Low Down on Lithium!

Lithium batteries are the latest craze in the bass fishing community and the boating industry. It seems as if most guys have made the switch, but some haven’t. I wanted to get the low down on lithium batteries, so I contacted Matt Looney with Pro-Guide Batteries to talk lithium!

Looney informed me that Pro-Guide Batteries was founded in 1980 by Lane Shumaker. Lane is still the current owner, but his two sons Pate and Trevor Shumaker have now taken over the day-to-day operations and vision of the company. Based out of Golden, Missouri, Pro-Guide Batteries has eight battery outfitter locations across Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas.

I asked Looney what made lithium batteries superior over lead-acid batteries. “I would say lithium is superior in most applications, but not all! The lead is dead mentality is not correct and the traditional lead acid battery still remains a better option in different scenarios. In the right application, lithium is superior when it comes to weight and consistent voltage. It can also be mounted in any configuration since it is not spillable like lead acid” said Looney. Next, Looney informed me the biggest difference between these two is going to be weight. Looney said, “A good AGM battery is going to be upper 60s low 70s in pounds where lithium will be mid-20s. Similar to lead acid, however, there are some applications where the AGM battery is still a better fit. Extremely harsh temperatures (heat or cold) do not always mesh well with lithium because of how smart the battery is. It is able to control when it puts out voltage and when it doesn’t based on the preset conditions programmed into the BMS and if it gets too hot or too cold it will go into a protect mode that many call “going to sleep” where it will not operate in fear of damaging itself. An AGM battery will give you voltage until its dead no matter the conditions.”

I asked Looney what made some fishermen go with a lead acid battery, versus an AGM, and others with lithium. He replied, “When it comes to choosing which chemistry battery you need you really have to look at the application and your budget. Lithium is more expensive, but the overall cost is much less when you evaluate life span. A good lead acid battery that you run hard will last you a couple years, an AGM will go several more, but a Lithium has a life cycle of greater than 2,500 cycles. This means 2,500 fishing trips would be what you should expect to see out of the life of the battery, so once you take that into consideration lithium is actually going to cost you less in the long run. There’s obviously the weight difference we spoke to earlier and the consistent voltage all day that are both great benefits of choosing lithium, but the life cycle to me is the greatest benefit to the consumer, and most do not even take that into consideration when looking to purchase.”

The most important question I had, as I’m sure most fishermen do with the ever addition of electronics on boats is the charge rate and the drop rate of a lithium battery versus a traditional lead acid. “Lithium batteries are going to be about 30% more efficient than the other chemistries giving them a longer run time. Also, the constant voltage until it’s dead, similar to power tool batteries, means you aren’t having to turn your trolling motor up as the day goes on in order to continue at the same speed. This adds to the efficiency. Charging wise there are some misconceptions out there on the market about these batteries charging way faster than traditional batteries. The truth is lithium accepts the charge easier and it wants consistent voltage until it’s fully charged, so the charger does not have to go through the different algorithms like it does with other battery types. As far as how long it takes, math is still math so a 100AH battery on a 10A charger will still take 10 hours if it’s fully discharged. The quick charge most may experience is that you would be hard-pressed to have a set of 100AH batteries get below even 50% discharged through a hard day on the water, so when you get home and plug in they recharge very quickly” said Looney.

Another thing I wanted to know is how the average fisherman determines which battery is right for them and their fishing style. Looney said, “The two most important things when selecting your battery would be what is your fishing style and how often are you out there? If you are a hard-core power fisherman on the trolling motor all day on 6+, then you would need to consider the 100AH battery. If you are more of a finesse angler or just aren’t as hard on the trolling motor, the 75AH or maybe even the 50AH is all you need. We like it when we get calls or emails about what the proper product is for each angler because there isn’t always a one size fits all and we do not want someone overspending because that would not be our mentality of “Lovin’ the Customer” that Mr. Shumaker has always required.”

I asked Looney what set Pro-Guide Batteries apart from the rest and he replied, “As far as a company we believe we are set apart in that we are the only battery company that builds all three types of batteries and the only lithium company that has been in business since 1980. We have experience in the battery business that helps us navigate things like supply chain and shortages that other companies have not been able to overcome. As far as the batteries themselves, we have the only batteries on the market with true marine terminals. In order to be a marine terminal, there has to be a post and a stud which we have on most of our models. Additionally, our lithiums are some of the only ones on the market on the deep cycle side that you can jump your engine off of. This has been incredibly important for us and also a huge reason we are able to go in at the factory at Bass Cat, Vexus, Ballistic, SeaArk, and Charger!”

One of the questions, I noticed people had when talking about the cost of lithium batteries was a warranty. Looney informed me that Pro-Guide Batteries has a five-year free replacement warranty. “We are a customer service-based company as a whole, and along those lines, we have a dedicated lithium customer service representative that knows everything about the product, so if you were to have any questions you would always quickly get an answer.” According to Looney, their top-selling battery is the 31M100. He believed this was their top-selling because “The 100AH battery has been the “standard” for professionals and boat manufacturers as well when putting in lithium batteries. Our 31M100 and 31M100-DP (starting battery) have a patented tri terminal design as well which allows you to spread out the ring terminals and not have everything stacked on one stud.”

“We just launched 3 products at ICAST and do have a single 24v that has passed testing and we will have it soon! Innovation is the lifeblood of any company, so we will continue to perfect the products we have as well as bring new products to market to help the anglers have the best experience possible out on the water!”

If you’re looking to purchase Pro-Guide Batteries for your boat, they have an extensive dealer network throughout the Midwest. If you cannot get to a dealer then visit www.ProGuideBatteries.com to place an order. For stores looking to carry the full lineup of Pro-Guide Batteries, they have a Dealer Inquiry form and it will send their info directly to Looney and he will contact you. Looney said, “We are always looking to add to our great dealers! Our biggest thing being in business since 1980 is “Heritage to Innovation” speaking of, we have the heritage of the grassroots guys and supporting everything local we can and building our name, and now we never forget that heritage but we are always looking to innovate!”