Propeller Buyer's Guide (2023)

Propeller Buyer's Guide (1)

Propellers, like wing spars, are among the few parts on an airplane that absolutely, positively, must not ever break. Under continual stress while absorbing engine power and converting it into thrust, the lowly propeller has to keep performing its function, year in and year out, witha scant attention paid to it. Catastrophic propeller failure immediately produces severe vibration as the engine continues to run with an out-of-balance prop, and the resulting stresses can lead to failure of the engine mount. If the engine departs the airframe, the airplane becomes uncontrollable due to the shift in CG. And yet, most of the time we just give the prop a light caress during our preflight inspection and say “Yep, it’s still there.”

Propellers deserve a little more respect. The design and creation of these exquisitely shaped rotating airfoils is as much akin to art as to science. The efficiency of some propellers can reach into the 90% range, as they screw their way into thin air while pushing or pulling the entire aircraft. Nothing could be simpler—or more complex. The simplest of all aircraft propeller types is, of course, the humble fixed-pitch two-blade airscrew, found on basic airplanes optimized for low-cost operation and uncomplicated piloting.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (2)

Sensenich ground-adjustable prop on an RV-4.

Perfect Pitch

The term “propeller pitch” refers to the amount of forward motion that could theoretically be achieved in one revolution of the propeller under perfect conditions, assuming that it’s turning in a medium devoid of slippage or resistance. Think of a screw boring itself into soft wood. Usually expressed in inches, a propeller’s pitch is commonly quoted in conjunction with the diameter, as with a 72/56 prop being one with 72 inches of disc diameter and 56 inches of perfect forward movement in one revolution. For aircraft certification, propellers of a certain size and pitch are part of the approved equipment, and a minimum-permissible static (full-power runup) rpm may be specified as part of the limitations. Static rpm proves that the engine and propeller combination is capable of producing the thrust suitable for flight.

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Proper choice of propeller pitch is critical to achieve maximum efficiency. There are actually several pitches and blade thicknesses existing in the twisted airfoil along the propeller’s length. The advertised pitch is usually measured at a midpoint blade station about 75% outward from the hub. At the blade’s tip, the speed of the airfoil’s movement through the air is vastly different than it is near the root, thus the tip requires a minimal amount of pitch and thickness as the effective speed nears supersonic flow. Tip speeds in excess of Mach .75 result in loss of efficiency. A propeller with too much angle of attack, or pitch, retards rotation and places an inordinate load on the engine. One with too little pitch, on the other hand, allows the engine to overspeed.

Changing airspeed away from a designed peak performance target results in less efficiency. At low speed, engine rpm may be limited by the large bite of a high propeller pitch, as in “high angle of attack,” while at a high diving speed, the rpm may rise to beyond redline as the engine becomes unloaded. Owners of airplanes with fixed-pitch propellers sometimes exchange props to maximize one or the other edge of the performance envelope, referring to a “climb prop” as one with a low pitch angle allowing extra rpm for takeoff, or a “cruise prop” with a higher pitch to optimize speed rather than climb.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (3)

WhirlWind composite propeller on a trigear RV.

The Best of Both

Obviously, it would be desirable to be able to change a propeller’s pitch, giving the best of both worlds without having to swap between two or more propellers. The first efforts to do this were ground-adjustable arrangements, with the blades held in a hub that permitted their shank to be rotated for pitch change. Such propellers are still available today.

In-flight pitch changing came next, using various methods of “shifting gears” from climb to cruise. The Koppers Aeromatic propeller, used on light aircraft of the 1940s, balanced centrifugal force against airspeed to adjust pitch for best performance without cockpit control. Aeromatic props may be returning to at least the experimental market; the rights to the design are now owned by Tarver Propellers in Fallon, Nevada.

Simple manual propeller-pitch shifting, adjusted by pulling or pushing a control to shift from a low-pitch takeoff/climb setting into a higher-pitched cruise position, was incorporated in the Hoffman Dimona motorglider I flew back in the 1980s. One idled the Dimona’s Limbach engine to reduce stress when making the change, and when the engine was shut down for soaring, a third position could move the blades into feather.

