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January 12, 2012

Adjust Your Boat's Attitude

Your boat’s running attitude makes a big difference in comfort and efficiency

Hydraulic vs. Electric Trim Tabs

There are two basic types of adjust-on-the-fly trim-tab systems — hydraulic and electric.

Most common for decades was the hydraulic system offered by Bennett Marine (­ Still popular today, this reliable system consists of an electric pump and fluid reservoir actuating a pair of independently operating hydraulic rams that move the tabs up and down. The skipper controls the tabs with rocker switches, buttons or a toggle at the helm.

About 15 years ago, another company — Lenco Marine ( — came on strong with an electric trim-tab system consisting of two electric motors, one inside each of two independently operating rams powering screw jacks that move the transom plates up and down, controlled by a waterproof switch plate at the helm.

While both systems have proved to be durable in the saltwater environment, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Bennett’s hydraulic system has more parts and is more complex to install, but no electric motors, wires or connectors are ever submerged in salt water, as they are with an allelectric system.

If salt water gets to the motors, wires or connectors, the Lenco all-electric system will quickly malfunction, and any current leak could also lead to electrolysis.

On the other hand, Lenco has simplicity on its side. Its all-electric design eliminates the need for hydraulic reservoirs and pumps. It also comes standard with an LED tab indicator in the control pad, showing how far each tab is deployed. Tab indicators are available from Bennett, but are options and require additional wiring.