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A boat speedometer should be an essential feature of any vessel’s dashboard. There are plenty of reasons to have one installed, but the most obvious one is to accurately gauge and display your speed. Knowing how fast you’re traveling can help you plan a journey, estimate the length of time a trip will take, help you to work out whether you have enough fuel to get from A to B, and ensure that you follow the local rules. Because it’s true: some places enforce speed controls on boats.
Rather than invest in GPS devices that have speedometer functions, you could also invest in a boat speedometer that comes with a built-in GPS function too. Since this is an article about boat speedos, we’ve decided to focus on traditional speedometers, and some with GPS functions rather than just all-inclusive GPS models.
Since there are so many different variables and things to consider, we’ve decided to put together a top list of the best boat speedometer units on the market, along with a short and concise buying guide to help you make an informed purchase! Here’s all you need to know.
Sierra International Arctic 4-gauge Manual Boat Speedometer Set
Our last entry on this list isn’t just a single boat speedometer. It’s a full set of gauges and instrumentation from Sierra, and if you want a fully stocked dashboard with all the right instruments, with a classic look, this all-inclusive set might be your best option. These are all old-school manual gauges, but they work just as well (if not better) than their modern GPS counterparts.
Let’s start with the reason we’re here: the speedo. The speedometer has a simple design, and operates using a pitot tube arrangement. The reading is displayed on a wide face, in both miles and kilometers to speeds up to 65 mph and 100 kph respectively.
The set also includes a number of other cool gauges, including a separate voltmeter, tachometer, and fuel gauge. What makes this such a great deal is that if you were to buy these instruments separately, you’d end up spending a lot more money. With this pack, you get a fully comprehensive set of gauges with a sleek and elegant look for a very affordable price.
If you’re not convinced, Sierra gives all of their products a customer satisfaction warranty that covers you in the event of a manufacturing defect, or if replacement parts are required before the end of a product’s limited lifespan. Not bad at all.
This versatile boat speedometer from Timprove is a fantastic unit. You can use it on your boat, in your car, and just about on any vehicle that moves forward. It’s universal in design, big on features, and cheap in price. If you need a speedometer that can do it all, looks flash, and doesn’t cost the world, then this is it. It’s the best boat speedometer for boaters on a budget.
Timprove’s T600 model is a digital GPS speedo. It uses satellite data to accurately assess your speed, and it displays it on a 2.2” high-definition screen. It’s easy to read, easy to see, and very simple to use. It can accurately display your speed in kilometers, miles, with an overspeed alarm to keep you on the right side of the law.
It can display more than just your speed though. Other features include a driving distance counter, trip calculator, voltage meter, altitude, and satellite details. It also has a low voltage alarm a brake performance test, and a clock.
Installation is easy: you just plug and play, and the unit does the rest of the job for you. It has easy menu navigation thanks to a rocker switch, and the controls are very intuitive.
Overall, this is one of our favorite budget boat speedometers. It does everything you could possible want it to and more.
Speedo Type: Digital GPS
Measurement Type: Kilometers, Miles,
Range Measured: N/A
The Faria Chesapeake boat speedometer is a classic looking device. It looks old school because it is old school. Unlike the items listed above, this is a manual speedometer that doesn’t use modern GPS technology to determine a boat’s speed. Instead, it uses a pitot tube to work out your speed.
Pitot tubes work by drawing water into a pitot tube. The water creates pressure that is transmitted to another tube inside of the speedometer, which converts that movement into an accurate boat speed reading. The Faria Chesapeake boat speedometer can display your speed in either miles or kilometers per hour, to speeds of up to 60 mph or 90 kph.
Installation is quick and easy, and while pitot tubes sound confusing, they really aren’t. If you want a classic looking boat speedometer at a very low price, then we recommend this unit from Faria. In fact, if this one doesn’t grab you but you like the style, Faria have a wide range of manual speedos to investigate.
For those who want the rugged look of a manual Faria speedometer but want the benefits of a GPS device, you’ll be pleased to know that Faria has a similar looking GPS model. But it’s much, much more expensive.
Speedo Type: Manual
Measurement Type: Miles, Kilometers
Range Measured: 0 – 60 (mph) and 0 – 90 (Kph)
This comprehensive and compact digital GPS speedometer is perfect for marine applications. It has a nice and wide flat glass display that you can easily read without having to strain your eyes or move your head. Since it’s a GPS speedo, it uses satellite positioning to accurately display your speed, with regular refresh rates to make sure that you’re getting the most up to date speed information possible.
Latnex’s GPS speedo is able to display your speed in miles per hour, kilometers per hour, and nautical miles too. It comes equipped with a configurable alarm system that sounds when you fall below or exceed a certain speed value. It also has a red flashing LED that warns you if you’re about to break a speed limit.
The speedo also has a clock setting that can be manually set to suit your time zone. Other display features include a voltage indicator, data storage, and a trip counter. It has a green backlight for easy viewing in bright sunshine or in low light levels too.