Controllable propellers, with variable pitch adjustment using an electric motor or oil pressure to position the blade angle, were developed in the 1930s to allow the pilot full control of optimum engine power, although rpm still varied with airspeed because the propeller was essentially in a fixed-pitch setting once adjusted. This shortcoming was alleviated by coupling the pitch-change mechanism to a governor that operated to automatically maintain a constant rpm, the constant-speed propeller in use today.

How Many Blades?

The best number of blades to use, frequently two blades versus three blades, is a frequent topic of discussion. With lower horsepower engines, adding an extra blade is largely a matter of sex appeal and noise conversion; all things being equal, a two-blade propeller is more efficient than an equivalent three-blade, although the three-blade prop will boost thrust at low airspeed during takeoff and climb. However, with increasing horsepower, extra blades will be needed to absorb the additional power. Both the disturbing quality of the perceived noise and the noise level itself are reduced by adding blades. And, adding a blade allows the same thrust to be developed with a shorter blade length, reducing tip speed to a quieter level.

Yes, there was a single-blade propeller. Built by Sensenich for the Everel Propeller Corporation in the 1940s, it was reportedly the most efficient propeller design. But its weird look, with a counterbalancing weighted stub on one side of the hub, kept it from becoming popular.

In experimental aviation, we are permitted to build any part of the aircraft, and that includes carving our own propeller; some dedicated individuals have done just that. Unless you are particularly gifted or inclined toward propeller fabrication, however, it makes more sense to purchase a ready-made prop from the dozens of suppliers specializing in them. A simple laminated-wood propeller is no longer sufficient for most homebuilts; carbon fiber blades, ground-adjustable pitch angles, and even in-flight controllable and constant-speed governing are available to maximize the performance envelope of our homebuilts.

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Use of a non-certified propeller, even if the Lycoming or Continental engine is bone stock, usually requires an expansion of the Phase I flight testing period from 25 hours to 40 hours, just as would a non-certified engine. The effect of any pitch adjustments or other changes needs to be documented as part of the testing regimen.

Picking a Prop

As with choosing a certified Continental, Lycoming, or Rotax engine, there are a limited number of suppliers of certified propellers, perhaps five or six, which is the reason one finds Hartzell, McCauley, Sensenich, and MT propellers attached to most of the world’s certificated airplanes. Hartzell has been in the propeller business for over 100 years, and Sensenich isn’t far behind. Even the new kids on the block have a long history behind them.

However, the lower-horsepower kit and E/A-B airplanes can be equipped with propellers from a large number of companies. Some are handcrafted by cottage-industry entrepreneurs, each with their own following and specialties. Laminated wood predominates as the medium of choice for low-performance aircraft, but many prop builders are turning to composite materials as well.

A buyer’s guide of any type is bound to have some flaws in it, but we’ve attempted to cover the propeller industry as thoroughly as we can. In the accompanying tables, certified propellers are listed first, followed by the burgeoning list of non-certified propeller manufacturers. The tabulation includes contact information, the date of the company’s founding, types of construction, and horsepower range available.

Some of the larger propeller companies concentrate on type-approved props for certified engine applications, while the smaller firms market to the experimental non-certified user. And some are doing both, offering a line of certified props but also more than willing to build a custom non-certified propeller for a specific project.

Established propeller manufacturers may sell their products through a distributor or dealer network, through suppliers like Aircraft Spruce, Univair, Wag-Aero and SportairUSA, and aircraft kit makers may have distributor arrangements to supply props to their customers.

Certified Propeller Companies

GT Propellers

Founded in 1969, GT has produced over 30,000 propellers. At last count, more than 200 propeller variations were available.

GT fixed-pitch propellers and variable-pitch propeller blades are made from a variety of laminated hardwoods that are reinforced with composite laminations. Many models comply with JAR/EASA 21P Rules.

Ground-adjustable LSA props are made with monolithic carbon technology and incorporate a metal strip to protect the leading edge. Two- and three-blade configurations are available for engines up to 110 hp. On ground-adjustable propellers for larger engines, GT uses the same blades found on their variable-pitch props.

GT also makes “old style” propellers for replica aircraft and original aircraft that date back to the 1920s-1940s. Although they follow original drawings, these props are often updated with modern airfoils.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (4)

Three-blade GT ground-adjustable prop.

Hartzell Propeller, Inc.

