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If you have just recently bought a houseboat you are probably wondering what things you need for your houseboat. In this article I will cover the electronics that you will need or want on your boat.
I will skip over the obvious ones like radio, GPS, etc. that most boats should already have and give you some other ideas of electronics that are helpful for your houseboat journey. None of these are “required” but they will either make your life a little easier or make your houseboat more enjoyable.
Almost all of the items on this list will have waterproof as well as regular options available. I would always recommend that you go with the waterproof or water resistant version of the items as the extra money will be well worth it to give you the piece of mind when your kids are dragging water on board the boat.
1. Long Distance Walkie Talkies
This might seem like an idea for kids or more of a toy idea but they actually have walkie talkies with a range of 30-40 miles! Those can be extremely useful if some of your party goes on shore and others stay on the water. They can also be extremely helpful if you send a scout ahead to find the perfect spot to anchor or beach your houseboat.
Often lakes and rivers don’t have good cell signal so making a phone call can be difficult but long range walkie talkies are the perfect way to stay in contact with the rest of your party.
2. TV Antenna
Now obviously this isn’t a must have item but it can make the time on your houseboat more enjoyable. That is especially true if you live aboard your houseboat.
There are a variety of TV antennas that you can purchase. The nice thing about tv antennas is you just have to get one that is designed for outdoor use. You don’t have to get a special antenna for your boat. I personally have used a 70 mile antenna with great success but if you are further away from civilization you can find some antennas with 100-150 mile ranges.
Don’t believe the hype from the fancy looking antennas. The best ones that I have found are the ones that are kind of ugly and have the bars that come out from the side. You know, the one that all the people in the country always used to have on the roofs of their houses. Those style antennas always work the best in my experience.
3. Cell Phone Signal Booster
As with the difficulty getting a good tv signal, you will often have trouble getting a reliable cell signal when on your houseboat. That can be helped by getting a cell signal booster.
A cell signal booster will pull in signals from all carriers and allow you to make calls and use your phone’s internet in way more places than you would normally be able to. Prices can vary greatly as can how well the cell phone booster works in your area.
What I always do is order one from Amazon and plan to have it arrive a few days before I’m taking my houseboat out. Then I will set it up and try and use it while on the water. If it doesn’t work then sending it back to Amazon for a refund is super easy.
Since every location is different you might have to try one or two cell phone signal boosters before you find one that works, or you might be boating so far off the grid that none of them will. With Amazon’s amazing return policy you won’t be stuck with something that won’t work for you.
4. Depth Gauge
This can be an especially important item if you are going to be taking your houseboat in a river that you have never gone down before. Beaching your house on a sandbar sounds like fun until you are stuck in the middle of the river unable to move for an extended period of time.
They make a variety of electronic depth gauges that you can attach to your boat and use when entering uncharted waters. If you only go boating in the same lake or area of the river then you will probably not need to get this item.
5. Smart Fish Finder
They have recently made some smart fish finders that you can use to assist your fishing and help you find where the fish are at. Some of the best ones can cast 300 feet find fish up to a depth of 260 feet.
There are some pretty amazing ones that you can even cast out with your normal rod and then slowly reel it in finding if there are any fish or if its only weeds and debris in that area! One recommendation if you get one of these is to be sure and cast it into the deeper water and then reel it towards shore. If you cast it in an area that is too shallow you can easily break it by bouncing it off a slightly submerged rock or tree limb.
6. Waterproof Boombox
I debated putting wireless waterproof speakers on here as well as that is what I personally use but if your phone isn’t waterproof or if you don’t have a phone with music on it then getting a waterproof boombox is a great option.
Obviously this sounds kind of “old school” but I personally love listening to relaxing music while fishing or just lounging on or in the water. You can use a waterproof boombox in a variety of ways and there are some models that allow you to stream music to it wirelessly via bluetooth as well.
For me, being able to listen to my favorite music all day long makes the day go much better. Plus you can use it to have a dance party at night too!
7. Waterproof TV
What good would having a TV antenna (listed above) do if you don’t have a TV to watch it on? Thankfully they now have WATERPROOF TVs!
That’s right, you can buy a variety of sized TVs that are all waterproof. Even if you have your TV in the cabin (and you probably should) it’s a good idea to have a waterproof TV on board. That will ensure you (or someone else on board) doesn’t accidentally destroy your TV with a misplaced wet towel or splash.
Waterproof TVs are considerably more expensive than their normal counterparts so another option is to use a projector and screen/white wall. Personally, this is what I prefer as you can can get a projector and screen for a few hundred dollars or less while a big screen waterproof TV can run you into the thousands!
8. Underwater Scooter/ propulsion
I considered leaving this one out as it isn’t a pure electronic but it was too cool to not include in this list. An Underwater scooter (pictured above) is a great way to have some serious fun in the water.
Combine this with the refillable small scuba tanks and you will have hours of enjoyment! The model pictured above has approximately 45 minutes of run time and only takes 1 ½ hours to recharge.
Most of the refillable scuba tanks last 15-20 minutes so you can get a couple people under the water before it needs a recharge. Another neat thing about this “scooter” is that it is made to be buoyant so when not in use or if the battery dies, you simply let go and rather than sinking, it floats to the top of the water!
