Selling Trolling Motors: What’s the Difference Between Brushless or Brushed?

Garmin and Lowrance have entered the trolling motor category with brushless motors. Is it a better design?

Selling Trolling Motors: What’s the Difference Between Brushless or Brushed?

The difference between the two types of electric trolling motors — brushless or brushed — is one of moving parts. Because of the differences in construction, brushless motors have fewer moving parts and greatly reduced friction.

Brushed motors rely on graphite brushes to pass the battery’s charge to the commutator, which spins the shaft along with the armature, changing electrical energy into mechanical energy. The brushes do wear and produce graphite dust, which retains heat. That heat reduces the efficiency of the motor.

While a brushed motor relies on the brushes, the armature and commutator to transfer power, a brushless motor uses a solid-state control board to replace the commutator and brushes and keep things spinning.

The advantages of a brushless motor over a brushed motor are fewer moving parts that don’t wear out as brushes do, less friction and less heat buildup. Also, brushless motors generally are more efficient, especially at slower speeds. They also can produce more power from the same voltage. Finally, brushless motors do not emit electronic noise, which can degrade sonar performance.

Brushed motors from Minn Kota and MotorGuide have proven themselves through many decades of use. Only time will tell whether the brushless designs from Lowrance and Garmin will provide the same performance and dependability.
Brushed motors from Minn Kota and MotorGuide have proven themselves through many decades of use. Only time will tell whether the brushless designs from Lowrance and Garmin will provide the same performance and dependability.

The reason brushless motors aren’t more common in consumer applications is the circuit board controller is expensive, and the price difference between the two technologies is roughly 30 percent. However, brushless motors are increasingly being used in high-end power tools.



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