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Sterndrive vs Outboard Boat Engines

sterndrive vs outboard boat engine

It goes without saying that our boat can only operate if it is powered by an engine. But which is better: a sterndrive or an outboard boat engine? The primary distinction between these two engines is their placement on the board, which makes them appropriate for different types of vehicle designs.

Continue reading to learn which engine to choose based on your boat’s type, your needs, and the engine’s functions.

What are Sterndrive Boat Engines

Sterndrive boat engines are also referred to as inboard/outboard engines. As the name suggests, it is the combination of the outboard drive and the inboard power mounted at two different locations of the boat.

  • You can find the inboard right at the boat transom’s forward
  • The outboard, on the other hand, is installed right outside the hull, right above the waterline

These engines are known for their high horsepower to propel the boat at high speed. In fact, some of the top-notch models can reach 400 – 600 hp.

Advantages of Sterndrive Boat Engines

Increased Power and Acceleration

Sterndrive engines provide more power and acceleration than traditional inboard engines, which makes them ideal for larger boats or boats that need to quickly get up to speed.

Some of the highest horsepower engines can reach over 600 hp, and most of them are diesel engines.

Affordable and Common

Indeed, one of the reasons for choosing a sterndrive is its reliability, as many people use it to propel their boats. Furthermore, this type of engine is more affordable than others, typically costing about $7,000 – $9,000.

Access to the Boat’s Rear

Due to the inboard installation and the compact outboard outside the hull, this type of engine does not take much space of the boat. Unlike outboard engines, they allow boaters to reach the rear. Therefore, they can install a swim platform or sunbed at the rear end of the boat.

Disadvantages of Sterndrive Boat Engines

One of the biggest disadvantages of sterndrive boat engines is their susceptibility to damage from debris in the water. If a piece of debris gets caught in the drive unit, it can quickly cause significant damage.

Another disadvantage of sterndrive boat engines is their complexity. This complexity can lead to problems with the engine if not properly maintained.

What are Outboard Boat Engines

sterndrive boat enginesOutboard boat engines are a type of engine that is used for powerboats. They are typically mounted in the rear of the boat and are powered by gasoline or diesel fuel.

Outboard boat engines can be either single or twin-cylinder engines and range in power from 2.5 to 350 horsepower.

They are often controlled with a throttle and gear shift lever, which allow the operator to adjust the speed and power of the engine. Outboard engines are used on recreational and commercial boats and are a popular choice for larger vessels.

They are typically made from aluminum or fiberglass and can be either gasoline or diesel-powered.

Advantages of Outboard Boat Engines

Ease of Use

Outboard engines are easy to operate and require little maintenance. This makes them a popular choice for both recreational and commercial vessels.

Power and Performance

Outboard engines provide plenty of power for boats of all sizes. They are also capable of reaching high speeds, making them a popular choice for larger vessels.


Since these engines come in one package, it’s cheaper to install. Furthermore, due to the simple design of this engine, there are fewer parts that might be subjected to damage.


Outboard engines are made from sturdy materials and can withstand harsh weather conditions. This makes them a reliable choice for those who use their boat frequently.

Disadvantages of Outboard Boat Engines

Outboard engines can be susceptible to damage from water intrusion. If the engine becomes wet, it can short-circuit and stop working. Outboard engines can also be difficult to start in cold weather.

They take up room in the boat’s back end due to its design, making it impossible to access the back end or install a sun bed.

Sterndrive vs Outboard Boat Engines

outboard boat engine

Both sterndrive and outboard boat engines have their pros and cons, but ultimately the choice between the two will come down to your type of vehicle and your requirements.


Sterndrive engines have more horsepower than many outboard drivers. In fact, the highest horsepower in an outboard only reaches 450 hp, however, the sterndrive models can offer over 650 hp.


Sterndrive engines are also generally heavier than outboard engines if they are of the same horsepower, offering the same performance. This is because outboard engines have more parts, including inboard and outdrive.

Fuel Consumption

Sterndrive engines also tend to use more fuel than outboard engines, thus the latter is more fuel economical. This is again due to the size of the engine – sterndrive needs to be larger in order to generate more power, and this added weight means they consume more fuel.

Ease of Use

Outboard engines are typically easier to use than sterndrive engines. This is because they are mounted outside the boat, so they are easier to access and operate. Sterndrive engines can be difficult to access if they are located in the middle of the boat.


Sterndrive engines also require more maintenance than outboard engines due to the complicated designs. There are more parts that can break or wear down on sterndrive. Besides, the maintenance fee of a sterndrive is surely higher than an outboard engine.


So, which is better? The answer to that question depends on what you’re looking for in an engine. If you want more power and performance, go with a sterndrive.

But if you want greater fuel efficiency and easier maintenance, then an outboard engine may be the right choice for you. It’s up to you to decide which type of engine is best for your needs. Thanks for reading!

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