How to Pick the Right Engine for a Rigid Inflatable Boat

Since an inflatable tends to be a lighter weight boat, many people wonder about how much horsepower they actually need to satisfy their on water adventures. While this is a rather personal preference type decision, there are some factors to consider that will help boaters make the right choice for them. While RIBs are most definitely lighter in weight, they still need max horsepower and torque to perform their best.

In general, there are three factors to consider first when getting the right horsepower engine.

  • Define the purpose and how the vessel will be used.
  • Select an engine that complies with the safety rating for the vessel being purchased.
  • Consider your budget and meeting the safety and minimal requirements for the boat.

Armed with the basics, now let’s look at some of the other contributing factors that might lead buyers to the right engine choice.

Factors in Determining the Right Engine for a RIB

Heavy Lifting – Does the engine have to be carried or lifted? This might be the very first factor to consider, mostly for tender buyers. While a buyer might want a powerful engine that can zip them around from place to place, the reality is if it has to be moved or lifted regularly, (by manpower alone) a 150-pound engine might make for some back-breaking situations. Some manufactures won’t have the option of removing the engine, again, this will be a preference-point and how the boater uses the vessel.

Eagle 380 Motor

Construction – The next consideration might be the weight of the vessel and its materials. Most RIBs need low torque to help the boat get on plane. The materials used to construct that vessel will play a significant role in how much power will be required to achieve the goal. An aluminum model will need less than a fiberglass model, but the tube material may also factor in depending on the kind of drag it has in the water.

Power – Many experienced boaters will agree, the more power the captain has, the more control they have over the boat. Of course, this isn’t meant to be the barometer for those who race boats at extreme speeds and are susceptible to the smallest variable on the water. What we mean is, power will help a boater dock easier, maneuver better and get out of harms way if need be. Also, a buyer should know that they can always back off the throttle, but they cannot necessarily get more from an engine when it’s maxed out. So consider maxing the engine budget while staying within the ideal safety recommendations.

Eagle 650 Motor

Fuel Efficiency – Let’s talk about fuel efficiency since this too will be a major factor in choosing the right engine. The faster the captain goes, the more fuel they are going to use. Here is a basic look at how horsepower is factored when determining gas and diesel usage.

  • A gas engine will equate .50 lb. per horsepower

Fuel efficiency will mean more to someone who is using the vessel all the time as a primary mode of transportation versus the person who is only using it for weekend adventures for a few hours at a time. A weight factor can be used this way as well:

  • A gas engine at 6.1 lb. for a per gallon usage

Factory Recommendations – When in doubt refer to the factory recommendations and get an idea of what the vessel should have and where it maxes out. Many retailers give their suggestions which have been tested and evaluated to ensure the safety of their customers.

We believe the best answers come from asking the best questions and those are something we highly welcome here at BRIG. Find a retailer near you and let one of our experienced RIB professionals help in matching the right engine to the right boat. After years of getting to know our customers, we can offer background and real-life case scenarios that will be helpful contributions in choosing the right engine for a rigid inflatable boat.