Lehr Outboards: Can You Run Boats on Propane?

In a nutshell, the answer to the above question is now “yes”. A company called Lehr has started producing propane outboards, and these things seem to be catching on.

lehr propane outboard

Yes, that’s a propane bottle sticking out the back of the outboard – this is the 5-hp model.

The advantages of using propane are pretty significant: instead of filling a fuel tank at the gas station, you can simply toss a few propane canisters into the boat. These screw onto the outboard just like they do on a camping stove, or propane heater. And if that’s not enough fuel (one bottle gets you several hours of use, depending on how fast you’re running and which model you have) you can also hook up a grill-sized tank. It’s safer than gasoline, and it doesn’t have any harmful emissions. And since Lehr has been building small propane motors for years (weed-wackers, lawn mowers, and more), they have these engines pretty well figured out – and offer a three-year warranty.

2.5, 5.0, and 9.9 horsepower models are all now available. Okay, so that won’t exactly rocket you across the bay on your 22-footer. But for a small aluminum boat, these things coule make life a lot easier, and a lot safer. What about weight? The smallest version is just 37.9 pounds, and the largest, 87.7 pounds. Heck, you can even get electric start on the 9.9.

Down-sides? Finding a mechanic who’s familiar with these engines may be a bit challenging, in the near-term. And the 2.5-hp model doesn’t have reverse, it’s forward and neutral, only. How about cost? The smallest model starts right around a thousand bucks, and the largest is about $2,600.

These obviously won’t be perfect for everyone, but for some of us they’ll be an excellent option – nifty!


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  1. td

    Sorry for posting unrelated questions, but I need help with caring for stainless rails on my boat. I have been storing the boat in a lift in Galveston for almost 2 years and I think I am losing the fight against corrosion. I slipped up and let my rails get rusty in spots—it seemed to happen overnight. I decided to use a metal polish for marine use, and it seemed to do pretty well except that the rails were not quite as shiny as they had been before. Now it seems no matter what I do the rust keeps coming back. I am afraid I took off some kind of protective coating even though the polish was not very abrasive. I am sure you have a recommendation for this. Did I make a mistake by using that metal polish? What should I use to remove the rust and what should I use to prevent (or retard) the rust from coming back?

    • LRudow

      Hey – here’s a good way to combat the problem: instead of using metal polish on the rails when you clean your boat, after a thorough wash-down spray some CorrosionX or Boeshield T-9 onto a rag, then wipe down the rails with it. Not only will it make ‘em shine, it’ll keep the rust at bay.