You’ve been searching for a battery that will power your trolling motor without taking up lots of space in your boat.
Or maybe you’d simply rather use what you have on hand than go out and buy a battery specifically for your trolling motor.
Whatever the reason, you’re wondering about using a motorcycle battery.
Will this type of battery power a trolling motor?
How long will it last?
And are there better alternatives for your trolling motor in terms of cheap, lightweight power sources?
Keep reading for answers to all of these questions!
Table of Contents
- Will a Motorcycle Battery Power a Trolling Motor?
- How Long Will a Motorcycle Last When Powering a Trolling Motor?
- Motorcycle Battery Pros and Cons
- How to Use a Motorcycle Battery with a Trolling Motor
- What are Some Good Alternative Trolling Motor Power Sources?
Will a Motorcycle Battery Power a Trolling Motor?
There are different types of motorcycle batteries, but all of them basically fall into the “starter battery” category. That is, all motorcycle batteries--regardless of whether they’re lead acid, AGM, gel, or lithium--are designed to get your motorcycle running.
Most trolling motors run off of deep cycle batteries. Deep cycle batteries differ from starter batteries in that they are designed to provide lower levels of sustained power for longer periods of time. Starter batteries tend to provide quick, short bursts.
How does this apply practically to using a motorcycle battery for a trolling motor?
Technically, your motorcycle battery will power your trolling motor, provided it has the proper voltage and amperage. But it isn’t going to give you a lot of run time. It will need frequent charging, and the more you charge and discharge, the more wear and tear you’ll experience.
It also may not function so well in boating, particularly if it is repeatedly splashed with water. This kind of exposure may further shorten the battery’s lifespan.
Perhaps you don’t plan to use the motorcycle battery long-term, or you just want to keep it on board as a backup battery. Or maybe you’re a casual boater who doesn’t spend a lot of time on the water, but you prefer using a trolling motor to save you from paddling or poling.
In any of these cases, using a motorcycle battery may suit your needs just fine, provided it is kept in a battery box to protect it from the elements.
But for any serious boating, larger boats, or anyone who plans to spend some time on the water, it’s best to invest in a quality deep cycle battery. This will save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.
How Long Will a Motorcycle Last When Powering a Trolling Motor?
When considering the lifespan of a battery, we have to look at a couple of different things: how long the battery will last between charges, and how long it will last before it needs to be replaced.
Of course, specific numbers will vary depending on the quality of the battery, the conditions it is exposed to, the speed setting on the trolling motor, the size of the boat, and a number of other factors.
Generally speaking, a motorcycle battery powering a trolling motor will last anywhere from a few minutes up to an hour before it needs to be recharged.
Motorcycle Battery Pros and Cons
- Motorcycle batteries are generally quite cheap. Depending on the brand you buy and where you buy it, a motorcycle battery is probably going to cost quite a bit less than a deep cycle battery.
- Motorcycle batteries are lightweight and portable. When you use a motorcycle battery, you’re getting power in a much smaller package. They are easier to move than deep cycle batteries and small enough to fit easily in even the smallest boats.
- Motorcycle batteries won’t last long between charges. As you might imagine, a battery that only lasts up to an hour won’t give you a lot of time on the water. By contrast, the average deep cycle battery will easily last 4-6 hours.
- Motorcycle batteries have a shorter lifespan. Using a motorcycle battery for a trolling motor will significantly shorten the battery’s life. It puts a lot of extra stress on a battery that isn’t designed to handle such stress.
How to Use a Motorcycle Battery with a Trolling Motor
If used lightly and sparingly, and carefully maintained, a motorcycle battery may last you one to two seasons on the water. In many cases, though, it will not last through an entire season.
So if you plan to use motorcycle batteries to power your trolling motor long-term, you can expect to spend a lot of money replacing them often. While they may be a bit cheaper than deep cycle batteries, you’ll have to buy more of them in any given period of time.
In most cases, it’s better to spend the money to buy a good deep cycle battery than to try and get away with making motorcycle batteries work long term.
That said, if you do decide to power your trolling motor with a motorcycle battery, you will simply need to connect the power cables to the correct terminals, as you would with any other battery.
Locate the red and black cables coming from the trolling motor. Then identify the positive and negative terminals on the battery. The positive terminal will be marked with a plus sign, while the negative terminal will be marked with a minus sign.
Connect the red cable to the positive battery terminal, and connect the black cable to the negative battery terminal.
That’s all there is to it. Check out this video for a visual on how to connect a trolling motor to a battery.
What are Some Good Alternative Trolling Motor Power Sources?
Whether you’re looking for a small, lightweight battery or one that’s going to cost less than a regular deep cycle battery, you do have a few options.
Here are some of the top alternatives to a regular deep cycle battery that will work better for your trolling motor than a motorcycle battery would.
1. Lithium Battery
There are some good lithium deep cycle batteries, but whether it’s labeled as deep cycle or not, a lithium battery is going to have a much better lifespan than a motorcycle battery. Many lithium batteries will last for years and provide many more hours of power per charge.
Another perk of lithium batteries is that they are generally small and lightweight. You can find them in all different sizes so you can choose the one that will work best for your boat and trolling motor.
That said, lithium batteries are often the most expensive batteries you can buy. So if you’re concerned about the cost or just trying to save a buck, then you’ll probably want to look for a cheaper option.
2. Scooter Battery
Most scooter batteries are deep cycle, but are generally more portable and lightweight than the average deep cycle battery.
Because they are designed for deep discharges and long run time, but are also small and durable, scooter batteries tend to make ideal trolling motor batteries.
They may cost more or less depending on the type of battery, but generally, the smaller the battery, the less expensive it will be.
If you’re looking for a moderately priced battery that will get the job done and fit comfortably in your small boat, a deep cycle scooter battery may be the best option for you.
3. Jump Starter
Jump starters can sometimes be used in place of regular batteries to power trolling motors. Though a jump starter is essentially a starting battery, it may provide enough power for an hour or two of trolling motor use.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, convenient, small, and lightweight power source for your trolling motor, why not give a jump starter a try?
Motorcycle batteries will technically work to power your trolling motor, but they won’t last long between charges and will wear out quickly. They can be used for light or temporary trolling motor operation but will not perform as well as deep cycle batteries.
That said, there are some alternatives to the average bulky, heavy, expensive deep cycle battery. If you’re looking for cost efficiency or small size, you may be able to find what you need in a lithium or scooter battery, or in simply using a jump starter as a power source.