Electrical Wiring Specifications for Boat Lifts


Boat lifts raise and lower boats in and out of water. Most boat lifts are electrically operated and must be wired in accordance with basic specifications. These specifications depend on factors such as the size of the boat lift motor or motors, the input voltage available to the boat lift motors and the length of wire required to wire the motors correctly.


  • Many smaller boat lifts have motors that can run off of standard household 115 volt alternating current from a single breaker. Larger boat lift motors often require 230 volt connections, similar to an electric stove or electric clothes dryer. Each type of motor has different wiring requirements that should be followed. Trying to use 115 volt wiring specifications for a 230 volt boat lift may result in a fire, a burnt out motor or a blown circuit breaker.

Wiring Distance

  • Another specification that must be followed is the distance that the wiring will be run from the breaker panel to the boat lift motor. For example, you can use 12 gauge wire on a one-half horsepower, 115 volt motor wiring application as long as the wiring does not exceed 50 feet. If the wiring extends beyond 50 feet, you will need to switch to eight gauge wire to safely transmit the current.

Motor Horsepower

  • The horsepower of the motor will directly impact the wiring specifications. A smaller motor, such as a one-half horsepower motor, will not have the same requirements as a larger horsepower motor. In the same way, a 115 volt motor will not need the same thickness of wire that a 230 volt motor would need.

Wiring things up properly

  • Once you have determined the length of wire that you will need, as well as the input power requirements and the horsepower of your motor, you will be able to wire your boat lift properly. For example, a 230 volt motor that is three-quarters horsepower and has 0 to 50 feet of wiring will need 14 gauge wire to safely achieve full operating power.


  • Photo Credit boats in dock image by Julija Sapic from Fotolia.com
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