Hartzell has been in the propeller business for almost as long as airplanes have been flying. Robert Hartzell and Orville Wright were near neighbors in Dayton, Ohio, when the company made its first airplane propeller in 1917. Today, Hartzell supplies certified constant-speed propellers for nearly any propeller-driven airplane, including turboprops with six-blade configurations.

In addition to forged-aluminum blades, Hartzell has been making structural composite propellers since 1978 and is now building ASC-II (Advanced Structural Composite) propellers with carbon fiber laminates and a stainless steel shank. The Hartzell Trailblazer composite props feature a swept tip and are now available for 17 aircraft models, including the Bearhawk 4-Place and Patrol; CubCrafters XCub, Carbon Cub, and Top Cub; Glasair Sportsman; and Vans RV-8.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (5)

Hartzell three-blade constant-speed prop.

Sensenich Propeller Company

The venerable Sensenich Propeller Company, established in 1932, now operates as two divisions: the original company based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which makes only metal props, and a division in Plant City, Florida, that builds wood and composite propellers, established in 1999 to better serve airboat propeller customers.

Sensenich does just about everything in propellers; it still makes fine laminated wood props, it has ground-adjustable composite propellers for experimental and ASTM-certified LSA airplanes, and it builds aluminum two-blade fixed-pitch models for both homebuilt and certified applications.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (6)

Sensenich fixed-pitch aluminum prop on a Bearhawk.

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McCauley Propellers

The McCauley Propeller Systems division of Textron Aviation originated in 1938, introducing its first forged aluminum propeller in 1946. McCauley was purchased by Cessna Aircraft Company in 1960, hence its present ownership by Cessna parent Textron, which also owns the Beechcraft and Hawker brands. McCauley’s sales and engineering offices are in Wichita, Kansas, while manufacturing takes place in Columbus, Georgia.

Long a builder of certified aluminum-blade props in both fixed-pitch and constant-speed variants, McCauley is also experienced with composite propeller construction, supplying the composite two-blade propeller for the Cessna 162 Skycatcher Light Sport airplane. Among the composite prop projects on McCauley’s plate is a Black Mac Carbon five-blade reversible constant-speed propeller that will be on the Cessna Denali turboprop single.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (7)

McCauley prop on a Cessna Skycatcher.


MT founder Gerd Muehlbauer began working with composite propellers in 1968 and founded his company, MT-Propeller Entwicklung GmbH, in 1981. Based in Germany, MT propellers are well supported in North America by a service center in Deland, Florida, and other locations. Although primarily known for its “natural composite” propellers, some MT applications have an aluminum blade option.

MT-Propeller has extensive experience providing propellers for Experimental/Amateur-Built aircraft, from RV-4s to Lancair Evolutions. The company has supplied certified propellers for engines of 5000 hp, incorporating up to six-blade hub systems. In addition to hydraulic constant-speed propellers, an ELCOPROP electrically controlled propeller is available for engines up to 350 hp.

Non-Certified Propeller Companies

As would be expected, the world of propellers built specifically for experimental aircraft is expansive and active. The freedom to innovate and modify designs means a lot of choices are out there, in both materials and execution. Some propeller manufacturers have been in the same location for decades, others are more recent start-ups or continuations under new ownership.

Airmaster Propellers, Ltd.

New Zealand-based Airmaster offers a wide range of options in electrically controlled constant-speed propellers for experimental and ultralight-type aircraft. Their unique mode selector allows the pilot to dial in preset takeoff, climb, and cruise pitches, after which it holds the desired rpm with little interaction. Two- and three-blade hubs hold a variety of blade styles; Airmaster builds no blades of its own, providing complete propeller systems in collaboration with existing blade makers. U.S. resellers include Custom Flight Creations, The Airplane Factory, Kitfox LLC, RANS Aircraft, Kaolin Aviation Services and Arion Aircraft.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (9)

Airmaster electrically controlled constant-speed prop.

Arrowprop Company, Inc.

Primarily a builder of fixed-pitch wooden propellers for ultralight and light experimental airplanes, along with other specialty props, Arrowprop supplies props up to 72 inches in diameter. The Oklahoma-based company has been in business since 1961.

