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Quietest 150-HP Outboard
|Author||Topic: Quietest 150-HP Outboard|
posted 05-22-2006 12:20 AM ET (US)
Powerboat Reports has published test results comparing six different 150-HP engines:
In terms of sound at idle speed of 1,000-RPM, the quietest motors:
dB-SPL / Motor
However, pump the speed up to 1,500-RPM, a typical No-Wake speed, and the order changes to
dB-SPL / Motor
Jump ahead to cruising speed, and the order changes again. This time we are going to look at boat speed, not engine speed. This helps the two-strokes because they won't be running the engine quite as fast. Now the results are:
dB-SPL / Motor / MPH
At wide open throttle, the ranking changes some more. Again we compare at boat speed not engine speed:
dB-SPL / Motor / MPH
What surprises me in these results is the Verado. It had been unofficially crowned the ultra-quiet outboard. The 150-HP apparently does not live up to the big six-cylinder Verado reputation. It comes in at second, third, and fourth at these various speeds.
The big shock for me was the first-place to the E-TEC at cruising speed. I give it the nod over the Honda because it is going faster. I wonder if that is a typo? If it is a mistake, it puts the Honda into overall first-place in sound level. That BF150 is one quiet motor. Of course, it is also the slowest motor--you can't have everything.
Poor Yamaha--their F150 makes more racket than the OptiMax, an engine just about universally considered to be an old-fashioned noisy outboard. The F150 runs quietly until you pour the coal to it, I guess.
Well, this is just a smidgen of the data presented by Powerboat Reports. Sound has become a big item in outboards. Folks want them to be quieter. The OptiMax did quite well in all the other categories. If this new OptiMax The Next Generation (OTNG) motor can quiet the sound level down, Mercury will have a potent motor to go against the four-strokes and E-TEC. Until then, if you want a quiet 150-HP outboard, get a ...well, you pick the winner!
posted 05-22-2006 01:42 AM ET (US)
jimh, was this strictly a test to determine the quietness of the 150 HP outboards or was it also a performance test? Where these motors mounted on identical boats using similar props?
If not, the top speed and cruising speed numbers will not be an accurate representation of each motor's true performance.
|BOB KEMMLER JR||
posted 05-22-2006 02:07 AM ET (US)
Engine height could also play a role in the noise
posted 05-22-2006 02:08 AM ET (US)
As well as cruise and top speed.
posted 05-22-2006 08:23 AM ET (US)
For all of the work and concern we give to keeping our outboards quiet, if those go-fast boats with straight pipes would muffle their engines the world would be a better place. Drives me crazy when I can clearly hear one of them from a mile + away over my old clunky Johnson 2 stroke while cruising.
posted 05-22-2006 08:54 AM ET (US)
The tests were conducted on six identical boats, specially built by ANGLER and checked for weight to be within ten pounds. There is a ton of data in the report. This is just the results on the sound levels.
Sound levels that are within a decibel or two are not significantly different. Sound levels separated by 6-dB are quite noticeably different. For example, at idle the OptiMax is 8-dB louder than the really quiet motors. That is a very noticeable difference. In other words, you could have two of the quieter motors running and one OptiMax would be louder. It's more than twice as loud.
At wide open the differences are even greater. The Yamaha F150 is 10-dB louder than the quiet Honda BF150. This is a very significant difference in sound. That is so much difference that if you had a BF150 and a F150 on the transom, and you were running both of them wide open throttle, you would have a hard time even hearing the Honda running over the roar of the Yamaha. But before you buy that Honda, remember it is the slowest motor in the pack, almost 6-MPH slower than the E-TEC of the same horsepower.
Probably the most important factor has been left out here: the price. The Suzuki is $3,500 cheaper than the Verado, the most expensive motor in the test (based on the actual prices of the boat/motor packages for all six boats).
