Do Trolling Motors Need a Battery? Essential Facts Explained

Yes, trolling motors rely on a battery to work. The battery powers the electric motor that propels the boat.

It provides the necessary electrical energy to propel the boat silently and efficiently, making it an essential component for operating a trolling motor.

At a Glance:

1️⃣ Operating conditions such as temperature, wind, and current can impact the motor’s power needs and hence the battery choice.

2️⃣ Budget considerations play a role in determining the best battery for your boat. If finances allow, lithium batteries (although more expensive) offer longer life and less maintenance.

3️⃣ To mae an informed decision, balance your financial constraints with the performance and reliability of the battery to find a suitable option.

🤷‍♂️ Why Do Trolling Motors Need Batteries?

Power Output

The primary reason is to provide adequate power output for operation. Without a reliable source of energy, the motor will not function properly, 

Trolling motors are great for fishing, as they help maintain a steady heading or position.  

Using a suitable battery, such as a 12-volt deep-cycle battery, ensures consistent power and increases the overall efficiency of the trolling motor. 

According to Field & Stream, deep-cycle batteries hold a charge longer and discharge power consistently until they are almost dead. This type of battery is designed and engineered for the unique requirements of a marine environment.

Motor Thrust

The thrust capacity is directly related to the battery source; trolling motors with 55 lbs. of thrust or less require one 12-volt battery. 

If the motor has more than 55 lbs of thrust up to 80 lbs. of thrust, it needs two 12-volt batteries, totaling 24 volts. 

Batteries directly impact the motor’s ability to produce thrust, which is vital for controlling the boat’s speed and directional movement.

Selecting the right battery capacity allows us to make the most out of the equipment, whether it’s for recreational boating or a focused fishing trip. 

As a boat owner, my preference is to invest in lithium batteries, and properly maintaining them is key to optimizing both power output and motor thrust for our trolling motors.

🔋 Battery Types for Trolling Motors

Why invest in lithium, you ask? Well, let’s discuss the primary types of batteries suitable for trolling motors: Lead-Acid Batteries, AGM Batteries, and Lithium Batteries.

Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries have been used in watercraft for a long time. They are the most common type of battery found in boats, including those with trolling motors. 

These deep-cycle batteries are designed to discharge a significant portion of their capacity over a long period and then recharge. Typically they’re more affordable than other battery types, but they do require regular maintenance, such as adding water to the cells.

One reputable manufacturer of trolling motors, Minn Kota, states that flooded lead-acid (FLA) batteries can are suitable for their products. They store their charge using a balance of water and battery acid.

AGM Batteries

AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are another option. They do not require maintenance like lead-acid batteries because they are sealed. 

In addition, they have a higher resistance to vibration, making them more durable in a marine environment. AGM batteries are known for their ability to deliver high current and faster recharge rates, making them a popular choice among trolling motor users.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries have become more popular for use with trolling motors in recent years. They are lighter and more compact than traditional lead-acid and AGM batteries, which can be an advantage in smaller boats. 

They also have a longer cycle life, meaning they can be discharged and recharged many more times than other battery types before their capacity starts to decline.

In addition to their long life, they also offer faster charging and a constant voltage output throughout their discharge, ensuring consistent performance from the trolling motor.

🎛️ Battery Size and Performance

This includes considerations such as size and weight, voltage and amp hour ratings, as well as runtime and depth of discharge.

Size and Weight Considerations

When selecting a battery for a trolling motor, it’s crucial to consider the size and weight of the battery. 

A marine battery should be compact enough to fit within the constraints of your boat yet not too heavy, as it might weigh down the boat and impact its performance. 

Common battery sizes include Group 24, Group 27, and Group 31, with Group 27 being a popular choice for trolling motors due to their balance of size and power.

Voltage and Amp Hour Ratings

Another essential aspect to take into account is the voltage and amp hour (Ah) rating of the battery. 

Trolling motors typically require either a 12V, 24V, or 36V battery, depending on the motor’s thrust. 

As a general rule, motors with 55 lbs. of thrust or less need a 12V battery, while those with more than 55 lbs. of thrust up to 80 lbs. require a 24V battery.

Amp hour ratings, on the other hand, indicate the battery’s capacity and how long it can deliver a specific amount of power.

Runtime and Depth of Discharge

Runtime or battery life is another essential factor to consider, as it directly affects your boating experience. 

Batteries with a higher reserve capacity (minutes a fully charged battery can sustain a 25A load before dropping to 10.5V) provide longer runtimes.

Depth of discharge (DoD) is also crucial, as it can influence the overall lifecycle of the battery. A battery with a higher DoD will have better overall performance, but it’s essential to balance that with proper charging practices to maintain the battery’s longevity.

In summary, when selecting a battery, consider size, weight, voltage, amp hour rating, and runtime.

⚠️ Other Factors Influencing Battery Choice

Operating Conditions

Factors such as water temperature, wind, and current can impact your motor’s power needs and, by default, also significantly affect battery choice.

For instance, consistent cold weather temperatures can reduce battery efficiency, potentially shortening their lifespan. 

In this situation, it may be beneficial to invest in a high-quality battery with a greater cold cranking amps (CCA) rating to ensure optimal performance in colder conditions. 

Similarly, if you frequently encounter strong currents and high winds, a battery with a higher amp-hour rating may be necessary to provide enough power for extended periods of trolling.

Budget Considerations

Finally, your budget plays a significant role in determining the best battery for your boat. If you’re on a tight budget, then lead-acid might be suitable. But if your budget can allow it, lithium-based batteries are more expensive but offer longer life and less maintenance.

To make an informed decision, it’s essential to balance your financial constraints with the performance and reliability of the battery to find a suitable option for your specific needs and operating conditions.

🔑Key Takeaways

Trolling motors require a battery to operate, providing the necessary electrical energy to power the boat silently and efficiently.

1️⃣ This article delved into why trolling motors need a battery, the different types of batteries used for trolling motors, and the factors to consider when choosing a battery.

2️⃣ A reliable battery source is necessary for the trolling motor’s operation as it provides power output for a steady heading or position, beneficial for activities such as fishing.

Find out when the best time to charge your trolling motor battery is to ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

Nice to e-meet you. I’m Justin, a seasoned sailing journalist and communications pro with more than 25 years of extensive industry experience. And a track record of successfully promoting teams and events on the global stage.