Do you have an inflatable boat that you want to enjoy sailing with during the summer months? Then it is important to have the right outboard motor. What should you consider when choosing the right outboard motor? We’ll explain it.
If you’re planning to purchase an inflatable boat and attach an outboard motor to it, it’s essential to ensure that, among other things, the motor’s power and weight are properly matched to your boat. These are the important things you need to pay attention to.
With a 3 meter inflatable boat, a 2 hp motor will suffice for moderate speed. A 5 hp motor will give you reasonable speed. If you go faster, it’s also helpful to have an (inflatable) keel underneath your inflatable boat to keep it steady at higher speeds. Additionally, you should be aware that if you go faster than 20 kilometers per hour with an inflatable boat and outboard motor, a boat license is mandatory.
Admit it: you probably don’t want a heavy outboard motor for your inflatable boat. The weight of the motor may be a crucial factor to consider, especially for inflatable boats.
If the motor weight is important to you, it’s recommended to select a small inflatable boat motor that has an integrated battery. This type of motor is lightweight and saves you the hassle of dealing with separate purchases and usage issues.
You could also choose between a short shaft motor and a long shaft motor. For many boats that are 3 meters or slightly longer, a short shaft motor is sufficient. It’s important that the propeller comes out from under the boat, so the motor will be deep enough.
There’s three types of inflatable motor boats: gas motors, electric motors and electric trolling motors. We explain the benefits and disadvantages of each type below.
Gas motors for inflatable boats have long been a choice for the inflatable owners. And gas motors are still a good choice, because they meet the environmental restrictions. The outcome is environmentally friendly gas motors.
But not all gas motors are good for the environment. That is why these outboards are facing growing pressure nowadays due to the gas restrictions. Especially on smaller lakes and lakes within large cities. So having an old gas motor for your inflatable boat that does not meet the (upcoming) environmental rules, can mean that you are not allowed within a particular area anymore – now and in the future.
Also, keep in mind that gas motors can make loud noises and can leave a gasoline smell. You also need to maintain your gas motor every year.
Electric motors for inflatable boats are gaining popularity among RIB, tender, and fishing boat enthusiasts due to their increased power range and extended runtime. An electric motor is basically an electric outboard and trolling motor combined.
Moreover, a significant advantage of small electric outboards is that they are highly integrated, eliminating the need to purchase a battery or motor mount kit separately for inflatable boats.
If you plan to use an inflatable boat for fishing or leisurely sailing, we recommend an electric motor. Electric motors are lightweight, eco-friendly and less expensive than gas motors. However, it’s essential to consider the appropriate minimum permissible power.
Electric trolling motors for inflatable boats have a smaller power range, with a maximum of 112 lbs. This makes them ideal for slow trolling only. The transom mount type motors look similar to electric outboards. Electric trolling motors are preferred for their bonus fishing features such as the GPS trolling system. They are often seen on rubber boats and fishing boats that prioritize fishing over speed.
It’s worth noticing that batteries for electric trolling motors must be purchased separately from other manufacturers. The recommended AGM batteries are heavier than lithium batteries (typically used with electric outboards) and have a shorter lifespan. Moreover, without a built-in BMS system and digital display, you cannot determine the remaining battery life of your inflatable boat motor.
It’s important to choose the right outboard motor for your inflatable boat. Are you sailing an inflatable boat up to 4 meters that will fit 2 people? Then a motor of 2.5 hp is recommended. For an inflatable boat up to 4 meters that’s suitable for 3 people, a 4-5 hp motor is best. And for an inflatable boat for 4 people, you should look for a 6-8 hp motor.
In most cases, inflatable boats up to 3-4 meters need a short shaft outboard motor. Large rubber boats and Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) often require long shaft outboard motors.
Use these five steps on to install an outboard motor on your inflatable boat. For these steps we used an electric engine as an example.