Get the report--it has a ton of data and results--enough to debate for months!
posted 05-22-2006 08:55 AM ET (US)
With the backgound, natural sounds, of being on a boat and this chart, I doubt many people can differentiate the difference between most of these new engines.
Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level:
Imperceptible Change: 1dB
Barely Perceptible Change: 3dB
Clearly Noticeable Change: 5dB
About Twice as Loud 10dB:
About Four Times as Loud: 20dB
My 60HP Evinrude grinding away on the back of my 15'SS is music to my ears!
posted 05-22-2006 10:33 AM ET (US)
I test drove a 26 ft powered by twin 150 Suzukis (4s) and it was somewhat underpowered and needed 5000 rpms the maintain plane and cruise. WHAT A RACKET! Plus they have soft motor mounts and wiggle quite a bit at low sppeds. Not too impressed esp since they were new........
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-22-2006 10:33 AM ET (US)
Interesting report. A few comments:
The sound level at WOT is almost irrelevant. For the fraction of one percent of the time we run our motors at WOT we are usually focussing on just hanging on, not carrying on a conversation.
Sound level at cruise speed and to a lesser extent idle speed, is where a low sound level is desirable.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-22-2006 10:40 AM ET (US)
On the basis of that criteria it is apparent that the the Verado would be an excellent choice for those who spend a lot of time putt-putting along, sightseeing along the ICW for example, while the E-Tec and the Yamaha would be best for those who actually run their boats and cover ground.
posted 05-22-2006 03:21 PM ET (US)
The only problem with that idle sound is that the ETEC idles at much lower rpms. The 200hp series engines all idle at around 500rpms not 1000rpms! At 500rpms, sometimes you can not tell it is even running. I cannot hear it from the Helm! I troll at 650rpms and it is very quiet. I may be wrong but I don't think the other engines idle that low! Funny, they didn't mention that!
posted 05-22-2006 06:24 PM ET (US)
This recent test by Powerboats Report contradicts a test by them in June 2004. In this test entitled: "Outboard Shoot-out: Honda Edges Yamaha", the BF150 and F150 were tested on identical 20\0x20196\0x201D Triumph Chaos center console boats. They gave the nod to the Honda because it was quieter and more fuel effecient. The Yamaha was 1 MPH faster which they considered insignificant.
What I find really interesting is that at WOT, the BF150 registered 90.5 dB while the F150 registered 94.5 dB. This latest test has the Honda 2 dB louder and the F150 5.5 dB louder.
How can there be such a considerable difference in the noise levels between the two tests by the same publication?
posted 05-22-2006 06:26 PM ET (US)
Correction: the latest test has the F150 7.5 dB lounder than the June '04 test.
posted 05-22-2006 07:39 PM ET (US)
I realize that this thread is primarily about sound levels but once again I have to lay some criticism on PBR after having just read their report.
What really annoys me is that they get Angler to set up very similar boats in an attempt to eliminate testing variables and then have all of the motors running different propellers. We all know that different propellers perform differently, doesn't PBR know this? The prior excuse I've heard is that they test the motors as they would come from the dealer. Well that is interesting but at the 150 HP level, propellers don't come standard on an outboard motor and so the consumer is free to choose any propeller that will fit. Clearly with the availability of the Flo-Torq II hub system, the testing could have been done with the same style Mercury propeller to reduce the variability of the test results, including sound levels, induced by the use of different propellers.
posted 05-22-2006 07:46 PM ET (US)
In terms of the precision of the measurement, and based on the description of the equipment used ("a Radio Shack meter"), I would not consider the sound measurements presented to be absolutely accurate. Of all the data presented, the sound pressure levels are probably measured with the least accuracy. The other measurements, like speed (measured with GPS), weight (measured on a good scale no doubt), and fuel flow (measured by the same instrument except in the case of the Verado and E-TEC), are likely made with more precision and are more accurate.
