Trolling Motor Installation Costs & Expenses [With Prices]

Many anglers grapple with the challenge of deciphering the true costs associated with installing a trolling motor, often facing unexpected expenses.

Drawing from extensive research and data, I break down the various types of trolling motors, their associated costs, and the nuances of installation, ensuring you’re well-equipped to make an informed decision.

I’ll delve into the intricacies of trolling motor installation costs, providing you, the angler and boat owner, with all you need to install a trolling motor.

Getting excited about a new addition to your boat only to be met with unforeseen costs sucks! Here are the costs you must be aware of before you go out and buy a trolling motor.

🔩 Factors Affecting Trolling Motor Installation Costs

Selecting and installing a trolling motor isn’t just about choosing the right product; it’s also about understanding the associated costs. 

Type of Trolling Motor

Trolling motors come in various types, each with specifications and associated costs. There are four primary types of trolling motors:

  • Bow Mounted
  • Transom Mounted
  • Engine Mounted 
  • Pontoon

Bow-Mounted Trolling Motor

Bow mount trolling motors are the commonly chosen type of trolling motor.

They are most suited to avid fishermen who use them often and have medium to large boats. One distinct advantage they offer is superior control compared to transom mount motors. 

A bow mount motor’s design enables it to pull the boat through the water rather than pushing it from behind as a transom mount motor does. This enhances steering precision. 

For those prioritizing maneuverability and accuracy, a bow mount motor is recommended. Bow-mounted engines have various control options, including hand, foot, and wireless remote controls. 

They also generally boast a broader set of features than transom mount motors.

However, these benefits come at a cost in terms of price and installation complexity. Bow mount motors typically have a higher price point than their transom mount counterparts. 

They also require more intricate installation procedures and consume more deck space. Installation prerequisites for a bow mount motor include a flat deck and sufficient space at the boat’s front. 

Typical Bow Mounted Trolling Motor Costs

The costs vary based on various factors, including the size of the boat, complexity, etc. The average prices based on boat size are listed below.

Boat Length (Maximum)Average Price (Minn Kota)Trolling Motor Model
14ft$1,275 – $1,786Minn Kota Forte 80
17ft$2,650Minn Kota Ultrex 80
20ft -25ft$ 2,949.99Minn Kota Ulterra 112

Transom Mounted Trolling Motor

Transom mounts are frequently chosen for smaller boats due to their simpler installation process than bow mount motors. 

While bow mounts necessitate drilling a plate onto the boat’s bow, transom mounts can be readily attached to the boat’s existing transom using a clamp mechanism. 

Moreover, transom mounts facilitate operation from the boat’s rear and avoid the deck clutter often associated with the foot pedals or cords of bow mount motors. 

For smaller boats like canoes, transom mounts are typically favored. Their straightforward design often means that transom mounts are cheaper than bow mount motors.

Typical Transom Mounted Trolling Motor Costs

The costs vary based on various factors, including the size of the boat, complexity, etc. The average prices based on boat size are listed below.

Boat Length (Maximum)Average Price (Minn Kota and Motorguide)Trolling Motor Model
Sub 17ft$ 850MotorGuide X5 55 FW
17 ft  – 19ft$ 880Minn Kota Riptide 80
20ft -25ft$ 1,100Minn Kota Riptide 112

Engine Mounted Trolling Motor

As the name suggests, engine-mount trolling motors are installed onto the outboard motor’s cavitation plate.

These motors mainly supply thrust, and the outboard motor determines the boat’s direction, steered either manually or via a wheel because the trolling motor is directly attached. A wired remote typically manages thrust settings and motor direction.

Engine mount motors are ideal for multi-purpose boats, particularly when space does not permit a standard trolling motor. 

When the engine is inactive, the motor remains submerged. It rises out of the water with the outboard when the boat reaches cruising speed. 

