What Size Trolling Motor For 24ft Pontoon Boats?

What Size Trolling Motor For 24ft Pontoon Boats? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

January 16, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • 55 lbs of thrust is the practical minimum power for a pontoon trolling motor
  • Choose a motor based on your conditions and intended use
  • Trolling motors are for cruising; not for speed
  • Trolling motors of up to 10 hp can be used on a 24-foot pontoon boat

Choosing a trolling motor, especially for a large 24-foot pontoon boat, can certainly be challenging. What is the correct size, and what about power ratings?

A trolling motor for a 24-foot pontoon boat should have at least 55 pounds of thrust and enough shaft length to reach the water. A 24-volt trolling motor is ideal, and a sufficient battery bank should provide plenty of range and power to run auxiliaries (such as the radio).

The information used in this article was sourced from trolling motor manufacturer spec guides, along with reputable pontoon boat experts from around the web.


Table of contents

What Is A Trolling Motor?

Generally speaking, a trolling motor is a low-power electric alternative to a traditional gasoline-powered outboard motor. Trolling motors are generally found on small craft, such as open fishing boats and occasionally kayaks.

Recently, trolling motors with increased power output have become a suitable choice for pontoon boats up to 30 feet in length. Pontoon boats have a shallow draft and minimal drag, so they’re well suited for electric propulsion.

Benefits Of Trolling Motors Over Conventional Outboard Motors

Pontoon boat owners have a tough choice to make: do you choose an electric trolling motor or a conventional gas-powered outboard? The choice is clear if you’re looking for a pleasant and tranquil boating experience.

Electric trolling motors are quiet and efficient. There’s no engine to make noise or pollution, and they can move a pontoon boat along at a reasonable speed. A deep cycle battery (likely two or more) can propel your boat for hours.

Drawbacks Of Trolling Motors

Trolling motors have a few drawbacks. For one, electrical power can be tricky especially when range is key. Charging takes time, and it’s not as simple as pulling up to the fuel dock and filling up the tank.

Plus, electric motors produce nowhere near the thrust of a gasoline engine in the same price range. This isn’t an issue if you don’t need to go fast or battle rough weather, though the extra power of a gasoline engine (relative to boat weight) is helpful in many situations.

Trolling Motor Power Ratings

Trolling motors are available in several power ratings. The smallest are 12-volt and run on a single deep cycle marine battery. These should be avoided for pontoon boats, as they don’t have nearly enough thrust.

A typical pontoon boat trolling motor falls in the 24-volt to 60-volt range. These can provide the 50+ pounds of thrust required to move a longer and heavier boat through the water, and range in power from less than 1 hp to over 5 hp.

Can Trolling Motors Be Used On A Pontoon Boat?

Yes, you can absolutely use an electric trolling motor on your pontoon boat. However, choosing what size trolling motor you need for a 24-foot pontoon boat is tricky. Boat owners know that almost any gas-powered outboard will push a pontoon around at various speeds–but the vast majority of gas outboards have at least 5 horsepower.

For the best efficiency, you’ll need to match a trolling motor to your boat’s characteristics–and also how and where it’ll be used. What’s ideal for a calm, protected lake wont work in a river with a strong current and wind. Also, what works in rough conditions may be totally excessive and wasteful for calm, protected waters.

How Do You Plan To Use Your Pontoon Boat?

A small trolling motor (<1 hp) is ideal if you plan to use your boat as a mobile party platform. For example, this setup works if you plan to move from point A to point B on protected waters, drop anchor, and hang out.

You’ll need a more powerful setup if you’re in a river with a current or plan to travel anywhere other than a small protected lake.

Consult The Manufacturer’s Specifications

Often, pontoon boat manufacturers will include a list of general specifications and requirements for their boat. These spec sheets typically include minimum and maximum power ratings for propulsion units.

If you’re lucky, it’ll distinguish between the thrust requirements for electric plants and horsepower requirements for conventional gas outboard motors. For example, a quick look at the manual might reveal that the vessel needs at least one horsepower, 80 lbs of thrust, and no more than 10 horsepower.

How To Choose A Trolling Motor For Your Pontoon Boat

Several factors are at play when choosing a trolling motor for your pontoon boat. Determining proper shaft length is key, as you want to ensure your motor will actually reach the water. In most cases, a shaft length of 50-56 inches will be sufficient. Most pontoon boats in the 24-foot category fall within this range, with 52 inches being average.

Boat owners also need to determine how much thrust they need in their pontoon motor. The fully-loaded boat weight of a 24-foot pontoon boat can reach between 2,400 and 3,000 pounds, which increases with battery weight. This takes considerable thrust, which is why at least 55 pounds is required.  Ideally, 80 pounds of thrust or more works best.

Best Power Rating For A Pontoon Boat Trolling Motor

Many pontoon boat owners believe that the ideal trolling motor has at least 5 hp (horsepower). Pontoon boats don’t require a huge outboard motor, and trolling motor thrust works differently than the power ratings of gas engines.

Some pontoon boats cruise well with just a few horsepower from an electric trolling motor. However, if you live in a windy area or a place with strong currents, a 10 hp model may be a better choice.

A high-horsepower trolling motor requires significantly more power than a smaller trolling motor. For example, a typical 4 to 10 horsepower trolling motor runs on 60+ volts, unlike the 24-volt setup used by your typical 1-horsepower trolling motor.

Main Vs Secondary Propulsion Trolling Motors

It’s important to consider how you plan to use your pontoon boat, along with what the purpose of your trolling motor will be. Are you looking for a secondary bow-mount trolling motor, or is it your main propulsion?

A small size trolling motor is ideal for a secondary unit. People use small motors as thrusters for docking, and a 55 lb electric unit is a suitable motor for emergency backup too. However, a heavy pontoon boat with a small size motor won’t compete with a 20 hp gasoline outboard.

Where To Find More Information On Trolling Motor Sizes

Striking the perfect power balance for your boat may not be easy. If you need advice for your specific make and model, there are a few reliable places to check. The online forums are an excellent resource, especially if you have a relatively common make and model.

If your boat is obscure, or little information for engine sizing exists on the forums, you can contact the original manufacturer for recommendations. Similar sized boats from other manufacturers can also provide insight, provided the weight and draft is roughly the same.

What Size Trolling Motor For 24ft Pontoon Boats?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

Read more articles

by this author

Home /

What Size Trolling Motor For 24ft Pontoon Boats?

What Size Trolling Motor For 24ft Pontoon Boats?
7 Best Places To Liveaboard A Sailboat >>Can You Live On A Sailboat Year Round? >>

Most Recent

Important Legal Info

Similar Posts

Popular Posts

Get The Best Sailing Content

Welcome aboard! Check your email...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Lifeofsailing.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

(866) 342-SAIL

© 2024 Life of Sailing
Email: contact@lifeofsailing.com
Address: 11816 Inwood Rd #3024 Dallas, TX 75244
DisclaimerPrivacy Policy