Installation - Sideshift Bow Thrusters and Stern Thrusters

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Sideshift bow and stern thrusters are a great DIY project, or can be installed by any marine service department or boatyard. No previous experience or special tools are required.  In fact, while other types of thrusters can take days to install and should only be done by a professional, our revolutionary design will normally take you only hours to complete, saving you thousands of dollars in installation costs.  And your boat can often be back on the water the same day!

The Sideshift thruster kit provides all the necessary components and installation hardware, including the thruster, mounting bracket, wiring harness and cable, motor control unit, wireless joystick (no wire run to the helm!) and remote control key fob, fuse with digital voltage indicator, and battery switch.  The boat owner only has to add a power source, and a small amount of cable to connect the batteries. Everything else you need is in the kit.

Installation Videos

Monohull Bow
Monohull  Stern - Outboard/Sterndrive
Monohull Stern Transom
Pontoon/Houseboat Retractable

Installation Pro Tips

Pro Tip #1 - Fuses
Pro Tip #2 - Cable Cutting
Pro Tip #3 - Lugs
Pro Tip #4 - Retractable Thruster Mounting



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.