Electric Pontoon Boats: The 5 Best Electric Powered Boats
As road-bound vehicles become more and more eco-friendly, watercrafts are following suit. Designed to operate without the need for fuel, electric pontoon boats provide an option for boating enthusiasts who want something a little more eco-friendly. And because some local jurisdictions have banned fuel engines all together, electric pontoon boats might be the only option for some people.
Although the range of electric pontoon boats might not be too broad just yet, there has been some expansion over the past several years. Today, most buyers should be able to find a boat that matches their needs without being too expensive.
The 5 Best Electric Pontoon Boats
1. Princecraft Brio E-17 Pontoon Boat
With room on board for up to seven passengers, the Princecraft Brio E-17 Pontoon Boat is a smaller vessel that’s perfect for navigating tight waterways. The 17-foot electric pontoon boat is especially easy to maneuver, allowing boaters to manage tight turns seamlessly.
Its quiet engine offers just enough thrust relative to the boat’s size, so there’s no need to worry about overworking the motor or generating too much noise. With a horsepower rating of up to 10, the lightweight watercraft is perfect for small families or boating enthusiasts who want a simple, easy vessel that’s compact and efficient.
2. Forward Marine’s First
While this isn’t in production just yet, this electric pontoon boat prototype is well on her way to becoming a fan favorite. The all-electric boat charges via your standard 220V charger for zero emissions performance that can take you on any lake. And since the boat runs without the need for fuel, you can also expect a lesser need for maintenance.
In terms of space provisions and features, the First tries to compete with other traditional pontoon boats on the market. The design spans 24-feet and touts a passenger capacity of up to 12 to max out the fun. Reaching a full charge in just 9.3 hours, this boat touts peak system power of 200 HP with a top speed of up to 20mph.
3. ElectraCraft Outboard Pontoon Boat 162TR Electric
This vessel showcases a smooth, clean exterior, matched beautifully by tasteful interiors that can make you feel like you’re on a luxury ride. The 162TR is only 16-feet in length, but boasts an impressive seating capacity of up to 10 persons. And although it might not come with all the fancy bells and whistles of a fuel-powered pontoon, it definitely packs just enough.
Complete with a built-in refrigerator-slash-freezer, a radio, a 4-speaker soundsystem, and an LED interior lighting system, this boat is ready for humble parties straight out of the dealership. And because it cruises at a top speed of just 6mph, it makes a great choice for families with small kids.
4. Mogarro Pontoon 800 Pontoon House
Aptly named the ‘Pontoon House’, this monster of a vessel measures slightly over 28-feet and comes with all the on-board amenities you might need to make a house on the lake. Complete with a kitchen, a toilet and shower room, a water tank and heater, and a built-in cabinet that converts into a bed, this pontoon hopes to keep you as comfortable as possible as you navigate the waves. Although it’s originally offered as a fuel-powered boat, you do have the option to convert pontoon to electric power.
With faux wood exteriors and a clean cabin look, this watercraft boasts a spacious outdoor deck that’s perfect for lounging about. Available in both an electric or a fuel engine model, the Mogarro Pontoon Boats are also available in a number of smaller versions in case the 800 is slightly above your budget.
5. Suntracker Bass Buggy 16 DLX Pontoon Boat
There’s a reason why this boat was called the Bass Buggy. This 7-seater pontoon boat was built for anglers, providing ample space and comfort for a fishing trip with the family. The compact pontoon doesn’t have a lot on board aside from the seats and storage, but that’s also what makes it the perfect lightweight pick for navigating tight turns and waterways.
Powered by a Torqueedo Electric Motor, this pontoon boat is exceptionally quiet, letting you glide across the water without scaring away any fish. And since it comes with a fully-operational, aerated live-well, you can take it straight from the dealer to your favorite fishing spot.
What Makes a Good Electric Pontoon Boat?
Although manufacturers try to put out the best possible boats they can muster, there’s really no such thing as the perfect electric pontoon. Nonetheless, there are some that come pretty close. And those are the models that tout these distinct features:
Horsepower tells you how much weight a boat can take and how fast it can go. Naturally, larger boats need bigger power, with most experts recommending a range of 115-175HP for boats of the average size. Smaller boats can definitely manage with a much smaller rating, but it helps to consider wear and tear.