But even if the meter used was not calibrated to a standard traceable to the National Bureau of Standards or to SMPTE headquarters, it is reasonable to assume that the same meter and the same technique was used to record the sound levels. So on that basis they are comparable. By that I mean you can take one reading and compare it to the other and be reasonably sure that there is about that much difference between the two. I wouldn't split hairs down to the tenth of a decibel, but plus or minus a decibel or two, they are probably accurate.
By the way, one decibel is the smallest change in sound level that is noticeable. If you ask your teenager to turn down his stereo, he will turn it down one decibel. You probably had in mind that he ought to turn it down about ten decibels. This will give you an idea of how these sound pressure level readings compare to a real world experience in sound.
What is also surprising in these results is how often the first place finisher changes.
Also, fourdy's comment about the pitch of the sound is something to consider. The four-stroke engines will have a fundamental pitch that is one-half the frequency of the two-stroke engines, and this will influence the perception of the sound level by a human. It is not clear in the results if the sound pressure measurements were adjusted according to any weighing scale, as is often used to convert the raw sound pressure level readings into a weighted presentation that more closely resembles how the sound will be perceived.
posted 05-22-2006 08:36 PM ET (US)
Jim, I refering to the engine rpms not the pitch!
posted 05-22-2006 09:48 PM ET (US)
Perhaps I'm a dim-witt, but I have trouble with making useful judgements from dB comparisons. I wish the sound were expressed in some linear format, instead of decibels, that would be easier to understand.
An example of my confusion is the idle speed data below. Using Hal Watkins' reference (which may or may not be precise), I am to assume that at idle, the difference in sound among the 4 strokes, between the next closest rated motor (Suzuki to Merc, Merc to Yamaha, Yamaha to Honda) is inperceptible or barely perceptible (1.5 decibel or less between the next closest motor in sound level)...and the difference between the Honda and the E-tec is barely perceptible (3.5 dB). But the difference between the Suzuki and the E-tec at idle - 6.5 dB - is a "clearly noticeable change" in sound level. The difference between the E-tec and the Optimax is a "barely perceptible" change (3dB)...but the difference from where we started, the Suzuki, to where we ended, the Optimax, is perhaps almost twice as loud (8.5 dB). It's hard for me to make much sense of these dB measurements, even though I don't doubt their accuracy.
I'm not doubting Hal's reference, and I'm not doubting the article's measured sound levels...but I wish this could be expressed in a manner that was easier to understand and make decisions with.
I subjectively find my old Johnson 2 stroke to be loud at idle. I also find the existing Optimax outboards to be loud at idle. I have found the Verado's (including the 150's) to be so quiet at idle that I can't easily tell if they are running or not; I see no point to an outboard being any more quiet AT IDLE than the Verado is, even if it is possible. I haven't had meaningful time around a V6 E-tec at any speed (other than at a rainy boat show, idling at the dock, for only a minute), nor do I have a feel for the Suzuki's loudness at cruise speed...but it's hard for me to get much insight on either motor's subjective loudness from these dB comparisons.
Is there any other way to express these loudness levels that is easier to understand?
posted 05-22-2006 09:57 PM ET (US)
Actually, by expressing the sound pressure level in decibels the loudness is represented in a way that correlates well with hearing perception. One decibel is about the minimum discernible difference.
Here is an excellent web page which will allow you to HEAR the difference in sound expressed in various steps, measured in decibels. This may help you become familiar with how much change one decibel represents:
posted 05-23-2006 12:26 AM ET (US)
I haven't read the complete article yet, but from your info, it looks like the E-TEC 150 was 3.5mph faster than the 2nd place engine. If they pulled the throttle back to the same speed as the Honda, 42.9 mph, I wonder how the sound comparison would be then?
