Reviewer's Notebook: Hawker Drycell Battery

Nov. 01, 2005 By Dr. Sean Michael
Eventually it'll happen to you. You'll wear your battery out, purchase a vehicle that lacks one, or simply decide that your battery is no longer up to the task. Whatever the reason, before you buy a new battery for your 4x4, do a little research first.

Think batteries are batteries? Think that you have no more options than you had a few years ago? Think again.

You have more options today than ever before, but deciding between these options means identifying your own unique needs. Do you simply need to start your vehicle? Do you need to start in extreme cold temperatures? Does your vehicle draw more amps than your alternator produces? Do you winch frequently enough to need a deep cell?

When I set out to upgrade the electrical storage system of Project WomBAT, I knew I needed a special battery. I had little room under the hood, but I wanted a dual battery system that could start in extreme cold, but also handle the depletion / recharge cycles caused by the extensive PIAA lighting system and Ramsey Platinum 9000 winch. I needed an engine compartment miracle to mount two batteries - one for starting, and one for deep cycling, or I needed to find a special battery. After some searching, I found that Hawker Energy Products Inc. makes a battery that is tailored to my needs. Their Odyssey answers Project WomBAT's space/power problem.

Hawker Energy started manufacturing advanced energy cells decades ago. After years of service to the aviation industry and the military, Hawker recently entered the off-road market. With batteries matched to products as commonplace as boat trolling motors, and products as specialized as the US Army's Hercules transport planes, Hawker brings a significant depth of experience to batteries for off-road vehicles.



amps drawn

Engine control system




Air conditioner


Stock car stereo


CB radio


Cigarette lighter




Power windows








Add-on lights (sets of 2)


???small driving lights


???large lights (per set of 2)


High-beam headlights


Low-beam headlights

??? Isuzu rated WomBAT's stock alternator to produce 60 peak amps when new. The motor has to be turning a few thousand RPMs to make that, too.
??? Full-load winching in and of itself is enough to induce battery drain even with the most powerful alternator revving to keep up. But just idling the truck down the trail at idle requires considerable current draw, especially at night.
??? With your engine running, headlights on, and a few accessories (heater, CB radio, a few pairs of off-road lights), you'd be drawing 48-75amps. That's already near the maximum-rated capacity of many new stock alternators -- and most alternators don't put out their peak supply figures anywhere near idle. Just locking your hubs, you could be running down your battery. A good battery has plenty of reserve to handle this kind of at-idle draw, and handle an occasional deep-cycle every now and then.
The Odyssey is a fully sealed, rechargeable deep cycle battery. Unlike a gel cell, the Drycell uses an absorbed electrolyte design with glass mat separating positive and negative plates. These batteries utilize pure lead tin technology, invented and patented by Hawker Energy over two decades ago. This proprietary design prevents drying that occurs in conventional 'valve-regulated lead acid' batteries. The design also eliminates positive terminal corrosion. With this design, Hawker Energy's batteries avoid the two most common failure modes for conventional batteries, drying and corrosion.

As a starved-electrolyte design, the Odyssey line, as well as Hawker's Cyclon?, Genesis?, and Trolling Thunder? lines, earns the USDOT 'dry cell' classification. Hawker can ship it via UPS, FedEx ,or even by air without a hazardous materials surcharge. The dry cell design also prevents acid burns, explosions, and paint damage. The biggest advantage of the Odyssey line, though, is its ability to serve dual purposes as both a starting/lighting/ignition battery AND a deep cycle battery. It is the perfect single-unit setup for 'wheeling.


To say that the Odyssey, or any battery, for that matter, performed flawlessly to date is not much of an endorsement. A few months reveals little about how well a battery stands up to repeated discharge and recharge cycles.

The numbers, however, reveal the PC1700's capabilities. Hawker rates the largest member of the Odyssey line at a conservative 1175 cranking amp (CA). This is 200+ amps more than similar dry- or gel-cell batteries. Even in cold weather, the PC1700 puts out 930 cold cranking amps (CCA). Best of all, for those of us forced to use single battery systems, the Odyssey has a 156 minute reserve capacity. This measure indicates the time the battery can support a 25A load to 10.5V per module.

The Odyssey also discharges/recharges durably, charges quickly, and requires no maintenance. Hawker designs in a three to eight year service life, depending upon usage. their battery can be discharged to 100% a full 400 times, or 500 times if only discharged to 80%. For serious winch users, that represents a tremendous advantage over conventional batteries. With charging characteristics similar to those of a Ni-Cad battery, the Odyssey can be charged to 95% in under 20 minutes.

The structural design of the Odyssey is another advantage for off-road enthusiasts. Hawker designed the battery from the ground up to withstand severe vibration, shocks, and impacts. The sealed, metal-jacketed drycell design allows mounting in all but inverted positions.

Hawker's Odyssey battery easily bolts into the stock location.


The PC1700 is a large battery, weighing 58.7 pounds. This top-of-the-line Odyssey will fill most battery trays with a healthy 6.62 x 13.02 x 7.68 inch. The much smaller PC1200 measures only 6.66 x 7.87 x 7.55 inch and delivers 800CA, and 630CCA. The built-in corded handles on the PC1700 make it easy to move around and to install, but when not in use, these handles drop out of harm's way, their cords protected by the battery's metal jacket.

Once lowered into place in the engine compartment, the Odyssey was a breeze to connect. The larger Odysseys come equipped with brass terminals and extra posts. The extra posts allow attachment of additional wires with 3/8 inch threaded stainless steel bolts. This allowed me to tame WomBAT's spaghetti-mess of wires. Securing the battery was similarly easy because the standard Isuzu brackets fit the Odyssey's upper housing.


Hawker Energy produces an outstanding line of sealed, rechargeable, dual-use deep cycle batteries. If you consider replacing or upgrading your current battery, look hard at this product line, which meets or exceeds the key characteristics of other dry- or gel-cells.

For WomBAT's specific needs, and with room for only one battery under the hood, the Hawker proved a perfect fit.

For more information, contact:
Hawker Energy Products
617 North Ridgeview Drive
Warrensburg, Missouri 64093-9301
e-mail: [email protected] Newsletter
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