Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post looking at my 3 best kayak trolling motor battery chargers to connect with this year. Recently I wrote a post about trolling motor batteries for kayaks based on the experiences of a fishing buddy of mine and his new purchase. As we were shopping for said battery, you could literally see the second the look on his face changed when the sales guy asked him “and how are you going to charge your battery?”. I mean, it is an obvious question but to be honest, it is not something either of us had really thought about.
So we asked a few questions and he purchased a charger as well. Of course then I came home and started this post, did some more research and come up with 3 options here that I think would work well for you for a kayak trolling motor battery. So grab yourself a nice cold beverage and a snack and let’s see if we can get your battery charged so you can get amongst the big ones…
My 3 recommended kayak trolling motor battery chargers
I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry on, my 3 are listed here for your convenience:
|Trolling Motor Battery Charger||Price||Get it|
|Waterproof Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Pro||$||CURRENT PRICE|
|Universal Power Group GMA Battery||$$||CURRENT PRICE|
|LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Lithium-ion Battery||$$$||CURRENT PRICE|
What are trolling motor battery chargers?
So, as a recap, a trolling motor battery is a rechargeable 12V battery that is used to power the motor when it is attached to the kayak in the water. Like most batteries of this type as used in caravans, boats and camping setups etc., they need to be recharged during, or after use. This is where a battery charger comes into play.
Put simply, it is the device that charges the battery.
Types of Chargers
Ok, when it comes to 12 V battery chargers for trolling motors, there are a number of options to choose from. These include:
Plain electric chargers – My parents used to have one of these to charge their 12V golf cart batteries. They attached the charger and then set an alarm to turn it off after a certain amount of time. That is because these ‘old school’ chargers simply do one thing – charge the battery at whatever wattage (see below) has been set without any variation or battery management. They will charge the battery until you turn it off.
Yes, these work and to be honest, some charge way faster than the other models listed below however they will significantly reduce your battery life – and as my dad found out, can cause even the ‘leak free’ batteries to break their seals if over heated by charge as well. My advice – leave these ones on the shelf.
Smart chargers – These are the new breed of chargers that manage the rate of charge to a battery based on its voltage levels. These chargers actually ‘read’ the battery to determine its current voltage level and distribute charge accordingly. Commonly, most will charge fully until the battery reaches around 80% then adjust currents to top up the battery without overcharging or heating it to unsafe levels (as happened to my dad’s battery above).
These battery management protocols will ensure that each battery is charged to optimum levels pro-longing use times and battery life at the same time. Should a charger be left on for a greater period of time, then the smart charger will adjust to maintenance mode where it automatically switches the charge on and off dependent upon battery needs.
More advanced models here are called precision chargers with greater abilities around maintenance mode and voltage adjustment at various stages of the charging cycle.
Trickle chargers – Many (including myself at times) get trickle and smart chargers confused – or consider them the same thing. Smart chargers can adapt to maintenance mode as outlined above whereas a trickle charger will deliver a charge that is equal to the batteries rate of self-discharge to keep the battery fully charged, or will charge depleted batteries at a very slow rate as a recovery process. Once this has been achieved, the trickle charger should be disconnected.
These are used for when a battery is not going to be in action for a while and not really suitable for those looking to use and recharge a battery at regular intervals. Don’t get me wrong, these will work but as per the plain charger above, can overcharge if not monitored.
Power pack chargers – these go by a number of different names but think of them as the same thing as the power pack that people use to charge their mobile/cell phones when not attached to a power supply. Mainly used as permanent portable chargers in the boat or kayak, these are charged by simply plugging into a power supply until they are ‘topped up’.
Then, dependent upon the model (and how much you pay), they will maintain charge to the battery/s whilst out on the water as a trickle, smart or general charging capacity.
Solar chargers – The main difference with solar chargers is that they draw their power sources from the sun rather than an electrical source. Once that is done, the charger component works in the same capacity as above – i.e. trickle, smart or power pack etc. based on the model that has been purchased.
What should you be looking for?
The information above has hopefully given you a good outline in regards to trolling motor battery chargers however when choosing one of these, there are some other things to consider. Some of these will determine the charger type that you choose and others may be personal preference.
With this in mind, here are some things to look out for:
In general, when it comes to batteries for a trolling motor, most chargers will do the trick. However, if you are not sure what you have, here is a quick explanation of the two major battery types that you may have for your trolling motor:
Absorbed Glass Matt (AGM) – AGM batteries (also known as Sealed Lead Acid or SLA), are lead acid batteries that are sealed, leak-proof and maintenance free. They are generally quick charging, last longer on a charge and have a longer life-span.
These batteries are generally deep cycle – meaning that they are designed to discharge small amounts of current over a longer period of time. Almost all chargers will work on AGM batteries – given they are effectively the standard these days – but always worth a check anyway.
Lithium-ion batteries: These are a newer technology on the market and work in the same fashion as your mobile/cell phone battery. They are more expensive than the others but are also generally smaller and lighter. They will handle being charged and discharged a lot better and have a much longer cycle life (number of times charged and recharged) as well.
Not all chargers are suitable for these types of batteries so do your homework before purchase.
Type of trolling motor
This shouldn’t be a big issue however before you head off to your favourite battery retailer (or click on my links below), just check the recommendations in relation to your motor. Some manufacturers will void warranties if the incorrect battery type or AH specs are used and many require more than one battery to run meaning your charger may need to be able to handle banking as well.
Aa above, some trolling motors require two, or even three batteries to run – often referred to as battery banks. When you are looking at chargers, many will stipulate how many batteries they can manage at once. So if you have more than one battery, ensure that your charger is rated for the relevant battery bank number.