While these motors are efficient in conserving space, they offer less control than bow or transom mount motors. They also lack the features in bow mount models and typically have a higher price point than both transom and bow mounts, considering their thrust and features.

Typical Engine Mounted Trolling Motor Costs

The costs vary based on various factors, including the size of the boat, complexity, etc. The average prices based on boat size are listed below.

Boat Length (Maximum)Average Price (Minn Kota)Trolling Motor Model
Sub 18ft$ 750Minn Kota EM 55
18 ft  – 21ft$ 900Minn Kota EM 80
20ft -22ft$ 1,000Minn Kota EM 101

Trolling Motors For Pontoons

As the name implies, some manufacturers produce trolling motors designed to power a pontoon.

Pontoon boats sit higher than other boats, requiring a shaft length of approximately 48″ and providing 70 lbs. of thrust. Many are supplied with quick-release brackets, enabling the motor to be stored when not needed.

Typical Pontoon Trolling Motor Costs

The costs depend on various factors, including the size of the boat, complexity, etc. The average prices based on boat size are listed below.

Boat Length (Maximum)Average Price (Minn Kota and Motorguide)Trolling Motor Model
Sub 17ft$ 1,850Minn Kota Terrova 55
18 ft  – 21ft$ 2,100MotorGuide Xi5 80
21ft – 25ft+$ 2,950Minn Kota Ulterra 112

The Boat Specifications

A primary factor when selecting trolling motor thrust is the boat’s weight. A standard guideline that I use is that for every 100 lbs. of total boat weight (taking into account the weight of the fuel, gear, and the occupants), 2 lbs. of thrust is needed.

2,000lb boat requires (2000lb/100) x 2 = 40 lbs of thrust (minimum).

Although it is better to have more thrust than insufficient thrust, performance will always vary based on boat type. 

Larger boats require motors with more thrust, and naturally, as thrust increases, the price of the motor also rises. 

The Shaft Length

The keel’s depth determines the required shaft length. Deeper keels require longer shafts, especially if the motor is bow-mounted. Ensuring the right fit for your boat’s keel depth ensures optimum motor performance and avoids potential damage.

Selecting the right shaft length for your trolling motor ensures that the motor doesn’t cavitate, which can deter fish. 

A good guideline to follow is ensuring the motor’s lower unit or foot is submerged by at least 12″ of water.

Selecting the correct shaft length is more pivotal for bow-mount motors than transom-mount motors. 

While most boat transoms have a similar proximity to the water, standard shaft lengths from Minn Kota usually suffice. However, there’s more variability in the requirements for bow-mounted motors.

The Procedure for Measuring the Shaft Length

To get the right shaft length, measure the distance from the mounting point on the transom or bow (where the motor will be positioned) to the water’s surface. 

Add 20″ to this measurement for the advised minimum shaft length. If your fishing activities take place in turbulent waters, increase the measurement by 5″. For anglers manually controlling the motor while standing, incorporate an additional 12″ to the measurement. 

Use your calculated measurement or the subsequent charts to select the suitable trolling motor shaft length. 

Bow To WaterlineRecommended Shaft LengthTransom To WaterlineRecommended Shaft Length
0″ to 10″0” to 10″35″0” to 10″
30″16” to 22″42” – 45″10” to 16″
36″22” to 28″48” to 52″16” to 20″
42″28” to 44″54” to 72″Consult an Expert
Over 20″45″ and up

⚠️ Note: Most manufacturers do not charge more for longer shaft lengths.

The Required Voltage

What do volts mean on a trolling motor? In short, the voltage is a factor of the trolling motor’s battery power requirement. 

One battery is needed for every 12 volts in your system – more voltage correlates with increased thrust.

  • 55lbs of thrust or below = 12 volts (one battery)
  • 68-80lbs of thrust = 24 volts (two batteries)
  • 101-112lbs of thrust = 36 volts (three batteries)

🎓 Pro Tip: Assess the storage capacity in your bilge for the chosen trolling system. For a 112lb thrust mechanism, allocate space for three batteries, as it needs a 36-volt power source.

