Trolling Motor Batteries for Canoes & Kayaks (A complete guide)

The battery you choose for your kayak or canoe trolling motor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your fishing or tripping canoe or kayak.

You’ll be spending a decent amount of money on a key element in your canoe, so it’s crucial to understand the type, weight, power, and price of the best battery for your needs.


What Battery is Best for a Trolling Motor?

While there is no clear answer to this question (since it is based on your motor’s power and the conditions in which you’ll be using your motor), a good rule of thumb for starters would be a 12V battery rated with a minimum of 100 amp hours (Ah) and is a deep cycle marine battery.

There are conditions where you’ll need to deviate from this rule of thumb quite a bit, and that’s okay as long as you understand the implications.

For example, if your electric trolling motor is mounted on a small 12-foot canoe or 7-foot kayak, and you only plan to go fishing for an hour at a time just off the dock at the cottage, it might be best for you to consider the lightest, smallest, most convenient, most inexpensive battery. And yes, it will also be the least powerful battery which holds the smallest charge.

Obviously, if your situation is the opposite of this (20-foot canoe with 3 anglers out for a week-long fishing trip and a 55-lb thrust motor), then you may want to consider a 24V or 36V motor and battery or even multiple batteries wired together to accommodate that power profile.


What is the Longest-Lasting Battery for a Trolling Motor?

The longest-lasting trolling motor battery is the one with the highest Amp Hour (Ah) rating. It’s easy enough to find batteries with a 300Ah – 400Ah rating, though 50Ah – 150Ah are far more common.

Keep in mind that even though every kayak or canoe angler or adventurer with a trolling motor wants the longest-lasting battery, it might be best to consider other factors such as price (you can get 2 – 150Ah batteries for far less than the price of one 300Ah battery).


What is an Amp Hour (Ah)?

The most common specification on a marine trolling motor battery is probably its AMP HOUR (Ah) rating. Amp hour refers to the number of amps (current draw) a battery can deliver in one hour.

For example, if you have a 50Ah rated battery, and your trolling motor draws 25 amps (lbs thrust is roughly equal to the amps drawn per hour by a motor at its maximum output), then you can run the motor for 2 hours drawing 25 amps (25lb thrust motor at full throttle for 2 hours).

A more typical scenario is a 100Ah battery with a 30lb motor which will give you around 3 hours and 20 minutes of run time at full throttle, or likely all day long (or longer) in an actual fishing scenario.


Why Can’t I Use a Regular Car Battery for my Trolling Motor?

You can use a regular car battery for your trolling motor but you run the risk of damaging both the motor and the battery. A deep cycle battery is designed to be discharged much more than a car battery without suffering corrosion from the discharge. A car battery was not designed to be discharged 50% – 80% without suffering damage.

A car battery is designed primarily to crank the engine to start. That means it produces a strong burst of power and it’s not designed to trickle out a lower current over a longer timeframe. A car battery is not designed to be drained of half or most of its charge and then re-charged.

A deep-cycle marine battery lacks the starting power of a car battery, but the trade-off is that it gains the ability to trickle power out to the trolling motor over the course of a full day (or week), and then get drained of most of its power without corroding from a deep discharge (a car battery would most likely corrode and suffer damage).

So, you can use a car battery for your trolling motor, but if you do, I’d suggest using it for about an hour or less before returning it to its rightful place under the hood of your F150.


Our Top Battery Picks for Canoe and Kayak Trolling Motors

There is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” option when it comes to trolling motor batteries. To that end, I’ve spent just a bit over 7 hours researching the latest and best options for batteries of various sizes that are the best fit for different vessels.


1 – VMAX MR137-120 12V 120Ah AGM Deep Cycle Marine Battery

This battery is best for anyone with a 40-lb thrust motor who is looking for several days of trolling power (though not trolling for 8 hours non-stop) without needing to recharge.

