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If you just bought your trolling motor and want to wire it properly, do not forget to install a circuit breaker or a fuse. It doesn’t cost much and will protect your investment.

What is a trolling motor circuit breaker and why do I need it?

In this article I’ll be discussing why they’re important, different types of circuit breakers and fuses, and how to install them.

Let’s get started!

Why Your Trolling Motor Needs a Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker works by “tripping” the circuit whenever there is too much current flowing towards the motor.

This overload happens when your prop gets stuck in weeds, rocks, etc., and can’t rotate freely. The motor will then start to draw more current in an attempt to increase power. This excess current can cause overheating and damage to your trolling motor.

An overload could also happen when your wiring is inadequate, for instance, when the wire is too long and the wire gauge too small for the current it is supposed to carry.

Another function of a circuit breaker is to cut off the electricity supply if there is a short circuit in the system. For example, a wire or wire connection could be exposed or damaged. This could lead to sparks and even fire.

Fortunately, a properly sized and wired circuit breaker can prevent this.

Once the cause of overload or a short circuit has been removed, the flow of electricity can be reset manually. All you need to do is to use the switch on the breaker to reconnect the circuit.

How to Choose a Trolling Motor Circuit Breaker?

There are two main things to look for when selecting a circuit breaker for your motor: Current rating and voltage range (dc).

Current Rating

It is expressed in Amps (A), for example, 50 Amp or 60 Amp. The Amp rating of a circuit breaker should be slightly above the maximum amp draw of your trolling motor. For instance, if your motor draws a maximum of 55 Amps, you should pick a 60 Amp circuit breaker for your wiring.

DC Voltage Range

The next thing to check is that a circuit breaker works with the voltage of your motor. Many circuit breakers are designed to work in the range of 12V to 48V, which covers basically all trolling motors in the market. Just make sure your motor fits within this range, and it is rated for direct current (DC).

Important Features

A good circuit breaker is:

  • Waterproof
  • Ignition-protected
  • Reset manually

How to Wire a Circuit Breaker For a Trolling Motor

A circuit breaker should be installed on the positive (+) wire between your battery and the motor. The closer to the battery, the better.

Installing a circuit breaker is easy as long as you are comfortable working with wires and connections.

You can hire a marine technician to install a circuit breaker for your trolling motor. However, if you are looking to do the job yourself, then here’s a set of instructions you can follow:

Step 1: Find a Good Location to Mount Your Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers should be as close to the battery as possible to prevent excessive voltage drop.

Step 2: Mount the Circuit Breaker to a Suitable Surface

Most breakers come with two holes so that you can use screws or bolts for mounting.

Step 3: Connect the Motor to the Circuit Breaker

There are two terminals on your circuit breaker: “AUX” intended for the motor and “BAT” for the battery.

Take the positive wire (+) of your trolling motor and connect it to the terminal marked “AUX” on the circuit breaker.

Step 4: Connect the Battery

Before you proceed, make sure to check that the trolling motor is switched off or its speed set to “0” or neutral. The last thing you want is for your propeller to start rotating unexpectedly.

In the last step, make the wire connection between the terminal marked “BAT” on the circuit breaker and the positive post (+) of your battery.

That’s it! You’re ready to go.

Inline Fuses for Trolling Motors

Fuses serve the same purpose as circuit breakers – they prevent overloads in electrical circuits. However, they work in a very different way.

A fuse is made of a thin piece of metal that overheats and melts when too much current flows through it. They work very fast and stop the flow of electricity almost instantly.

This speed is usually good, as it protects your motor and electronics. However, some systems experience short-lasting current surges, and even correctly matched fuses could be oversensitive and melt when it’s not needed.

Since fuses are destroyed by heat, they can’t be reused like circuit breakers and must be replaced. So if you decide to install a fuse instead of a circuit breaker on your boat, make sure you carry spares and know how to install them.

Fortunately, they are inexpensive.

Questions and Answers

Are circuit breakers just an optional safety feature?

If you use your trolling motor in the United States, you must have either a circuit breaker or a fuse. The U.S. Coast Guard requires them for any ungrounded current-carrying conductor.

Do you need a different circuit breaker for different brands of trolling motors?

Not at all. As long as your circuit breaker is matched to the maximum Amp rating of your motor, it will work just fine.

My battery box comes with a circuit breaker. Do I need to install another one?

No. Just make sure it has the correct Amp rating and voltage range to be safely used with your motor.