Course How To

Houseboat motors - How to calculate?

by Charlotte

Typical houseboat sterndrive engine motor.

Typical houseboat sterndrive engine motor.

How do I find out how big a motor a houseboat needs? Are there any electric motors for houseboats?

Just wondering what I need to do to set it all up.

Sincerely, Charlotte.

Advertise Houseboat Business Advertising

Reply - Answer
Well Charlotte, thanks for posting in the houseboat forums.

Now about your post, that's a good question, since for example, if you were to build a houseboat, how would you calculate, or figure out what size engine or motors to put in.

If we use a 45 foot houseboat for this example.

You're common choices for houseboat propulsion would be either Outboards, Inboards, I/O Inboard/Outboards (Sterndrives), or possibly Electric Motors.

Your fuel choices would be commonly either Gasoline or Diesel, and both have their "pros & cons".

Next you would have to decide whether you want to cruise a hull speed (displacement hull), or if you want to plane on top of the water (at 2 or 3 times hull speed).

I have seen 45 foot houseboats (@ 12,000 lbs) that have had a single outboard (@ 90 hp) that will run at 5-6 knots (6-7 MPH).

The same houseboat with twin V8 engines (@ 260hp each) & sterndrives, will plane at @ 15-18 knots ( @ 17-21 MPH) and will probably reach a maximum of 20-22 knots.

As to electric motors as a primary propulsion choice, I have read about some prototype models. They used a diesel generator to provide power to two huge electric motors and they had good results. However the price is prohibitive and not readily available.

As to being able to calculate how much power a houseboat requires, I have not seen a chart or spreadsheet to calculate this. Possibly one of our readers knows of a method?

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat propulsion or calculation experiences.

IAN from

Free Bonus Offer

To show our deep appreciation to all of our readers and visitors, here is the link to our free houseboat magazine, the INSIDER. Go ahead click the book and sign-up, it's free and filled with great articles, tips, information and website updates.

free Houseboat Magazine - The Houseboat Insider

Comments for Houseboat motors - How to calculate?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Houseboat Motors
by: Dennis

First consideration is "fuel availability" where your houseboat will be moored. On inland lakes and rivers, gasoline is usually readily available, diesel is more scarce.

If your destination only has gasoline, your choices narrow down to Outboard(s) or Inboard/Outboard(s)...also known as I/Os. Houseboats are usually built for one option or the other and switching between the two can get expensive.

More info would be helpful regarding your question about "How to Calculate?" Are you re-powering an existing houseboat, or are you building a new one?

Houseboat Fuel Prices - alternative power for houseboats
by: Dale

Hello, we are interested in buying an 85' to 100' X 18' to 20' houseboat. However, with these ever increasing fuel prices, I would like to know if any of you readers have ever heard of or seen any boats with electric motor power or hydrogen power in the sizes I mentioned above. Thank you, Dale

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Questions Answers on Houseboats.

Continue Reading Our Popular Pages

Our collection of houseboat ebooks

Ebook Boats Collection on Houseboat Books

We just love houseboats, do you?
Join our monthly HB Insider for free

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.