You can spend around $4000 on an electric trolling motor system. The cost of an electric trolling motor system can vary widely, but if you have a medium-sized boat and want a trolling motor that has high performance, you’re going to be spending around $4,000 to get all the pieces you will need.
In this post, I am going to cover what I use on my boat and the cost. Costs do change from time to time, so I will try to update estimates as prices increase or decrease.
How do I pick the right size of trolling motor for my boat?
Picking the right size trolling motor is always difficult; this can greatly affect the cost. One of the biggest factors in this decision is the overall size and weight of your boat. My boat is 19 feet and right around 3,000 lb fully loaded.
The Minn Kota website (Minnkotamotors.com, 2019) said that I could go with a 70 lb thrust motor, so I chose the 80lb to be safe. The cost of going up to the next size motor was minimal. Also, you will need to consider battery storage because a 24-volt motor will require at least two batteries, and a 36-volt system requires three.
There are some resources on manufacturer websites that will help. Always go just a little bit bigger than what you think you need. You will be happier in the end because you will not have to replace the brand-new motor you bought because it was too small.
How much will batteries cost for my electric trolling motor?
Battery cost can be a huge variable; I budget $300 each. It’s not always easy to decide on exactly which batteries to use. If I were building my system brand new, I would go with some brand-name 100-amp hour AGM batteries.
As you learn more about the batteries, you can customize what batteries you need by your full fishing day use pattern. Something to consider is that if you are good at maintenance and want to keep your startup cost down, you can go with a good flooded lead-acid battery and cut your cost in half.
Should I have an onboard battery charger for my electric trolling motor?
You do not have to have an onboard battery charger for your electric trolling motor batteries. But in my opinion, onboard battery chargers and main battery maintainers are one of those things that you will be thankful you have.
When you have an onboard battery charger, you can come home from your long day of fishing and simply plug them in when you use maintenance-free batteries; this is a real plus.
Picking the right battery charger for your system is very important. The first most important item is to make sure that your battery charger matches your battery type.
The second most important factor is that your battery charger has enough power, amps, to charge your battery completely before you want to use your boat again. When I go on multi-day fishing trips recharging my batteries has been a real problem, if I fish for more than 6 hours ten amp chargers have a hard time completely recharging the batteries.
I have two different battery chargers on my boat and a battery maintainer for my main house battery. Each battery bank has a unique specification, so the chargers need to match.
Should I have an alternator charger for my electric trolling motor batteries?
You can decide to use one of these devices by answering two questions. Am I running my batteries down past 50% during my fishing day? Do I run my main motor enough for this charger to work effectively? If you are answering both of these questions yes, then it is a no-brainer to add an alternator charger to your system.
Adding an alternator charger after you have completed your system is an easy upgrade. An alternator charger can be installed near your main house battery and connected to your on/off switch or key then when your main motor is running; it will supply roughly 10 amps to each battery on a set of two or three, providing your alternator puts out that amount of power.
What are the best accessories to include with my electric trolling motor system?
- Battery switch
- Trolling motor stabilizer
- Digital battery monitor
The number one accessory to include in your system should be on everyone’s install list that is a battery switch. You can always disconnect the power from your battery by removing a fuse, but this is difficult, so most people will not do it. When you are charging your batteries, the manufacturer recommends that you always disconnect your motor from the power source.
The number two item I would recommend is some form of a trolling motor stabilizer. When you stole your trolling motor and move to the next location, the motor shakes around a lot. Also, if you were to have a locking mechanism failure, which has happened to me, the stabilizer would hold your motor in place as a secondary safety system. If your motor were to become unlocked and deploy at speed, it would break in half. You can buy a ram stabilizer for $65.
My number 3 recommended item would be a digital battery meter. Many electric trolling motors have battery level indicator LEDs, but accurate information on battery status can prevent battery damage. There are a lot of options, Minn Kota makes a digital meter that monitors voltage and state of charge.
If I were going to invest the time and energy to set something like this up, I would want to get a more high-end digital dashboard battery monitor that could give you real-time information as you were using your batteries. You can hardwire a battery monitor to your battery bank showing temperature, voltage, and state of charge. I was able to find a basic model with these capacities on Amazon for $15, needless to say, it’s on the way tomorrow, LOL.
Time to add it all up:
I’m going to list the parts in my system and the cost so you can get a good idea of how I came up with my numbers.
- Minn Kota Riptide Terrova 80 with Ipilot link $2,150
- VMAX deep cycle AGM 135 ah battery $300 * 4 = $1200
- Minn Kota 4 Bank onboard battery charger $325
- Minn Kota 2 Bank alternator charger $115
- Minn Kota circuit breaker $35 * 2 equals $70
- Blue sea heavy duty three position battery switch $95
- Minn Kota trolling motor plug and receptacle $80
- Stainless steel junction Post terminal block set $16
- Marine wire 6-gauge 25 ft red yellow $69
- Marine heat shrink ring terminal kit $15
- Stainless steel screw kit $20
This list contains all the items that I would need to recreate my current setup if all bought brand new and up to current Marine code. As I learned over time through research and ABYC seminars, I have updated my system, but starting with everything as close to perfect as possible is a plus.
Most of the items and prices on this list are brand-name items from large providers, and with a little shopping around you can beat some of these prices. Now that we have it all listed out what is the total? $4155.
Electric trolling motors are not cheap. They provide you with an experience that is hard to beat with any automatic trolling system. Also, if you are looking at other fishing types, then trolling the mobility and flexibility of an electric trolling motor is unmatched.
You can get into very shallow areas quietly and without disturbing your surroundings, making it the only choice for fishing much shallow water fish but like to hide in structure such as Bass.
Without a doubt, I would completely do this project over again and recommend it to all of my friends regardless of the $4,155 cost. It is a reasonable investment for a great fishing experience.
Minnkotamotors.com. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.minnkotamotors.com/sites/minnkotamotors_site/files/minn-kota-boat-weight-chart.pdf [Accessed 29 May 2019].