Bolly Aviation

Based in South Australia, Bolly Propellers first established itself in RC (radio control) model aircraft as a supplier of wood and composite props, then branched out into full-size aircraft. Specializing in ground-adjustable carbon fiber blade construction, Bolly propellers are available in five Optima Series models for increasing horsepower ratings, using two-, three- and four-blade hub styles.

Catto Propellers

Craig Catto started Catto Propellers in 1974, building two- and three-blade fixed-pitch props for a variety of non-certified applications. Construction utilizes a wood core encapsulated with structural composite overlay. Catto Propellers has achieved ASTM certification to equip Light Sport Aircraft with its props. Optional electro-formed nickel leading edges create a durable leading edge for the blades.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (10)

Three-blade Catto fixed-pitch prop.

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Competition Aircraft, Inc.

Also known by its primary product name, Ultra-Prop, Competition Aircraft has long been a builder of ground-adjustable composite props for ultralights, trikes, gyrocopters, and powered parachutes with engines up to 50 hp. It is now producing the Ultra-Prop II, a carbon fiber reinforced propeller for applications of 25 hp per blade at about 2500 rpm, making it suitable for engines up to 100 hp. The 66-inch diameter Ultra-Prop II can be furnished in two-blade to six-blade configurations.

Culver Props

Valley Engineering, suppliers of Culver Props, bought the Culver propeller company in 2000 to complement its line of ultralight and light E/A-B airplanes. The two-blade fixed-pitch props are available for engines up to 300 hp, using laminated maple, mahogany, birch, and cherry wood. Much of Culver Props’ expertise is devoted to replica propellers for WW-I and antique airplanes, including scimitar shapes favored by those early planes.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (11)

Culver fixed-pitch wood prop.

DUC Hlices

The DUC line of forged-carbon composite propellers from France carries European Aviation Safety Agency certification and is available for a wide range of ultralight and experimental aircraft up to 140 hp. DUC Hlices’ ground-adjustable propellers come in “Swirl” and “Windspoon” models, the former reportedly giving a constant-speed effect for higher speed airplanes, while the Windspoon is designed for slower aircraft.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (12)

DUC Hlices composite prop.

GSC Systems

Based in British Columbia, Canada, GSC makes its Tech Series wood propellers in fixed-pitch and ground-adjustable styles, and it also builds a GSC-GTA in-flight adjustable-pitch prop, using a mechanical adjustment. The GSC-GTA can be supplied with either GSC wood blades or Warp Drive composite blades. An 18-degree adjustment is possible. Fixed-pitch propellers are available in 32- to 72-inch diameters. GSC focuses largely on Rotax engine applications, including powered-parachute propellers.

Ivoprop Corporation

Ivoprops are widely known for the torsion rod embedded in each blade, allowing pitch adjustment by tightening or loosening the adjustment rod to slightly twist the blade. The Ivoprop Magnum propeller can be manually adjusted on the ground or fitted with an electric in-flight variable-pitch control in the cockpit. Ivoprop’s latest innovation is an electronic governor for constant-speed operation. Blade construction is carbon fiber composite, finished with black gelcoat and a stainless steel leading edge. Two-, three-, or six-blade systems are available.

Performance Propellers USA, LLC

Frank Johnson’s Performance Propellers company supplies two- and three-blade CNC-cut laminated wood propellers for experimental and aerobatic aircraft. Custom tweaking is provided, allowing the customer to test-fly and return the prop for changes after static and max rpm are verified. A rainproof leading edge and fiberglass tips are then installed, along with a clear finish.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (14)

Performance Propeller wood prop.

Powerfin Propellers

Powerfin builds ground-adjustable carbon fiber propellers for a variety of light experimental aircraft, primarily for Rotax engine installations. Hub styles for up to five blades are available, and the company is working on a six-way hub for drone use. Powerfin denotes its products as “professionally designed, handcrafted,” with over 20 years of experience producing propellers.

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Prince Aircraft Co.

Lonnie Prince has been in the propeller business since 1979, building custom props for everything from ultralights to NASA wind tunnels. Prince props are created from rock-hard laminated maple and carbon fiber laid over a wood core, and feature a scimitar shape that produces an aerodynamic pitch change as speed increases, reportedly a four-inch change in pitch from takeoff to cruise. The famous P-Tip option remains available, delaying the tip vortices by curling the prop tip to create the effect of a longer blade length.