One thing to note, that the V6 E-TEC has 6 "bangs" per revolution and the 4 cylinder 4 strokes only have 2 powerstokes per rev. That should make a world of difference in a sound signature, yet the E-TEC hangs in there pretty well with the others even with its 3 times as many powerstrokes per rev.
posted 05-23-2006 01:03 AM ET (US)
seahorse, even at 39 MPH, the E-TEC is 2 dB lounder than the Honda at WOT. The E-TEC's best fuel economy was just 3.9 MPG while the Honda's was 5.3 MPG.
What was very impresive about the E-TEC was its 48.8 MPH top speed. Hands down the fastest of the bunch.
Peter brings up a good point about not all props being equal. The prop that provided the lowest slip was on the Suzuki; it registered 1.5% and the highest slip was the prop on the Honda. It registered almost 9%. If the same model prop was used on all the motors, it would have been a more accurate test.
All in all the article was a good read. Thanks for the heads up jimh.
posted 05-23-2006 04:13 AM ET (US)
87.0 -- Verado -- 27.8-MPH
89.5 -- OptiMax -- 27.7-MPH
Better fuel economy, better acceleration, less weight, less dollars, proably more reliable and now, only barely perceptable difference in sound pressure at cruise speed.
Wow, sure am glad I have the Opti and money left over to get that new Humminbird 987c and some other cool stuff.
posted 05-23-2006 08:21 AM ET (US)
Based on the 14 3/4 x 19 dimensions given for the propeller used by the E-TEC 150, it was equipped with either a Viper or an SST with the swept back blade design. It's fairly well known and proven that the Viper design is not an efficient cruiser but does tend to produce good top speeds. (See Seahorse's comparison of the Viper to the Rebel at continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/004142.html and continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/004208.html ).
Forget about comparing the calculated slip for each of the propellers used because that is meaningless. Calculated slip is entirely dependent upon the methodology each of the manufacturers use to designate pitch. For example, a 17 inch pitch Mercury propeller tends to peform like a 19 inch OMC propeller. (See the graphs in Jimh's propeller test report at continuouswave.com/whaler/reference/propellerWDSingle.html ). While the OMC propeller will show higher calculated slip than the Mercury propeller, when you compare the true propeller performance (how efficiently does the propeller move the boat through the water) using a fuel flow gauge, you'll find that a 19 inch OMC propeller is nearly equal to a 17 inch Mercury propeller even though the Mercury propeller shows a better slip number. Accordingly, when evaluating efficient propeller performance, I don't pay any attention to slip numbers only to MPG numbers which resolves any variations in how a manufacturer designates pitch.
I'm willing to bet that if the Rebel propeller was used instead of the Viper/SST, the E-TEC cruise MPG would be better by at least 0.5 MPG. I got rid of the Vipers that came with my Whaler 27 because they were terrible at cruise and the significant torque of the Ficht 225s would cause them to blow out in light seas. My engines would tend to surge with these propellers because they couldn't keep an even load on the motors. The Viper is probably less of a problem for a single motor which is on-center with the keel than for twins.
My own unscientific testing of different propellers on the same boat has indicated that a motor will sound different with different propellers at the same speed. They will even sound different with the same style propeller but different pitch at the same speed, obviously. So if one is to really judge the sound quality/level of the contestants in as an objective manner as possible, it needs to be done with the same propeller or as close thereto as one can get....same style/brand, different pitch if necessary.
What really burns me up is that PBR had the perfect opportunity to take the test to another level for the consumer and didn't do it.
posted 05-23-2006 09:31 AM ET (US)
I understand what you are explaining about the propeller used on the E-TEC in the test.
The article in Powerboat Reports indicates that each engine manufacturer was allowed two days to work with and set up their engine on the boat. Why didn't the BRP reps. or engineers choose the Rebel propeller?
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-23-2006 09:40 AM ET (US)
It may well be that BRP chose the propeller they did precisely BECAUSE it was the best choice for their motor in that application. There is a world of difference between an Angler and a Whaler 27.
posted 05-23-2006 09:55 AM ET (US)
Tom -- Take a look at Seahorse's report for a 20 foot Ranger/E-TEC 150 in the first link or I provided. There is a world of difference between a Viper and a Rebel no matter what the application is.
