Many recreational boat owners have found that a dual battery system is practically a must-have in order to enjoy their watercraft to the fullest. It is simply too easy to find a cozy place to drop anchor, kill the engines, have someone crank up the music, and then realize the engine will not restart after a few hours have passed. It's a common - and not so fun - situation.
A lot of boat owners solve this problem by installing a dedicated and permanent dual battery system, which, depending on the design of the system can:
- Disconnect the starter battery from the electrical system when the boat's engine is off, ensuring that you'll always have starter battery power
- Provide an 'extra' battery that will provide power to typical boating gear (lights, radios, GPS devices, etc.)
- Use both batteries to provide starting power if/when the starter battery is weak
But here's the thing: For a lot of recreational boaters (eg people who aren't traveling the ocean) a dedicated and permanent dual battery system is a waste of money. Many would be better off choosing a portable power system like the ArkPak.
The Problem With Dedicated Marine Dual Battery Systems
Portable battery pack systems offer a lot of advantages over permanent dual battery setups, and reduced cost is one of the biggest. In order to install a dual battery system in a typical recreational boat, you must:
- Purchase an expensive relay and battery switch, as well as all the wiring you'll need to install these parts in line with your current system (and the wiring isn't cheap, as it's often 8 gauge wiring).
- Purchase a dual battery mounting kit for your specific boat, which can cost as little as $20 and as much as $200, depending on which kit you choose to install (manufacturer provided or not).
- Actually install the wiring and mounting kit, which isn't always as easy as it should be.
When you're all done, you'll have spent a couple hours and at least a couple hundred dollars, AND you'll have increased the amount of work you have to do to maintain your boat. After all, you can't just let your dual battery system sit for days or weeks at a time when your boat is not in use. You're going to want to hook up a trickle charger to keep your new dual battery system conditioned.
Worst of all, this dual battery system is tied to your boat. If you wanted a portable power system to use while camping or tailgating, for example, you're out of luck.
The Beauty of Portable Power Systems
A portable battery pack like the ArkPak makes a whole lot more sense than installing a permanent dual battery system in your boat, at least if you're a recreational boater who doesn't hit the water every day. Here's why:
- To charge the ArkPak, you just plug it into the wall at home before you go boating, or you can charge it from the boat's electrical system using a standard 12VDC plug. The ArkPak's charger is rated at 6 amps, which means charging is surprisingly fast.
- To use the ArkPak to power things like your fishfinder, your stereo, your fridge, etc., you don't have to worry about disconnecting batteries or turning switches or whatever. You just unplug the ArkPak from the boat's electrical system (if it was plugged in) and you're isolated.
- Since the ArkPak can accommodate a group 31 deep cycle battery, you can mount up to 130ah of battery capacity. That's more than enough power to run a portable refrigerator, a fish finder, a stereo system, charge a couple cell phones, etc. for an extended weekend (you can read all about the ArkPak's capabilities in this earlier blog post - scroll down to where it says "ArkPak Capabilities in Marine Applications" to see what kind of power the ArkPak can deliver).
- The ArkPak can be charged during use with an external solar panel, either the folding 30W and 60W solar panels we offer (which are very handy), or any solar panel you have provided you've connected it to a charge controller*.
- You can use the ArkPak for more than just boating! Campers and overlanders love to use the ArkPak to run a portable fridge, or to make sure tablets and cell phones are charged without draining vehicle batteries. Tailgaters use the ArkPak to power laptops and TVs. Photographers use the ArkPak to charge camera batteries and power portable lighting. People who own remote cabins use the ArkPak to provide power 24 hours a day. Etc. Etc.
*NOTE: If you're charging your ArkPak from a solar panel, use of the built-in inverter is restricted.
Since the ArkPak easily connects and disconnects from your boat's electrical system (assuming you have the 12VDC car charger/connector), it can even be used to supplement the starter battery's power.
While it's important to note that the ArkPak isn't a replacement for a dual battery system on a larger vessel, it is a smart alternative to dedicated battery systems on recreational boats that are used on weekends. If you've got a boat you use a few times a year and you're thinking about installing a dedicated dual battery system, don't. At least not until you research the ArkPak.