Props, Inc.

Oregon-based Jeff Bertuleit has been carving fine wood propellers since 1984 for homebuilts and ultralights. He focuses primarily on two-blade fixed-pitch props for E/A-B airplanes up to 260 hp. Props, Inc. propellers are made from laminated eastern maple and are up to 35 pounds lighter than a constant-speed prop. As Bertuleit points out, wood’s natural damping avoids having rpm restrictions.

Sterba Propellers

Ed Sterba started carving handmade propellers in 1980, initially focusing on props for converted Volkswagen powerplants, and he’s still producing his beautiful laminated wood two-blade fixed-pitch propellers. Sterba Propellers are available for engines up to 200-hp, as used in the RV kit aircraft series.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (15)

Sterba fixed-pitch wood prop.

Tarver Propellers

The legendary Aeromatic propeller, with its automatically shifting blade pitch and blade construction using wood core and laminate overlay, has a long history dating from the 1940s. The Aeromatic’s principle of aerodynamic shifting of propeller pitch, with no pilot interaction required, was popular for postwar planes until the general aviation collapse in the late 1940s. The rights to the Koppers design is now owned by Kent Tarver of Fallon, Nevada. At this point, no certified production is planned, but new Aeromatic props for the experimental aircraft market are under development, with one currently flying on a VariEze for testing.

Tennessee Propellers, Inc.

Although it’s now based in Georgia, just outside Chattanooga, Tennessee Propellers continues to supply two-blade fixed-pitch wood props for ultralights and small experimental aircraft, along with propellers for airboats and other users. Construction is of rock-hard maple, using resorcinol-type glue and finished with a two-part polyurethane coating.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (16)

Tennessee propellers are made in Georgia.

Warp Drive, Inc.

Warp Drive propellers have been in production since 1989. They are well-regarded ground-adjustable props with solid carbon blades. Many of the Warp Drive blades are fitted into other brands of ground-adjustable hubs. Warp Drive markets primarily to ultralights, trikes, gyrocopters, powered parachutes and light experimental planes, along with airboats and other users. Two-, three-, and four-blade styles are available.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (17)

Three-blade Warp Drive prop.

WhirlWind Propellers Corporation

WhirlWind Propellers makes carbon fiber ground-adjustable propellers for the experimental aircraft market in two- and three-blade styles. Whirl Wind Aviation is the company’s constant-speed propeller division. WhirlWind blades are used by some other brands of ground-adjustable props, showing the esteem to which they are regarded in the industry. The company also offers such diverse products as replacement blades for Russian Vperod propellers on the M-14P engine.

Propeller Buyer's Guide (18)

WhirlWind prop on a CubCrafters Cub.

We trust that you’ll find this overview of the propeller industry useful. Help us keep it up to date by passing along changes or corrections to

Certified Propellers

CompanyYear FoundedConstructionHorsepower Range
GT-Propellers1969Wood and composite30 to 2500 hp
+39 0541 693399
Via del Commercio, 7 47838 Riccione (RN) Italy
Hartzell Propeller, Inc.1917Metal and compositeup to 2,180 hp
One Propeller Pl, Piqua, Ohio 45356
McCauley Propeller Systems1938Metal and composite100 to1,200 hp
10511 East Central, Wichita, KS 67206
MT-Propeller USA, Inc.1981Natural compositeup to 5,000 hp
1180 Airport Terminal Dr, Deland, FL 82424
Sensenich Wood Propeller Co.1932Wood and composite50 to 275 hp
2006 Wood Ct, Plant City, FL 33563
Sensenich Propeller Mfg. Co. Inc.1932Metal65 to 200 hp
14 Citation Ln, Lititz, PA 17543