WildT --I wonder whether the Rebel was available at the time of the testing. Whether or not available, the Rebel would not have been the propeller I would have used to test all the motors as it does not have a universal fit. I would have used a Mercury Mirage or another Mercury propeller that can be fit to all of the motors tested using the proper Flo-Torq II hub kit.
I know that PBR doesn't like to step outside the box and use a non-OEM propeller for their testing but when they had 5 nearly identical boats the opportunity to step outside the box was there and get rid of or at least reduce propeller induced performance variations. A wasted opportunity for us consumers.
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-23-2006 10:19 AM ET (US)
I hardly think that two data points is enough to conclude that:
There is a world of difference between a Viper and a Rebel no matter what the application is.
If one propeller were better that anything else no matter what the application is, there would really be no need for a manufacturer to offer anything else.
posted 05-23-2006 10:32 AM ET (US)
Tom -- In addition to those points, there's lots of anecdotal evidence out on the web that the Viper doesn't match up well with the larger diameter E-TEC/FICHT Magnum gearcase. Every anecdotal performance report for the Viper that I have seen has been consistent with my own experience and consistent with the Seahorse reports. For nearly 2 years now I've been monitoring performance reports for the Viper and have yet to find a report where the Viper outshines a Mirage or a Rebel (except at WOT) on any V6 E-TEC or Ficht w/Magnum gearcase. It doesn't seem to matter what transom the E-TEC or Ficht-Magnum is hanging on. FYI, the Viper was designed and on the market long before the larger Magnum gearcase existed.
posted 05-23-2006 12:56 PM ET (US)
Whaler published engine performance data sheets for several Mercury outboards tested on the 190 Nantucket. I first saw this prior to actually running my boat for the 1st time and was really concerned about noise level.
Check it out: http://whaler.com/Rec/pdfs/190OutrageEng.pdf
posted 05-23-2006 03:17 PM ET (US)
my etech 150 is on. havent taken it out yet dealer called me today told me its ready i will post back on my comparisons i just upgraded form a 115 ocean pro 150 will be sweet
posted 05-23-2006 04:44 PM ET (US)
I'm sorry to keep changing the topic from sound, but I was extremely disappointed in the performance of the E-TEC in the hole shots tests. It finshed dead last in the hole shot/acceleration tests.
After all the marketing about torque and hole shot of the E-TEC 2-strokes vs. the 4-strokes, the Evinrude gets hammered in the test in which it should shine!
Powerboat-Reports indicates a hesitation and shudder at 2100 rpm as being part of the problem in acceleration. I guess the BRP representatives could not figure out the problem (if it is a problem and not part of the design of the engine)in the 2 days they had to set the motor up.
I look forward to BRP response to these tests.
posted 05-23-2006 06:26 PM ET (US)
Good point Wild Yurkey. The Yamaha 4 stroke out accelerated the E-TEC but according to the BRP infomertial, the Yamaha 4 stroke can't even get their test boat onto a plane with the twin motor set-up comparison. What gives?
posted 05-23-2006 07:47 PM ET (US)
It would be better if this discussion remained on the sound levels of the six motors. Let's start a new discussion to analyze the other results in the Powerboat Reports test of 150-HP outboards. Thanks.
posted 05-23-2006 07:56 PM ET (US)
It seems to me that the Viper is not a very good prop on most boats, for anything other than top-end speed. Hole shot and cruising economy compare poorly in any test involving the Viper prop, while top-end speed usually compares favorably. This may be why BRP developed the Rebel prop in the first place. The tests with a Viper prop seem to eliminate the inherent torque advantage of a two stroke in terms of acceleration.
