How to select the right autopilot


There are many varieties of autopilots to choose from on the market. Partly this is due to different needs of supplementary functionalities. However, when selecting an autopilot to a boat, there a few but important factors to consider.

The boat’s size has not a decisive impact on the choice of autopilot. However for smaller boats, it is natural to think of space-efficiency, and select a pilot that takes as little space as possible. It is not only the Display that is visible that counts. Most autopilots contains also a junction box, a compass and a rudder feedback unit. The junction box must be installed in a protected space and thus takes up valuable space. AP47 that does not have a junction box is therefore ideally suited for small boats.

The most important decision concerns the boat’s steering system. The autopilot is not a complete system until a drive unit is chosen. The drive unit transforms the electrical signals from the autopilot into mechanical movement which in turn affects the boat’s rudder, stern drive or outboard motor. The type of steering system decides what kind of drive unit the autopilot needs to be complemented with.

The following table is meant to give a simplified way of selecting the right autopilot for your boat. If you are still not sure how to select please feel free to contact us for help.

Motor boat < 8 meter
Hydraulic steering system (Use autopilot kit AP47H)
With virtual rudder feed-back AP47H  makes for an easy installation on boats with outboards and stern drives below 8 meter.If your boat already has a hydraulic steering mounted then you only need to complement it with an hydraulic drive unit such as a reversible electric pump and interconnect it to the existing hydraulic hoses. To chose the right size of the pump is dependent on the volume of the existing hydraulic ram that moves the rudder. Most kinds of autopilots need a “hard over” time between 8 to 14 seconds which in turn specifies the pumps flow rate.
Cable steering (Use autopilot kit AP47M)
AP47M  makes for an easy installation on boats with outboards and stern drives. With rudder feed-back unit integrated in the mechanical drive this system is very easy to install.Small and medium-sized motorboats with a steering wheel usually has a rotary drive with a cable attached to the outboard motor or stern-drive. This solution for boats with cable steering replaces the rotary drive behind the steering wheel with a new drive with electric motor. The cable can be retained. When the autopilot is in active mode the boat is steered by the electric motor. When the autopilot is in standby mode the boat is as usual manually steered by the wheel.
Motor boats >8 meter
Hydraulic steering system (Use autopilot kit AP47HRs or AP47HRm)
Boats longer then 8 meters should have an autopilot with rudder feed-back unit like AP47R. Most of them has hydraulic steering systems and the autopilot should be complemented with a reversible pump.To chose the right size of the pump is dependent on the volume of the existing hydraulic ram that moves the rudder. Most kinds of autopilots need a “hard over” time between 8 to 14 seconds which in turn specifies the pumps flow rate.
Double steering positions (Use autopilot kit AP55HR)
If your boat has two steering positions, one on the fly-bridge for example, autopilot AP55 should be choosen. Most boats of this size has hydraulic steering systems and the autopilot should be complemented with a reversible pump.To chose the right size of the pump is dependant on the volume of the existing hydraulic ram that moves the rudder. Most kinds of autopilots need a “hard over” time between 8 to 14 seconds which in turn specifies the pumps flow rate.
Sailing boats
Sail Boats < 38 feets (Use autopilot kit AP47S)
The Remote Sailboat Drive System makes it easy and economical to install an autopilot on light displacement Sailboats steered with mechanical cable or tiller. The drive is very responsive and has little feedback resistance when in ‘Standby’ Pilot mode making it very suitable for racing Yachts.The linear drive connection kit can be fitted into very small spaces which makes it ideal for the smaller to midsized modern yachts which have limited space to fit drive units.
Sail boats >38 feet (Use AP47/AP55 with suitable linear drive)
Sailboats above 38 feets requires some sort of hydraulic linear drive system. It’s neccesary to do a calculation of the required rudder torque to select the right drive system. Contact us and we will be happy to assist you with selecting the correct drive unit.