Your Guide to Choosing an Electric Inboard Motor Sailing Boats!

by Sean Dixon

electric inboard motor for sailing boats

Looking for a solution that could let your sailing boat operate on the water perfectly? Let’s talk about it as we cover the type of propulsion energy, the electric inboard motor.

Sailboats may be installed with a few energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, hydro generation, and others. But you can’t maximize them and your sailing experience if you don’t figure out what’s the best energy propulsion to use, inboard or outboard motor? 

In many ways, the electric inboard motor for sailing boats gives you more edge to make your trip on the sea worthwhile.

The Inboard Motor

The Inboard motor has a separate rudder to steer the watercraft and gear them to the lower centre of gravity. A larger box in the middle of the craft is needed. This platform is patterned after the car engines.

If you purchase one, be ready because it is far more expensive than the outboard counterpart. It does have better torque and horsepower. But it is a cost-effective and fuel-efficient alternative being modelled after car engines. 

In comparison with the outdoor, it lasts longer. You can use it for 1500 hours before going for maintenance. The drawback is it can cause fire hazards. You need to run a bilge blower to prevent this risk.

Why Choose an Electric Inboard Motor?

Sailing on the sea can be outfitted with an electric propulsion system. If you do it for hobby or recreational purposes, enjoy the whole trip with an electric inboard motor. 

  • Sailing is free of noise and from smelly exhaust gases.
  • You can initiate instant torque because of the manoeuvrability. It lets you maintain speed even under choppy conditions.
  • Its components are easier to find in the market because of their popularity.
  • Power can be renewed by energy sources like solar panels and wind generators. 
  • Environmentally friendly. It doesn’t produce water pollution and air pollution. 

The only drawback is a limited range due to low energy density compared to fuel. But you can increase it if you use hybrid propulsion.

How To Choose

Sailboats normally require smaller engines if you are not into speed. But you can upgrade to an electric inboard motor.   However, consider the size of the motor and if It meets the following considerations.

  1. Amount of power you need (HP) to reach maximum hull speed. It will make the water smooth, without windage, seamless hull, and so on.
  2. Correct propeller size.
  3. Hull displacement of your boat


 HP = displacement (lb) / 550

Hull displacement refers to the amount of water the boat displaces or simply the weight of the boat. The maximum is when the boat is fully loaded, including the crew. All these reflect the Archimedes Principle. 

The weight of the boat is affected by the quality of water. It is lighter on saltwater compared to bluewater. But the stronger current and wind change the whole thing.

The data of your boat displacement is usually found in manufacturers’ specs. Alternatively, you can use a truck weighing scale by hauling it on your boat. Then, retract its weight from the total weight.

The Propeller Size

The propeller influences the revolution per minute (RPM) of the engine. Its size is as vital as horsepower. So, determine the right range and maximum diameter that fits your boat. 

Look For The Key Features 

Inboard motors vary based on the manufacturer’ standards and preferences. But things you need to consider primarily are the key features:

  • Onboard computer display – it should provide easy access to complete information of engine’s performance.
  • Waterproof system components.
  • Conversion kits for DIY purposes.
  • Hydro generation capacity is the leading edge among renewable power source mixes.
  • Battery monitoring and tracking systems. 
  • Manufacturers’ credibility to be sure of the cost-effectiveness of the engine.
  • Batteries stability

Lead-acid batteries can power electric inboard motors. But upgrading to lithium-ion batteries would be more beneficial in the long term. The advantages are doubled and sustainable. More range and time are covered, which surely fills up the exciting sailing experience. The best thing is they last longer and are maintenance-free. Just be careful with their downside, temperature-sensitive. 

For the optimal experience level, ensure they are solidly designed for marine environments with a great battery management system (BMS).

Final Thoughts

Give attention to hull design, sailing conditions, and your preference. They determine your overall sailing experience. Set aside pre-notions authored by enthusiasts who have different claims. They can be subjective and lead to unnecessary debate in your mind. Go straight to the issue and focus on the needs you want to solve. What are your plans? 


Propulsion energy comes in a variety of forms, usage, and usability. Choosing the most suitable engine for your craft depends on your plans, boat-built, manufacturer’s reputation, and your personal preference. It is a best practice to consult with experts before finalizing a buying decision.

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