It's pretty obvious to me that Mercury has an edge in propellers...at least in terms of a wide range of choices, and perhaps better design in the first place. It also reinforces that a big part of performance differences between outboards are a result of lower unit gearing and proellers, not powerhead technology. I, too, would like to see one of these tests with a similar set of props, in order to seperate what performance characteristics are the result of the prop versus the motor.
posted 05-23-2006 07:57 PM ET (US)
For my kind of use. the 1500 rpm and the cruising speed between 25-30 mph is where I spend most of the time.
posted 05-23-2006 09:10 PM ET (US)
Perry (What gives) is that you are talking about the informercial with the 200hp series engines not the new 150hp engines.
posted 05-23-2006 09:21 PM ET (US)
You white motor folks seem to be suffering from a bit of black PROP ENVY. It's time to quit whining about it, and tell your company to get onto the drawing boards and produce some decent gearcases and props of their own.
Mercury show up for a magazine shootout and allow other brands to run Merc's hottest props, like Enertia, Tempest, Trophy or Rev-4? No way it's going to happen. You'll just have to produce your own and live with the results.
Seems like this new 150 has arrived a day late and a dollar short. Or is that 500 days late?
|Tom W Clark||
posted 05-23-2006 09:29 PM ET (US)
Oh Larry, I don't think an article on sound levels (which the Verado does not do very well in) has that much to do with propellers, in spite of Peter's comments.
Why don't we stay focused on sound levels in this thread, eh?
posted 05-24-2006 08:12 AM ET (US)
Interesting...I generally try to to steer clear of brand debates but this seems to be one more example of how defensive folks get when an E-tec does not come out on top in some test. The results are "what they are" it would seem. I have only read PBR perhaps once or twice in my life so I have no idea if they are considered biased or unbiased by the general boating community. Perhaps they have an agenda and are just trying to defame BRP?
posted 05-24-2006 09:27 AM ET (US)
If you mean "defame" as in rating the E-TEC as quietest motor at cruising speed, or as the fastest motor in the group, I don't see how you can impute a bias toward the E-TEC from those results.
The OptiMax trailed the quietest motor by 8 to 10-decibels in almost every measurement, and this was not a surprise. Mercury is aware that it needs to update the sound signature of their two-stroke, and plans to do that with the new models it has announced for later this year.
The four-stroke motors took turns finishing near the top (or quietest) motor at all speeds. Between the Honda, the Yamaha, and the Verado there was seldom more than 3-dB difference between them. I don't think that is enough to pick a clear winner or loser. The only surprise for me was that the Verado did not show an advantage. I was predisposed by previous user comments and publicity to expect it to be the quietest engine, which it was not.
The report concludes by picking the Suzuki as the overall first choice. It was not the fastest. It was not the quietest. It was not the most fuel efficient. It was not the lightest weight. But it was the least expensive. That factor often has greater influence in the purchase decision process than the others.
posted 05-24-2006 11:18 AM ET (US)
It would have been interesting to see the spectral signatures of each motor. Some times these can have as great an influence on ones perception of noise as the actual sound pressure level. The anecdotal evidence of the Verado's "quietness" might have to do with that.
posted 05-24-2006 11:19 AM ET (US)
I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for! However, PBR Mag is on a track towards trying to bring the price of boating into a more reasonable level. They have stated so several times this year and they also stated early this year that the Suzuki is their pick because of price with all other factors considered. They have also considered sound as a big factor. By the way John, I don't see much brand bashing on this thread.
posted 05-24-2006 02:33 PM ET (US)
I didn't read it that way. They said it comes down to either the Honda or the Suzuki. If fuel economy and quietness were the factors, they'd choose the Honda. If they were buying a boat-engine package, the'd choose the Suzuki because of the cost savings. They went on to say that if a bargain couldn't be found on a Suzuki, they would pay the extra money for a Honda or Yamaha. I didn't see a clear cut winner. The title of the article was Suzuki, Honda lead the six pack of 150's.
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