It is a difficult question to answer, maybe the first question should be can I install my own electric trolling motor? If you are generally handy and have a good knowledge of basic electrical then nothing is stopping you. In this article, we will cover some points to consider that will help make your decision a little easier.
Can you handle the electrical?
Do you have a basic knowledge of electrical? If you do this should not be a concern. All the trolling motors I have seen come with very detailed directions and diagrams for setting up electrical. You can download the installation manual for most electric trolling motors before you make your purchase.
After you have downloaded it read through it completely and if there is something that you can’t figure out then it might be time to go with a professional. If everything looks clear to you then great, what is next?
Can you do the mechanical?
When I say mechanical, I am talking about the physical part of the install such as attaching the motor and other components to the boat. You will need to follow the instructions to place the motor in the best location to get the best performance.
That will involve drilling holes in your prized possession, your boat, and attaching the required parts of the system. This can be a chore with lining every hole up just right, avoiding the hull, electrical lines, and other components in the boat. If this sound doable then you are right on track, what is next?
Do you own the required tools?
I was looking at the installation instructions and in the required tool list says “A second person to help with the installation” (Minnkotamotors.com, 2019). I am not sure that I have a second person in my toolbox. The installation instruction only includes the mounting of the motor and tools need to mount the motor.
As far as for the wiring they are recommending “that you follow the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards” or use “a qualified marine technician” (Minnkotamotors.com, 2019). As a result of that, they are not giving direct instructions on how to complete your wiring so a required tool list is not listed.
The tools that you will need can vary depending on whether you buy an aftermarket cable system or make your own. If you own all the tools you need to build your own cable system, as I do, then no worries but if not, you need to add the amount to purchase these tools to your total cost.
Do you have the time?
An electric trolling motor installation is going to take some time. I have done many installs and turns out that I am slow. I never can get the installation done in the amount of time that the manual says it takes. It usually takes me about double the time on most large projects. I think this can be partially attributed to proper tools and shop environment.
If I had a shop that was just for boat projects with just boat tools and not computers, poker tables, karaoke machines, exercise machines, storage, yard equipment, and so on, it might go a bit smoother. There are projects that the cost of installation would be less than if you picked up an extra shift at work doing something you have experienced so you have to consider the value in your time.
What about the warranty?
Some Manufacturers can be picky about user-installed items and warranties. I don’t think Minn Kota is one of them, but I just think I should state this. Minn Kota has direct shipped me a replacement battery charger.
Also, Minn Kota covered service under warranty for a shaft that broke due to a failed locking mechanism. There is still value in having a dealer do the warranty service from beginning to end because normally their labor is covered under the warranty policy.
If you answered either of the first two paragraphs with a NO then you might want to call a local dealer for your installation. The other information is more about value and food for thought. I really enjoy working on my boat so this is more of a hobby than labor.
Also, it has motivated me to learn the ABYC standard so I am better at marine installations and can follow a US Coast Guard code, which I also enjoyed. I hope you find that you can install your electric trolling motor and enjoy the experience.
Available at: https://www.minnkotamotors.com/sites/minnkotamotors_site/files/min_productmanual_rtst-80-copilot.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2019].