E-drive motor types for boats

E-drive motor types for boats

There are different types of engines on the boat and they all have advantages and disadvantages. The engine mainly depends on your boat. Retrofitting to the latest technology of an electric motor is almost always possible. We tell you what to look out for, enjoy reading!
  • Electric boat engines
  • Outboard engine
  • Inboard engine
  • Bowthruster
  • Pod motor
  • Sail drive
  • Rotatable pod motor

Electric boat engines

Outboard and inboard are the most common types of engines. Bow motors are often used by anglers for short distances. Sailing boats and sailing yachts, on the other hand, are often operated by a flange motor, saildrive or underfloor motor.

Assembly of the electric motor

We could just make it easy for ourselves Please follow the manufacturer's instructions when assembling! You should definitely pay attention to this. We don't want you to hurt your boat, your new engine or, in the worst case, yourself!
Assembly of the electric motor

Tips and recommendations for a boat with an electric motor

You need suitable equipment for the assembly, depending on the size and weight of your engine. If you make gross mistakes in assembly, you risk seriously damaging your boat. Our tip: Find a boat builder in good time before the start of the season so that you can quickly bring the boat into the water in spring to take the first electric tour.

Electric outboard

Outboards are particularly widespread in smaller boats and inflatable boats up to 15 HP and are of course also used in larger pleasure boats or houseboats. The components of the electric motor, driveshaft and possibly the gearbox of the motor are installed in one housing. It can be operated on the boat engine using a tiller or steering wheel and remote throttle.
Electric outboard

Advantages and disadvantages of the outboard

Outboards can be easily (dis) assembled. They are significantly more flexible and can be dismantled after the trip or for the winter. The disadvantage is that outboards are stolen more often. Don't worry: There are other ways to secure the engine from theft in addition to dismantling!

Electric outboard assembly

How is an outboard mounted?

An outboard is easily installed on the engine mirror, which is located at the stern of the boat. It is attached using clamping screws or bolts. Depending on the weight of the engine, this is easy, especially for engines under 11kW (15PS) and can usually be carried out by the layperson.

It all depends on the weight!

Size and weight vary from 2.2kg to 470kg depending on the outboard motor. For the larger models, it is advisable to use a hoist such as a crane due to the higher weight. You can also hire a service provider for installation.

When purchasing an outboard motor, you should always pay attention to the correct shaft length! In our article "In 4 steps to the perfect electric drive" you will find the right shaft length for the boat engine.

Electric inboard motor

A shaft layer consists of a motor that is permanently installed in the hull of the boat. The engine drives a rigid shaft to which a propeller is attached. It is operated by remote throttle and control is provided by a rudder, which is mounted behind the propeller and controlled by a steering wheel.

The installation is more complex than an outboard and should usually be done by an expert. In the process, the boat should also be lifted out of the water, which may require a crane. The existing shaft system can usually continue to be used. The inboard engine is thereby firmly mounted in the hull of the boat.

Electric bow motor

The structure of a bow motor is very similar to that of an outboard motor, but they are characterized by their low weight. However, it is mounted on the bow and thus rather pulls the boat. It can be operated using a tiller or, thanks to remote throttle, with hand or foot control.
Electric bow motor

Advantages and disadvantages of bow engines

Bow motors are installed on the bow of the boat and pull the boat as the only one of the different motor types. This improves maneuverability. Bow motors are often used for fishing because both hands are free thanks to pedal control. Due to the lower thrust, bow engines are not recommended for a heavier boat.

Interesting for anglers with an electric boat

There are sometimes autopilots for driving routes or a GPS spot lock, in which the bow motor automatically holds the boat in the same place. For anglers, an integrated sonar can be connected to an echo sounder. Automatic lowering and catching up of the engine at the push of a button is also possible.

How is a bow engine installed?

The installation takes place directly on the boat or on a mounting plate, which is firmly connected to the boat. A mounting plate has the advantage that you can quickly assemble and disassemble the motor. If you don't want to keep the engine permanently on the boat, this makes a lot of sense. The assembly is not complex and can easily be carried out by yourself.

When purchasing a bow motor, you should always pay attention to the correct shaft length! In our article "In 4 steps to the perfect electric drive" you will find the right shaft length for your boat.

Electric pod motor / flange motor

The drive consists of a compact and watertight housing in which the motor is integrated. It is flanged to the bottom of the boat and is not rotatable. It is operated using the remote throttle and the steering is carried out by an oar attached to the stern of the boat. A pod motor is controlled by means of a steering wheel and control electronics, and the battery is in the boat.

A flange motor takes up very little space inside the ship since the motor is completely housed in the pod housing and no motor components protrude into the inside of the ship. Flanged motors are common on sailboats. The limited maneuverability can be a disadvantage as the motor cannot be rotated directly.

How is a flange motor installed?

The installation should be carried out by a specialist on land before the boat has to be lifted out of the water. The effort is less than with a saildrive, since only a few smaller holes for fastening to the fuselage and a larger one are required for the cable duct. Existing bores and plinths can usually continue to be used. The good sealing of the holes in the fuselage is particularly important.

Electric sail drive

A saildrive is similar to a pod motor, the components of the motor protrude into the boat compared to the flange motor. There are also rotatable versions, but the standard is a fixed motor that is controlled by a rudder system. The base is laminated to the boat hull and existing bases can usually be used when purchasing an electric sail drive.
Electric sail drive
Operation takes place via a remote throttle. Rotatable sail drives can differ in the size of the maximum angle of rotation, as well as in the mechanical or electrical control. Saildrive motors are particularly popular with sailing boats. The assembly is comparable to that of a pod motor.

Electric rotatable pod motor

An underfloor motor (tubular motor) also consists of a waterproof housing with an integrated motor. The motor hangs on the rotating Henegatt pipe and goes through the hull. The structure is similar to a flange motor, only the pod can be rotated, which improves maneuverability. When installing, there are no differences compared to saildrives.

As you can see, you can also drive an electric motor faster than the police allow. However, a moderate speed is recommended for longer boat tours. In addition, of course, the speed specifications on the waters also apply, which we, of course, recommend adhering to.

Your Boat. Our Drive.

We support boat owners on the subject of e-mobility on the water. Do you have further questions about electric boat motors? Write us an email to mail@greenboatsolutions.de We will answer you as soon as possible!


We use standard values for all information and calculations. Individual deviations are of course possible. Each boat has different properties and accordingly, we can not give any guarantee for the information. Your boat may need more or less power than recommended.


The information on our website is written with great care. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and assume no liability for damage caused by errors in the texts.

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