Now, more than ever, our fishing adventures are battery powered. As modern anglers, we rely heavily on fish finders, electric trolling motors and smartphones. Whether we are on the ice or in a boat, we need to reliably power our electronics all day to help us catch more fish.
Lead acid batteries are the old standard. However, their heavy bulk, slow charge up and short lifespan leave something to be desired. Luckily, we recently discovered the awesome advances of lithium ion batteries.
Dakota Lithium is among the most popular companies producing lithium ion batteries for fishing. It also happens to be the company we chose for our lithium ion battery needs.
We spend a lot of time fishing. After hundreds of hours field testing Dakota Lithium batteries, it’s time to give you our ultimate review.
Why lithium ion
Lithium ion battery technology has a proven track record for numerous applications. Everything from cell phones to electric vehicles utilize lithium ion batteries. So, what makes them so special?
Compared to typical lead acid batteries, lithium ion (LiFePO4) chemistry allows for better energy density and efficiency. That means you can pack more lithium power in the same physical size as lead acid. Combine that with a super flat discharge curve and you get long lasting energy in a smaller package.
Lithium ions also speed up the rate of energy transfer which makes charging extremely quick. After a full morning of fishing, you can recharge and be ready to go for an evening session. To top it off, lithium batteries weigh about 60 percent less than similar lead acid batteries.
The best part of lithium ion batteries is their long lifespan. While lead acid typically gets 500 recharge cycles, a Dakota Lithium battery is capable of over 2000.
To sum it up, here is everything you get when making the switch to lithium from lead acid:
- Full power output throughout the discharge cycle
- 2 times more power than lead acid
- Less than half the weight for optimum portability
- Exceptional operation in extreme environments (-20°F to over 120°F)
- Nearly zero maintenance (top off charge every couple months when not in use)
- 2000+ cycle life span
- Safe and environmentally friendly
For avid anglers, lithium ion batteries provide everything you need and nothing you don’t. Whether you target fish on hardwater in sub-zero temperatures or troll countless miles in search of salmon and trout, lithium ion will do it better and longer than lead acid.
Why choose Dakota Lithium Brand
Maybe the benefits of a lithium ion battery for fishing applications is obvious. But why Dakota Lithium? Certainly other brands offer the same quality at a lower price.
Several manufacturers make comparable batteries including Tracker Lithium, Battle Born and Expert Power. All have similar specifications and use the same LiFePO4 cells for longer life and high output. Also, after a quick look at current pricing for various battery sizes, there is little difference.
What you get with Dakota Lithium that no other battery manufacturer has is the trust of the angling community and an unbeatable 11-year warranty.
Anglers across the US and Canada trust Dakota Lithium to provide the best quality for powering fish finders, ice fishing flashers and trolling motors. Other brands have yet to earn that reputation.
On top of that, we found the customer service at Dakota Lithium to be top notch. They are more than willing to answer questions and provide advice for wiring and troubleshooting. From purchase to delivery to on-the-water fishing, Dakota Lithium’s customer service is seamless.
How much are Dakota Lithium batteries
As lithium batteries gain popularity among anglers, more and more manufacturers are making them. This leaves you with the challenge of finding the best brand for your money. Because let’s face it, lithium batteries are not cheap. As we said before, prices from one company to the other don’t vary much.
The following is what you can expect to pay for each battery in the full Dakota Lithium line-up:
|12V 7Ah||Fish finders and flashers||$69.00|
|12V 10Ah||Fish finders, cameras, flashers |
and boating electronics
|12V 18Ah||Fish finders, cameras, flashers |
and boating electronics
|12V 23Ah||Fish finders, cameras, flashers, Garmin |
Panoptix/LiveScope, boating electronics
|12V 54Ah||Small to Medium trolling |
motors and 12V electronics
|12V 100Ah||Trolling motors and boat electronics||$899.00|
|12V 200Ah||Large trolling motors |
and 12V electronics
|24V 50Ah||Trolling motors and boat electronics||$989.00|
|36V 63Ah||36V Minnkota and |
other trolling motors
|Power Box |
|Power source for smartphone, |
lights and cameras
On average, purchasing a Dakota Lithium battery costs between $9 and $10 per Amp Hour of power. The largest 200Ah 12V lithium ion battery costs around $8.50 per Amp Hour. However, the 24V and 36V batteries cost as much as $23 per Amp Hour. Occasional online sales bring that price down.
If you are shopping for a fish finder battery and want to avoid the full expense of Dakota Lithium, consider getting the Vexilar 12V 9Ah LiFePO4 battery from BassPro Shops. At only $60, it is a budget option comparable to the Dakota Lithium 12V 10Ah battery.
Dakota Lithium 12V 54Ah trolling motor battery review
Our trolling needs are simple. We have a transom mount Minnkota Endura electric trolling motor with 30 lbs of thrust and a 12V power demand. To power it we chose the Dakota Lithium 12V 54Ah battery.