Non-Certified Propellers

CompanyYear FoundedConstructionHorsepower Range
Airmaster Propellers, Ltd.1999Metal/composite80 to 200 hp
20 Haszard Road, Massey, Aukland 0614, New Zealand
+64 9 833 1794
Arrowprop Company, Inc.1960Wood and compositeup to 100 hp
P.O. Box 610, Meeker, OK 74855
Bolly Aviation1978Composite15 to 180 hp
Hangar 1 Calvin Grove Airfield, Virginia, South Australia 5120
+61 8 8380 8396
Catto Propellers1974Composite65 to 300 hp
Jackson Westover Airport
12370 Airport Rd, Jackson, CA 95642
Competition Aircraft, Inc.1984Compositeup to 100 hp
10925 Shire Ct, Grass Valley, CA 95949
Culver Props1983Woodup to 300 hp
15685 Co. Road 7100, Rolla, MO 65401
DUC Helices1997Composite100 to 160 hp
Aerodrome de Villefranche-Tarare, 289 Avenue Odette & Edouard Durand, 69620 Frontenas, France
+33 0-4 74 72 12 69
GSC Systems, Inc.1984Wood35 to 115 hp
#8 2440B 14th Ave., Vernon, BC Canada V1T 8C1
Ivoprop Corporation1986Compositeup to 700 hp
2615 East 67th St, Unit E, Long Beach, CA 90805
Performance Propellers USA, LLC2009Wood50 to 300 hp
466 Pr 5832, Donie, TX 75838
Powerfin Propellers2008Compositeup to 160 hp
705 S. 5300 W., Ste 4-5, Hurricane, UT 84737
Prince Aircraft Company1979Wood and composite100 to 300 hp
6774 Providence St, P.O. Box 2669, Whitehouse, OH 43571
Props, Inc.1984Woodup to 260 hp
354 S.E. 2nd St, Newport, OR 97356
Edward Sterba Propeller Company1980Wood30-200 hp
9660 Southeast 72nd Ave, Ocala, FL 34472
Tarver Propellers2003Wood/compositeup to 170 hp
15009 Rio Vista Dr, Fallon, NV 89406
Tennessee Propellers, Inc.1981Wood28-100 hp
7031 Highway 157, Rising Fawn, GA 30738
(see Competition Aircraft)
Warp Drive, Inc.1989Compositeup to 180 hp
1207 Highway 18 East, Ventura, IA 50482
Whirlwind Propellers Corp.1973Composite80 to 400 hp
1860 Joe Crosson Dr, El Cajon, CA 92020


How do I choose the right propeller? ›

A lower pitched propeller will create more power due to more engine RPMs, but the boat will move slower. A higher pitched prop allows the boat to move faster by travelling a farther distance with each rotation. When choosing a propeller, choose a pitch that will keep the engine RPM in its recommended operating range.

What size prop do I need? ›

Selecting the correct prop should result in your engine running within the designed rpm range at Wide Open Throttle (WOT). Your owner's manual should include this spec—usually 5000–5500rpm for an outboard or 4200-5000rpm for a sterndrive—or your mechanic or dealer may know.

What do prop numbers mean? ›

Two numbers are used in describing the size of a propeller. One describes the diameter and the other describes the pitch. Diameter is always the first number listed. A 24 X 20RH prop has a diameter of24". The "RH" stands for right hand rotation of the propeller.

Is 3 or 4 blade prop better? ›

The most asked question at the boat shows is almost always “what is the difference between a 3-blade and a 4-blade boat propeller?” The difference between a 3-blade prop vs a 4-blade prop is that the 3-blade (smaller blade ratio) is faster with a higher top speed and the 4-blade (higher blade ratio) has a better hole- ...

What pitch prop is best for speed? ›

The lower the prop pitch, the better your hole-shot. However, this comes at a price: top speed. The lower pitch makes the engine reach maximum rpm at slower speeds. Conversely, a higher pitch will deliver greater top speeds, but slower acceleration.

Which type of propeller is most efficient? ›

A single-blade propeller would be the most efficient - if the vibration could be tolerated. So, to get an acceptable level of balance with much less vibration, a two-bladed propeller, practically speaking, is the most efficient. As blades are added, efficiency decreases, but so does the vibration level (Figure 4-13).

What is the most common type of propeller? ›

However, the most commonly used are 3 blades and 4 blade propellers. However, the most commonly used are 4 blades and 5 blade propellers. The propeller efficiency will be highest for a propeller with a minimum number of blades i.e. 2 blade propeller.

Are more blades on a propeller better? ›

Increasing the number of blades on a propeller is one solution to reducing cabin noise. In most installations, increasing the propeller blade count also reduces noise. This is largely due to a reduction in vibration. In a single-engine aircraft, the propeller blade wake beats on the windshield and produces cabin noise.

