FAQS - Sideshift Bow Thrusters and Stern Thrusters

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Frequently Asked Questions


How much are shipping costs?

We ship FedEx Worldwide at the following rates:

Canada/US – $150 per thruster kit via Fedex ground. 

Europe/Australia/Rest of World – $250 per thruster kit via Fedex International Priority.

What is the shipping weight and dimensions?

SS/ST series bow and stern thrusters are shipped individually in a 29″x23″x13″ box and weigh between 50-57LBS.  PT/HB series thrusters are shipped individually in a 37″x26″x13″ box and weigh between 85-90LBS


Is Sideshift easy to use?

Yes! Sideshift’s bow and stern thrusters are very intuitive and easy to use. Just toggle left or toggle right on the joystick for immediate response and control. With a bit of practice  you will quickly learn to maneuver your boat using the thruster along with your main engines for precise control in any situation.

Does the motor pivot to push the boat the other way?

All our thruster motors stay in a fixed position and do not rotate. The propellers reverse direction using the joystick control to move the boat left or right. 

How long can you run a Sideshift?

Sideshift thrusters have a very immediate response time, and you will achieve optimal results by operating the thruster in short bursts of 5-10 seconds at a time to maintain control of your boat.  Our thrusters are not designed to be run continuously(for example holding against a dock for long periods), and we recommend a maximum run time of 30 seconds with at least a 10 second cool down. 


What do I do for maintenance?

Our thruster motors are sealed and require zero maintenance. You should change the anodes once per year(more often if pitting is detected) to protect your investment from corrosion. Ensure that the mounting system is properly secured to the boat and tighten any loose fasteners. As required or when you repaint the hull, paint the unit with a good quality anti-fouling paint… That’s it!


Does the thruster retract or deploy?

Our PT/HB series thrusters for houseboats and pontoon boats are fully retractable. Our SS/ST series thrusters do not retract or deploy. They are permanently fixed to the hull and rise out of the water when the boat planes.

What about large waves hitting the bow thruster?

All Sideshift thrusters are manufactured using only high quality cast aluminum, extruded aluminum and stainless steel components. We use no plastic or composite materials on any major components of our system. Our unique three point mounting system creates an extremely strong attachment to the hull. Our bow thrusters have been used in some of the harshest environments around the world. Boats that are used in rough water should add checking to ensure all points of installation are secure on a regular basis as part of their maintenance program.

Are Sideshift thrusters installed permanently or can I remove it?

Sideshift thrusters are a permanent mount. However, they can be removed and reinstalled on your next boat. They can also add value to your boat if you sell it.

How noisy are Sideshift thrusters?

Sideshift thrusters are silent and vibration-free since they are mounted on the exterior of the hull.

Can I still put my boat on a trailer after installing a bow or stern thruster?

Trailers do not typically interfere with our bow thrusters.  Just ensure that you to drive the trailer deep enough in the water and load the boat carefully to ensure the bow thruster clears any interference from the trailer.  

Do you have a wireless remote key fob?

All Sideshift systems include our wireless remote key-fob as standard equipment. Our wireless remote can control either a single thruster or both bow and stern thrusters from anywhere on the boat or dock. It’s the perfect solution for operating your thruster from a second station.  The wireless key fob is a great safety feature when you are single-handing, as you can maintain control of your boat while stepping onto the dock.

I have an upper helm, can I install a joystick at both stations?

You can purchase additional wireless joysticks for your extra stations or you can choose to use the included wireless remote key-fob.

Will the bow and stern thrusters work on a displacement hull?

Absolutely! Our thrusters are an ideal solution for trawlers and any displacement type hull.  Our thruster motors are very compact and will create no noticeable drag when underway.

What kind of corrosion protection do Sideshift bow and stern thrusters have?

All Sideshift thrusters are protected from the factory with a two part Interlux epoxy primer and two coats of high quality Interlux anti-fouling paint. In addition, every thruster comes installed with sacrificial anode protection. 

Our retractable PT and HB series thrusters are manufactured with high quality marine-grade anodized aluminum housings for maximum corrosion protection in fresh or salt water.