Fishing Considerations

If you frequently encounter wind or currents, consider additional thrust. Adequate power ensures that you have a pleasant day fishing.

If you have insufficient power, you will be fighting the wind and currents instead of relaxing while you fish. 

Please note that I am talking about the required thrust (torque) rather than the maximum speed the motor and boat are capable of. 

Under harsh offshore conditions, a GPS anchor installed on an underpowered motor (for the size and weight of the boat) may not manage to hold position against the wind and currents.

Additional Equipment

When calculating the overall installation cost, don’t forget to consider the price of additional equipment:

Fish Finders: Integrating a fish finder with your trolling motor system can provide an edge in locating fish. There are fish finders and fish finders! As you can see from the random selection listed below, prices range from $43 to over $3,000.

Lucky Kayak Portable Fish Depth FinderUnder $50Check Today’s Price
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Under $200Check Today’s Price
Lowrance Hook Reveal 9 Fish FinderUnder $1000Check Today’s Price
Humminbird SOLIX 10Under $3000Check Today’s Price
Humminbird SOLIX 12Under $3000Check Today’s Price
Humminbird SOLIX 15~ $3000Check Today’s Price

GPS Systems: Many trolling motors have GPS systems. If yours does not, standalone systems are available.

TypePricePrices Sourced From
Garmin ECHOMAP UHD ChartplotterUnder $300Check Today’s Price
MotorGuide PinPoint GPS for Xi SeriesUnder $500Check Today’s Price

Batteries: Trolling motors require dedicated batteries. The type (lead-acid, AGM, lithium) and capacity of the battery will determine its cost. In addition, a suitable location for the battery and a waterproof mounting box will be required.

I’ve omitted a table here because it would go on forever. Instead, you should find out if lithium batteries are worth it or if you should opt for an AGM battery.

Battery Chargers: A quality charger is vital to maintain the battery’s health and extend its life. Different chargers are designed for different battery types and capacities.

For 24v or 36v systems, an integrated charger that facilitates simultaneous multi-battery charging is often advantageous. Simply plug it in post-fishing for effective charging. 

These devices offer rapid, battery-preserving charges, ensuring prolonged battery life and extended operation durations.

Battery Charger TypeBatteries SupportedAmperagePricePrices Sourced From
Minn Kota 6 Amp Double Bank Precision Charger 212 PCLTwo 12v Lead acid or Lithium(LiFePO4) batteries6 ampsUnder $200Check Today’s Price
Minn Kota 10 Amp Double Bank Precision Charger 220PCL2 – 12v Lead acid or Lithium(LiFePO4) batteries10 ampsUnder $300Check Today’s Price
Minn Kota 10 Amp Four Bank Precision Charger 440PCL4 – 12v Lead acid or Lithium(LiFePO4) batteries10 ampsUnder $400Check Today’s Price
Minn Kota 10 Amp Five Bank Precision Charger 550PCL5 – 12v Lead acid or Lithium(LiFePO4) batteries10 ampsUnder $700Check Today’s Price

Mounting Hardware and Brackets

Some installations may require additional mounting hardware or specific brackets, adding to the overall cost.

Trolling motors mounted on the transom may not require any additional hardware because they are attached to the existing transom.

Bow mounting is a little more complex and requires drilling a plate on the boat’s bow. This may require additional mounting hardware, and it’s therefore important for you to check at the point of purchase.

Bow mounting may also require extended lengths of wire to reach the battery position. These additions may increase the cost of installation.

