Being on the water is an amazing and relaxing experience. Whether you’re out catching a few fish or just enjoying the weather and the waves, boats are a personal favorite of millions. If you’re going to spend time on the water, chances are you want the best for your boat or kayak. You need a good trolling motor battery if you want to perform at your highest potential. Your trolling motor battery is an important part of your water vessel.
Whether you’re a casual fisher or a dedicated angler, you need to know what the best trolling motor battery is for you. What works best for me might not be exactly what you’re looking for, and for this reason it’s important to look into the details and understand the benefits. This is an article that will tell you the basics of choosing a trolling motor battery, while also showing you a few of the greatest ones currently available on the market.
I would personally recommend all of the trolling motor batteries in this article, as they are all amazing units. They differ only in what you need them for and preferences.
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- 1 How to Choose the Best Trolling Motor Battery
- 2 Best Trolling Motor Battery 2017 – Reviews and Comparison
- 3 Trolling Motor Battery Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
- 4 Conclusion
How to Choose the Best Trolling Motor Battery
1. Types of Trolling Motor Batteries
Because there are so many trolling motor batteries on the market, you may be a bit confused about which one you should get. Many people think that because they are all batteries they are basically the same. Not only is this assumption dead wrong, using a low quality battery can actually lower the efficiency of your trolling motor. If you want to be able to perform as well as possible on the water, then I suggest you do as much research as possible.
Wet or Flooded Lead Acid (FLA): There are three major classifications that trolling motor batteries can be divided into. The first of these is the wet lead acid batteries or, more commonly, flooded trolling batteries. These batteries are designed to be made quickly and easily. They handle their own and operate fairly well, depending on the manufacturer, until the end of their lifespans. The average wet lead acid battery will live for an impressive two years. Because these batteries are cheaper to manufacture, they are also cheaper to purchase.
They are also really common and this same technology that powers trolling motor batteries can be seen elsewhere. Less and less wet lead acid batteries are being produced for trolling motor use, so you won’t see these too often. I only suggest buying this type of trolling motor battery if you fully understand the differences and are willing to maintain it a bit more.
Absorbed Glass Mats (AGM): Trolling batteries classified as the second type of battery, absorbed glass mat, are usually considered higher end. AGM batteries are made to provide a constant charge over a long period of time. AGMs last longer per use, and in have longer lifespans general.It isn’t unheard of for AGMs to have a lifespan which is twice as long as their wet cell counterparts. For this reason, they are the more expensive of the two.
Gel: Gel batteries are, as the name implies, filled with a gel like fluid. This fluid powers the battery but also helps protect it. Gel batteries are fairly resistant to things like vibration and discharging due to idleness. I don’t see these in stores too much, but if you do a little bit of searching online you can find a wealth of them.
The thing about gel batteries is that the market for them isn’t huge, so you generally don’t see high end gel batteries that are specifically made for trolling motors. AGM’s currently dominate the niche, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find a great gel type trolling motor battery.
Other than battery type, there are other factors that should help you make your decision. It’s really important to look at the weight of the trolling motor battery. Generally speaking, the weight of your battery shouldn’t cause too much concern unless it is slowing you down considerably, which is unlikely, or you are approaching your vehicle’s weight limit.
Most modern batteries are somewhere between 20 and 50 pound. The weight of the battery is generally the lower the better, but again, this all depends on what your weight capacity is. If you have 500 lbs free, then it wouldn’t hurt much to get a 50 lb battery depending on the other features it provides. Most anglers with kayaks would appreciate batteries that are below 30 lbs.
3. Amp-Hour Rating
The Amp-Hour Rating is one of the most important factors to deciding what trolling motor battery you want. Amp-Hour Rating is defined as the amount of amps that can be discharged in a certain amount of time. For example, say that you have a trolling motor battery is rated at 50 aH. This simply means that it can produce 2 amps for 25 hours, 5 amps for 10 hours, 10 amps for 5 hours etc.
You divide the amp-hour rating by the number of amps expected to discharged, and you’ll get how long the battery can run on one charge. It seems a little confusing, but all you really need to know is that the higher the AHR, the longer your battery can run. For vessels under 16 feet like small kayaks, I recommend a minimum of 20 aH.
The heavier or larger your vessel is, the more aH you’ll want. Sometimes, this number will get lower and lower over time as the materials of the battery slowly deteriorate, which is why you can’t just look at any one rating before making a purchase.
4. Cold Cranking Amps
CCA, or cold cranking amps, is the amount of amps that a battery releases during the first 30 seconds of power up at 0°F. This feature is only important for starting batteries that need to release large amounts of energy for a short amount of time. Reserve capacity is how long a battery can release electricity (under 25 amps) before needing a recharge. You generally won’t run into CCA when looking at trolling motor battery specifications unless it’s a specialty battery with two functions; starting your electrical equipment, and keeping it running.