What if I hit something?

Sideshift bow and stern thrusters are very ruggedly built from high-grade aluminum and stainless steel to withstand the harshest environments and weather conditions. The Sideshift universal mounting system provides incredible strength that can actually protect the bow of your boat from logs and debris in the water.  

What size of boat can Sideshift handle?

We have bow and stern thruster solutions for monohull boats up to 50′, and up to 75’+ for houseboats (for houseboats greater than 75′, contact the factory).

Do Sideshift bow thrusters create much drag when my boat is on plane?

Unlike traditional thru-hull thrusters, Sideshift Bow and Stern Thrusters create zero drag while the boat is on plane. Displacement or semi-displacement speeds create very minimal drag that will be unnoticeable when underway.


Can I install the thruster myself?

Absolutely! All Sideshift thrusters have been designed with the DIY’er in mind. Previous experience is not required.  With some basic mechanical skills and a little bit of electrical system knowledge, you can easily install your own Sideshift system. Every thruster kit includes a detailed installation manual and unlimited phone support. You can also view our installation videos on the page above.

How deep should I install the unit into the water?

Your Sideshift thruster must be installed with the top of the propellers five inches or deeper below the water surface.

Do I have to take my boat out of the water to install a Sideshift bow or stern thruster?

All Sideshift thrusters can be installed in-water since all the mounting locations and cable connections are routed above the waterline. 

How long does a Sideshift take to install?

The average installation time ranges from 6 to 8 hours per thruster depending on the complexity of the interior wire runs and equipment location.


What gauge and length of cable should I use to connect power to the Motor Controller?

Our 340 series units can run on max 40′ at 2/O.
The 350 series units can run on max 50′ at 2/O.
Our 230 series units can run on max 30′ on 1/O.
All amperage, voltage, duty and start-up/run amperage have been calculated and considered in the recommended cable length. All cable used must be high grade tin coated copper, marine grade cable. Cable ends must be high grade cast copper, tin coated compression type terminals with double wall heat shrink moisture protection.

What type and how many batteries do I need?

All 230 series thrusters require one 12V starting type(NOT deep cycle) battery with 850 cold cranking amps.
All 340 series thrusters require two 12V starting type(NOT deep cycle)batteries with a total of 1700 cold cranking amps in a parallel configuration.
All 350 series thrusters require two 12V batteries starting type(NOT deep cycle) batteries with a total of 850 cold cranking amps in a series (24V) configuration.

What is the best type of battery to use for my thruster? Where do I put the thruster batteries?

The most important consideration is meeting the required cold cranking amperes (CCA). Achieving high cranking amps is easier and more typical with a starting type battery vs. deep cycle. When choosing a location to install the batteries keep in mind the batteries need to be installed as close to the thruster as possible for optimum performance. For longer cable runs see above for recommended gauge and length of cables.  If you are installing batteries in a non-vented area you will need to use AGM sealed batteries or sealed combination batteries. In vented areas you can install flooded starting type batteries or unsealed combination batteries.

Can I use the batteries from my windlass?

Only the SS230 may use a windlass battery as a power source.  If the boat has a windlass and the cabling is 1/0 in size, and the battery meets the recommended type and CCA requirements(see above), the installer may use this as a power supply for the thruster.

How close should my batteries be to the thruster? How far away can they be?

Batteries should be installed as close as possible to the thruster, and not more than thirty feet from the motor controller. If you need to run long cables use good quality marine grade cable with correct gauge:
230 series – 1/0 marine battery cable
340 and 350 series –  2/0 marine battery cable
Also ensure the use of good quality cable ends. The longer the battery cable the greater the potential for voltage drop and reduced performance.

Can I use my deep cycle battery bank?

We don’t recommend deep cycle batteries for our thrusters. However, if the correct cold cranking amps (CCA) is present this may be an option.  Please consult our technical experts to be sure.

Can I use my existing batteries?

For optimal performance dedicated batteries are always the best solution for powering our thrusters. In some cases existing batteries can be used but please consult with our technical experts to be sure.