Amp hours (AH)/Watts
12V batteries are stamped with an ‘Amp Hour’ rating which is a unit of electric charge determined by the number of amps being pulled from the battery divided by the total Ah rating of the battery. For example, a battery that is rated at 100AH will give 100 amp hours of power when fully charged. So if a trolling motor is running at a medium speed and pulling 10 amps of power from the battery, then running constantly at that speed will mean that the battery will last approximately 10 hours until it ‘runs out’. i.e. 100hours/10amp = 10 hours.
When it comes to charging a battery, charger capabilities are recorded in watts or amps. In general, the higher the wattage, the faster your battery should charge however if the wattage is too large for the battery, it can damage it.
There are so many variations to calculation out there (albeit based on the same science) that my eyes went crossed in about 5 minutes, but I have found a formula that I think can give you the basics in therms of amp changing requirements:
- Determine the battery voltage – generally 12 volt
- Determine how many batteries are to be charged (1,2,3 or 4) = i.e. your battery bank
- Locate the Amp hour rating for the battery’s capacities (AH) and if more than one battery, add them together if applicable
- Determine your preferred re-charge time requirements (6 hours minimum, usually 24 hours maximum – if not known, assume 10 hours)
- Divide total Ah by the re-charge time to get charging current – e.g. 100Ah / 10 hours = 10 Amps.
- Add 20% to allow for battery in-efficiency – e.g. 10 AMPS + 20% = 12 AMPS
- Determine any additional load current on the battery during re-charging – e.g. 24 Watts / 12 Volts = 2 Amps = 12 AMPS + 2 AMPS = 14 AMPS.
- Choose the next best charger in the range – e.g. 10 – 15 amp smart charger
Watts are Voltage multiplied by current, so taking the above example with the 12 volt battery:
- 1 Amp x 12 Volts = 12 Watts for 100 hours
- 2 Amps x 12 Volts = 24 Watts for 50 hours
- 10 Amps x 12 Volts = 120 Watts for 10 hours
What do I use?
I recently purchased myself a new Watersnake ASP 24lb Kayak Motor and a small 22AH Wet cycle marine grade battery to go with it. It is charged via a CTEK MX5.0 Smart charger with specifications as follows:
- Type: Smart Charger
- Amps: 4.3
- Charge time: Roughly 12 hours via an 8 step, fully automatic charging cycle
I charge it overnight prior to use. It also charges my 100Ah battery for the caravan as well.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above, and my own research, I recommend the following options:
1. Waterproof Solar Battery Charger & Maintainer Pro
The first unit I have chosen is a good option for those who would prefer to keep their batteries charged on the water either solely via this method (for the budget conscious) or attach it to a different one when they get back (such as option 2 below). Solar panels are also good for those who are out and about for a few days in a row as they can generally keep the battery charged for a greater period of time without the need for attachment to a traditional power source. Specifications for this option are as follows:
- Type: Smart charging solar panel
- Amps: not stated (12 watt)
- Bank: 1
- Built-in intelligent MPPT charge controller
- Smart 3-stages charging algorithm
- Comes with 3-piece SAE cable kits, plug and play
- Over voltage, over heat, overtime charging protection
- Tempered glass and strong ABS frame
Why have I chosen it?
This is a great one for those looking for a charging option that can be used anywhere especially if you are on longer fishing expeditions. It will work well in the kayak but also powerful enough to transfer to a caravan or boat battery as well. The only downside here is that it will not support banking or lithium-ion batteries.
2. 2/10/25A 12V Smart Battery Charger/Maintainer
For the price, this next one would work very well in most 12V kayak trolling motor lead-acid batteries, including GEL, AGM and STD. Its smart charging capabilities allow for voltage adjustment, charging and maintenance modes with jump start capabilities for your car as well. Specifications as follows:
- Type: Smart Charger
- Amps: 2 trickle, 10 fast charge, 25 boost
- Bank: Single
- 7-Step Charging Program
- Voltage auto detection
- Over voltage, over heat, overtime charging protection
Why have I chosen it?
One general rule of thumb when it comes to battery chargers is that you definitely get what you pay for – i.e. avoid the cheapies. That said, I like this one purely for the fact that it is a good, solid battery charger for a budget price. Its smart capabilities mean that you can charge your battery quickly and efficiently without having to stress about damage or reduced life range.
3. NOCO Genius GENPRO10X2 Fully-Automatic Smart Marine Charger
And finally let’s look at an on board battery pack charger with the ability to charge both GMA and Lithium-ion batteries. It contains full smart charging capabilities for fast and slow charging, maintenance and even recharging completely flat batteries (down to 1V) . Specifications are as follows:
- Type: Smart charging battery pack
- Amps: 20 – 10 per bank
- Bank: 2
- Fully waterproof
- Thermal sensor to detect over heating
- Ability to independently charge and control each battery bank
- Small size perfect for kayaks
Why have I chosen it?
This option is small and powerful and great for those looking to ‘wire in’ their battery banks with a single external charge point. It is the perfect size for a kayak with the ability to recharge batteries of all types including lithium-ion. It is totally waterproof and includes smart technologies to keep batteries running at optimum charge and health. A great purchase option for the price.
And there it is – my 3 best kayak trolling motor battery chargers to connect with this year. At second glance, I have really only given you a good example of each main type of charger that is suitable for this purpose so I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you. Oh, and especially if my calculation outline for charger Amps/Watts above is inaccurate or can be improved upon.
Until next time