  • 12 Volt 120Ah – Group 31 High Performance Marine AGM Deep Cycle Battery
  • Reserve Capacity: 230min
  • Dimensions: 12.9″Lx6.8″Wx8.7″H (Height includes terminals)
  • Weight: 75lb; 8mm terminals
  • Maintenance Free Operation: No need to check specific gravity of the electrolyte or add water to VMAXTANKS. Can be mounted in any position
  • Rechargeable Sealed battery resists vibration/shock.
  • High performance AGM technology (typically more reliable and longer lasting)
  • Warranty: 1 Year replacement; 30-day satisfaction guarantee

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Pros

  • Because of the higher group number rating, it carries more power than lower group numbers
  • Well-rated on Amazon
  • Incredible price for what you’re getting
  • Slightly faster than average re-charge rate
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Cons

  • Not the lightest on the market at 75lbs

2 – ExpertPower 12V 200Ah Lithium LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery

This battery is best for any adventurer who would like to go for a week or more without recharging and/or has a motor with at least a 30-lb thrust and up to the largest size that can fit on a canoe (70 lbs?)

  • LiFePO4: ExpertPower’s newest line of batteries
  • Rated No.1 Sealed Lead Acid Battery Seller on Amazon.
  • Longer Service Life: The LiFePO4 battery provides 2500 – 7000 cycles & a 10 years lifetime compared to 200 – 500 cycles & a 3 years lifetime in typical Lead Acid chemistry.
  • Efficient Power: The LiFePO4 battery’s flat discharge curve holds above 12V for up to 95% of its capacity usage providing astronomical boosts in run-time compared to only 50% in Lead Acid.
  • Lightweight: The LiFePO4 battery is only 48 lbs
  • Complete Protection: The lithium battery’s unique built-in Battery Management System (BMS) protects it from overcharge, deep discharge, overloading, overheating and short circuit, and excessive low self-discharge rate ensuring up to 1 year maintenance-free storage. Built-in low-temp cut off prevents charging under 23 °F (-5 °C).

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Pros

  • #1 rated Deep Cycle Lithium Iron Phosphate battery seller on Amazon
  • Insanely light (this one is 48lbs compared to a normal model of only 100Ah rating weighing 75lbs
  • Longer than average service life of over 10 years
  • Eco-friendly focus
  • Loses only about 2% charge per month
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Cons

  • Definitely not the least expensive option

3 – CASIL Deep Cycle Lead-Acid 12V – 55Ah Battery

This battery is best for any angler with a small motor (will work for 55lb motors but best for 20lb – 30lb thrust). It is also suggested for those whose budgets are limited and won’t mind some of the downsides associated with Lead batteries.

  • Dimensions: 8.98 in x 5.43 in x 9.06 in
  • SLA / AGM spill proof battery has a characteristic of high discharge rate, wide operating temperatures, long service life and deep discharge recovery.
  • This can be mounted in any position and it resists vibration/shock.
  • one year prorated warranty

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Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Relatively long life for a lead battery
  • Comes pre-charged
  • Maintenance-free
  • Low weight of 35lbs
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Cons

  • Won’t give you all the benefits of a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, like exceptionally low weight and longer life span

4 – ECO-WORTHY 12V 50Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Deep Cycle Battery

This battery is best for those willing to spend a bit more for a LOT more battery. This is suitable ideally for smaller motors (20lb – 30lb thrust) though it will power larger ones. It’s ideal for kayakers looking for the lightest and most powerful option for their motors.

It’s also best for shorter trips where there is some access to electric energy for charging when necessary.

  • Offers an incredibly long service life. Lead-acid batteries usually only last for 300-400 cycles, while lithium-iron batteries can continue for more than 3000 cycles and maintain 80% capacity after 3000 deep cycles. The service life is more than 8 times that of lead-acid batteries
  • The lithium battery has a built-in Battery Management System (BMS) that can protect it from overcharging, deep discharge, overload, overheating and short circuit, and low self-discharge rate
  • The 50Ah lithium battery weighs only 12.7 pounds
  • 1 year warranty.