One of the best features of this speedometer is the fact that it’s waterproof. It has an IP65 rating, meaning it can tolerate more than a splash of water, and it can also prevent moisture and dust from getting inside the device.
If you’re looking for a reasonably price boat speedo that’s easy to install, doesn’t draw too much power, and accurately displays your speed, this is a great option.
Speedo Type: Digital GPS
Measurement Type: Kilometers, Miles, Nautical Miles
Range Measured: 0 – 100
The ATACH digital GPS from AndyTach is a premium product that has a vast array of features. First things first, as you can see, it’s a smart looking unit. It has a stylish look that will look at home on your boat’s dashboard, or on your motorcycle or car too. It looks the part, and it has the specs to match.
This boat speedometer is a digital GPS device that doesn’t require any subscription fees to operate. It uses real time data to display your current speed, with a fast refresh rate of 0.25 seconds. It’s capable of displaying your speed in miles, kilometers, and knots too, up to a numerical value of 300. The figure is displayed on a wide screen, which is glare resistant and can be seen easily in any weather conditions.
There’s more on offer than just a speed reading though. This speedometer also features a total odometer, trip meter, a maximum speed recall function, and a very useful integrated digital compass. It also has a backlight function for maximum visibility in the dark.
This speedo has a simple plug and play installation, requires very little power to operate, and it’s also waterproof and dustproof to IP65 standards. It is more expensive than many others on the market, but the extra money goes a long way in terms of the features offered and the overall build quality.
Speedo Type: Digital GPS
Measurement Type: Miles, Nautical Miles, Kilometers
Range Measured: 0 – 300
The Best Boat Speedometer: A Buying Guide
Buying a new speedometer doesn’t have to be a difficult task. As long as you approach the job armed with the right information, know what you’re looking for, and stick to your budget, you’ll come out with the right product for your needs.
But what is it that you’re looking for? Sure, you want something that can accurately register and display the speed that you’re traveling in, but how do you want it to get that information? Do you want a manual speedo, or one powered by GPS technology? Are you content with just knowing the speed? Or would you benefit from other integrated features such as a clock, a voltage meter, and a fuel gauge?
While you don’t have to have answers to these questions, it’s worth keeping those things in mind as you embark on your search. Here’s a little more detail on some important features to look out for:
They refresh your position at regular intervals (often every 0.25 seconds) to make sure that they’re delivering accurate information. But since they have to interact with satellites to work bad weather conditions can cause them to temporarily lose signal and fail.
Still, they’re very easy to install and don’t require anything more than plugging them into a power source and choosing your own display settings. They’re that simple to use. They are more expensive though.
Manual Boat Speedos
Manual boat speedometers aren’t as accurate as modern GPS models but that doesn’t mean they aren’t precise. This old school technology works very well and only makes faulty readings if water currents cause odd pressures to send wrong readings through a pitot tube. And that only happens in very unusual conditions.
They operate by using a pitot tube, which sends air pressure signals from the keel of your boat to a mechanical device inside of the speedometer. They can’t refresh as quickly as satellite speedos due to their physical nature, but they’re still very accurate.
Installation is a trickier process though. They need to be mounted on your boat’s hull, with a special hole drilled through the bodywork. It’s a more complicated installation, but the actual cost of a manual pitometer is much cheaper than a modern GPS unit.
Additional Features To Look Out For
The most important thing a speedometer must have is a readable face. If you can’t see the display, or read the information displayed upon it, it’s not going to be any good to you. Before investing, check the face’s dimensions and the size of the display to ensure that you can read the speed displayed. It’s also a good idea to look for glare-resistant glass so that you can see the reading in full sunshine. A backlit display is also useful for reading your speed in darker conditions.
Some modern speedometers also offer other readings. These can be as basic as a clock that tells the time, to advanced GPS navigation systems with chart plotting tools. For the casual boater, many of these might not be necessary. However, if you can upgrade your speedo into a more advanced device that can help you plan your trip, register how many miles you’ve covered, and perhaps even measure your fuel expenditure, for a few dollars more, it could be worth the extra investment.
A boat speedometer must be water-resistant or waterproof. It’s easy to get splashed by water when you’re on a boat, and water can cause electronic and mechanical devices to fail. It can ruin circuitry, or corrode parts. Similarly, dust can also cause trouble. Having a dustproof device is also essential because dust can be just as bad as water! Also, if you have your speedo mounted in an exposed area, some UV protection could also be a good feature to look out for.
Lastly, there’s the device’s interface. Despite how advanced some speedos and gadgets have become, some of them aren’t particularly user intuitive. Some have really horrible menu systems that can be a pain to navigate. However, some have simple selection modes that even the most technophobic boater can master. A frustrating menu interface will ruin your user experience. For the best results, always read the customer reviews to get an idea of just how practical a speedometer is.
Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.
Established in 1998, BoatSafe is your independent guide into the world of boating, fishing, and watersports. We provide expert insights and detailed guides to help you find products tailored to your needs and budget.
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