Batteries: They Aren't Perfect

chemical-reaction-batteries-accurate-precise-newport-vessels.jpeg

Trolling Motors are very simple by design, which makes them reliable, durable and almost maintenance-free. While simple, they are only one part of the system that allows them to operate. Trolling motors require a battery to function and the more parts you have in a system, the more problems you can run into. We work hard to service our customers and troubleshoot issues with our products, however, we often encounter issues that cannot be fixed by replacing a part on our product. Rather than the motor being the root cause of the problem, it can sometimes be an external factor. When this happens we take a closer look at other factors, such as the battery. The Lead-Acid or even Lithium batteries that are used with our products utilize a chemical reaction to produce electricity to power devices. I don’t remember much from chemistry, but I do remember many failed attempts at getting the right chemical reaction. Most chemical reactions have to be precise and accurate to produce the desired outcome. The same applies to batteries! While the manufacturing process used to build batteries had been adjusted and refined over the years, mistakes and defects can happen that can lead to problems. An exaggerated example is how the TSA banned the Samsung Galaxy Note7 from airplanes because they were catching on fire!


This article will go over issues or complaints we encounter frequently to help educate our customers and other battery users on recognizing battery related issues in order to troubleshoot their problems. While we try to make sure our products are perfect, they can experience issues and problems as well. If you try our troubleshooting recommendations and are still experiencing issues, please contact us directly so we can assist you! Below are the links to the common issue if you would like to jump to a specific section, or you can scroll down to read them.

MOTOR IS LOSING POWER
BATTERY TERMINAL(S) HOT/ MELTING
MOTOR IS TURNING OFF AND ON RANDOMLY

Motor Is Losing Power

A very common complaint we get is that the trolling motor is losing power or slowing down at higher speeds while in use. While this could be a motor issue, it’s best to troubleshoot the issue to save you time and ensure you can continue to use the motor as it was intended. Two possible battery issues might be causing this issue.

1) This is most likely an issue regarding the Amp Hour (AH) rating on your battery. The AH rating on your battery is very similar to the size of a gas tank for a car, the larger the rating, the longer it can run the motor. If you are using a 35AH rated Deep Cycle Battery, this will not provide very much run time for your motor. For example, if you ran a 55lb Thrust Electric Trolling Motor at Speed 5 (Full Speed) with this battery, it will only power the motor for roughly 30 minutes until the battery completely died (You can read more about how this was calculated by reading our Calculate Motor Run Time article). As the motor runs at top speed and consumes the power, you will notice the 5 LEDs on the head begin to drop. Once there are only 3 LEDs illuminated, you will begin to notice a decrease in motor power output leading to the motor “losing power”. This is due to the battery not having the capacity to meet the energy demands of the motor. 

12v-7.5-ah-lead-acid-battery-new.jpg

Troubleshooting:

  • Check the AH rating on your battery to calculate an estimate run time with your motor. Information on this is on our Calculate Motor Run Time article.
  • See if your motor runs normally after fully charging your battery.

Solutions:

  • Get a Deep Cycle Battery with a larger AH rating.
  • Get a second identical battery and connect them in parallel to increase your overall AH.
  • Use your trolling motor at lower speed settings to help conserve power.

2) If you have a larger battery rated for 100AH and you notice your motor is losing power after being used for only a few minutes, at lower speeds or as soon as you turn the handle, this is also a battery issue. Most likely this is caused by sulfation of the battery plates (More information on this can be found on our Deep Cycle Battery Overview article). This can happen to older batteries, are completely drained/discharged frequently, and even brand new batteries that have been sitting on the shelf for too long without being recharged. Even after recharging the battery, when idle it may read that it has a full charge at 13V, but as soon as you hook it up to the motor, the voltage will drop significantly. This will be visible from the LED battery meter on the head of the motor.

sulfated-anod-plate-deep-cycle-battery-trolling-motor-newport-vessels.jpg

Troubleshooting:

  • Test your battery with another motor or device. If the same power issue is occurring, it’s the battery.
  • Test your motor on another battery. If the motor operates normally or faster, it’s the battery.
  • Go to a battery store and have them perform a load test on your battery. They will give you the results of the test to let you know if there’s an issue or not.

Solution:

  • Get a desulfation device to possibly repair your battery.
  • Purchase a new battery. Make sure with your new battery that it is not completely discharged frequently, fully charge it after use and placed on a trickle charger when not being used.