Mounting BracketMotors SupportedPricePrices Sourced From
Minn Kota Ulterra, Terrova & Powerdrive Quick Release MKA-21Minn Kota Ulterra, Terrova, PowerDrive V2, or PowerDrive trollingUnder $100Check Today’s Price
Minn Kota Fortrex & Maxxum Quick Release MKA-52/62Minn Kota Fortrex & MaxxumUnder $200Check Today’s Price
Motorguide Universal Mounting BracketAll Motorguide motorsUnder $200Check Today’s Price

🪛 Labor Costs for Installation

Whether you choose to have the trolling motor installed by a professional or whether you do it yourself, labor costs have the potential to be a significant part of the overall cost of the motor.

Professional Installation

Professional installation is the way to go for those who prefer a hassle-free experience. While you are guaranteed a proper setup, this option naturally comes with a cost. 

Professional installation costs can vary widely depending on the installation’s complexity and the technician’s hourly rate.

Please be careful when accepting a professional installation quote. I have seen figures ranging from $500 to $5,000.

An acceptable price range would be between $500 and $2,000 (max) unless a substantial amount of modification is required to accommodate the trolling motor.

DIY Installation

It is not hard to install a trolling motor. The easiest motors to install are transom mounted, and it is a no-brainer for the owner to install this category of trolling motor.

Mounting bow-positioned motors is a little more complex and may require drilling holes in your pride and joy. If you are comfortable doing this, while it is more intrusive, the process is not complicated.

If you have a mechanical “bent” and the necessary tools, installing a trolling motor can save labor costs. However, the DIY route can be challenging, especially if customization is needed. 

While the direct labor dollar cost might be $0, consider the time investment and potential additional tools or materials you might need.

A point to note is that some manufacturers offer different warranty terms if the motor is DIY mounted. 

⚖️ Comparing Prices and Quality

The willingness of the trolling motor manufacturer to stand by a product varies, and you must keep this in mind when buying a new unit.

Warranty and Maintenance Considerations

When comparing trolling motor prices, it’s essential to consider the warranty and maintenance. A cheaper motor might save money upfront, but you could pay more in the long run if its warranty is shorter or lacks comprehensive coverage.

A longer warranty often indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in their product. It can be a sign of quality and durability. On the other hand, maintenance costs can add up over time. 

The standard warranties offered by the different manufacturers are listed below.

  • Garmin Force three (3)year warranty with a lifetime shaft warranty.
  • Haswing defects in materials and workmanship appearing within two (2) years after the date of purchase.
  • Lowrance offers a one (1) or two (2) year global warranty, which includes discounted upgrades to current-model technology in the event of failure within five (5) years.
  • Minn-Kota has a Limited Lifetime Warranty on composite shafts and a Limited Two-Year Warranty on the entire product (varies by product).
  • Newport Vessels provides a two (2) year non-transferable warranty.
  • Watersnake provides a one (1) year limited warranty.

Another factor to consider is that some trolling motors might require more frequent maintenance or have more expensive parts to replace.

When considering the cost of trolling motor installation, it’s crucial to look beyond just the sticker price of the motor. You can make a more informed decision by understanding all the factors that influence the total cost, from type and boat specifications to labor and warranties.

❓ Frequently Asked

Can I install a trolling motor myself?

Yes, many boat owners choose to install trolling motors themselves, especially if they have some mechanical experience. Transom-mounted motors are generally easier to install compared to bow-mounted ones. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines closely and ensure you have the right tools for the job.

How long does it take to install a trolling motor?

The installation time for a trolling motor can vary based on the type of motor and the boat’s design. On average, installing a transom-mounted motor can take 1-2 hours, while a bow-mounted motor might take 3-4 hours. It could take longer if it’s your first time or if any modifications are needed.

What safety precautions should be taken when installing and using a trolling motor?

Safety is paramount when installing and using a trolling motor. Ensure the motor is turned off during installation, use appropriate protective gear, and always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Avoid swimming near the motor and ensure all connections are secure to prevent electrical hazards.

I’m the founder and chief editor here at Kite Ship. The electrification of boating is the most exciting thing to happen to the marine industry in a generation! Welcome, and I hope that we can provide the portal you need to dive into the world of electric propulsion and power.