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Pros

  • Highly-rated on Amazon
  • Weighs less than 13lbs !!!
  • Service life is 8 times longer than Lead batteries
  • Can be installed in any position (even upside down) without creating problems
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Cons

  • High price point
  • May not be available in the USA (need to order from Canada)

5 – Banshee Lithium Ion Deep Cycle 100Ah 12V Marine Battery

This battery is ideal for all sizes of trolling motors and is perfect for anyone with a higher budget and who really wants a LIGHT battery (24lbs) which is less than ONE-THIRD of the weight than a typical 100Ah battery.

It is truly unique in that it also offers cold-cranking capabilities (starting) for a car or boat. This is not typically needed for kayak or canoe trolling motors, but it’s nice to have just in case!

  • Features a 3 Year Warranty
  • The advanced LifePo4 Technology provides the Lightest, Highest CCA, and Longest Lasting Battery Possible
  • This battery offers True Marine Dual Post Terminals, Emergency Start Function, Built In Voltage Meter, and BMS (battery management System)
  • Voltage: 12
  • Amp Hours: 100
  • Chemistry: Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFeP04)
  • Cold Cranking Amps: 1200
  • Group Size: 31
  • Dimensions: L – 12.99 x W – 6.81 x H – 8.66
  • Weight: 24.2 lb – Must use only Lithium Ion, LifePo4 Charger

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Pros

  • Very light weight
  • Offers cold-cranking power instead of just long-lasting deep cycle capabilities – it’s dual purpose
  • Offers all the typical advantages of the Lithium battery family like longer service life, mounting versatility, etc.
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Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Very expensive
  • Even more expensive than that

What’s the Best Trolling Motor Battery for Minimal Size and Weight?

I’m a big fan of light and minimalist-style gear for all my canoe trips and outings. I strongly dislike large marine batteries, heavy canoes and luxurious camp stoves. They’re all too heavy and bulky for my liking.

As such, because I’m only out on the water fishing for a few hours at a time, I REALLY like the idea of having a trolling motor battery that is no bigger than what I need.

Because of this, I searched the world over for a battery that would be ideal for a kayak angler using a 30lb thrust motor and wants to be out for 1-3 hours at a time and has access to electrical power to re-charge his battery each day (or every few days).

Here’s what I found:

ExpertPower 12V 20Ah Lithium-Iron Phosphate Deep Cycle Battery

This battery is my ABSOLUTE favorite of the entire lot simply because of its size and weight. It can power a 30lb motor (assuming the lowest speed – the practical speed at which you will actually troll) for about 4 hours!

That’s longer than I usually go out, and even when I’m on the lake, I’m not trolling 100% of the time. This battery would likely last me the better part of a WEEK! That’s an incredible deal.

  • With a total weight of only 5.8 lbs, this insanely light battery is without doubt the best value for a casual angler
  • It’s only 7 inches long, 3 inches wide and 6.5 inches tall. I can almost fit that in my pocket!!!
  • If you only discharge it to 50% most of the time, it’ll last you 7000 charge cycles!

If you’re from Canada, we’d strongly suggest this deal (the red button below) for a similar product. The ExpertPower may not be available in Canada, so this is the one I have my eye on!

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Pros

  • 5.8lbs – the lightest of its kind!
  • 7 x 3 x 6.6 inches in size – INCREDIBLE!
  • Will power a 30lb trolling motor for around 4 hours at lowest speed setting
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Cons

  • Almost $200 for a 20Ah battery. Compare that at less than $50 for a Lead-Acid batter with similar specs.

Are Lithium Batteries Better for Trolling Motors?

Lithium batteries come in a variety of chemical variations. Because of their huge list of superior qualities over Lead-acid batteries, they are absolutely the best batteries to use for trolling motors.

They are typically longer-lasting, lighter, safer, more environmentally-friendly and they charge much faster than lead batteries.