5. Cycle Life
The overall lifespan of your battery is called cycle life. Unfortunately most companies are afraid to advertise their cycle life, and just claim that their product is deep cycle. Generally the cycle life will be between two to four years, and to get this information you can read product reviews if the company doesn’t advertise it.
Best Trolling Motor Battery 2017 – Reviews and Comparison
The Mighty Max ML35-12 is an amazing battery that comes with a great price. The ML35-12 is perhaps the most affordable absorbable glass mat trolling motor battery that is currently available on the market. This battery is also designed to be spill proof – a feature that is important for when you are trying to decide where to mount your battery and what orientation to set it up in. For smaller applications and minimal use trolling motors, this battery is certainly the way to go.
The ML35-12 is most commonly used for kayak trolling motors and the like, because it is a smaller battery and a little less powerful than others. It’s rated at 35 aH, meaning it can run 5 amps for 7 hours, etc.
I’ve found that the amp-hour rating is no problem for a kayak, 14 footer, or similar boats. The dimensions are nice and compact, at 7.68” x 5.16” x 7.13”. This battery weighs just over 23 lbs. The most common connection is to a solar panel to charge, and it uses nut and bolt connections.
I love Mighty Max because they make dependable batteries. They have a 30 warranty on all products, so don’t be afraid of using it if you need to. Again, this is a great choice if you need a trolling motor battery for anything with 50 lbs of thrust and under, so don’t expect it to push your monster of a boat for very long. It’s suited for small boats and kayak.
The popular VMAX857 TM is a common pick among many anglers for its versatility and power for a great price. This unit is an absorbed glass mat battery, though VMAX goes one step further by saying that their AGM’s are superior to others because of the refinement process. As a spill proof battery, you don’t need to worry about configuration. The VMAX857 is also completely maintenance free.
VMAX boasts of a specialized lead tin design, which supposedly makes it better than lead calcium batteries. VMAX also uses thicker plates and more durable material that is designed to increase the battery life and enhance resistance to shocks and vibrations, though because of this it is slightly heavier than most other batteries with similar specifications. This 7.7” x 5” x 6.1” battery weighs about 25 lbs.
This is a 12 volt battery is rated at 35 aH; a decent amp-hour rating for smaller boats and kayaks. Even though they advertise at 35 aH, some anglers report that this battery is capable of closer to 42 Ah in good conditions. VMAXTANKS advertises that the unit should be used for trolling motors with 18 – 40 lbs of thrust, though people have said they are comfortable using the battery for up to 50 lb thrust.
VMAX never disappoints, and this battery is proof of that. This smaller battery is decently priced and runs even better than advertised. Anglers everywhere are proud owners of this battery, and it is great for smaller boats. Not only will this battery last you longer, it won’t dry up your wallet. Cheap, durable, and effective, this battery is most definitely the way to go if you want a nice powerful battery for your fairly small sized boat.
Another Mighty Max battery worth looking at is the ML55-12 SLA. This is a 12 volt battery with absorbed glass mat technology. You won’t need to worry about cleaning or maintaining this battery. The 9.02” x 5.43” x 9.13” battery weighs 38.58 lbs. This is a little heavy, and some people notice that the height on this unit is a little high, but overall the unit makes up for it.
As per usual, the battery comes with the Might Max return policy and warranty. You can return the battery after 30 days, and if it has a defect you have a one year warranty. There have been a few reports stating that the cycle life is not as long as some competitors’, though the battery should generally live for about 24 months.
This is a very decently priced battery, especially because it is rated at 55 aH. This battery has been reported to power a 30 lb thrust trolling motor at medium speeds for around 6 hours. It is tailored to work with medium sized kayaks, but its weight might be a restriction for smaller boats. Regardless, this power packed battery is revered by many and can be on your boat for a very great price.
The first high end trolling motor battery that will be discussed here is the Optima 8016-103. When looking for a high end battery, you’ll hear about Optima a lot. I personally love this brand. They have excellent craftsmanship and superior technology. The 8016-103 is engineered with special features to make it more durable, powerful, more useful overall.
Optima used their patented SpiralCell technology on this model, and boasts about using nearly 100% pure lead and lead oxide for their spiraled lead plates. This translates to more consistent and reliable energy, along with durability. This is a 12 volt automated glass mat battery that doesn’t need any maintenance. Optima’s batteries are generally reliable and beautifully crafted. It is a high end battery so it does cost a bit more than other options, but the cost is worth it.
This battery is a 55 Ah rated unit with a unique selling point. This battery comes with 750 cold cranking amps. This means that is a starting and trolling battery. The blue top of the Optima indicates that it’s a starting battery, and the light gray case color tells us that it is a deep cycling battery.
