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Guide to inflating your semi-rigid inflatable boat

Guide to inflating your semi-rigid inflatable boat

Properly inflating your inflatable tubes is critical to the performance, safety, and longevity of your RIB.

Indeed,a well inflated inflatable boat will be slightly faster than a less inflated model, and will also consume less fuel, hence the interest to be well prepared!

How to proceed? What guidelines should I follow? Which method to use? Orca Retail answers all your questions about inflating your tires!


What inflation pressure for a RIB boat? 

In order to know the optimal pressure to inflate your floats, the best thing to do is to stick to the manufacturer's instructions! Indeed, the manufacturers of RIB boats will not fail to indicate this information at the time of purchase or in their user manuals.

As a general rule, a low pressure of 0.2 bar is recommended once in the water. But depending on the fabric used (PVC or Hypalon), the ideal pressure will not be the same. Indeed, PVC (often used for small tenders) will support less well the overpressure than Hypalon (used for larger models), which is more resistant to temperature differences. 

In case of doubt, do not hesitate to contact the manufacturers' after-sales services: 

- Zodiac: By phone at 118 707 (0,80 €/mn) or from their website

- Zar Formenti: service form

- Highfield: By phone at 02 98 36 68 47 or contact form.


What impact does the outside temperature have on inflation? 

Temperature and sun exposure is your first enemy when it comes to the life of your RIB and its bladders. The hotter it is, the more internal pressure increases.

We estimate a difference of about 3 millibars per degree. If you inflate your bladders to around 0.20 bar (200 millibars), this means that on days when you are happy to have temperature differences of 15°C, you will feel a clear difference!

Thus, depending on the season, your region or the time of day, the optimal will not be the same. 

For example, it is recommended that on a particularly hot day when your inflatable boat is exposed to the sun for a long period of time, you release the pressure slightly (even if you have to reinflate it later when the heat drops). 

During the hotsummer months, therefore, you should always under-inflate the floats to create a little depressurization, compared to other times of the year. 

This is also why it is important to cover and protect your RIB when it is stored outdoors. 


What impact does the water temperature have on inflation? 

If the outside temperature affects the pressure of your tubes, so does the water pressure! An contact with water, the pressure will drop with the temperature difference. This is why you can overinflate slightly on land compared to your target.


How to check the inflation of the pneumatic tubes? 

If you don't have any tools at your disposal, to check the pressure of the bladder and to be sure not to make a mistake, you must make sure that it must be slightly flexible when you put your foot on it (and mark small folds in the fabric). It is also said that a bladder should be "hard on the thumb and soft on the knee".

For more precision, the ideal is to buy a manometer, available for about ten euros. By placing the manometer on the valve, you will get an immediate reading of the float pressure.


What is the risk of over-inflating? 

Usually, RIB boats are equipped with pressure relief valves, which usually prevents serious problems. 

But if this is not your case, or if you simply want to be very careful about this point, you should know that under pressure, the gluing and the seams of your bladders may break. This will damage your boat irreparably, not to mention the risk of explosion. Also, over-inflated bladders lacking flexibility will absorb shocks less well (e.g. when you come in to the dock), and will be damaged more easily. 

So keep a close eye on the pressure used when you inflate your RIB floats, and take into account environmental factors. 



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