Battery Terminal(s) Hot/ Melting

This is rare but can happen. We have heard of this issue occur with our Smart Battery Box and our Electric Trolling Motors. However, this issue could occur on any device that is being used with a defective battery. 

This issue occurs when there is internal resistance inside the battery itself between. Usually due to a faulty connection between the plates and how they connect to the terminals. If you know anything with resistance and electricity, you know that it causes heat, sometimes a lot of it. This can make the terminals extremely hot to the touch or even cause them to melt through the actual battery casing. Terminals can get warm with use and charging, but should not get hot enough to burn or melt the terminal connectors directly attached to it. This can sometimes be a tricky problem to catch, especially if the battery is inside a container and out of sight. You may only notice it after checking the terminals or the terminal connectors directly attached to it. 

metled-hot-terminal-deep-cycle-battery-trolling-motor-newport-vessels.jpg

Troubleshooting:

  • Test the devices you have connected to your current battery on another battery to see if the same issues arise. 
  • Terminals are getting extremely hot during use but are not tripping the circuit breakers. Circuit breakers are only designed to protect devices from an excess of amperage traveling through them. If heat is building upon the terminals, it will not transfer through the battery cables to the circuit breaker. 
  • Heat is only localized to the terminals and connectors directly connected to it. This would indicate that there is resistance at the terminal. Double-check for corrosion and ensure your connections are secure.
  • IF A FIRE HAS STARTED, IMMEDIATELY DISCONNECT DEVICES FROM THE BATTERY OR TURN THEM TO THE OFF POSITION. This typically occurs with Lithium batteries or when the heat has built up enough because of the resistance to burn wire insulation or other material near the battery.

Solution:

  • If under warranty, contact the battery manufacturer or retailer you purchased the battery from and get a replacement.
  • Replace your battery.

Motor Turning Off And On

Also another very rare issue we have encountered over the years. This can happen when connected to a Smart Battery Box or directly to the battery itself.

A few customers have called stating that while their trolling motor is running, it will completely stop and the LED Battery Meter will turn off. After checking the propeller, circuit breaker, and connections, no issue can be found. Then, with no changes, the power will be restored to the LED Battery Meter and the motor will operate normally again. This will happen sporadically and intermittently with no signs indicating that there is a pattern. This is a tricky problem because the symptoms closely resemble an incomplete connection in an electrical circuit. Therefore, this is commonly seen as an issue with the trolling motor. While it is a possibility that the issue could be the battery cables on the trolling motor, the wires would have to be partially cut or damaged for this to happen. More likely, this is an issue with your battery. This could be a bad internal connection with your battery or you could be operating the battery outside of its recommended operating temperature.

The battery cables are directly connected to the speed switch of the trolling motor, which delivers power to the motor. They do not pass through or stop and connect to any other device or part. The LED Battery Meter is completely separate from the rest of the wiring in the motor. The LEDs only connect to the battery cables via small wires that are spliced into the battery cables. Since these two operate independently of each other, this is a great indicator for determining if the issue is internal or external of the trolling motor. If one part fails, but the other works, it’s typically a fault in the system. If both the motor and LED Battery Meter were to fail it would indicate that it is not an issue with the motor, but rather the power source.

led-battery-meter-motor-off-and-on-battery-issue-newport-vessels.jpg

Troubleshooting:

  • Check to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped. If it’s your circuit breaker that keeps tripping and turning off the power, this is another issue.
  • Check all of your connections to make sure they are tight, secure and there is no corrosion.
  • Check the trolling motor battery cables. See if they are damaged, cut or hot.
  • Check your battery terminals to see if they are hot.
  • Test your trolling motor on another battery.

Solution:

  • Have your battery load tested by a local battery or automotive store.
  • If under warranty, contact the battery manufacturer or retailer you purchased the battery from and get a replacement.
  • Replace your battery.

YOUR ISSUE NOT HERE?

If you have read through this article and have not found a solution or explanation for your problem, please contact our California based Customer Support! We will work with you to help troubleshoot the issue as quickly as possible. If you experienced a problem and symptoms with your battery that affected your motor and it wasn't listed here, let us know! We'll add it to this article so that other customers can find the information and save time on determining the issue or spending money on parts they don't need. 

support@newportvessels.com
(866) 721-0002

8:30am-4:30pm Pacific Time (M-F)