What happens if your propeller is too big? ›

Sailors rarely think about the size of their propeller, but it is an important component of your boat's drive system. Overpitched and oversized propellers can cause an engine to work harder and hotter than it should and not allow it to reach optimal cruising rpm, resulting in poor performance and decreased engine life.

Will a 4 blade prop make my boat faster? ›

3 or 4 Blades? A 3 blade propeller usually offers top speed performance while a 4 blade propeller provides maximum thrust and smooth cruising operation. Four blades have some features of their own, though. They often provide more lift at the stern which will help accelerate the hull, especially if it is stern heavy.

Will a higher pitch prop make my boat faster? ›

Pitch measures the forward movement of the propeller's blade during one complete revolution. This is measured in inches. Lowering prop pitch will increase acceleration and thrust. Increasing prop pitch will make the boat go faster (provided the engine has enough power to keep the RPMs in the optimum operating range.

How do you read propeller numbers? ›

Boat Propellers: How to Identify Your Prop - YouTube

What does R mean on propeller? ›

Here's the answer. R on a propeller means it has a clockwise rotation. Therefore, the propeller needs to be installed onto a motor that spins in the clockwise direction to ensure it works as intended. A propeller may also be marked with a C, which means it has a counterclockwise rotation.

What do the numbers stamped on a propeller mean? ›

These dimensions are used to describe the propeller, usually in inches, and always stated as diameter x pitch. For example, a propeller described as 14.5 x 19 has a diameter of 14.5 inches and a pitch of 19 inches. These dimensions are often stamped or cast right on the propeller.

How much speed will I lose with a 4 blade prop? ›

At the higher end of the RPM scale, the 3 blade propeller will almost always outperform the 4 blade propeller, so you can expect to lose about 5% of the top speed with a 4 blade propeller.

Is a stainless prop better than aluminum? ›

The properties of stainless steel result in a propeller that offers more performance and more durability than an aluminum prop. Stainless steel has five times more stress tolerance than aluminum, which means the blades of a stainless steel prop can be much thinner than those of even a Mercalloy® aluminum prop.

Will a stainless steel prop increase speed? ›

Change Your Propeller

If you are running an aluminum prop, changing to even a basic stainless steel prop will usually improve top speed. Because stainless steel is stronger than aluminum, the blades on a stainless prop can be thinner, which reduces drag in the water.

How far below the boat should the prop be? ›

If you have a short shaft motor, the top most part of the transom and the lower most part of the boat should be about 15 to 16 inches. For a long shaft, I think 20 to 21 inches is correct.

Does bigger diameter prop increase speed? ›

Engine RPM

Larger diameter props offer the potential for higher speeds if the engine has the torque to push through the increased water resistance.

What causes a boat not to plane? ›

The most common are overloading and failure to distribute weight properly. Another major cause is incorrect tilt of the outboard motor, which changes the angle of the hull relative to the water surface. If the motor is tilted too far aft, the propeller will dig into the water and force the bow up.

Is a 2 blade prop faster than a 3 blade? ›

Two blades propeller makes more noise. It provides faster speed as compared to three blades. There are more affected by wind. It is more durable than a three-blade prop if your copter is going to be crash.

Are larger propellers more efficient? ›

Because of these two facts, (acceleration of the air ends up being far more important than propeller) the energy the motor needs to put into spinning a smaller propeller to produce the same amount of thrust as a larger one is significantly greater, and thus smaller propellers are less efficient than larger ones.

What is the difference between a 2 blade and 3 blade prop on a boat? ›

Three Blade

They have a major advantage when going against heavy winds and seas or a current as they will keep your boat speed by up to 30% better than the two blade. Moreover, they will run much smoother and reduce vibrations as it is balanced around 3 or 4 points as opposed to 2.

What are the two types of propellers? ›

There are two types of propellers in the field of professionally used ships: The controllable pitch propeller (CPP) or swivel blade propeller. The fixed pitch propeller.

What is propeller law? ›

Increased propeller diameter An increase in diameter may be considered if the new and reduced power can be utilized at the shaft speed that is reduced more than corresponding to the cubic root of the power ratio (Pn:i = "propeller law").

