Have you been wondering whether a 24-volt trolling motor can run on 12-volt batteries? Then this is the place for you.
However, the answer to this question is more complex than you might think.
It can depend on the age of your 24-volt trolling motor, the amount of power you need to effectively and efficiently move your boat, and more.
Here’s what you need to know to decide whether you want to run your 24-volt trolling motor on 12-volt batteries.
Table of Contents
What is Voltage?
“Voltage” refers to the pressure or push that moves electrical current through a line.
A 24-volt battery uses twice the amount of pressure as a 12-volt battery. However, if you attach two 12 volt batteries correctly, you will be able to create the same amount of pressure that one 24 volt battery would create.
Said another way, it is the difference in the amount of potential energy between two points on a circuit. When one has more charge than the other, it creates more potential energy. The amount of this energy is measured in volts.
A 24-volt battery has twice the difference in potential energy than a 12-volt battery does.
What is the Difference Between a 12v and a 24v Trolling Motor?
12-volt trolling motors are smaller and produce less power than 24-volt trolling motors do. They also will not last as long, so your days out on the water might be shorter.
However, 12-volt trolling motors are also less expensive and lighter than 24-volt versions. If your boat measures 16 feet or less, then a 12-volt trolling motor should give you plenty of power. It will also not drag the boat down since it is lightweight.
You may want to look into a high-thrust 12-volt trolling motor, especially if your boat is closer to 16 feet long. These give you more thrust than regular 12-volt trolling motors, though they are also more expensive.
If your boat is longer than 16 feet or you know you might be facing wind and waves while you’re out fishing, a 24 volt trolling motor is a better option. You will get more power to move your large boat and/or navigate difficult water conditions.
A 24-volt battery is also more efficient when it comes to battery power and life. You will get more out of your battery if you choose a 12 volt motor than you will if you choose a 12 volt one.
What Happens if You Run a 24v Motor on 12v?
Different anglers have different experiences when they run a 24 volt motor on a single 12-volt battery.
If your 24-volt motor has been built within the last few years, it may not run at all. Many of these motors note when the voltage is below a certain level, like 22 volts, and will not turn on at all. This saves wear and tear on both your motor and your battery.
If your 24-volt trolling motor is older or has a more basic build, your mileage running it on a 12-volt battery may vary.
Some people find that their 24-volt trolling motor simply runs at half speed when they use a 12-volt battery instead of the full 24 volts. The system might be experiencing extra wear and tear, but it does not always show the right way.
Other people find that using half the voltage damages their system. It can be very hard on both the motor and the battery to run your boat this way. There are a couple of ways that damage can be done.
Motors running on reduced voltage tend to run hot. This heat will eventually burn out the motor.
In addition, 24-volt motors have armature windings inside of them that are designed for 24 volts of current. If they don’t get that much current, they may run at significantly less than half speed due to energy loss in this system.
Powering a higher-voltage motor is also hard on the battery. The system will constantly demand more power, while not using the power that it is getting efficiently. This means that your time out on the water may be short indeed!
If you regularly run your 24-volt trolling motor on a 12-volt battery, the battery will die sooner than it was designed to, too. When its power is not being pulled efficiently, it cannot recharge or hold a charge properly.
What Happens if You Run a 12v Motor on a 24v Battery?
Some people ask the opposite question: Can I run a 12 volt motor on a 24-volt battery?
Once again, the answers will vary based on the age of the motor.
Most newer motors with computer controls instead of brushes will be irrevocably damaged when the too-high voltage hits the system.
On an older motor with brushes, you might get good power for a while. However, heat will become a problem once again.
The motor will heat up faster because of the higher voltage. Since it is not designed to dissipate this much heat, the motor will eventually suffer damage.
Some people, like the man in the video below, successfully run 12-volt motors on 24-volt batteries, at least for a while.
Does a 24-volt Trolling Motor Need 2 Batteries?
Most 24 volt trolling motors are designed to use two 12 volt batteries that are wired together. You can follow the directions in the video below to make sure you are doing it right.
You will want to wire your batteries in series. This means connecting the positive pole of the first battery to the negative pole of the second and the negative pole of the first battery and the positive pole of the second to whatever it is you are trying to power.
This configuration gets you 24 total volts of electricity to effectively power your 24-volt trolling motor.
Note that some newer and larger 24-volt trolling motors can run on a single 24-volt deep cell marine battery. These are not common among recreational anglers but they do exist.
Be sure to read the instructions that come with your particular trolling motor or to ask about its battery needs when you buy it.
Now you should have all the information you need to choose the right battery configuration for a trolling motor. You should also be able to run a trolling motor for maximum power and efficiency.