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Author Topic:   Cabela's AGM Battery Disappoints
jimh posted 06-20-2006 01:05 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
After reading many endorsements of the Cabela's Advanced Angler brand of Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) battery for use as a main boat battery, I headed over to the local Cabela's store in Dundee, Michigan with the intention of buying one. However, I came away without a Cabela's Advanced Angler AGM battery. In spite of the good recommendations, ultimately three things held me back: connectors, compatibility, and cost.

The Cabela's AGM battery has connection terminals which are quite different than other typical lead-acid marine batteries. Instead of the usual large battery post, or the usual threaded stud (3/8th-16), the Cabela's AGM battery has a threaded socket and comes with a stainless steel machine screw with a hex-head. This terminal arrangement would have required re-fitting all of the battery connections on my boat to use smaller size lug connections. In my battery system I am using the battery terminal posts as a common point for several conductors, so I would have had to change about ten terminal lugs.

The AGM battery has different charging voltage characteristics. It was not clear that it would be compatible with my current motor. It was also very likely that mixing the AGM with another battery of conventional lead-acid construction would be a problem. I planned to add a permanently mounted AC-powered battery charger, and most of the units I was considering needed to have a selector switch set for either lead-acid or GELL type batteries. They also recommended that both batteries be the same type.

The Cabela's Group-24 12-volt AGM battery was priced at $130. This was about double the price of a very good quality lead-acid battery.

If I were planning an electrical system from a clean sheet of paper, the Cabela's Advanced Angler AGM battery might be an excellent choice, but it did not appear to be an easy solution to just drop one into an existing boat wired with more conventional terminations on all the battery cables, and with a mixed environment of other lead-acid batteries. The cost seemed significantly higher than prices previously mentioned, too.

glen e posted 06-20-2006 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
Personally I think you're overthinkin it. The connectors are no problem - easy to put eyes on the cables you have or use fender washers to use a standard big lug connection. Mine have not moved in 18 months.

Further they chargee and act in all respects like a normal flooded batteries with no maintenace. And they are much cheaper that any other AGM on the market.

I have had 4 of them for 18 months and have never seen even a pair of them dip below 12.8 at any time. You can't kill em. My opinion and experience. And as you know too well Jim, my boat is a floating electrical city.

bluewaterpirate posted 06-20-2006 04:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Have to agree with Glen. I use the Optima but have had the same results. I have the same power requirements as Glen less the radar never seen mine drop below 13.5v.

Cheers .......


glen e posted 06-20-2006 07:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
and I also think most people are nuts when it comes to batteries..they will try and save $60 a battery or debate back and forth but have no problem buying $15,000 woth of electronics. Makes no sense. Invest $500 or so on the fundamenetal foundation of any boat electrical system: the batteries.
jimh posted 06-20-2006 08:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I will give those Cabela's Advanced Angler AGM batteries another look the next time around on battery purchases. They look like good batteries, but I was hesitant to just get one and drop it into my boat set-up.

I just discarded a Sears DieHard Marine battery made in 2001. The five-year-old lead-acid battery had lost all current capacity. After three hours on a 10-Ampere charger, it collapsed to about 8-volts with the application of any sort of load and could hardly supply an ampere or two of current.

Further and more careful reading of my new battery charger indicates that the same setting can be used with both lead-acid and AGM batteries. Thanks for pointing this out. This does allay my concern about mixing lead-acid and AGM batteries in a charging system somewhat, although I do think that using similar batteries is probably the best approach.

If I had not recently purchased a new lead-acid conventional wet-cell starting battery, I probably would have been more open to the AGM battery as a replacement.

Bulldog posted 06-20-2006 11:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bulldog  Send Email to Bulldog     
JimH, I too considered AGM batteries from Cabela's. The reason I passed on them was the sticker on each battery that states that the warranty is voided by using in a system with over 14.7 volts (if I remember right), there was no other statement about that any where. My old Yamahas run a little above that at times........Jack
Chuck Tribolet posted 06-20-2006 11:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
JimH: Are you bragging or complaining about that five-year-old

I'm serious. It's not clear from what you wrote.


jimh posted 06-21-2006 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Chuck--I am not complaining. However, the battery has not had that many engine starts in the last five years. It probably suffered from a bit of neglect. I have only owned it for a little over two years. I kept it well charged and stored in the off-season.

It has been a tough year for batteries around here. This is the sixth battery purchase in the last 12 months!

Bulldog posted 06-22-2006 11:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bulldog  Send Email to Bulldog     
I was wrong about the voltage limit for the AGM batteries , it is 14.4 volts. I was at Cabela's last night, they all have the sticker on them , warranty voided if used at over 14.4 volts.....Jack
swist posted 06-22-2006 03:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I'm sort of leaning with Jim H here. Why can't the marine industry standardize on battery terminals? Using fender washers or some other trick to make a big connector small, or a small connector big, are hacks which are inviting failure at a very critical place. Ring terminals should be sized for the stud/screw they are mounted on.

Also when they say 14.4, do they really mean it, or are they just being conservative so you don't hook up an 18 volt badly regulated alternator/charger? A lot of outboard alternators run 14-15 volts, even new ones.

These two things also make me hesitant to buy one.

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