Choosing The Right Type of Thruster - Sideshift Bow Thrusters and Stern Thrusters

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Choosing The Right Type of Thruster

Significantly lower installed cost, more responsive performance, no mounting holes below the waterline, virtually silent operation. These are only a few of the many benefits you receive when choosing a Sideshift thruster over conventional thruster systems.

Tunnel-style thrusters

Although occasionally found on smaller boats (less than 30′ in length), through-the-hull or tunnel-style thrusters are usually found on larger boats. While they are generally installed as a factory option, tunnel thrusters can be added as an after-market product. There is, however, a downside to retrofitting.

First, two large holes must be cut or drilled on either side of the hull below the water line for the tunnel/tube to be passed through the boat. Correct tunnel placement is critical and requires a skilled installer experienced in structural fiberglass repairs, because the area around the tunnel on the hull’s exterior will require fiberglass work, paint and gelcoat. It’s not uncommon for a through-the-hull thruster to experience leakage over time that can void the boat owners hull warranty. In addition, because of the structural work required, the total installed cost of a tunnel-type thruster is typically more than double that of a Sideshift external thruster system. The placement of the tunnel and the thruster motor will also reduce storage space inside the boat and/or interfere with tanks, bulkheads and other structural components. Also, in order to be effective the thruster must be placed as far forward as possible and deep enough below the water line to generate the maximum turning moment – something that is not always practical with many tunnel thrusters. Finally, through-the-hull thrusters are known to generate a fair amount of noise and vibration when operating.

Sideshift thrusters

Sideshift invented the original externally mounted bow thruster. Choosing a Sideshift bow or stern thruster offers numerous advantages over traditional tunnel-style thrusters. Significantly lower installation cost. More responsive performance. No mounting holes below the waterline. Virtually silent operation. These are only a few of the many benefits you receive when choosing a Sideshift thruster over conventional tunnel thruster systems.

See how Sideshift outperforms all other thruster solutions


Features Sideshift Conventional Thrusters
Easy same-day installation Yes No
No tunnel or mounting holes below waterline Yes No
In-water installation possible Yes No
Virtually silent operation Yes No
Zero drag when planing Yes No
Pivot point advantage for optimal performance Yes No
Prop-in-water design for greater responsiveness Yes No
Canadian-built to perform in heavy weather conditions Yes No
Can be retrofitted to a future boat Yes No
Virtually maintenance free Yes No
All-inclusive kit Yes No
2-year warranty Yes Yes
Potential to void hull warranty No Yes
Fits any type of boat – cruiser, trawler, cuddy, sailboat, pontoon or houseboat Yes No
Typical installed cost for boats up to 50’ $4,700-$8,200 $12,100-$19,500


Detailed cost breakdown

Sideshift Conventional Thrusters
2.5hp – 7.5hp thruster $3700-$5300 $4,000-$8000
Additional hardware $200 $300-$500
Batteries/cable $800-$1000 $800-$1000
Installation – DIY Not Available
Installation – Dealer $1200-$1500 $7000-$10000
Total Installed Cost $4,700-$8,200 $12,100-$19,500