Pontoons are hands down one the best boats you can own for what they were meant to do. If your'e a pontoon owner you might be interested in what the best pontoon boat motor is.
Right off the bat, there is no best motor per se, as no motor is a one size fits all deal. However, there will be an appropriate pontoon boat motor for your intended use case scenario.
But before we discuss all that in detail, let’s start off with a few definitions starting with the pontoon boat. A pontoon is a type of boat where the deck is attached on top a set of hollow cylindrical tubes called pontoons hence the name. This gives them a high surface area contact with the water increasing their buoyancy and stability.
Nevertheless, this type of boat has its downsides which can be offset by choosing the right boat motor and propeller for the boat’s intended purpose.
Best Pontoon Boat Motor Brands
To help narrow down your choices, we’ve picked the most popular and reputable brands for you to choose from.
Mercury is a recognizable brand with years of solid reputation backing up its name and has several different power ratings of outboard motors for all your needs. Particularly their Fourstroke 30 hp-60hp and Fourstroke 75 hp-150 hp which work best with small to medium-sized pontoon boats.
One of the top three Japanese brands known for their high-performance outboard motors. Their HighThrust F50 and F60 model has you covered if you’re looking for a top of the line performance.
Powerful motors for small to medium-sized pontoons are a specialty of Suzuki. Their DF200A inline-four outboard motor is capable of producing a lot of torque even at high RPMs.
Specializing in versatility the Honda BF115 is designed for most pontoon sizes. Low maintenance and reliability give this motor the best value for most cases.
The Evinrude outboard motor series was designed with pontoon boats in mind. Specifically for pontoons, their E-TEC provides high thrust at minimal vibration, giving you the relaxing ride you’ve always dreamed of.
How to Choose the Right Propeller for a Pontoon Boat Engine
Even with the right outboard motor for your pontoon boat, it still won't be able to exercise its fullest potential if it lacks being paired with the right propeller. Therefore it is imperative that you choose the best pontoon boat propeller for your outboard motor.
Propellers are usually made from either plastic, aluminum, stainless steel. Plastic is the cheapest and has a lot of flex making it not an ideal prop material unless you have a small pontoon or don’t care too much about performance. Aluminum is a step up above that featuring more rigidity and stainless steel is another step above that. Do note that cost increases as well.
A larger diameter prop gives more acceleration but can be harder to drive for smaller motors, so find the right-sized prop according to your motor specifications.
Is the amount of travel the prop does in a single revolution. More pitch usually means better performance provided that your engine’s power can handle it.
Is the number of revolutions per minute that your prop can handle. Make sure your propeller’s rating is above this to prevent it from breaking when spinning fast.
Number of Blades
Generally, you have a choice between a 3 blade prop for maximum top speed or a 4 blade prop that has a better overall performance. Do you just want to increase the speed of your pontoon, or want it to perform better in general?
Make sure that your brand of the propeller can physically fit the brand of outboard motor you have.
There are other factors such as rake, slip, cupping, and holeshot, not included in the scope of this guide but should also be considered.
How to Install an Outboard Motor on a Pontoon Boat
After following the advice written here and consulting with your local dealer, you’ve finally picked the right outboard motor for your pontoon boat. But we’re not done yet. You have to properly install your outboard motor onto your pontoon boat. Here's a few things regarding installation.
Propeller ventilation is the scenario in which your propeller catches air and pushes it down into the water creating unnecessary drag and loss of power. To find the right spot, keep the propeller below the water line but not too much such that it causes excessive drag on the gear case.
Some testing and fitting will need to be undergone to achieve proper prop ventilation as you need to assume the pontoon boat’s average operating weight. That is to say, you need to test this while you have the expected number of passengers and equipment on board to simulate real-world usage and optimal tuning. Learn more about understanding a pontoon's weight distribution.
Engine Mounting Height
This is the optimal height at which you should mount your engine. Similar to achieving appropriate propeller ventilation the engine must be mounted at an appropriate height so as not to create excessive drag, yet be capable of exerting the maximum amount of power directly to the water and pushing the boat forward.
Unlike propeller ventilation which can be adjusted depending on the angle of the motor, the engine mounting height is practically a fixed value determined during installation and cannot be adjusted while the boat is in operation. Regardless you should still check your outboard motor’s specified mounting height as well as your pontoon boat’s specifications on what mounting heights it can handle.
In summary, the best pontoon boat motor for your pontoon is the one that best fits your intended purpose. Consider how much power you need for your particular needs and then choose an appropriate propeller to go with your motor.
Take note that what works best for one person, may not necessarily be what you need, so just because it doesn't fit, doesn't mean it isn't a good motor.
Focus on your needs, and work from there.