For those of you with a larger trolling motor with 50 lbs of thrust or more, go for the 100 or 200Ah batteries. The 54Ah battery probably won’t provide a full day of power to Minnkota’s line-up of i-Pilot high thrust motors. Also, check the voltage requirements for your motor. Larger trolling motors often need a 24V or 36V power supply.
Minnkota’s Endura is among the most popular trolling motors ever made. If you have one, the Dakota Lithium 12V 54Ah battery is more than capable of delivering a full day of fishing.
What we like about the 54Ah battery
So far, our experience with the Dakota Lithium 54Ah trolling motor battery has been great. Here is the list of features we like, plus our actual test results from using the battery on the water.
- Portability: The 54Ah battery is a pleasure to carry around compared to lead acid. It only weighs 18 pounds. That is perfect for anyone in a canoe, kayak or small boat. You can only carry so much weight in a boat and a Dakota Lithium battery won’t overload your vessel like a conventional 40 pound lead acid battery. We can place the battery anywhere in our 12ft Gregor without noticing the weight.
- Continuous power: After using lead acid batteries for years, I now realize how nice it is to have the flat discharge curve of lithium. With lead acid, I could feel the motor loose thrust as soon as the first hour of trolling was over. There might be more juice in the battery but it couldn’t deliver it efficiently. With the Dakota Lithium battery we get full thrust out of every drop. There is no gradual decay in trolling speed and power.
- Extended trolling time: On a single charge, the 54Ah battery powers our 30lb trolling motor for around 6-8 hours. Our Humminbird Helix 7 is also powered by the same battery the entire time. If we use max throttle, we find the battery lasts around 2.5 hours. At slower trolling speeds (setting 1 or 2) we get a solid 6-8 hours of run time.
- Long life: A Dakota Lithium battery will probably out last our trolling motor. From our research, these batteries without any use have a shelf life of around 20 years if maintained and periodically charged. Even with constant use on the water, we expect to easily get 10 years of acceptable performance out of it. During a single fishing season we typically use 75-100 recharge cycles. At that rate, we might get the full 20 years.
- Easy storage: Lithium batteries are much safer and less toxic than lead acid batteries. So you can store them just about anywhere without worrying about corrosion. You still need to use caution to prevent arcing between the terminals though.
- Charger was included: When you purchase a Dakota Lithium 54Ah battery you also get a 10Ah battery charger. This charger is designed specifically for their lithium batteries. Dakota Lithium does not recommend using a SLA charger on their batteries.
- Fast charge up: With the included charger, we average a 3-5 hour recharge time. If we hook up the charger as soon as we get home in the evening it is usually charged before bed time. Dakota Lithium does not recommend leaving the battery on the charger once it is done. It will degrade the life of the battery.
What we don’t like about the 54Ah battery
Now for the not so great features of the Dakota Lithium 54Ah trolling motor battery. They are all fairly minor problems and complaints. However, we hope the company remedies them at some point in the future.
- No charging instructions: Sure, plugging in a charger and hooking up the battery is not rocket science. Although, it still would have been nice if Dakota Lithium included some simple care and charging instructions in the box when they shipped the battery. Instead, you have to hunt around for the information on their website. See the note at the end of this article for simple charging instructions.
- No carry handles: When we purchased the battery it did not come with any sort of carry handle. To the credit of Dakota Lithium, their new 54Ah batteries now come with built-in handles. Either way, we highly recommend finding a carry case with some weather protection and easier carry handles. We use a MIER insulated lunch bag. It fits the 54Ah perfectly and is strong enough to carry the battery around along with providing storage pockets for the charger.
- No voltmeter: To get the longest life from Dakota Lithium batteries you should never discharge the battery past a certain voltage threshold. For the 12V 54Ah battery the recommended max discharge is 11.0 volts. It would be nice if they offered a compatible voltmeter on their website. Luckily, most new fish finders have built-in voltmeters. We have our Humminbird Helix 7 hooked up to the trolling motor battery and set the built-in voltmeter alarm to 11.5V. Now we know to limit battery discharge when the alarm goes off.
Dakota Lithium 12V 10Ah fish finder battery review
Our primary use of the Dakota Lithium 12V 10Ah battery is for ice fishing. Our Humminbird Helix 7 has all-season capabilities and it is an awesome sonar for ice fishing. The only problem is the large 7” LCD screen gobbles up power. A 7-10Ah lead-acid battery would hardly last the morning.
Making the switch to a lithium ion battery cost a little extra but provides significantly better performance in severe conditions.
Dakota Lithium has several sizes of fish finder batteries depending on your unit and weight restrictions. Most ice fishing flashers, sonars and underwater cameras work best with the 12V 7Ah or 10Ah batteries. Power hungry units like the Garmin Panoptix are better served by the 18Ah model.
