Whether your goal is to relax or enjoy watersports with your loved ones, you must pick a pontoon boat capable of delivering the desired result.
A pontoon boat is equipped with tubes upon which the deck floats. The propulsion power is generated entirely by outboard motors attached to the stern.
The performance of a pontoon engine is identified by a unit called horsepower (HP). This post is intended to get you acquainted with the horsepower requirements of pontoon boats.
We’ve also reviewed best pontoon boat anchor. Read this review when you need to buy one.
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Horsepower vs. Torque: What is the Difference?
When buying an engine for your pontoon boat, you will come across technical terms such as horsepower and torque. Horsepower and torque are units of Force. They are interrelated.
The formula for horsepower is,
Horsepower = Torque x RPM
Generally speaking, horsepower is used to measure work done, and torque denotes the twisting Force. From the pontoon engine’s context, the horsepower is the force applied by the engine to keep the vessel running at a specific speed.
The torque of an engine remains constant. At the same time, the horsepower varies depending on the RPM (rotations per minute) of a motor.
The value mentioned on a pontoon engine is the maximum horsepower. A pontoon can operate at varying speeds below the maximum horsepower value.
How Much HP Does a Pontoon Boat Need
Let’s assume that you are buying a pontoon boat for leisure fishing, touring, partying with friends, or conducting private events.
A 115 HP engine is considered to be powerful enough for a 20-feet long pontoon boat. You can go below 115 HP only if you desire to use the pontoon on occasions. That too, in a small water body, and at a low speed.
That being said, the resale value of a low-powered pontoon is quite low. Whether you go for a high, medium, or low horsepower engine, the maintenance costs will remain more or less the same.
As you would already know, pontoons are one of the most expensive boats to maintain. Even the repair costs are high. Hence, I would recommend going for an engine with 115 HP (or higher) horsepower.
Furthermore, the speed and performance of a pontoon boat also vary with the load it bears at any given time. If you and your family members are on board, a 115 HP pontoon boat will operate at its optimal speed and offer the best performance.
For small parties and events, the boat is expected to move at a slow and steady pace.
What I am leading up to is, performance is not a key factor for party barges. Lastly, pontoon engine prices increase with horsepower. A brand new 115 HP pontoon engine will cost you approximately $12,000.
How Fast Can a Pontoon Boat Travel?
A 115 HP pontoon boat can easily reach speeds up to 25-30 miles per hour. The more number of people on board, the lesser will be the speed. For optimal speed with an average 115 HP engine, it is recommended not to carry more than four passengers.
A pontoon or a tritoon boat sinks into water (by a few inches) with every pound added on board. Consequently, the drag on the tubes goes up. As the boat plows through more water, the speed diminishes.
The good news is that you can increase the performance of a pontoon by modifying it into a tritoon, this is if you are concerned about speed.
A tritoon has three tubes beneath the deck. With two passengers on board, a 115 HP tritoon can travel at 40-50 miles per hour.
How to Choose the Right HP for Your Pontoon Boat?
There is no one answer when it comes to choosing the right HP for your pontoon boat. You must select a horsepower depending on what you plan to use the boat for.
For instance, a 50 HP engine would suffice a family person who wishes to relax in the water with his/her loved ones. A 50 HP pontoon boat is intended to cruise through water at 15-18 miles per hour slowly.
If you have a tight budget and need a faster boat, go for a 90 HP engine. 90 HP is not enough for high-performance water sports, but you and your family can enjoy tubing at about 20-22 miles per hour. You can also use this boat for fishing as it can take you to the fishing hot spot faster.
Finally, if you are looking for a versatile and affordable pontoon boat, go for the 115 HP engine.
As I mentioned earlier, a 115 HP pontoon boat can serve more than one purpose. You can fish, party, conduct events, and, most importantly, ski at a decent speed. A 115 HP pontoon boat can hit speeds up to 25-30 miles per hour.
Several mechanisms allow you to increase the performance of a low power pontoon engine.
The height of the tubes (or also known as barrels) can be manipulated to make the boat remain high above the water’s surface.
Such methods reduce the drag created by the vessel. Hence, inspect the boat thoroughly before you judge its performance.