Whether you’ve recently acquired a boat or have been a long-time boating enthusiast, one of the most important components of your boat to take good care of is your boat fuel tank.

After all, your engine drives your boat’s ability to move and feeding it sufficient fuel is necessary in order to actually go anywhere in the water, so you need a location to store the fuel when it’s in use. This is where the fuel system of your boat comes in handy and also where your fuel tank is going to be located.

Types of Boat Fuel Tanks

Boat Fuel TanksIn most cases, you’re going to see two different types of fuel tanks.

One is a permanent type which is typically installed on a boat and is not designed to be removed or tampered with. This is usually an integral part of the design of the boat and if you are to replace it, it would require a specialist service that understands the internal components of the boat. In order to seek a replacement, you would often need to purchase the parts from a manufacturer or a reseller that provides a marine fuel tank for your specific model. Finding these marine fuel tanks online can be difficult since they come in specific dimensions, are much heavier than the alternatives and are typically located under the deck which makes them a little impractical to work on for a beginner or someone inexperienced.

On the other hand, there are also portable jerry cans. These come with the advantage of being much lighter so they can be carried around. Many of the portable jerry cans online even have handles which make them much easier for transportation. They’re essentially high-quality lightweight plastic containers that hold fuel and can be transported around. So if your boat is a little far from your home, you can simply fill up your portable fuel tank (or tanks if you plan on being on the water for a longer time), place them in your car, drive to your boat and then haul them on board with minimal hassle. However, you can also purchase steel portable fuel tanks as well which are a little more durable, but they’re also heavier and not as portable especially if they are filled with fuel.

Regardless of the type of tank that you purchase or install, the most typical way to refuel your boat is by connecting a hose from the fuel tank to your boat’s fuel tank or outboard motor. This process will depend on the type of boat that you own. In most cases, the fuel system consists of a hose that contains an inline primer bulb that must be pumped a couple of times once the entire system is connected. This will introduce pressure into the hose and fuel tank which, when assisted by gravity as well, will start to draw fuel out of your tank and into your engine.

Permanent Boat Fuel Tanks

In most cases, a permanent fuel tank can be installed in most types of boats but it will become an important part of the overall design. This means that you will; need to find a suitable location to install it, and this usually means under the deck. They aren’t meant to be removed on a regular basis and refuelling them means bringing over a portable source of fuel such as a jerry can or bringing your boat to a marina with a location to refuel your boat. Some boats will already come with a marine fuel tank installed on it, much like you would find with your car. These aren’t as easy to remove and are also a part of the entire boat’s design, meaning that if you were to replace this it would typically cost a lot of money and would require you to seek a specialist’s help.

Permanent fuel tanks will often come with mounting accessories to keep the fuel tank in place. This means hold-down straps to prevent it from moving around and potentially clamps or even brackets depending on the type of permanent fuel tank. In addition, it will come with fittings and hoses which become a vital part of the system, such as vent and fuel hoses of different sizes, clamps and potentially an electrical device known as a fuel sending unit that tells the gas gauge how much fuel remains in the tank.

Although a permanent boat fuel tank is much more sturdy, it still requires a significant amount of space on your boat. It also must be installed safely onto your boat, and the weight is still a concern for many boating enthusiasts. The individual components such as the straps, fittings and hoses may also need to be replaced on a regular basis depending on how often you use the boat, and maintenance must be performed to ensure that there is no general wear and tear on your components. However, the advantage is that the fuel tank itself is physically studier and generally lasts much longer than the plastic portable fuel tank alternatives.

Portable Boat Fuel Tanks

Portable fuel tanks are much simpler to understand. They come with the advantage of being lighter which means that they can be carried around and refuelled at a different location that is further away from your boat. This means that you can fill up the tank at a regular gas station or at home and then bring it to your boat. It also means that you can carry multiple portable fuel tanks, each equipped with their own refuelling system, and then refuel your boat whenever you need to. This makes it a great option for anyone who plans on making a long trip on their boat or if they plan to spend a lot of time out on the water. It also means that portable fuel tanks are a great option for emergency fuel reserves that can be safely stored in a boat and used when you’re stranded in the water.

Although portable fuel tanks are typically made of plastic, they’re made with high-quality materials like polyethylene which offers protection against ultraviolet exposure and ageing, meaning that they can actually be safely stored on the surface of the boat instead of under the deck. They also come with easy carry handles so they can be transported around and even internal fuel level gauges and a screw vent on the filling cap. Like permanent tanks, they come with a variety of accessories such as quick-disconnect fuel fittings on both the engine end of the fuel hose and the end on the boat fuel tank, and tie-down straps to keep the fuel tank from moving around.

Portable fuel tanks are much easier to service since they’re so light and can be transported around. They’re also very affordable which makes it a great way to give a little bit more fuel to an otherwise small boat with a small internal tank. If you’re looking to a squeeze a bit more use out of a boat in a single sitting or just want an emergency option so that you’re never left stranded on the water, then a portable boat fuel tank is often the way to go and makes an excellent accompaniment to any existing boat fuel tank solution.


The two main types of boat fuel tank each have their own advantages, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both and figure out which one is a better solution for your needs.