There are many advantages to outboard motors. The primary benefits are lower up-front cost, lower weight, higher speed, and ease of maintenance. To be sure, there are also advantages to inboard motors and stern drives, and we will explore these.
In this easy-to-follow tutorial, we will compare outboard vs. inboard boat motor options in-depth. Clearly, the market is trending toward more new boats being equipped with outboard motors.
That outboard motors continue to gain market share is compelling evidence that there are indeed many advantages to outboard motors in the eyes of consumers.
Furthermore, outboard motor technology continues to improve each year creating faster, quieter, and more fuel-efficient motors.
Cost Advantages of Outboard Motors
It is common for boat manufacturers to produce the same boat model with an inboard motor option and outboard motor option. Generally speaking, there is an up-front cost saving with choosing the outboard motor option.
This is because there is additional complexity to an inboard motor with a stern drive, and by comparison, outboard motors are simple and therefore more cost effective to install. Easy to install also means lower repair cost in the future in the event of a damaged engine or when choosing to re-power a worn out engine.
As for ongoing maintenance, they both require oil changes and filters. But a big advantage of an outboard motor is ease of access to work on the motor. This translates into less labor cost, which in turn saves money.
Another savings with an outboard motor is annual winterization. An outboard motor is self-draining and does not require a full-winterization to be performed by a boat shop.
When it comes to the actual operation of the boat, outboard motors are often a fuel-efficient choice. There is less weight to an outboard motor than an inboard or stern drive boat.
Performance Advantages of Outboard Motors
The performance advantages to outboard motors are numerous. Outboard motors have faster acceleration, higher cruising speeds, higher top-end speeds, and will plane the boat faster than comparable inboard stern drives.
Furthermore, you can trim outboard motors, adjust bow attitude to minimize drag on the hull, and decrease the load on the engine. It creates comfortable cruising while maximizing fuel economy. The ideal trim is 2-5 degrees bow up for cruising. Overall, the power of an outboard motor is more efficiently positioned at the stern of the boat.
Outboard motors save several hundred pounds in weight. It means a greater power to weight ratio. To get a sense for how this affects boat handling, just think about how differently your boat feels with four passengers compared to none.
It is said in terms of performance, a 200 HP outboard will give similar performance to a 250 HP inboard stern drive.
For steering, outboard motors outperform stern drives hands-down. Outboards are quick handling, have a tight turn ratio, and superior low speed maneuverability. Furthermore, because outboards steer well at idle they are user-friendly for docking and also steer great in reverse.
Often, larger boats are equipped with multiple outboard motors that create tremendous power that can propel a boat to amazing top-end speed.
Additionally, the redundant nature of having two or more motors means greater security in the event of an engine failure. This gives you both get-home power and peace of mind.
Outboards are gaining popularity on cabin cruisers. The use of 3-4 outboard motors or more combine to create more power than the largest pair of inboard motors. This means faster acceleration, faster to plane, higher cruising speeds, and great top-end speed.
Another performance advantage of an outboard motor is the ease of navigating shallow waters, especially at speed. This makes outboard motors ideal for fishing, swimming, anchoring, and entertaining.
Advantages of Outboard Motor Location
A huge advantage of outboard motor placement on the transom is that the motor is literally placed outside of the boat. This frees up a lot of interior space for seating, fishing, gear, or entertaining.
Because an outboard motor is in the open air, it is safer overall than an inboard motor that is confined on board in a closed compartment. This decreases the chances of an engine fire.
When it comes to maintaining an outboard motor, there is no comparison if the boat is out of the water like on a trailer. You simply stand next to the motor to work on it, and have full access to all of the systems.
By comparison, and inboard motor is often in a cramped compartment that makes access more difficult. Easy access translates into lower labor costs to maintain an outboard motor.
In terms of performance, outboard power is perfectly placed at the rear of the boat. Additional advantages are the ability to trim the motor at cruising speeds and completely raise the motor out of the water when the boat is moored or at the dock. This prevents corrosion and marine growth and is a huge advantage because there’s less ongoing maintenance.
Advantages of an Inboard Motor
Inboard motors come in two basic styles: inboard and inboard outboard (I/O) or stern drive. A comparison of these motor styles will give perspective on which type of motor is best for a given application.
A true inboard motor is located somewhere near the boat’s center and has a propeller on the end of a shaft that comes directly out of the transmission. The steering is from a rudder that is placed behind the propeller. This is typical of a ski boat, or large cabin cruisers.
An advantage of an inboard is that they have a heavy-duty automotive style marine engine and a simple propulsion and steering system. Because an inboard is centrally located, often times the hinged cover gives excellent access around the entire engine.