Remember that even in the Lithium battery family, there are differences. For example, a Lithium-Ion battery has a higher “energy desity” than a Lithium-Iron-Phosphate battery. Energy density refers to how much energy a battery contains relative to its weight, and it’s measured in Watt-hours per Kilogram or Wh/kg).

That means, if it makes no difference to you in price, then you’d go for the Lithium-Ion version.

Lithium batteries come with a couple of downsides, however. They are usually significantly more expensive and they are not as widely available for consumer purchasing.

My suggestion would be to find a good Lithium-ion (or Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery (you can find them online using many of my links above).

Once you purchase one, you’ll eventually realize that the higher cost is more than offset by the longer service life and weight/convenience offered by the newer technology.


Lithium vs. Lead-Acid Battery


LITHIUM-ION

LEAD-ACID
Non-toxic and non-corrosiveToxic and corrosive
1/2 to 1/3 the weight of Lead batteriesExtremely Heavy
Charges very quickly compared to Lead-acid batteriesTakes longer to charge
Newer technology – not as much known about long-term issuesHistorically proven/understood technology
Not as widely sold/available as Lead batteriesMore Widely available than Lithium batteries
More expensive than Lead batteriesMUCH more affordable than Lithium batteries
Has a significantly longer service life – can last 20 years or moreUnless all charging factors are perfectly balanced, Lead batteries will have a much shorter service life
With no harmful Lead, Lithium batteries are much friendlier to the environment. No toxic gasses are released.Much more harmful to the environment
No Peukert EffectPeukert Effect (delivers less energy under high loads)
Based on longer life, the cost per kWh is much lower (4 – 6 times less expensive over time)Cost less to buy initially, but because of old technology, they expire earlier and have a high cost per kWh
Can be used/stored at any angleBecause of liquid inside, Lead batteries need to stay upright

How Many Years Do Trolling Motor Batteries Last?

As you may have gathered, trolling motor batteries come in a variety of types. The most common type (still) is a Lead Acid Wet Cell battery. It’s an affordable battery that is made up of actual wet (water and sulfuric adid-filled) cells or compartments. With proper maintenance, it should last 3 years or more performing optimally though it could last twice that long depending on usage and other factors.

A Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery can last anywhere from 3000-5000 charge cycles. On average, if you went fishing all day for 300 days every year (lucky you!), you’d have to charge it maybe once a day. That means it should last you 10 – 15 years or more. In my case, it would last for many decades!

A sealed wet cell battery is a step up, and a popular type is the AGM Deep Cycle battery (Absorbed Glass Mat). This battery type requires no additions of water or any maintenance other than proper charging/discharging. They are a tiny bit more expensive than the older Lead-Acid style, but they last a few years longer (approx. 5-7 years of longer in ideal conditions).

Another version of a deep cycle trolling motor battery is a GEL filled battery (no liquid – only gel) and it lasts somewhere around 4-5 years in good conditions.


How Long Will a 100Ah Lithium Battery Last on a Trolling Motor?

Calculating run time per charge is relatively easy (at least in theory). First, determine the voltage of your motor. For most, it will be a 12V motor (this may or may not be relevant to the calculation).

Next, determine how many amps your motor draws. To make it simple, the number of thrust pounds of your motor is approximately equal (give or take) to the amps drawn. That means a 30lb thrust motor draws around 30 amps at full speed.

Finally, you can apply the math, and get the very rough run time by dividing 100(Ah) by 30(lbs thrust) and you get 3.33 hours. Obviously with a lower speed (lower current draw) the run time will increase to as much as 20 hours on the lowest speed setting.

How Long Will a Battery Last at Slow Speeds (minimal power)?

It’s tough to nail down this question perfectly, but as a rule, at low speeds, most motors (30lb – 55lb or so) will draw 5-10 amps (at the actual speed you might troll).

As an example then, a 100Ah battery with a 40lb motor will most likely last as long as long as 20 hours as long as you don’t crank it up full for a long time. Over the years, that 20 hours will likely decrease.


