To install a trolling motor, you’ll first need to select the appropriate motor, ensuring it’s the right size and thrust for your boat’s dimensions and weight.
Once you have the motor, you’ll require a mounting bracket, which could be either a transom or bow mount, depending on the motor type.
Powering the motor requires a deep-cycle marine battery matching the motor’s voltage. Additionally, a battery charger is essential to replenish the battery after use.
Proper wiring and connectors are crucial, and it’s recommended to use marine-grade materials to prevent corrosion.
A circuit breaker or fuse is a must-have for safety and to protect the motor. While many motors come with a propeller, ensure it’s apt for your conditions, such as a weedless design if you’re navigating through vegetation.
The installation process might require basic hand tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, and a drill.
Lastly, always keep the manufacturer’s instruction manual close by for specific installation steps and safety guidelines.
🔧 Installation Tools and Accessories
The installation process requires specific tools and accessories to ensure a safe and efficient connection. You will generally be supplied with the following components on the trolling motor package:
- Trolling motor.
- Control mechanism (hand tiller, foot pedal, or remote control)
- Power leads equipped with terminal ring battery connectors (5′ for Minn Kota and 3′ for MotorGuide motors).
- 3-5 feet of wiring
- Instruction booklet or manual.
🔩 Mounting Hardware
It all begins with the right mounting hardware. Depending on the type of boat and where you wish to install the motor – bow, transom, or engine mount – you’ll need the appropriate mount.
Mounting kits usually include screws, bolts, nuts, and washers.
Stainless steel or marine-grade materials are recommended, as they resist rust and offer durability.
Wiring and Connectors
The wiring and connectors are crucial to power the motor.
Use heavy-duty, marine-grade wiring that matches the voltage of the trolling motor.
For 24v or 36v trolling motors, short jumper wire segments are required to link your trolling motor batteries in series.
Ensure that the wire gauge matches that of your existing trolling system. Refer to our battery wiring diagrams for detailed wiring instructions.
Extension Wiring: Given that trolling motor power leads typically range from 3-5 feet, certain installations may necessitate extra wire to connect to the batteries.
Calculate the distance between the trolling motor mount point and the batteries to ascertain the required wire length. After determining the length, refer to our guidelines on wire extension to identify the appropriate wire gauge.
Terminal End Connectors
To connect the wiring, you’ll need terminal ends – or some other type of battery connectors – to attach the terminal ends on the motor power leads to your battery.
This ensures a solid connection and reduces the risk of electrical failures. Waterproof connectors can further safeguard the connection from moisture.
Trolling Motor Plug & Receptacle
These are useful components as they enable efficient disconnection of trolling motor wiring, which is advisable during the charging process.
Installing a suitably sized circuit breaker is an essential safety feature. Circuit breakers protect the trolling motor when the propeller encounters submerged obstructions.
Battery Choice is an Essential Consideration
Your trolling motor’s performance hinges largely on the battery. For a comprehensive guide on selecting the best options and maintenance tips, I’ve written this separate article on how to choose trolling motor batteries.
Deep Cycle Batteries
Previously, deep-cycle marine batteries were the most common choice. Their design means they discharge slowly over a longer period, making them ideal for trolling motors.
They come in various types:
- Wet cell (flooded)
- Gel cell
- AGM (absorbed glass mat).
Depending on the thrust and voltage of the trolling motor, you may need more than one battery.
While deep-cycle batteries are still used, lithium-ion batteries have become the biggest contenders.
Although they are more expensive, lithium batteries are worth it, and they have several advantages over deep-cycle lead-acid batteries.
1️⃣ They Have a Deeper Depth Of Discharge Capability
Lithium-ion batteries can be discharged to 15% (generally). As deep cycle batteries can only be discharged to 50%, Lithium-ion batteries will provide almost twice the capacity.
The result is that Lithium-ion batteries will give you more time on the water and less time charging.
2️⃣ Travel Light
Switch to lithium for anglers with compact boats or when every pound counts. They can slash battery weight by an impressive 70%. That’s a game-changer!