This battery is used in medium to large sized boats for a decent amount of time because of its slightly large dimensions. It’s 10” x 6.75” x 7.8125 and weighs a decent 43.5 lbs. For its performance these are fairly average dimensions.
The Universal Battery’s UB121000 is an interesting product. The name Universal Battery is actually very accurate – this 12 volt deep cycle battery is used in a wide range of applications including RV batteries, solar powered batteries, wind powered batteries, and of course, powering trolling motors.
This versatile battery is an AGM, made to be drained and recharged several times throughout its lifetime. This battery is so special because of the fact that users aren’t limited to one use. The price is affordable, making this a great deal.
The UB121000 is a 100 aH battery. This is an amazing rating, and the highest seen in this article. That’s an amazing 10 amps for 10 hours. This battery is fairly large, however. Its dimensions are 12.17” x 6.61” x 8.30”. This battery is best suited for large boats with powerful trolling motors or medium sized boats with high weight capacities. The battery is also pretty heavy; about 60 lbs.
There have been reviews that question the durability of these batteries. The manufacturing process is nothing special, but they are AGM batteries. Don’t let this discourage you from making a purchase, however. If your boat can accommodate the weight and size, the UB121000 is an amazing option. They are powerful batteries at the fraction of the cost of similar ones.
Last but certainly not least is the VMAXTANKS VMAXSLR125. This beast of the battery world is the most powerful on the list. This is another great unit made by VMAX, an American company that makes high quality products. Their manufacturing process produces batteries with virtually no resistance, making them 99% efficient. If you are using the battery to power a trolling motor, it is expected to run for 8 to 10 years. This is impressive, considering that there are several batteries that will only last you one year, two if you’re lucky.
The SLR-125 is a powerhouse. Capable of producing 125 Ah, this 12 volt battery can deliver 5 amps for 25 hours, 15 amps for 8 ⅓ hour, 25 amps for 5 hours etc. This is great for large boats and trolling motors with demanding amounts of thrust. This battery weighed in at 75 lbs, which is quite hefty. The dimensions (6.8” x 12.9” x 8.7”) are relieving, though, and relatively compact.
It’s hard to beat this unit, as it is so durable and powerful, but if you would rather not spend very much on a trolling motor battery, then this is not the option for you. In the long run, buying this beast might actually save you money however – in the same amount of time, you could replace a cheaper trolling motor 4 to 5 times, while this higher end unit could still be up and running.
The weight can be a bit off putting, and it may be a little overkill for smaller boats. If you need a powerful, high end battery, then the SLR-125 should definitely be a candidate.
Trolling Motor Battery Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
Do I Need to Clean My Trolling Motor Battery?
Clean? Not so much. Maintain? Absolutely. I have come across so many great batteries ruined by a lack of proper care. Based on how well you maintain your battery, they will do their job to their best ability. Most batteries need significant maintenance.
You can clean your battery if you notice that it is corroding, but other than that just keep dirt and other grime off of your battery. Wet lead acid batteries must be filled with distilled water every once in a while, and should be inspected regularly. Use tools like a hydrometer to test the concentration of the acidic substance. You also have to take care that the battery acid isn’t overflowing. These batteries require the most labor intensive maintenance.
Though gel and AGM batteries are often labeled as maintenance free, there are some basic steps that you should take to protect your batteries. For one, watch the charge. You don’t want to overcharge a battery of any type. This can quickly destroy its function.
You also want to watch how much energy you’re drawing from your battery. Even if your battery will deliver 5 amps for 10 hours, you shouldn’t drain it dry. You should set a goal to only use 75% of your batteries charge at most. This can end up doubling the life of some batteries.
Where Should I Store My Batteries?
You have to take care of your batteries. Never mix any two types of batteries, and separate old and new ones. I always keep batteries that aren’t in use in a dark place slightly below room temperature. Cold is good, but don’t overdo it because you’ll just end up damaging the batteries.
Is My Trolling Motor Battery Bad?
The easiest way to tell if a battery’s cells are shot is to check the specific gravity. This works for wet lead batteries. Basically, the specific gravity will help you determine the concentration of the acid in your water. In general, if one cell is +/- 30 kg/m3 of another cell, then the battery is no good.
For other types of batteries, you can just pull out a multimeter. The multimeter should show you everything you need to know. Replace your batteries as soon as possible to avoid damage to your trolling motor.
Trolling motor batteries are an extremely important part of your boat. Don’t overlook them or buy the cheapest battery you can find. If your battery’s no good, then your trolling motor’s no good. Based on your personal preferences and your trolling motor’s specifications, do some research and find the perfect fit. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.