Chandlery January 15, 2001 Issue

Deka Deep-Cycle Battery Performs…

…but a short warranty and absence of life cycle data blunt our praise. We check its performance data against seven Group 27 batteries from Exide, GNB, Interstate, Rolls and West Marine tested last year.

Following our August 1, 1999 discharge tests of batteries from Exide, Interstate, GNB, Rolls and West Marine, a number of readers asked for a report on Deka. So we obtained the Deka Marine Master deep-cycle battery manufactured by East Penn Battery Manufacturing Co. During the original test we evaluated a gel cell made by East Penn for West Marine, which turned out to be a real performer. The Deka Marine Master battery in this latest test was the best performer of all batteries by more than 10% at the 10-amp discharge test, and marginally better at the higher discharge values.

The Deka Marine Master bested seven other
batteries in the 10-amp discharge rate test
but at the 25-amp rate was only slightly better.

To summarize the previous test, we evaluated seven Group 27 batteries, including flooded, gel and AGM types. We found the gel and AGM sealed batteries to have real added value for certain applications, which offset their higher prices, particularly for those who want an absolute minimum of battery maintenance. Our caveat was to be sure to pay careful attention to the different charging profile required by sealed batteries, as well as their sensitivity to overcharging. We also found that the highest price Rolls flooded battery represented the best Group 27 value for those users who were willing to take care of it and had a high usage profile. In spite of being the most expensive flooded cell, based on a much greater life cycle potential, it was actually cheaper in the long run. A substantial warranty topped off our selection criteria.

Our temperature-controlled tests used a microprocessor-based BatTest 12-20 device, which was capable of very precise and adjustable discharge measurements that were downloaded to a computer for data analysis and graphing. Two discharge currents were used—10 and 20 amps to a 50% discharge level that was chosen during testing as optimum for battery life. A second test was performed that checked reserve capacity, a commonly quoted manufacturer’s figure consisting of a 25-amp discharge to a 10.5-volt cutoff at a temperature of 80°F. We also rechecked several of the flooded batteries from the first test to assure our procedures were identical to the first test protocols.

Click here to view Group 27 Batteries.

Based on results, we recommend considering the Deka battery for your flooded battery needs. It’s also available in a gel format as well as in other sizes. While it performed the best of all flooded cells, the warranty is quite low—on a par with our low price test batteries. Further, Deka engineers said that no life cycle data is available, so we are unable to add that factor into the evaluation criteria, leaving us in a bit of a quandary. We certainly cannot dispute its excellent performance, but without life cycle track record data, or a strong warranty to fall back on, we cannot give an unequivocal thumbs up. If we could get the Deka at a reasonable discount, we’d snap it up.

Deka batteries are available at many marinas across the country, and there are more than 50 warehouses nationwide. If you cannot find one near you, call or write to East Penn. Flooded cells are not cost effective to ship to individuals, but gel cells can be shipped UPS.

Contact- East Penn Manufacturing Co., Deka Road, Lyon Station, PA 19536; 610/682-6361.

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