What Is The Difference Between A 12V and 24V Trolling Motor (And Which One Should You Get)?
UPDATED 31 JULY 2022
by Eric Bartlett
Are you thinking about getting a new trolling motor, and not sure whether to get a 12v or 24v model?
Choosing the right trolling motor voltage is essential in order to get good results, but if you’re new to this, chances are that you’re not sure which one to get.
In this article we’ll cover the differences between 12 volt and 24 volt trolling motors, and will discuss their pros and cons, so you can decide which one is right for you.
Which is better: 12 volt or 24 volt trolling motor?
The ideal trolling motor voltage depends on the size of your boat and the conditions in which you normally use it.
A 12v trolling motor is best for small boats under 16 feet, and for use on still waters with little current and moderate winds.
A 24v trolling motor, on the other hand, is better for larger boats, and for use on rivers or coastal waters with more current and stronger winds.
When in doubt, it’s usually best to get a 24 volt trolling motor, as it’s much easier to compensate for too much motor power, rather than too little.
What is the advantage of a 24v trolling motor?
The 2 key advantages of a 24 volt trolling motor are greater power (i.e. more pounds thrust) and longer runtime.
Of these two, greater power is the most important one, and is usually the deciding factor when buying a new trolling motor.
Most 24 volt trolling motors have between 60 and 80 pounds thrust, which means they can move a bigger load, or handle more resistance, than a 12 volt model, which comes with up to 55 pounds of thrust.
As a rule of thumb, if your boat is longer than 16 to 17 feet (or weighs over 2000 pounds when loaded), it’s better to choose a 24 volt trolling motor.
Is a 24v trolling motor faster than a 12v?
No, in most cases a 24 volt trolling motor is not faster than a 12 volt trolling motor.
The main exception to this is if a 12 volt trolling motor is underpowered for your boat size, in which case a 24 volt trolling motor would be faster, but only because it is able to move your boat, while the smaller 12 volt model is unable to do so.
But in cases where either a 12v or 24v trolling motor would have sufficient thrust for your boat size, then either of these will move your boat at the same speed. This is because trolling motor power doesn’t equate with speed.
More power simply means that the trolling motor is able to move more weight, and overcome more resistance (in other words, more power equals more torque).
What is the most powerful 12 volt trolling motor?
The most powerful 12 volt trolling motors come with 55 pounds of thrust. Models with these specs are available from most trolling motor brands, including Minn Kota, Rhodan, Motorguide, and Haswing.
How to tell if a trolling motor is 12 or 24 volt
The best way to tell if a trolling motor is 12 volt or 24 volt is by checking its nameplate, which is usually found on the plastic cover of the head, or on the foot pedal (or both).
If there is no cover or foot pedal available, you may be able to tell whether it’s a 12v or 24v model by checking whether its battery panel is configured in parallel or in series.
A 12v trolling motor is most often set up with a single 12v lead acid battery.
When it is set up with two 12v batteries, these are always configured in parallel, which means that the positive terminal of one battery is connected to the positive terminal of the other battery, and the negative terminal to the negative terminal.
A 24v trolling motor, on the other hand, is most often set up with two 12v lead acid batteries that are configured in series, which means that the positive terminal of one battery is connected to the negative terminal of the other battery, and the negative terminal is connected to the positive.
Can you run a 24v trolling motor on 12v?
While many standard 24v trolling motors can be run on a 12v battery, this results in significantly reduced maximum thrust and lower runtime compared to using a 24v battery, which is why you should only use this as a short term solution.
The exception to this rule are electric steer trolling motors (which includes most high end models nowadays), which can only run on 24v.
I would suggest that if you’re out on a fishing trip, and don’t have any other battery available to you, you can use a 12v battery for a standard 24v trolling motor to tide you over until you can get a battery with the correct voltage.
How many batteries do you need for a 24 volt trolling motor?
If you’re using 12v batteries, you need two batteries configured in series to run a 24 volt trolling motor.
With this configuration, the negative terminal of one battery is connected to the positive terminal of the second battery (and similarly with the other two terminals).
By connecting two 12v batteries in series, this results in adding their voltages together to create a total voltage of 24v, which is exactly what you need to run a 24 volt trolling motor.
But keep in mind that you can also opt for using a single 24v battery, and while this option is very rare with lead acid marine batteries, it’s much more common with lithium deep cycle batteries.
So you could use one 24v lithium marine battery to run your 24v trolling motor, and this option not only reduces overall weight and saves space, but actually costs less than getting two 12v models.
Can you use a 24 volt battery on a 12 volt trolling motor?
No, you should never use a 24 volt battery on a 12 volt trolling motor, since this will rapidly cause overheating of the circuits, and result in malfunction.
So even if you’re in a pinch, and don’t have any other battery options at hand, don’t do it, as you’ll probably end up with a trolling motor that’s dead in the water.
On the other hand, it is possible to use a starting battery for a trolling motor if you are in a pinch.
12v vs 24v trolling motor amp draw
The exact amp draw of any trolling motor depends on the throttle level, but measurements done by Garmin on their Force trolling motor have shown that the amp draw is lower on a higher voltage battery, when comparing the same throttle level.
In other words, the amp draw of a 24v trolling motor is lower than that of a 12v trolling motor on the same throttle level.
In addition to this, keep in mind that when using a 24v trolling motor, you’ll use a much lower throttle level (compared to a 12v trolling motor) when doing the same task, resulting in a significantly lower amp draw.
12v vs 24v trolling motor run time
The run time of 24v trolling motors is up to twice as long as that of 12v trolling motors, when running on a battery with the same amp hours.
This is due to the fact that they have a significantly lower amp draw, and are mostly used at a lower throttle setting, resulting in slower depletion of the battery.
So, if you need your trolling motor to run reliably for long periods of time without issues, a 24 volt model is definitely better than a 12 volt model.
However, if your main consideration is run time (and not thrust), keep in mind that you can easily extend the run time of a 12 volt trolling motor by adding a second, third, or even fourth battery, and configure them in parallel.