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Marine Battery Wiring 101 at Cabela's

Marine Battery Wiring 101

Author: Wes Wiedmaier

Many customers have questions on the subject of wiring trolling motors and marine electronics. This step-by-step guide aims to simplify the process.

The battery system on most boats can be broken down into two parts: a starter battery and a trolling-motor battery system.

The 12-volt starter (cranking) battery delivers cranking power to the outboard motor. It can also be used as the power source for onboard electronics, such as depth finders. The trolling-motor battery system consists of one, two or three 12-volt batteries connected together in a series using jumper wire. The batteries used to power the trolling motor should not be used to power additional accessories.

Wiring the starter battery simply involves connecting RED lead wires from the outboard motor to the positive (+) battery terminal and BLACK lead wires to the negative (-) battery terminal. Just remember red goes to red and black goes to black. Other electronics should be connected to the starter battery in this same manner.

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to set up your trolling-motor battery system. It is broken down into the four most common voltage systems for trolling motors. Manufacturers recommend using 6-gauge wire for all connections. Be sure to install a 50-amp manual-reset circuit breaker in the trolling motor leads within 72" of the batteries.

Warning: Be sure all switches are in the "OFF" position before connecting your battery system.
wiring diagram
12-Volt Motors
1. Connect the RED lead from the trolling motor power cable to the positive (+) battery terminal. Use a 50-amp circuit breaker on this connection.
2. Connect the BLACK lead from the trolling motor power cable to the negative (-) battery terminal.
wiring diagram
24-Volt Motors
Use two 12-volt deep-cycle marine batteries and connect as follows:
1. Connect the BLACK wire from the trolling motor power cable to the negative (-) battery terminal of one battery (battery B).
2. Connect the RED wire from the trolling motor power cable to the positive (+) post of the other battery (battery A). Use a 40-amp circuit breaker on this connection.
3. Connect a jumper wire to the positive (+) post of battery B and the negative (-) post of battery A. The jumper wire should be the same gauge as the leads to the motor.
wiring diagram
12-/24-Volt Motors
Use two 12-volt deep-cycle marine batteries and connect in the following manner:
1. Connect the RED wire from the trolling motor power cable to the positive (+) post of battery A. Use 40-amp circuit breaker on this connection.
2. Connect the BLACK wire from the trolling motor power cable to the negative (-) post of battery B.
3. Connect the WHITE wire from the trolling motor power cable to the positive post of battery B. This will be your 12-volt lead. Include a 40-amp breaker on this connection.
4. Connect a jumper from the negative (-) post of battery A to the positive (+) post of battery B.
36-Volt Motors
Use three 12-volt deep-cycle marine batteries and connect in the following manner:
wiring diagram

1. Connect the RED wire from the trolling motor power cable to the positive (+) post of battery A. Use a 40-amp circuit breaker for motors with 81 lbs. of thrust and under. Use a 50-amp breaker for motors with more than 81 lbs. of thrust.
2. Connect the BLACK wire from the trolling motor power cable to the negative (-) post of battery C.
3. Connect a jumper from the negative (-) post of battery A to the positive (+) post of battery B.
4. Connect a jumper from the negative (-) post of battery B to the positive (+) post of battery C.