Is a Lift Motor needed for a Boat Lift?

Do you need a lift motor for your boat lift?

Are you still struggling to turn your Boat Lift Wheel?


image of remote control

Remote Control

A DC powered Lift Boss motor makes it simple and safe to use a boat lift motor – with no effort!.  

If you can push a button to open your garage door, you can raise a 7000# boat the same way. 

Read part one of this series  ( to understand the AC version of the Lift Boss.  AC power is one of three options available to you. We extensively covered the pros and cons of using the AC option and the use of extension cords.

In this part, we discuss the options for DC powered boat lift motors, which require no extension cords.

There are two DC options – the 12 Volt and 24 Volt system.  Fortunately for you, they both use the SAME Lift Boss motor and can be upgraded at any time.  Only the charging system changes.

Here are some FAQ about a lift motor

  • Do I need a 12 Volt or 24 Volt System?
    If you are the person who lowers the boat in the morning and raises it once at night, we are going to recommend a 12 Volt system.  You will have plenty of time during the course of a normal day to recharge your system.
  • What if I raise my boat frequently during the day?
    We will recommend the 12V system and give you an option for the 24V system.  You are borderline between the two systems.  Another alternative is to use a higher wattage solar panel to help restore lifting capacity quicker. It makes sense that you will use your boat LESS without a lift motor. Need to know how to calculate the total weight of your boat? 
  • Does your boat weigh under 5,000 lbs but you are still struggling to turn the wheel? 
    We recommend the12 Volt system based on your boat weight and the capacity of your boat lift. 
  • What if I want to raise my boat FASTER?
    If you want your existing 12V lift motor to raise the boat faster – we recommend converting it to a 24 V system regardless of weight.  Caution – not all motors allow this. The Lift Boss does allow this conversion. Check with your dealer or call PWS for more information. 

Additional Questions

  • Will a car battery work on my boat lift?
    No.  You must use a Deep Cell Marine battery for ANY lift motor brand. Think of it this way – If you tried to start a car (without fuel in it) by keeping the key “on” for several minutes, the battery will wear down quickly.  They are not made for lengthy power-draining applications.   A deep cell battery is made to handle those demands. It still won’t start without fuel but that’s a different story. 
  • What battery brand do you recommend?
    The zero maintenance, sealed Interstate batteries we use have the capacity for the long power demands of a boat lift motor. 
  • Do I need a voltage regulator?
    If you connect a solar panel to your battery to keep it charged, it is important to include a solar regulator.  The regulator will monitor and “regulate” the charging of the battery so that it will not be overcharged.  Overcharging your battery will damage it and decrease its overall life span.  This also prevents your battery from leaking charge back to the panel.

Remember – A DC Powered Lift Boss motor makes it simple and safe to use a boat lift.  

Solar Panel Wattage and Output   

You have to re-charge the battery(s) as you use them. Proper charging of your marine batteries with a solar panel requires that you get the correct panel and it must be properly sized for your motor. This will allow the battery to be a consistent and reliable source for your system.

To ensure that your battery is charged properly, make sure the Voltage output is correct for the battery(s) you are using.  A 12 V panel should only be used on a single 12-volt battery. If you use it on a 24 V setup you are cutting your charge rate in half.

However, if you tend to use the lift several times a day, then you would be better off to go with a 20 Watt kit with a 12V or 24V output depending on how many batteries you are using. It is key that the output voltage of your solar panel is adequate and in line with the voltage of your battery.

What will batteries connected in Series accomplish?

Batteries in a series connection will increase your voltage from 12V to 24V.  This arrangement will not increase your amps, or the amount of electricity moving through the circuit; otherwise known as amp hours (A/H). It will give your lift motor access to 24V of power, thus resulting in a faster lift speed; effectively doubling the rpm of the motor.

The key to this setup is that there is not an increase in A/H, or current, and therefore no increase in the rate at which electricity is delivered to the motor.  The extra speed comes from the extra voltage, not the A/H. Your motor simply “sees” that it is connected to 24V as opposed to a 12V battery.


In summary, use the correct lift motor for your boat lift.  Then power it with the correct solar array for your needs.

 Need Help Planning a solar system For Your boat lift?

Contact Pier & Waterfront Solutions TODAY!

Do you have a friend that may be interested in this information? Please share a link to this page with them.

PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles South of Sturgeon Bay at the Idlewild Road intersection.