Where do Batteries go in a Canoe?

The location of your battery in your canoe or kayak will depend on some factors that vary greatly. For example, are you alone in the canoe or with someone else? Are you using a Lead-Acid battery or a Lithium battery? Where is your seat located relative to the center of the canoe?

For most solo anglers in a canoe rigged for fishing, the battery (likely a heavy lead-acid battery) will sit near the bow while the angler sits closer to the stern (perhaps half-way between the center thwart and the very end of the canoe at the stern).

This setup balances the canoe relatively well.

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In my Prospector canoe, I turn the canoe around and make the bow (for tandem) into the stern (for solo fishing). I then put the battery on the opposite end of the canoe from me (in this case, the bow) to balance the canoe trim (front and back) properly.

One Last Word on Battery Location

If you’re like me and hate extra weight, bulk and nuissance, you may opt for a light Lithium battery with a lower Ah rating like THIS ONE on Amazon.

If you do, PLEASE remember that it only weighs 5.8lbs. That awesomely low weight does not offer any ballast in your canoe (less of an issue with kayaks) so if you sit near the stern of your fishing canoe, your bow may stick up a bit unless you have a partner or something else to help balance the trim.


How Much Can I Discharge my Marine Trolling Motor Battery?

The issue of charging and discharging can be confusing, but here’s the answer as simply as I can tell you; As a rule, re-charge your deep cycle trolling motor battery when it depletes to 50%. That’s the short answer with no explanation.

Lithium batteries don’t like to be stored when they are fully charged. Store them at about 85% maximum charge to increase their service lifespan.

Wet cell Lead-Acid batteries (including both AGM and Gel) are designed to deal with deep discharge cycles but AGM batteries deal with discharges better than traditional Lead wet-cell batteries.

Gel batteries are less tolerant of heat and usually don’t charge as fast as AGM and they’re more sensitive to environmental conditions like temperature extremes and vibration/shock.

Regarding how often and when to charge your battery, here’s where it gets tricky. Deep Cycle batteries are meant to be discharged to a great extent (down to 20% of original capacity or even more).

However, a battery will last longer overall if it is re-charged when it’s at 50% capacity rather than 20% capacity over the long term. The confusing part is that if you continually re-charge your battery after only a 5% or 10% discharge, the service life will also be depleted faster than if all your re-charges happened after 50% depletion.

Be sure to use the correct charger (as per your battery manual) since an incorrect charger may damage the battery.


What Are Battery Group Sizes and What Do They Mean?

I’ll give you the non-technical, simple version which will hopefully suffice! A group size describes 2 qualities of a deep cycle battery. The group size is determined by an organization call the Battery Council International or BCI.

It refers to the actual, physical size of the battery itself. In other words, the exterior dimensions. Common deep cycle battery sizes are 31 (measuring approximately 13″L x 7″W x 9″H) and size 24 (measuring about 10-1/4″L x 6-1/2″W x 9″H).

The group size also usually determines the Amp Hour capacity. A deep cycle battery with a higher BCI number usually has a higher Amp Hour rating, which means it will last longer on the water per charge.

One Side Note on Group Sizes: Most battery boxes are meant to fit group size 24 or 27 sizes.

Minn Kota Battery Power Center (Worth the Price?)

See our review of the Minn Kota battery box HERE.


Does My Trolling Motor Need More Than One Battery?

Most trolling motors are rated at 12V. The motors that are NOT rated at 12V come with a power rating of a multiple of 12 (ie. 24V, 36V). That means if your motor is rated at 24V, you’ll need either two 12V batteries connected together or one 24V battery.

As a sidenote, remember than a 24V motor won’t make you move faster than a 12V motor. A 24V motor will give you more torque or “power” to push a larger vessel and it will last longer, but usually won’t go faster.

