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​Bennett Trim Tabs.. Electric vs Hydraulic?

Posted by Northern Marine on

One of the most common questions we encounter when selecting a set of trim tabs is whether or not a Hydraulic Trim Tab system is the right choice. Bennett Marine, one of our top-selling brands, offers both standard hydraulic actuators or their electric “BOLT” actuators. We find that the most important factors to consider when making your decision are the ease of installation, and maintenance costs over time.

Electric trim tab systems are a preferred choice for small boats due to their overall simplicity. The motors and working parts are relatively easy to install considering the majority of the system is located on the outside of the hull; in fact Bennett’s BOLT electric trim tab system only consists of the helm control switch, actuators, and trim tab plates. To complete your system, simply purchase your trim tab plates such as the BOLT1212 kit, which includes plates, actuators, wiring harnesses, and hardware. With a hydraulic system, you will need the parts above, in addition to a Hydraulic Power Unit (V351HPU1) installed on the inside of the hull, with hoses running to each actuator. There are benefits and drawbacks to each system:

A common misconception is that electric trim tabs will provide a faster response than hydraulic systems. Most boaters that have tried both will usually suggest that this response time is negligible. When you’re running at top speed, adjustments made to electric trim tabs may at times feel jolty and very sudden and a system capable of making slow adjustments may be preferable. We find that it is far more important to consider the lifespan and maintenance costs of a system when making your choice.

One of the most overlooked benefits of hydraulic systems is their durability and running costs. When an electric actuator fails, leaks, or loses it’s seal, the entire actuator will typically need to be replaced. With a leaky hydraulic actuator, you can simply repair the actuator by replacing O-Rings, resulting in a more manageable parts bill. With electric systems, a seal failure can result in the electric motors being flooded with sea water and ruined, leaving you with an entire actuator to replace. Bennett provides their (BEA2000) electric actuators for purchase which typically sell for an upwards of $150 each, as opposed to a the cost of replacing an O-Ring or other small parts in their hydraulic variants. This huge difference in parts cost is key; if you will be really putting your tabs to the test with heavy use, a hydraulic system might be ideal.

At the end of the day, Bennett continues to produce both Hydraulic and Electric trim tab systems because both are very viable options. Even with that in mind, we find that the additional time and effort put into installing a hydraulic system is usually worthwhile in the long run. If you find yourself having trouble deciding, please feel free to contact us for advice, 732-719-2227!