3️⃣ Longer Life Expectancy
Lithium batteries hang around for the long haul, often up to a decade. Compare that with the 2-4 years you get from lead acid or AGM.
They are more expensive but consider the long-term. Replacing batteries every few years adds up.
Use lithium, and you might find your wallet thanking you.
4️⃣ Power Till the Last Drop
Have you ever noticed your traditional battery slowing down as it drains? This doesn’t happen with lithium batteries. You get consistent power no matter the charge level.
A quick proviso: If you have a Minn Kota Precision charger. They work well with 12v lithium batteries. But they are not suitable for the 24v or 36v versions.
5️⃣ Power Boost When You Need It
Trolling motors produce excellent torque levels (thrust). When you accelerate out of a hole, you want that instant response. With lithium’s negligible voltage drop, you get that zip when needed.
6️⃣ Compact Powerhouses
Not only are lithium batteries lighter on the scale, but they’re also space-savers. Typically, a 24v lithium battery is the same size as a 12v, group 27 deep cycle battery.
A motor clamp securely holds the trolling motor in place, ensuring it stays secure during operation.
This clamp should be strong and adjustable to ensure a firm grip on the motor shaft.
Brackets are often included in trolling motor kits and are designed to attach the motor to the boat. Depending on the mount type, you might need a bow, transom, or engine mount bracket.
I recommend that you opt for a Quick Release Plate for bow-mount trolling motors. This enables the easy removal for maintenance, storage, transportation, or when using a boat cover.
These brackets should be robust and made from rust-resistant materials.
🗜️ Mounting the Trolling Motor
Once you have all the necessary tools and accessories, it’s time to choose where to mount the trolling motor to your boat.
Following the right sequence ensures that the motor operates effectively and safely. I’ve embedded a full mounting guide video below, and you can follow along by reading below.
Connecting to the Power Source
Before mounting the motor, ensure the boat’s main power source is turned off or disconnected to prevent accidental injuries. Then, identify where you want to place the battery or batteries.
A central location, preferably close to the motor but away from areas prone to water splashes, is optimal. Secure the battery in waterproof battery boxes or trays to prevent movement during boat operation.
Wiring the Motor to the Battery
Identify your battery and motor’s positive (+) and negative (-) terminals.
If you are installing two batteries to be connected in series, connect them as follows.
- The jumper wire selected should have a gauge one size greater than the Trolling Motor lead wire.
- Connect the positive (+) red lead (originating from the motor) to the positive (+) terminal on battery 2.
- Link the negative (-) black lead (originating from the motor) to the negative (-) terminal on battery 1.
⚠️ Warning: Do not connect a single battery’s (+) and (-) terminals. Ensure that metal objects do not contact the battery terminals, as this can cause a short circuit and pose a significant fire risk.
Attach the motor’s positive wire to the battery’s positive terminal and the motor’s negative wire to the battery’s negative terminal.
Use connectors and ensure they are tightly fixed to avoid any loose connections. Consider using heat shrink tubing around connections for added protection against moisture.
Setting Up a Circuit Breaker
Installing a circuit breaker is a safety measure to prevent electrical overloads and potential fires. It acts as a protective intermediary between the battery and the trolling motor. Here’s how to set it up:
- Mount the circuit breaker near the battery within 6-7 feet of the positive terminal.
- Connect the trolling motor’s positive wire to the terminal marked “AUX” or “TROLLING MOTOR” on the circuit breaker.
- Connect another wire from the terminal marked “BATTERY” on the circuit breaker to the battery’s positive terminal.
- Secure all connections and ensure they’re tight.
Properly installing a trolling motor involves having the right tools and following a systematic approach.
I strongly recommend that you consult the user manual provided with the motor, and if unsure, consider seeking professional assistance. Safe boating!
❓ Frequently Asked
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Trolling Motor?
The cost to install a trolling motor varies. Self-installation typically ranges from $20 to $50 for tools and hardware. However, professional installation can be between $100 to $300, depending on the boat type and region. Additional modifications or equipment can increase the price. Check out this guide on trolling motor installation costs for a detailed breakdown.