Do Pontoon Boats Have Inboard or Outboard Motors?

do pontoon boats have inboard or outboard motors

Whether you’re just starting out on boating or a seasoned veteran with years of experience, you need to know that the learning curve regarding pontoon boats is a tad bit different compared to learning about other types of boat. So when it comes to the topic of propulsion, do pontoon boats have inboard or outboard motors?

Before answering this question, we need to clear a few things, and up first is what a pontoon boat even is. Unlike the common idea of boats with a v-shaped hull, a pontoon is a type of boat where its deck is attached on top of hollow cylindrical tubes called pontoons (hence the name). These tubes allow pontoon boats to have large deck areas, carry a lot of weight, have good stability even at speed, and usually have motors powerful enough to tow watersports equipment.

With specifications like these, pontoon boats must have a lot under their hood, and for that matter, you should know that most pontoon boats have outboard motors, but why is that?

Why Most Pontoon Boats Have Outboard Motors

Most pontoon boats have outboard motors because it’s quite convenient since it just attaches quite easily at the stern of the pontoon. This gives you a lot of extra space that would have been taken up by an inboard motor.

An outboard motor setup allows the boat owner to get the ideal engine for their pontoon, rather than having it stock but insufficient for his/her own use case scenarios.

This also makes it easier for boat manufacturers as they can focus more on the usability and comfort of the pontoon and not have to worry too much about performance characteristics.

Lastly, not only does it make maintenance a breeze, if for some reason you experience any engine trouble you can remove the whole thing easily and take it to a marine repair shop.

Inboard vs Outboard Motors

twin outboard pontoon motors

Starting with inboard motors, from its name, it is a type of motor that is internally installed within the boat’s hull. This gives the pontoon a clean appearance as the motor doesn’t jut out the stern of the boat.

Now, this comes at a price due to the nature of a pontoon boat’s design where the deck rests on top of the toons, this usually means that there isn’t a place to mount the inboard motor at the bottom. Therefore the inboard motor actually takes up some of the deck space resulting in an overall smaller useable floor area.

The enclosed nature of inboard motors also means that they are much more difficult to service, plus they tend to give a lower center of gravity than outboard motors.

Outboard motors, on the other hand, are externally mounted on the stern as a whole unit. This means mounting and installation are easier, plus some prefer the aesthetic of having the boat motor visible.

Since they are external, outboard motors are easily accessible for repair and maintenance, and in worse cases, you can just remove the whole thing, send it to a repair shop or just swap it with a working motor. This process is easily said and easily done, and such convenience isn’t present on an inboard motor.

Outboard motors also tend to have more power and are less loud compared to their inboard counterparts, along with a higher center of gravity. Performance-wise, outboard motors also boast a higher speed and better fuel efficiency.

Best Outboard Motor For a Pontoon Boat

If money was no object and you wanted the absolute best outboard motor for your pontoon boat (provided it fits, of course) then the Yamaha V6 4.2 Liter motor is the one for you. With 300 hp, 250 hp, and 225 hp options, this outboard motor ensures that you never lack power, performance, and speed on your pontoon boat.

Integrated digital electrical steering gives them low response times making your pontoon highly responsive. Not to mention this outboard motor’s legendary reputation for having a 97% reliability rate allowing you to be able to do your boating activities miles offshore without fear of breaking down.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pontoon Boat Outboard Motor

1. Purpose of your Pontoon Boat

Firstly, consider what you want to do with your pontoon boat. The type of equipment you’ll be using and the number of passengers should help give you a ballpark number on the horsepower of the motor you’ll need to get. Also, consult your pontoon’s manufacturer specs.

2. Better to Overestimate Than Underestimate Your Motor

Whatever you end up with, add a bit more to that if you can, and don’t worry about getting a more powerful motor, since you can always drive slower but a weak motor can’t go any faster.

3. Water Sports Activities

For high-speed tubing, wakeboarding, skiing, and the like, you might need a more powerful motor. Sometimes if your pontoon supports it, two outboard motors might be better for you rather than a single powerful one. Again consider your equipment and passengers.

4. Budget

Money doesn’t grow on trees, and you might find a better motor for the same price, so consider your options and also consider what you can afford.

5. Research

More importantly with your boat and your needs, you need to do your own research. Look at what’s available and use this article as a guide to what would be best for you.

6. Aesthetics

It goes without saying that some motors will look better than others, and as to which one looks best on your boat is a highly subjective opinion so pick the one that looks best to your heart’s content.

However please do consider this last, as having a nice-looking outboard motor that doesn’t fit your intended purpose will hurt performance so much that you might regret choosing that specific motor in the first place.

What About Other Motors

There is a special type of motor called an inboard/outboard or sterndrive motor which have the advantages of both. Although they come at a higher price compared to outboard motors of the same power output.


Pontoon boats mostly have outboard motors for a multitude of reasons, and that is the answer to the question of “do pontoon boats have inboard or outboard motors?”.

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