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Patrick - sv Deep Playa

Fishfinder Vs. straight Depth Sounder

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I'm looking into whether or not I want to put in a simple depth sounder type transducer (along with temperature and log) or if I want to instead go with a fishfinder type solution like the Raymarine digital sounders.

Informationwise the fishfinder seems more valuable (and potentially fun) but with the 1Kw (or even as high as 3kw) power draw is this just impractical for an offshore cruising sailboat (albeit one with solar panels and a large battery bank)?

Curious what you wall think...

4 Replies

  • Hi Patrick,

    The "1kW" rating is NOT the average power draw, it's more like 2-3 Watts. You can see this for yourself by closely looking at the power draw that a simple fishfinder-only-without-other-features draws.

    My Lowrance HDS-8 uses +- 2 Watts more when the depth transducer (600 W rating) is switched on in shallow water (haven't had the chance to try it in deep water yet). More information is on my blog, search for HDS-8.

    I'm a sailor too and pretty obsessive about power draw, but I really like the added information. My vote: go for it!

  • I'd like to have a fishfinder screen on a cruising boat, even if I didn't fish (which I don't do much). It gives better situational awareness of bottom trend, and also more detail on anchorage bottom.

    I'd also like to have redundant depth transducers. I lost depth for eighty miles or so while bringing Gizmo up from CT this spring, and I felt a little blind.

    It's fairly easy and not wickedly expensive to have both a NMEA 2000 triducer and a modest power analog fishfinder transducer these days, and in my experience interference between same freq. transducers is not often a problem.

    One last note: some instruments, MFDs, and charting programs will paint a bottom trend graph just using a simple depth PGN or 0183 message.

  • You're right about the power usage, sorry I wasn't thinking about that correctly.

    And that's a wicked good point (ah New Englanders) about the redundancy as well. :-)

    As I work on my design I'll encorporate those ideas. My plan in general is to design my dream, see what is costs, then prioritize and cut out what I can't afford or what I think shouldn't be required to have power to do. Fresh Tank level is one of those things I think I'm already deciding should be non-power drawing.

    All good stuff!!

  • Totally agree on the 2nd depth transducer. I used a very simple NMEA 183, inside the hull with no hull penetrations, just forward of my rudder. The combination gives me fwd and aft depth, or just a backup if my fwd transducer fails.