A trolling motor has three mount types. These are a bow mount, a transom mount and an engine mount. A transom-mount trolling motor looks similar to an electric outboard motor and sometimes people get confused between the two. Designed for different purposes with respective advantages and disadvantages, the one you should choose depends wholly on the size of your boat, and what its intended uses are. Whether they be fishing, sailing or for commercial uses, this blog will discuss the differences between an electric outboard and a trolling motor and help you make the right choice.
Primary Power Vs Auxiliary Power
An electric outboard motor is used as the primary source of power to propel a boat. To go 10 kilometres with an RIB or dinghy, leave the marina with a 24-ft sailboat or go boating in saltwater, an electric outboard is your best choice due to its larger dynamic horsepower.
A trolling motor is used as the auxiliary power for a boat travelling at low speed. Their large horsepower gas engines have low energy efficiency and limited manoeuvrability when travelling at low speeds. So the owner of a large horsepower outboard requires a trolling motor for low-speed movements and short-distance manoeuvres, especially in fishing. Usually, a fishing boat will have both a trolling motor and a large horsepower gas outboard together, complimenting each other.
Lithium Battery Vs Lead Acid Battery
Electric Outboard Motor
Rather than using a lead-acid battery, electric outboards can be powered by compact and lightweight lithium batteries. These batteries are buoyant and don’t require any extra components to work. Lithium batteries tend to last up to several times longer than their lead-acid counterparts, saving the user money in the long term. Needing to be replaced less often, they can be used for years.
They are powered by lead-acid batteries and are heavy, generating only 1/4 energy density as a lithium battery. More often than not, they are 12V and a serial connection is required for 24V which means more battery units are being carried. To extend the runtime, you need a parallel connection with more battery units. These can be challenging when being transported for charging due to their weight. Also, to protect the battery, when both on the boat and submerged in saltwater, a battery box is needed. Normally, the battery life is two years, after which time it must be replaced.
Integrated Vs Self Configuration
With an electric outboard motor, controller, battery and charger all come together and are normally integrated as one product. Once the motor is unboxed, it’s ready to be taken to water. Meaning that little configuration is required from the user.
With a trolling motor, the system usually must be configured by the user. A motor and battery will need to be purchased from different brands and the battery power you need will be calculated using electrical formulas. This means you must ask yourself a number of questions. Should you buy an AGM or Gel battery? Flooded or sealed battery? Buyers could be at a loss when selecting the lead-acid battery. Following this, the user must select the battery connector cable, a circuit breaker and a charger for your battery pack, all of which are necessary purchases. However, as a first time buyer you may be unsure if you need a battery box or a third-party battery meter. Figuring out your system configuration may be a lengthy process because it consists of products from different suppliers.
With an electric outboard, the user can read real time power in watt, remaining runtime to the accuracy of a minute, and voltage from the display. Furthermore, if an issue arises, the error code can be read and the issue resolved. Electric outboards tend to be all-in-one when unpackaged and they often provide simple readability.
With a trolling motor, a third-party gauge is required to read voltage and capacity. It’s also impossible to know the remaining runtime to the accuracy of a minute. It is, however, possible for the user to estimate a rough remaining runtime according to the voltage, depending on their knowledge and experience.
Electric Outboard Motor
Designed to be used as a boat’s primary power source, electric outboard motors are optimised for all speeds. Even small electric outboards, such as the 3hp electric outboard motor, can power boats weighing up to 1.5 tons. These include dinghy boats, inflatables, and small sailboats, at a speed of 5 knots (conditions apply).
Designed for low-speed trolling only, the maximum speed of a trolling motor is normally 4mph regardless of how many pounds of thrust. A trolling motor is usually used for moving a fishing boat quietly through waters, so as to not startle fish, and so higher pounds of thrust will not move a boat faster.
To conclude, one motor is not superior to the other. The fact is that both are different and the one which you buy, depends on what you need it for. Electric outboard motors and transom-mount trolling motors have different purposes. They have an overlap area of small dinghies and inflatables. When you look for a motor to propel your dinghy or RIB, you should know an electric outboard motor is not a trolling motor, but a true electric outboard should offer great performance and user experience.
How Can We Help?
If you’re looking to purchase a boat motor or battery, or even just have a question, ePropulsion is here to help. Contact us on 1300 590 951.