Power Options for Boat Lift Motors

Power Options for Boat Lift Motors

Boat lift Motors are covered in this 2 part series. We discuss the different types of operating systems for boat lift motors. Installing a boat lift motor makes your life so much easier.  If you can operate a garage door opener, you can run a boat lift motor.

image of Lift Boss

Lift Boss

You have three choices to consider for powering a boat lift motor.

  1. An A.C. operated system;
  2. A 12V system; Or
  3. A 24V system.

PWS does not usually recommend an A.C. powered system.  Why?  It usually means running an extension cord to the motor.  Your safety and the safety of the people near you are our primary concern.

Using an A.C. operated lift motor means the extension cord(s) and the connections will be exposed to the elements.  These include – Rain, morning dew, splashing from waves, and the list goes on. As a result, there is a potential to expose people to ESD. For a further explanation read this article.  

You could be endangering children (or grandchildren) and even your neighbors to electrical shocks.  ESD can be deadly and not only threatens swimmers but the people who attempt to rescue them.

Beside safety reasons what other dangers are there?

First, some background info. The smaller the Gauge (Ga.) size, the heavier the wire is.  Thus, a 12 gauge wire has a “heavier” wire than an 18 Ga.  Typical household extension cords – those brown or white cords – are 18 – 20 Guage (Ga).  The wiring in your house is a 14 Ga.  12 Ga. is used in kitchens and bathrooms due to higher amperage requirements.   A smaller diameter wire will have a higher resistance to current flow. Thus, more heat is generated in the wire and connections.  You want the least amount of heat as possible.

What is Voltage Drop?

The electrical source you use usually will be a circuit run underground or along poles to a power box near the water.  At this point, you probably are thinking – “So what, I’ll just run an extension cord to the motor.”  On the bay of Green Bay and the Door County peninsula, in particular, you may be looking at the need for a 100’-200’ extension cord. This likely means a second extension cord and more voltage drop. This will get the power across the shoreline to the location of the motor.  This presents some problems.

In reality, the longer the extension cord is, the more “voltage drop” will occur. Think of it this way – to turn that motor you need a specific voltage (110V) and amperage. If you experience a voltage drop due to the length of the extension cord, it will require more amperage or current flow make up for the loss in voltage to operate that motor.  This situation causes wires to heat up and motors to run hotter.  An overheated motor will trip the breakers and damage the motor.

If you’re starting at 110 volts and the voltage drops 3%, it won’t matter to a small appliance or light bulb that the voltage is now 117 volts.  However, if you plug in a 100-foot extension cord, the voltage will drop about 6 percent to 104 volts. The motor will run hotter.

Motors generally need heavier gauge wires, in this case, 12 Ga.  You would not plug a window air conditioner into those “brown” 18-20 Ga. extensions cord you find at the supermarket.  Even a short 4 ft cord like that will almost instantly trip a breaker –  IF you are lucky.  A fire will occur if you are not so fortunate.

Motors and Extension Cords do not mix well.

Voltage drops can cause loss of efficiency, and this will mean a shorter life span for the motor. It is essential to use the right gauge of wire when running wires for a long distance and keep the cords as short as possible with as few connections as possible.

Electrical cord Guidelines

The best practice is don’t use an extension cord if you don’t have to. Since this isn’t always practical, follow these guidelines for using extension cords with motors to minimize voltage drop:

image of Electrical cord with GFCI device

Electrical cord with GFCI device

  1. Use a GFCIs, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters to disconnect power if a potentially dangerous situation occurs. A GFCI interpreter will instantly respond, preventing possible electrocution-related accidents.
  2. Always use the shortest extension cord possible.
  3. Use only one cord (there is a voltage drop across the connectors also)
  4. Use the heaviest Ga. possible – usually a 12 Ga. wire.
  5. Route extension cords safely and securely. Never place them where they will be damaged or drop into the water.
  6. If more than one cord is required, use the same on both cords
  7. Use only extension cords rated for outdoor UV resistance.
  8. Protect the connectors from the water.
  9. Do not use damaged cords. Watch out for electrical tape on extension cords.

These are important safety considerations. Choosing the right wire for the job is a critical safety measure.

The best practice is don’t use an extension cord if you don’t have to.

About 50 people die, and 270 people are injured each year when extension cords are strung together.

In part two of this series, we will discuss the two variations for D.C. motors.

Do you have a friend that may be interested in this information? Please share a link to this page with them.

Need Help Selecting a Boat Lift Motor?

Contact Pier & Waterfront Solutions Today!

PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles South of Sturgeon Bay at the Idlewild Road intersection.

Our staff is here year-round to assist you.