What causes prop slip? ›

Prop slip occurs when a prop fails to achieve its power potential. This is due to resistance from the water that prop is working to propel the boat through. As the prop endures the resistance, it tends to slide back and does not go the actual full distance in that one revolution.

How many propeller blades are best? ›

Three-bladed propellers have generally proven to be the best compromise between blade area and efficiency. Four or five-bladed propellers and even more blades are useful for two reasons. First, their extra blades create more total blade area with the same or less diameter.

Are 4 blade props more efficient? ›

In short, a 4-blade propeller can improve all those characteristics that make for practical, all-around boat performance. Four-blade props usually have a lower pitch to keep the rpms the same as a 3-blade.

Does more propellers mean more thrust? ›

More blades are less efficient. But more blades produce HIGHER thrust, not lower. More blades = more thrust with more drag which reduces fuel efficiency. Less blades = less thrust with less drag increasing fuel efficiency.

How do I choose a propeller diameter? ›

a rough guide to choosing the right propeller for your boat - YouTube

Should you leave your prop in the water? ›

It's best to tilt your outboard up when leaving your boat in the water to prevent marine growth from forming and from corrosion eating away at its metal parts.

Is a smaller diameter prop faster? ›

Diameter usually increases for propellers used on slower and heavier boats, and decreases for propellers intended for faster boats. A prop with more diameter has more total blade area, which allows it to handle more power and create more thrust to move a heavy boat.

What does a 5 blade prop do? ›

In recent years, 4- and 5-blade props have become popular because they suppress vibration and improve acceleration by putting more blade area in the water, especially when the prop is breaking the surface. They can also provide more bow lift for added speed.

What is the difference between a 3 and 4 blade boat prop? ›

The short answer is the 4 blade propeller has more surface area and bite, which allows a boat to get up on a plane and maintain it easier at a lower RPM. However, the 3 blade prop has less surface area, which offers less drag and more top speed than the 4 blade prop.

What prop Slip feels like? ›

A spun hub feels like a loss of power with excessive RPM. You will likely feel the prop slipping at high RPM.

What RPM should my boat run at? ›

The full-throttle limit for modern marine gasoline motors ranges from 4800 to 6000 rpm. (By comparison, your car's engine probably turns less than 2500 rpm at freeway speeds.) Most mechanics and engineers suggest the best cruising speeds are achieved at 3400 and 3800 rpm respectively.

Is it OK to run outboard at WOT? ›

So Should You Run Your Boat At WOT? Every boat owner is different and how far you decide to push your marine engine is in your hands. However, running your boat at Wide-Open Throttle is not bad for your engine and can even help clear out carbon build up.

How do I make my boat ride smoother? ›

Maybe the wind shifts or you need to run a circuitous route with one or more legs that face steep waves. When this occurs, you can smooth the ride by lowering the bow so the boat's sharper forward entry knives through the waves versus pounding over them with the obtuse midsection of the hull.

Will a 4 blade prop make my boat faster? ›

3 or 4 Blades? A 3 blade propeller usually offers top speed performance while a 4 blade propeller provides maximum thrust and smooth cruising operation. Four blades have some features of their own, though. They often provide more lift at the stern which will help accelerate the hull, especially if it is stern heavy.

How do you determine propeller pitch? ›

It is found by measuring from the centre of the propeller boss to the tip of one blade and then doubling the result. Pitch is the forward distance that a propeller would theoretically travel in a single rotation if there were no slip present – imagine a screw being driven into a piece of wood.

Is a bigger propeller better? ›

As the diameter increases, the blades of the propeller offer more resistance to travel through the water. This creates potentially damaging drag on smaller engines and boats. For larger boats, a larger diameter provides more propulsion power for the same reason.

How far below boat should prop be? ›

If you have a short shaft motor, the top most part of the transom and the lower most part of the boat should be about 15 to 16 inches. For a long shaft, I think 20 to 21 inches is correct.


1. Flite Test - Choosing A Propeller - FLITE TIP
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3. The Ultimate Premium Buyer's Guide For Aircraft (War Thunder)
4. Drone Propeller Basics - Propellers for noobs
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6. How To: Choose the right outboard propeller - Bigger is not always better.
(Yamaha Marine Australia)
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