Choosing the right pitch, size, and type of propeller for your boat is a complex decision on its own. To complicate matters even further, there is another dimension you need to consider. That of which material to choose. Every factor affecting how you get the most out of your boat rides on this important choice. So, should it be stainless steel, aluminum or titanium? We will do our best to answer this question by addressing the aspects of respectively cost, strength and durability, and overall performance.
On the price scale, the three materials compare as follows:
- Aluminum is the cheapest – often half the price of steel.
- Steel, in turn, is considerably cheaper than titanium.
Strength and Durability
Aluminum is not a very tough material and won’t easily stand up to sandbars and rocks. Both stainless steel and titanium are extremely strong, on the other hand, with the latter usually coming out on top in this particular competition.
This is a multifaceted question with several points to consider. First off, aluminum is undoubtedly the most versatile material. No matter the size and shape of your boat, you are likely to find an aluminum propeller that is built to fit it. Your options are more limited with steel, and even more so with titanium.
In addition to matters of strength, you also need to take weight into account. Aluminum is the lightest metal, but it is also the weakest. Steel, on the other hand, is extremely strong but quite heavy. Titanium strikes a perfect middle ground here, being phenomenally strong and extremely lightweight. A high strength-to-weight ratio is a big plus when it comes to performance.
Titanium and steel both flex less than aluminum, which makes them better performers. This translates to higher speeds – boats with a stainless steel or titanium blades can outperform those with aluminum ones by up to five mph at the top end.
When looked at like this, the choice seems obvious. But, it’s actually not quite so simple. Titanium is lighter than steel and stronger than both steel and aluminum. If cost is not a factor, then it should be titanium. If cost is a factor, then the inherent weaknesses of aluminum may lead you to go for the middle ground and choose steel. The truth is that there are more gray areas than you think. There is more to propellers than what they’re made of. Casting methods and propeller design can also make a major difference in performance.
Contact us for expert advice on determining which propeller would be best suited to your boat.