Houseboat Propulsion

Inboard Outboard

Most houseboats have been made with Inboard/outboard applications. This consists of an automotive type engine with an outdrive. The advantages are lower cost and ease of installation. The motor is below deck out of the way. The disadvantage of this option is that the outdrives are the weakest component and the boat must be taken out of the lake to service the drives. Since a houseboat is a displacement hull, there is no performance advantage to trimming the drive as there is in a smaller vessel. Most people that choose this option don’t plan on heavy use and take advantage of the cost savings. A single engine is acceptable on a smaller boat while twins are recommended for larger boats to improve handling.

For Inboard/outboard applications, we typically use Mercruiser or the Volvo duo prop engines and drives. The owner can choose between 4, 6 or 8 cylinder engines. The larger the boat the larger the engine recommended. The 6 and 8 cylinder Mercruisers have the larger Bravo drive that has a larger diameter prop which improves handling. The 4 cyl has a smaller drive and the impeller for the water pump is located in the drive which can necessitate pulling the boat for minor maintenance. Volvo’s Duo Prop drive is also a good option and the duo props have good reverse power which is important when parking.


The new 4-stroke outboard engines have made the outboard a viable option. They are quiet, dependable and efficient. The outboard is easier to service and the drive can be serviced without pulling the boat out of the water. No winterization is required and the cost is lower.

There are lots of good 4-stroke outboard engines on the market with a wide range of horsepower. We recommend Honda or Mercury but can install any brand.