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Triple vs Quad Outboards
Are four outboards always better than three? We answer this and other key questions to help you decide between trips and quads.
Some boaters believe that the more engines you run, the worse your fuel efficiency. But that’s not always the case. A lot hinges on how you run the boat. All other things being equal, if you run balls to the wall, quads will burn more fuel, and though you go faster, miles per gallon are usually worse than with trips at wide-open throttle. However, ease up a bit and optimum mpg can be quite close between trips and quads — though the speeds at which they achieve their best mpg will be different. Quads will be faster.
Unlike all-out speed, hole shot can improve significantly when you add a fourth outboard to the same boat. This is because you have more power and greater propeller blade area in the water for increased thrust. At the same time, drag is less of a factor as the boat is accelerating from a standing start. This can result in a two- or three-second decrease in 0-to-30 mph times. And while that might not sound like much, you can certainly feel it in the seat of your pants.
Going from three to four outboards on the same boat usually increases speed, but not proportionately to the increase in horsepower. Even though you boost the power by a third, the weight and drag of the fourth outboard prevents a corresponding increase in velocity. A six- or eight-cylinder outboard adds anywhere from 420 to 804 pounds to your boat. Its lower unit also generates additional drag. Drag increases as a coefficient of speed, meaning that the faster you go, the greater the drag. These factors negate much of the extra horsepower when it comes to boosting speed. Even so, the boat should go faster, with speed increasing anywhere from 5 to 10 mph over trips, depending on the power increase and setup.