It’s important to remember that electric pontoon boats can’t always generate the same power that fuel engines do. Fortunately, most models come with lightweight bodies that are ease the load and prevent overworking the motor.
Alternate Energy Source
Another thing that might make an electric pontoon boat even better is if it has an alternate energy source. Most of these models use pure electric power which means you have to plug them in to charge. But there are others that combine electric and solar energy to give you more options.
These can be particularly helpful if you find yourself in a situation that you can’t just plug in your boat. Of course, solar energy tends to take longer than electric to reach a full charge, and weather conditions can further extend the time it takes. Nonetheless, the added option can be a lifesaver especially during an emergency situation.
Unlike fuel-powered pontoons that you can just load up with gas when you’re running low, electric pontoon boats require a charging station to juice up. That means you can only spend a limited amount of time on the water before your batteries run out and require a charge.
There are a lot of factors that play into the length of time a boat can go on a single full charge like your speed and the weight on board. If you want a boat that you can take out for fun under the sun for extended periods of time, you may want to look into battery life. Some boats can only last up to 3 hours on a single charge, while others push the boundaries to 9 or 10 hours.
Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Pontoon Boat
A pontoon boat is a major purchase, and the last thing you’d want would be to spend your hard-earned money on a boat that just doesn’t meet expectations. So before you shell out that amount, make sure you take the time to consider these major factors:
This is almost always one of the biggest considerations that buyers make when picking out a pontoon. Because pontoon boats have weight limitations in terms of how many people (and how much stuff) you can take on board, it’s important that you consider how many passengers you plan to take with you at any given time.
Electric pontoon boats can carry just about as many people as your average fuel-powered model. But keep in mind that the more passengers you have on board, the harder your engine will have to work. And the harder it works, the shorter its battery will last.
On the subject of batter life, electric powered pontoon boats only have a limited lifespan per charge. This means you have to do the math, consider how long it will take to get to your destination and back, and how fast you should go to conserve energy.
On average, an electric pontoon boat should last between 3 and 10 hours on a single charge, depending on its battery. Charging can usually be done at the dock, but if you have a bunch of solar panels on board, then you might be able to recharge out on the water while you’re having fun in the sun and waves.
You really can’t expect an electric pontoon boat to go as fast as its fuel-powered counterpart. In fact, some electric powered boats can only go a maximum of 5 to 6mph, which can be sluggishly slow if you’re used to the power and thrust of a fuel-powered engine. But then again, that also depends on what size electric motor for a pontoon boat you decide on.
There can be upsides to a slower boat, however. Since electric pontoons are far more silent, the slower speeds also mean that you can pass through fishing spots without scaring too much fish away. That said, it’s important that you consider your purpose for buying a boat in the first place, since fast speeds aren’t always a win for everyone.
See our tips on how to speed up a slow pontoon boat.
Sure, that built-in freezer-fridge combo might really sweeten the deal, but it helps to consider how all of these different features might consume your energy on-board. Things like refrigerators, live-wells, water heaters, television sets, audio systems, and lighting systems can all add to the overall appeal of a boat, but also shorten battery life.
If you don’t plan to use your pontoon as a party getaway, then all of those different amenities might not actually come in handy and may even encumber your batteries further. If you’re buying electric, make sure you choose a model that touts just the essentials you need unless you’re willing to shell out extra to bolster your battery.
Pros and Cons of Electric Pontoon Boats
Is an electric pontoon boat really for you? Of course, anyone would be happy to have an eco-friendly watercraft for all of their midlake excursions (and more), but it’s important that you truly understand what you’re getting to make sure you’re buying a boat that’s right for your situation and expectations.
Pros of Electric Pontoon Boats
No need to worry about emissions, leaks, spills, and fumes -- an electric pontoon boat delivers eco-friendly performance. And since more and more lakes are banning fuel-powered engines for environmental reasons, an electric pontoon boat is your ticket to enjoy any lake or body of water in your area.
Tired of having to shout instructions at your first mate whenever your underway? An electric pontoon boat is about as silent as they get, producing more than 50% less noise than their fuel-powered counterparts. Smaller boats can be even more silent, letting you enjoy a peaceful cruise without disturbing other boats in the area.
