A pontoon boat in itself is a pretty big investment. Costing several thousands of dollars, a boat isn’t just expensive up-front, it can also be expensive to maintain. From the cleaning, maintenance, tune-ups, and accessories, you might find your expenses exponentially increasing with time. But what most new boat owners really worry about is the cost of gas.
Much more demanding than your average car, a pontoon can glug down the gallons faster than you have time to refuel. But hey, don’t let that dissuade you from taking to the waves. Here’s everything you need to know about how much gas does a pontoon boat use, and how to slim down the associated expenses.
How Much Gas Does a Pontoon Boat Use?
That really depends. There are a number of factors that contribute to a boat’s fuel consumption, so the figures aren’t really set in stone. But on the other hand, you might be able to estimate how much (or little) your boat will use by taking these considerations into account.
The power of your motor is the first and most influential aspect when it comes to gas consumption. The more horsepower the motor has, the more gas it’s going to use. So a 50 hp motor on a pontoon will use up significantly less gasoline than 115 hp tritoon fuel consumption.
But more than horsepower, there’s the issue of motor maintenance. A poorly maintained motor will consume more gas. Older boats also tend to pale in terms of fuel economy when compared to boats that are fresh from the showroom.
2. Size and Weight of the Boat
There’s a reason why it’s important to consider the size of your boat versus the power of the motor. A small motor will struggle to propel a boat that’s too big for the kind of power it can produce. Another thing that burdens the motor is the amount of weight on the watercraft.
Overloading your boat with people, gear, and other items can significantly increase the amount of gas it uses. In the same way, a boat that’s disproportionately large versus its motor’s power can also dampen your fuel consumption rating.
Needless to say, how fast you drive also takes a toll on fuel economy. Increasing speeds tend to overwork the motor and require more power. That said, driving at top speed can actually also shorten the total distance you can travel on a single full tank as opposed to stretching it out and going at a much slower pace.
4. Environmental Conditions
In essence, anything that works against your forward propulsion will have an effect on your fuel consumption. So if waters are rough and choppy, and winds are pushing you back, then you might expect to work your motor a little extra, thus burning up gas at a faster pace.
How to Calculate Pontoon Fuel Consumption
It’s always best to have an idea as to the amount of gas that your pontoon uses so you can estimate how much you need to successfully complete a trip. But the thing about pontoons is that fuel consumption is never exactly the same across different boats. That means that your boat might use up more fuel than others because of the unique characteristics of its motor, structure, and its overall performance.
So to calculate your distinct fuel consumption, you can try this quick formula:
Kilometers traveled ÷ liters used = Kilometers per liter
Miles per liter tells you how far you can go for every liter of gas in your tank. But to make that information a little more useful, you can try calculating how much gas you need for a given trip. This would be called liters per given distance, which basically explains how many liters of gas you need in order to travel a specified distance.
If you’re planning a trip and you know how far the entire ride will take back and forth, then you might want to calculate how much gas you need to complete the journey. Take these numbers into consideration:
18 kilometers traveled ÷ 5 liters used = 3.6 km/liter
100km ÷ 3.6 km/liter = 27.77 liters per 100km
In this example, a boat traveled 18km while using 5 liters of gas. This means that the boat uses 3.6 liters for every km it travels. So say the boat owner was planning a trip of 100km, then they would simply divide 100km by the 3.6 km/liter rating to get 27.77 liters per 100km. Thus, to complete a distance of 100km, the boat will need 27.77 liters of gas.
How Does This Add Up In Terms of Fuel Cost?
If you’re wondering how much money it would take to complete your trip, consider this pontoon boat fuel cost calculator:
(Estimated distance ÷ miles or km per liter) x cost of gas per liter = Total cost of travel
Remember that there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to understanding how much fuel your boat uses. And although these numbers might give you a rough estimate of the cost you can expect, you should still leave room for error by adding a few extra liters to your final total just in case.
And just for the sake of those who use miles and gallons as their unit of measure, this handy conversion should help adjust the numbers.
Kilometers to miles
Multiply kilometers to 0.62137
Miles to kilometers
Multiply miles to 1.6093
Examples of the Most Popular Pontoons and Their Fuel Use
Wondering what some of the most popular pontoon boats bring to the table in terms of fuel economy? Consider some top-performers in this pontoon boat fuel consumption chart to find out how much gas they use based on manufacturer ratings:
Aqua Patio 250 Express
13 gallons per hour at 32 mph
7.5 gallons per hour at 25 mph
Sylvan Mirage 822
11.5 gallons per hour at 27 mph
Evinrude Etec 50 hp
4.55 gallons per hour at 25 mph
Where to Buy Gas for Pontoons?
Interestingly, most pontoon boats of today can run on the same gas that you find at your local gas station. Just make sure you’re buying E10 or ethanol-free gasoline. Anything that has more than 10% ethanol can damage your engine and may hurt the environment as well.
And while you might be thinking to save a penny or two by buying cheaper fuel from off-brand sellers, it helps to know that there’s no way to know what kind of gas you’re getting if you’re buying from an untrusted source. Sure, we all want to save a little extra when spending on gas, but choosing a shady source isn’t the way to do it.
Gas today can contain a load of additives that might not be good for your boat. So when you make a purchase, choosing a gas station with properly labeled pumps that tell you exactly what you’re getting. Your local service station might also have better prices than any you’re likely to find, without sacrificing the quality of the fuel itself.
Try to Avoid
Finally, if you’re thinking of buying from the marina, it helps to know that gasoline sold at these places are typically several times more expensive than what you’ll find elsewhere. That’s because people at marinas don’t usually have any other choice, giving the sellers the leverage to mark up their prices.
So if you were hoping to spend less, fill up a gas caddy at your local service station or gas station and make sure you pack more than enough for your trip. The best gas can for pontoon boat use should be able to safely store gas for extended periods of time, so you can keep them neatly tucked away in storage until you need the extra fuel. This should also save you from having to spend on overpriced options at the marina.
We recommend the Attwood 12 Gallon Portable Marine Fuel Tank.
Fuel Economy Tips for a Pontoon Boat
Hoping to save up on your next full tank? Here are some tips to help you shave down on fuel consumption to extend every gallon you pay for and improve your pontoon boat fuel economy.
Get Your Motor Checked
A routine maintenance check should keep your motor in proper working order. By preventing damage and correcting issues, your boat can run smoothly and efficiently to save the amount of gas you use.
Watch Your Load
Overloading your boat is the easiest way to dampen fuel economy. Make sure you bring only the essentials and read the manual to find out how many people you can accommodate at a time.
Look Into Weather Forecasts
Before planning a trip, make sure you look into the weather news. Harsh, challenging waters and strong winds can significantly burden your pontoon boat’s performance.
Find the Sweet Spot
Driving too fast or too slow can force your motor to use more gas than it should. The average sweet spot for a standard pontoon would be around 22 to 28 miles per hour, but that can change depending on your vessel. Make sure you read the manual to find out the most ideal speed for fuel economy.
Avoid the Marina
People selling gas at the marina monopolize the market, and thus find it possible to mark up their prices without losing sales. Come prepared with more gas than you need to prevent the need to purchase overpriced gas once you arrive at the marina.
So, how much gas does a pontoon boat use? There’s really no designated number. And while it’s true that pontoon gas can be expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be. By maintaining your boat and understanding what affects fuel consumption, you might just be able to shave down the cost and enjoy budget-friendly recreational boating. Of course, it also helps to know where to buy your gas so you can avoid sellers that hike up their prices to take advantage of unsuspecting boat owners.