However, it gets complicated if you need to perform on an inboard’s propeller or steering rudder. The boat needs to be pulled out of the water so you can complete the repair because these components are under your boat. You can also hire a diver to go underneath.
A huge advantage of having the propeller under the boat is safety. The chances of someone being hit by the propeller or a rope becoming tangled in the prop go way down. Also, the propeller placement opens up the possibility to have a swim platform off the stern of the boat. Everyone agrees that a swim platform is a desirable feature.
Large cabin cruisers often have diesel engines. Diesel engines have very long life, are fuel efficient, and provide a long cruising range, perhaps even twice the distance of equivalent outboard motors.
Advantages of an Inboard/ Outboard (I/O) or Stern Drive
One of the most compelling reasons for an inboard with a stern drive is aesthetics. Boats with inboards have a nice clean look with the engine tucked in an engine compartment.
Because a stern drive boat engine is inside a compartment at the rear of the boat, it lends itself to have a nice cushioned area on top of the cover that’s perfect for lying in the sun. Combined with a swim platform off of the rear, this creates a perfect set up for swimming and sunbathing.
Mechanically, inboard motors last longer than outboard motors, possibly twice as long. Inboard engines often last 6000 hours, while outboard motors may last 2500-3000 hours. Either way, that’s a lot of hours spent enjoying your boat. After a decade of use, you may want to re-power your outboards with the latest technology anyway, or you may never own your boat that long.
Another advantage of an inboard engine is a lower center of gravity. This is noticeable when drifting because the boat is more stable than a boat equipped with outboards. Also the lower engine placement helps the boat to cut through heavy seas.
Disadvantages of an Inboard Motor
The downside of an inboard with a stern drive is there are lots of expensive moving parts and gears associated with the outdrive. So the overall complexity of a stern drive in terms of maintenance and repairs is far greater than the simplicity of an outboard motor.
The up-front costs are greater for an inboard with a stern drive compared with a comparable boat with an outboard motor. This combined with significantly more complex repairs, labor-intensive maintenance, and need for annual winterization create higher ongoing maintenance on a stern drive boat.
Furthermore, a boat with a stern drive cannot fully raise the motor out of the water while the boat is moored or docked. This leads to corrosion and marine growth that can be completely avoided by an outboard motor that can be fully raised out of the water.
True inboard motors cannot go in shallow water. Inboard/ outboards can use the tilt to idle through shallow water. Outboard motors are clearly the best choice if you are going to be boating often in shallow water.
Another disadvantage to consider is that because a boat with an inboard sits lower in the water, it will throw considerably more spray.
Why Buy an Outboard Motor From Lakeside Marine?
Now that you’ve discovered the numerous advantages of owning a boat with an outboard motor, consider purchasing a new Yamaha, Mercury, or Suzuki outboard motor from Lakeside Marine.
Re-power and upgrade your outboard motors using the most reliable boat shop on Lake Lanier. Lakeside Marine is known for excellent installations that provide the best motor performance. After all, we’ve been named the Best Boat Repair Shop on Lake Lanier for multiple years.
The advantages of teaming up with Lakeside Marine are numerous. As always, Lakeside Marine is committed to serving our customers. This means aggressive pricing saves you money. This means the best certified boat mechanics get your installation correct, and at the same time you can establish a trusted relationship for future maintenance. This means Lakeside Marine goes to bat for the customer to resolve any potential warrantee or service issues.
In short, every reason supports buying your new outboard motors through Lakeside Marine. We have earned the reputation as the most trusted boat shop on Lake Lanier. We’ve won multiple awards naming us the best boat repair shop, and our renowned customer service exceeds customer expectations at every step of the way.
Call Lakeside Marine today at (678) 322-7877 or Email email@example.com or visit our award-winning website at lakesidemarine.com to learn more about an outboard motor purchase.
List of Advantages of Outboard Motors
- Lower up-front cost
- Lower labor cost to maintain
- Easy access for maintenance
- Does not require shop winterization
- Simplicity- less complexity than inboards
- Less weight
- Higher power to weight ratio
- Steers great at low speeds
- Quick handling
- Tight turn ratio
- Steers well in reverse
- Steers well at idle
- Easy to dock
- Planes faster
- Faster cruising speeds
- Higher top-end speeds
- Power at stern is optimal
- Fuel efficient
- Can trim for maximum efficiency
- Can operate in shallow water
- Multiple motors add security
- Allows more interior space
- Less chance of engine fire
- Easy to re-power if motor is damaged or worn out