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Powering High Definition Sonar and Video Units

By Mark Romanack
Sonar units help anglers target fish, like this nice Walleye caught on a jig.
Keeping your sonar running all-day requires a good battery.

Just about everyone who has used a high definition sonar unit or the newer underwater video machines has come to the conclusion these fishing tools are invaluable for finding fish, structure and fish holding cover. The problem with these units is they pull a lot of amp power and if you’re not prepared dead batteries are going to be the norm of the day!

In my boats I rig two cranking batteries in parallel to double the amp hours and keep the voltage at 12 volts. Typically I use two 750 cold cranking amp batteries for this work. If there isn’t room for two batteries, I opt for one 1000 CCA model. The extra amp hours virtually guarantees that I will have power not only to start my boat, but to power all my high end electronics.

Operating High Definition Sonar and video
requires a lot of amp hours. Ordinary lead acid
 batteries aren’t adequate for serious fishing
and the author recommends investing in lithium
 technology batteries. Ice Force is producing a
 good lithium battery ideal for using with
portable sonar and video units.
For ice fishing it simply isn’t practical to lug around a heavy cranking battery. The lead acid batteries sold with ice fishing machines and ice fishing kits are barely adequate for the job. Most of these are 7 or 8 amp hour batteries which will not power a high definition sonar unit for more than a few hours. 

I recommend using a lithium battery that has 9 or 10 amp hours of life for ice fishing applications. My experience with these batteries is they will last a full day so long as they are fully charged. Lithium batteries require special chargers. They are also expensive compared to lead acid batteries. The ones I am using are produced by Ice Force and cost about $120.00 each.

For fly-in fishing trips I’m using the same high end sonar I typically use in my boats, just mounted portable in one of the Lowrance “ice bags”. Again I recommend using the 12 lithium batteries for this work. Normal lead acid batteries simply won’t cut it for more than about six hours of fishing. 
I pack two lithium batteries and one lead acid battery with me on fly-in trips. While I am using one of the lithium batteries the other is being charged. I also carry a spare lead acid battery in the boat. Should the lithium battery go dead, I have a back up plan.
Mark has been using lithium batteries for powering his High Definition
sonar units for the past couple years. While these batteries are four
times as expensive as lead acid battery technology, they have the
amp hours required to fish with the best sonar and video
equipment all day long.

The latest generation of HD sonar units that GPS, sonar and video options require a huge amount of power to operate. Ordinary batteries aren’t going to cut it when it comes to keeping these units running properly. In a word the answer is “lithium”, but these batteries aren’t cheap. In time the price of lithium batteries will come down and their amp hour ratings will go up. In the meantime, bite the bullet and fish on.