9. Portable Power
When I think of portable power my mind immediately goes to solar (which I will mention next) but what do you do if you are in an area that is shaded or you are only stopped at night? What do you do for your power then?
Enter portable power by Waterlily. This product can be placed in water if there is a current or anywhere where there is a breeze. The current or breeze causes the turbine to turn thus creating power!
Obviously because of its size it isn’t going to produce enough power for your whole boat but it does produce enough to charge power banks, and even run small appliances!
10. Foldable Solar Panels
I can’t talk about important electronics for your boat without mentioning the most prominent, solar panels.
Solar panels come in many shapes and sizes. They can be used to power entire houses (if you have a battery panel that can be charged during the day) or they can be on a small power bank to charge your cell phone. No matter where you go solar panels are definitely a huge product when you are headed outdoors.
I prefer to go in the middle between the giant panels and the solar power banks and that puts us at foldable solar panels. There are a variety of foldable solar panel sizes but I personally like the ones in the 150-200 watt range. Those are normally big enough to help power your needs on board your houseboat without taking up too much space.
There are many benefits to foldable solar panels with the largest probably being the size. With normal solar panels you leave them out at night as well and they are just always there. If you are planning to go on a shore excursion or something like that, good luck taking your solar panels with you.
With foldable panels you can often pack them in a backpack and carry them easily. The one pictured above is only 10lbs so super convenient to use while off the grid on your boat or in the wilderness! You can also just fold them up and stick them in the closet when you don’t need to use them. Not only will this help them last longer but it can help protect them from the weather or thieves as well.
11. Motorized Stand Up Paddleboard
Ok, back to the electric style toys. Can you tell that I love to have fun while on the water? To me, having a houseboat is all about the fun you are going to have in and on the water. If I wanted to sit and read a book the entire time I would just go camping. Houseboating is all about fun on the water!
A motorized stand up board is a great way to experience the water without having to paddle. Paddleboards are awesome for sure but for us that love the new and exciting, this motorized stand up board is it.
These motorized boards will go 5-6mph and the batteries will often last 1-1 ½ hours before needing recharged. They are a tad on the expensive side as with all newer technology that is motorized but they are great fun to use while enjoying some time on the lake or river.
12. Portable Solar Oven
If you are camping on shore or just don’t feel like cooking on the normal oven/stove a portable solar oven is a great way to have some fun cooking a meal.
There are a variety of sizes and prices for portable solar ovens but they are surprisingly inexpensive. They are super light so they can be carried anywhere where you want them and you can use them to cook from sun up to sun down.
Depending on which size oven you get and the temperatures outdoors you can often get a portable solar oven to 200-250 degrees without any difficulty. Some of the more expensive models will even get to 300-350 degrees!
Cooking outdoors adds an element of fun to your meals and can help save you money by not having to run your boat’s generator to cook!
13. Underwater Metal Detector
If you have ever been metal detecting you know how much fun the thrill of the hunt can be. Having an underwater metal detector can add more fun to your treasure hunt as not only are you looking for things in places you have never been but underwater you will be looking in places no one else has ever looked either.
Finding a penny on the ground isn’t really that exciting but finding coins under a layer of silt at the bottom of a lake will make anyone’s heart speed up.
There are a variety of different underwater detectors from the most elaborate to quite simple. The prices vary greatly as well depending on which model you choose. Surprising you can often find hand held underwater detectors below a hundred dollars. You can also get quite elaborate set ups that will run you thousands.
For some amateurs who are looking to have fun, I’ve found that getting a few of the cheaper models so more people can look works out better than getting one expensive model.
14. Waterproof gadgets
There are a variety of other waterproof gadgets that I could write about in this article including waterproof cases for all of your phones and tablets, earbuds, cameras, flashlights, light bars, watches, and much more.
There are tons of different models and brands of the smaller waterproof tech that you can choose from. For smaller electronics I always try and read some reviews on Amazon and see what other people have experienced.
Most of the time that will help make my decision on which item I want to buy. Then if I have any issues I can always return it since Amazon has such a great return policy.
15. Wireless Boat security system
The last electronic I will mention today is the wireless boat security system. The need for this item will depend on the area you dock your boat in as well as what you regularly leave on board.
If you normally take anything of value and the marina you dock at is well looked after and in a good area then a boat security system is probably overkill. If you regularly leave a few thousand dollars worth of toys and gear on board then a security system is a good investment.
As with everything there are a bunch of different price points for a security system. Whichever you choose be sure that it is wireless and waterproof. You don’t want to spend money on a good security system only to have it destroyed the first time you take your boat out on the water.
I prefer the wireless systems as they are far easier to set up and often just require placing them and turning them on. They are really quite simple to setup and use which makes it more likely that you will actually set it up on your boat. A security system won’t work if you never set it up because it is too complicated or you have to do a bunch of work to get it done.
I hope this list of the top 15 electronic products/accessories for your boat has been helpful. When comparing items be sure and read reviews and purchase from a company with a good return policy to ensure that any issues are taken care of by the company you purchase from.