Specializing in used 4 stroke outboards and 2 stroke outboard boat motors.
The following article is of the opinions and statements of AFA Marine www.smalloutboards.com. We do not take any responsibility for the content on this page. The content found on this page is a perspective of our views on "outboard motors". We are merely stating how we feel about this topic. We encourage and endorse all consumers and readers of this page to formulate their own purchasing decisions based on due diligence, research, and various perspectives related. This Article is primarily based on motors under 40hp.
Matching the correct outboard horsepower for your boat is probably the single most important factor when buying an outboard engine. There is a fine line between overpowering and under powering your watercraft. When you overpower the boat you often risk damage to the boat and compromise safety. When you under power a boat you sacrifice performance and put drag on the outboard. This article will give some insight in choosing the right outboard motor for your boating application. The most important consideration is to always abide by your boat manufacturer's horsepower rating guide and max limit.
Small Outboard Engines.
Please note that weight is very important when choosing an outboard. Some outboards of the same hp vary in weight and must be considered differently when applied to a watercraft.
- 2 hp - 4 hp (Less than 35lbs)With the exception of Honda's 2 hp and Yamaha's New 2.5 hp 4 stroke outboard, most engines in this class are two stroke. These motors are perfect for almost every small boat. You can use them on inflatables, canoes, small sailboats, portable boats, and 8-12ft light weight jon boats. If the boat you are using is light enough for you to carry with one person and drafts about 2-4 inches these motors are ideal. Another attribute is that most have integral gas tanks so they are completely self-contained.
- Expect these engines to glide through the water at about 5-10 mph. Some of the 2 cylinder 3 and 4hp outboards made by OMC will almost plane a small inflatable or canoe with one person.
- These engines will push a boat faster than trolling motors will.
- As Kicker outboards we have had these engines move a 14ft fiberglass boat weighing about 600lbs at a nice trolling speed.
- 5 hp - 8 hp (From around 40lbs- 60lbs)
These are your workhorse mid-range portable light-weight outboard motors. These motors will plane out small inflatables, portable boats, canoes, and jon boats. These engines are nice because they are powerful and still light enough to transport with ease. These motors are perfect for many small to midsize sailboats and to use as kickers on boats less than 20ft. These motors are ideal for boats that weight around 50-250lbs, range from 8 to 14ft, and can be carried with two people or less.
- You can expect to go about 10-18 mph with one person on a light boat.
- Will work great for trolling, sailboats, and emergency back-ups
- Sometimes motors of this class will perform differently when more than one person is aboard.
- 9.9hp-18hp(From around 65lbs-100lbs)
These are your powerhouse small outboard engines. These engines are very versatile and are used in almost every small boating application. These motors are extremely popular for boat owners who need the power to get to distant locations. They are also popular among fisherman who have at least 2 occupants aboard or have heavy gear to transport. These motors are often used on large sailboats ranging from 16-25ft. They are also used on jon boats, large canoes, 9-12ft inflatables, and small fiberglass boats ranging from 11-16ft. Boats in this class usually weight from 120-600lbs+. These engines are often transported and moved around fairly easy.
- You can expect to go about 15-25mph on light boats
- Fully planes our 13ft Boston Whaler Test Boat with one person
- If a 6-8 hp is not powerful enough usually a 9.9hp-18hp will be a sufficient upgrade
- Motors this size usually have the option of electric start and battery charging capabilities
- 20-35hp (From 100lbs-150lbs)
These are borderline mid-range outboard motors. These outboard engines are the most popular outboards since they bridge the gap small and medium size fishing boats. These engines will move your light fiberglass whaler-type skiffs and large jon boats at great speeds. Many fisherman who need to travel 5-30 miles will go with no less than a 20 hp outboard motor. These motors are great for light boats ranging from 13-18ft as well as sailboats and pontoons. These engines will also work with large inflatables, large canoes, 14-18ft aluminum jons, and large sailboats. If you fish with 3 or more people and wish to get up on plane you should go with no less than a 20 hp outboard.
- You can expect to go about 20-30mph on most light boats
- If a 9.9hp-18hp barely planes your boat a 20-35hp will be a sufficient upgrade.
Midrange Outboard Motors
- 40hp -75hp
These engines are ideal for your 14-18ft fiberglass fishing and cruising skiffs. They work well on your 16-22ft pontoon boats and 20ft+ aluminum heavy-duty jons. These motors ideal for getting to the fishing grounds at 30+ mph. Great for fishing with 3 or more people.
Midrange Large Outboard Motors
- 90hp-140hp (V-4 or less)
These are your powerhouse midrange outboards that are used on almost any boat ranging from 16-25ft. These motors will push bass boats and flats boats 55mph +, they will work on 20ft-25ft offshore boats, and will be ideal for your bay boat or large pontoon and deck boats.
Large Outboard Motors
- 150hp-300hp (V-6 and V-8)
These are your big guns. These engines will push your 22-28ft fishing craft. They will work as twin outboards. They will run bass and flat boats at speeds of 60mph +. These motors are more common in the 25" shaft length since they are found on the largest outboard personal watercrafts. Great for offshore and cabin boats.