Choosing the Right Pontoon Boat Engine

Keys to consider when powering your pontoon.
Six Key Pontoon Powering Challenges

Keep these concerns in mind when buying a new pontoon boat, or repowering your current boat.

  • Preventing prop ventilation with crew seated forward
  • Minimizing vibration
  • Delivering low-speed thrust
  • Determining optimum mounting height
  • Providing directional control
  • Selecting the right propeller
On a pontoon, the engine is doing more of the work than when matched with a monohull. Selecting and properly installing an outboard for a pontoon are even more critical than for traditional boats.
As with any boat, engine mounting height on pontoons is critical.

Specialty Motors

Do you need a “pontoon motor”? Not exactly. As long as the engine provides the characteristics required for the particular boat and intended owner applications, all will be well.

Suzuki DF200A on a Silver Wave pontoon
Suzuki DF200A powering a Silver Wave SW5 2410. Courtesy Suzuki

That said, outboards with electronic controls, like Suzuki’s DF200A fly-by-wire version outboards, mate well with luxury pontoon boats. These offer a more refined experience, and the engine becomes another node on the boat’s network, integrated with other devices, such as MFD touchscreens, and even your mobile phone or tablet. Power steering is a nice feature for a luxury pontoon, and the lower gear ratio of engines like Suzukis, allow swinging a bigger propeller, which can offer more control around the dock and more authority at speed and cruising.

Yamaha Outboards High Thrust 60-hp on a Bennington pontoon
A Yamaha Outboards High Thrust 60-hp model powers this Bennington pontoon with economy and authoritative control. Courtesy Yamaha

At the other end of the power spectrum, some pontoon owners are more interested in simplicity than convenience; desire positive control and motive power over speed. Yamaha’s High Thrust series of outboards deliver on these counts. These engines are fitted with a lower gear ratio than the standard engines to swing a larger propeller, exactly what’s needed to move a full crew on a pontoon at a reasonable speed. And, mechanical control makes them less expensive to purchase and, often, a better candidate for repower.

Rotax S outboard
Rotax S outboards are new, award-winning, and leave the rear deck wide open. Currently available with Manitou Pontoons. Courtesy Rotax

Finally, Rotax S outboards are now available aboard Manitou pontoon boats. These engines leave the aft deckwide open, and also feature many convenient deferred maintenance features. We awarded the Rotax Outboard a Marine Power Innovation Award for 2022.


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