suggested, because they know no matter how loud or how long they play their stereo, they can always get their engine started.

    While I would agree with jhughes that Optima batteries are overkill for a lot of folks, I would definitely disagree about Optima not bringing anything “extra” to the table. Optima is one of only a few batteries on the market that uses 99.99% pure virgin lead, which is far more resistant to corrosion than recycled lead. The faster corrosion builds up in a battery, the shorter lifespan. The six-pack design isn't just for looks either, it significantly reduces the number of components in the battery, which significantly increases consistency and the SpiralCell design is far more resistant to damage from vibration than a typical flat plate design. We also cast robust straps across the top of our cells, instead of using cheaper, more fragile tombstone welds that tend to have much higher resistance.

    Even with all that, I agree with dvskier, that a lot of people still throw money away on Optima batteries, because they don't take care of them. If you're not going to plug your boat into a battery charger and keep the battery properly-maintained when you're not using it, you might as well find the cheapest battery you can, with the longest warranty and the most-liberal return policy, because you'll probably need it.

    You can also ignore the comments from “the street” about Johnson Controls, who divested their battery business in 2018. Regardless of who owns Optima, producing the best batteries has always been our top priority. As the biggest AGM brand in the world, we've been hearing conspiracy theories and false rumors about our batteries for as long as we've been making them.

    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
    BraceMakerCnewbert
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,550 Mega Baller
    @XH2Oskier - the wire thing is a personal peeve as I've had to solve it for so many boats.

    People like to do two things at once, upgrade the alternator to a 1 wire high output type and then put in new batteries. And the problem is both the ability of that wire to flow the juice but also in a 1 wire configuration you typically have the charging path of the alternator to the starter lug and all of the boat's load on that starter lug and then the battery is 4' away from that lug.

    This means that the alternator is really only seeing the voltage at that and is blind to the condition of the battery. With a bad battery cable you can have significant voltage drop between the battery and the starter lug with the alternator putting out voltage to power what's running and the battery not seeing enough juice to charge which is often the problem they were trying to troubleshoot in the first place hundreds of bucks in alternators and batteries and they only needed about 50 bucks of wire and fittings to solve the issues.


    GarXH2Oskier
  • jpwhitjpwhit Posts: 96 Baller
    @XH2Oskier thanks for the useful info. Like I said no personal experience and I know there is always a lot of info floating around the web that is less than accurate.
  • WayneWayne Posts: 551 Solid Baller
    @XH2Oskier what onboard marine charger would you recommend for Optima batteries? From what I’ve read Optima batteries need a slightly different charger than your run of the mill stuff but I’m not too sure the Optima chargers are really meant to be permanently mounted in a boat.
  • Ed_JohnsonEd_Johnson Posts: 2,255
    edited February 23
    I have used the same old battery charger that is standard for cars, planes, boats, and RV's for years. You can select deep cycle, quick start, trickle charge, etc. they all work. This has worked over 20 years on several Optima Batteries. No special charger needed.

    Special Thanks to Performance Ski and Surf and the Denali Adam's !!!
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,754 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited February 23
    My 2 channel ProSport charger has auto detection for battery type including a special mode for high performance AGM batteries. This is a charger/maintainer that is mounted in the boat. FWIW - I prefer a dual battery system with an A/B/Both switch rather than an ACR. This way when you decide to sit and float with the radio going you can switch it to a single battery and still have one to get you home if needed.

    Never used an Optima in a boat, but always ran Yellow starting technology batteries in the Jeeps. Never had a bad one, they put up with the heavy drain of an 8274 winch even with the engine off.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
    XH2Oskier
  • XH2OskierXH2Oskier Posts: 7 New Baller
    Hi Wayne, as Ed Johnson indicated, most chargers work just fine on Optima batteries, including our chargers, which are not intended to be permanently-mounted for marine use. The best chargers are microprocessor-controlled and will have specific settings for AGM batteries, but “regular” or “deep-cycle” settings will work fine as well. We just caution folks to avoid “gel” or confusing “gel/AGM” settings.

    Jim McIlvaine
    eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
  • Fastguy888Fastguy888 Posts: 36 Baller
    I installed the Optima Blue Top D31M on a Perko switch along with the existing traditional battery already in the boat. I weighed the value of saving space and weight by running only the Optima, but rationalized the 40ish lbs additional weight of 2 batteries was in front of the boat and a good counter balance for no-spotter or petite spotter scenarios.

    Using only the new Optima Battery (Bat-1) Starting the Mercruiser 454 EFI cold, it still took a few revolutions to kick over, starting only slightly better than a cold start on the old battery; however, once warmed up it started much faster on repeated starts-stops than with the old battery. Additionally; My blower sounded clearly more powerful. On this day I was recalibrating my Perfect Pass 6.4 to a new ACME 515 Prop cruising solo around a small lake. I had the confidence to run the stereo through stops and starts and overall very happy with the new battery set-up.
    XH2Oskier
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