Without the need for an oil change, no spark plugs, and less dirt and grime, electric engines require much less maintenance than a traditional fuel-powered engine. Plus, they’re way easier to keep in top shape over the cold months, reducing the amount you’ll have to spend on up-keep.
Cons of Electric Pontoon Boats
You can calculate all you want, but you can never really anticipate for certain how long a single charge will last. That’s because a bunch of different factors play into battery life, including speed and your on-board weight. That said, you’re always going to have to err on the side of caution which means spending less time on the water and heading back to the dock an hour or more before your boat’s battery runs out.
With most electric pontoons running a max speed between 6 to 10mph, you’re gonna have to extend your patience to get where you want to go. These engines aren’t exactly the most powerful you’ll find, but they are starting to roll out newer models with more oomph to them.
Now, let’s not forget that pontoon boat charging takes time. Unfortunately, before you get to leave the dock, you may have to leave your boat plugged in for a good 8 to 12 hours, depending on the size of your battery. Unlike traditional fuel-powered engines that just glug down gas and are ready to go, electric pontoons require significant prep time before you can take them out for a spin.
Different Types of Electric Motors
The size of your pontoon will have a lot to do with the kind of motor it can use. But in general, you should expect to see these types of electric motors being mentioned alongside electric pontoon boats most often:
Electric Trolling Motor
Mounted at the bow or stern, a trolling motor is a small, hand-steered motor that’s used to ‘troll’ the waters. These are idea for anglers and work best to give your bait a more lively appeal to draw in a fresh catch. They’re usually not used for pontoon boats since they lack the kind of power that pontoons need.
Controlled from the console, an outboard motor is the most common motor used for a pontoon boat. They’re self-contained and mounted just outside the transom. Compared to a trolling motor, they have more force and generate much higher speeds, but are also capable of operating at a trolling speed.
As its name suggests, an inboard motor is concealed within your vessel so that it doesn’t make as much contact with the elements. It takes in water via an impeller which then pushes it out through the rear of your boat as a jet.
This creates massive propulsion that sends your boat gliding at much faster speeds. And while they perform better and last longer than an outboard motor, most pontoon boats aren’t designed for inboard motors, requiring expensive customization to get one installed.
There are a few other considerations you might want to make when deciding on a proper motor.
These may be installed alongside your motor on either side, equipped with hydraulic movement that changes the angle of the tabs. This can help you adjust your boat’s performance especially as you break into choppy waters.
Another worthy consideration would be cavitation plates which work in a similar way. They mount to the boat’s lower unit to give you a better bow response by pushing water down to your propeller so you get as much push and power as possible.
Reasons to Get an Electric Pontoon Over Fuel-Powered
There are a ton of considerations to make when buying a pontoon, and power-source might be one of the biggest mind-boggling factors on your mind. Of course, the allure and power of a traditional fuel-powered engine might really be enticing, but there are several reasons why you might want to opt for electric instead:
Most local governments are starting to take steps to protect their local waterways, and that includes banning fuel-powered watercrafts that increase pollution and the risk of water contamination through spills and emissions. Buying electric means that you won’t have to worry about where you can take your boat, because it should be legal anywhere.
Do you really want to spend all that money on gas? Electric pontoon boats just make sense if you want to save up on maintenance and operation costs. Plus, electric pontoon boats tend to be cheaper up front all together, which means you won’t have to spend as much on one as you would on a fuel-powered boat. See our guide on how much gas a pontoon boat uses.
If you enjoy the lakes and waterways so much, then you should probably start doing your part to protect them. We’re living in a day and age when everyone’s chipping in to reduce their carbon footprint, and an electric pontoon boat might just be your major contribution to the global effort.
Keep It Green
The future is now. Saving both money and Mother Nature, an electric pontoon boat is a step towards cleaner, greener recreation that’s all fun and no guilt. But before you make that purchase, take the time to consider all the angles. There’s a lot to think about when choosing a boat -- from capacity, to battery life, to speed. Whatever you end up choosing though, you know you can’t go wrong with electric pontoon boats.