Either way, our experience on the ice with the Dakota Lithium 10Ah battery has been impressive. The 10Ah and 54Ah batteries share several features we like. Take a look at what we like in particular about the 10Ah battery below.
What we like about the 12V 10Ah battery
- Weight savings: This battery is light. At only 2.75 pounds it shaves off at least 2 pounds compared to a lead acid battery of the same size. We really appreciate how light it is when we are hopping from hole to hole out on the ice. Cutting weight is essential when you are dragging around a sled full of fishing gear.
- Longer lasting power: A lead acid battery barely powered the Helix 7 for half a day on the ice. With the Dakota Lithium 10Ah battery, we get at least 15 hours. If we keep the screen brightness lower we get around 20 hours from a single charge.
- Cold weather resistance: We can really tell the difference between lead acid and Dakota Lithium batteries in extreme cold. Even in temperatures below freezing there is no noticeable decrease in battery life with Dakota Lithium.
- Warranty: The fact that Dakota Lithium is willing to warranty a small fish finder battery for 11 years means they are confident it will last. I find it unlikely we will ever need to utilize the warranty but it does provide some peace of mind.
What we don’t like about the 12V 10Ah battery
Our complaints about the Dakota Lithium line-up of fish finder batteries are minimal but still worth considering as you shop around. For some, these things might be a deal breaker.
- Cost: Dakota Lithium’s per Amp Hour cost is pretty steady across their full range of batteries. At around $9-$10 per Amp Hour, the little 12V 10Ah battery costs $100. That just seems kind of steep. We think they could offer it for a little less and appeal to more anglers. Especially, when Vexilar’s 9Ah lithium ion battery sells for only $60. The $40 savings might be worth the risk to try it.
- No included charger: The cost is even more of a barrier when you find out that you also need to buy a separate $30, 3Ah lithium charger. In all fairness, you only need to buy it once. Yet, it still seems pricey. All the more reason to lower their battery price a bit. As more companies compete for market share, Dakota Lithium prices will probably start to drop a bit.
Again, as we mentioned about the 54Ah battery, there are no included charging or care instructions. Also, be sure to use the battery gauge on your fish finder to avoid over discharging.
Are Dakota Lithium batteries worth the money
In our humble opinion, Dakota Lithium batteries are worth every penny we spent on them. Lithium ion technology is a game changer for anglers. Having a lightweight, portable trolling motor battery simplifies our fishing setup and changed how we fish from a boat and on the ice.
The 54Ah battery provides enough juice for a full day of trolling while also powering our fish finder. When ice season is upon us, the 10Ah Dakota Lithium battery keeps our ice fishing sonar powered for up to 2 trips on the ice before needing to charge.
No more back strain from lugging a 40+ pound lead acid battery in and out of the boat to charge each night. And no more days on the ice cut short by failing sub-par batteries. We also love how quickly lithium ion charges, which gets us back out fishing sooner.
It’s the extended lifespan that really makes Dakota Lithium batteries worth the money. A standard 50Ah marine, deep cycle, lead acid battery cost around $150 to $250 depending on the application. After some simple math it’s apparent that during the 2000+ cycle lifespan of one Dakota Lithium 54 Ah battery you would need to replace a lead acid battery 4 or 5 times which costs significantly more.
The only difference is that with lead acid batteries you stretch the cost out over many years. Whereas lithium is a one time, upfront cost. It depends on your budget. Although, if you can afford it, spring for a Dakota Lithium and you won’t regret it.
Where are Dakota Lithium batteries made
For those of you who are “Made in America” fans it’s a bit of a split for Dakota Lithium. They are headquartered in North Dakota and their website touts “Rugged American Innovation” is behind every battery they manufacturer.
I certainly don’t doubt that claim but every battery I buy from Dakota Lithium arrives with a “Made in China” sticker on the bottom. Keep in mind that I am not complaining. It likely helps keep the costs down for anglers and the quality is still excellent.
All their distribution and customer service however, appears to be centered in the US. Dakota Lithium is an excellent American company. Just keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to find any product that is exclusively manufactured and assembled in the US.
Lithium batteries are still relatively new products in the sport of fishing. We love the advantages of using lithium power and Dakota Lithium is poised to be a major player in the market.
We think that if you give Dakota Lithium batteries a try, you’ll be just as happy as we are with your purchase.
*We are not sponsored, nor do we receive a commission from Dakota Lithium batteries. Our opinions are based on personal fishing experience and we only recommend products we trust.
Simple Dakota Lithium charging instructions:
- First, plug in the charger to your wall outlet. Then clip the charger hooks to the negative terminal (black), followed by the positive terminal (red).
- The light on the charger will show a steady red if charging is needed.
- Once charged, the charger light turns green.
- Unhook the charger in the reverse order. Take care not to touch the charger clips together during the process.