IMPORTANT: It’s not a good idea to run a 24V motor with one 12V battery. While it may work for a time, it will ultimately damage the motor, while doing no favors to the over-stressed battery.

ALSO IMPORTANT: As a rule, I would strongly discourage anyone from buying a 24V or 36V motor for your canoe or kayak. The reason is that they are usually bigger and I’d consider them “overkill” for your small vessel.

Furthermore, having either one large 24V / 36V OR several 12V batteries wired in series is a bit too much bulk and weight for most recreational canoe/kayak fishermen to handle conveniently.

Even though a 24V Lithium battery weighs as little as 45lbs, my advice would be to stick with a 12V motor and use a Lithium 12V battery which weighs less than 25lbs, is less expensive and is smaller. It will serve your needs better (my opinion) than a 24V or 36V system.

That being said, a 24V motor will give you more “thrust” if you should need it (larger vessel) and because it will have a lower amp draw, it will last longer. For most canoe or kayak anglers out for a few hours, both of those advantages are not relevant.


Wiring a 24V Trolling Motor with 2 – 12V Batteries

This procedure requires 2 batteries and 1 jumper cable between the positive terminal of one battery and the negative terminal of the other. See instructions below.

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BATTERY SETUP for 24V Trolling Motor

Step-By-Step Procedure to set up 2 – 12V Batteries For Your 24V Trolling Motor

1 – Try to place both batteries near or touching each other with a minimal distance between the positive terminal of one battery and the negative terminal of the other (to keep things as neat and compact as possible).

2 – With a connector cable, connect the positive terminal of Battery A to the negative terminal of Battery B.

3 – Connect the negative wire from the motor to the negative terminal of Battery A and join the positive wire from the motor to the positive terminal of Battery B.


Wiring a 36V Trolling Motor with 3 – 12V Batteries

This procedure is the same as it is with 24V, but you’re simply adding an extra battery. You will now have 2 jumper cables connecting the negative and positive terminals (1 for each new battery connection) rather than one cable as seen in the diagram above.

Step-By-Step Procedure to Set up 3 – 12V Batteries For Your 36V Trolling Motor

1 – Try to place all 3 batteries near or touching each other to reduce messy connective wiring.

2 – With a connector cable, connect the + of BATTERY A to the of BATTERY B. Then use another connector cable to join the + of BATTERY B to the of BATTERY C.

3 – Then, simply follow the diagram as with a 24V. The remaining open terminals (the of BATTERY A and the + of BATTERY C) should be joined to the corresponding terminals of the trolling motor cable.


Key Takeaways

I’ve done my absolute best to provide you with some answers to the most commonly asked questions about trolling motors on all of Google!

I’ve had experience with multiple batteries and multiple electric trolling motors, so along with lots of research added to my experiences, I’ve come up with a number of batteries that I think would work you and your situation.

I’ve also outlined how to wire multiple batteries together for longer-lasting power and more torque.

But mostly, my goal has been to provide you with the information you need to choose the battery that fits YOUR needs the best.

It’s my personal opinion that a Lithium battery (though quite a bit pricier) will be significantly less expensive over the long term (and immeasureably more convenient), and is well worth the money.

However, I encourage all anglers to get the smallest (and least expensive) battery that will work for you. For many, that would be the ExpertPower 12V 20Ah Lithium-Iron Phosphate Deep Cycle Battery.

It’s a Lithium battery (best you can buy) and it weighs less than 6 pounds while providing enough trolling (not speeding) power for about 4 hours with a 30lb – 55lb trolling motor.

Please get out there and enjoy this amazingly-created world while you’re still able, and even better, grab a kid or two (and your most excellent life partner if you’re lucky enough to have one) while you’re at it.

Blessings to you all!

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Pete Stack

After 40 years of experience canoeing, camping, fishing, hiking and climbing in the Ontario wilderness, Pete is eager to combine his love for the outdoors with his passion to write. It is our hope that his knowledge can be passed on through this site and on Rugged Outdoors Guide on YouTube.

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