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Old 07-04-2016, 13:14   #1
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Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

We have a 4" Nicro vent that has finally died. The solar panel is dead, the motor is dead. The boat came with 2 spares, but they are 3". I put them on my aft companionway board and couldn't help but notice what cheap crap they are. I'm a little hesitant to buy a new one at $180 and put it on a big hole on my deck. They look like they cost about $10 to have made in China.

Since I'm cruising in Mexico I can't just take them to west marine every 3 months when they die, is there an alternative? I've already got a dorade/cowling nearby, so I'm looking for a solar/battery fan vent.

Any advice?
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Old 07-04-2016, 15:45   #2
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Hmmmm......Inexpensive 5v computer fan
three C cells, rechargable
small 6 v solar array (4-1.5v cells)

Mount tthe fan under the dorade, strap the batts to the side, charge from cells pasted down to the deck/top of dorade box or somewhere nearby.
Mebbe $40??? and a couple hours time
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Old 07-04-2016, 17:41   #3
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
We have a 4" Nicro vent that has finally died. The solar panel is dead, the motor is dead. The boat came with 2 spares, but they are 3". I put them on my aft companionway board and couldn't help but notice what cheap crap they are. I'm a little hesitant to buy a new one at $180 and put it on a big hole on my deck. They look like they cost about $10 to have made in China.

Since I'm cruising in Mexico I can't just take them to west marine every 3 months when they die, is there an alternative? I've already got a dorade/cowling nearby, so I'm looking for a solar/battery fan vent.

Any advice?
Your post and title sounds more like editorial opinion than a quest for help.

How do you know if both the solar panel and the motor are "dead"? If the panel is dead, how are you testing the motor? If the motor is dead, how are you testing the panel. What about the switch? Maybe that's the problem. And what's this about taking them to West Marine every three months? You say the original "finally died". How long did it work before you had a problem with it? Why do you think a replacement will only last three months before failing?

If you can't find another brand to fit the existing hole, you are pretty much stuck with repairing what you have, replacing it with the same, a mickey mouse combination of parts cobbled together, putting something else in the hole or sealing it up.
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Old 07-04-2016, 22:50   #4
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

I had the same problem.

Marinco sent a laundry list of items to check before replacing ours.

I've been looking to convert ours over to good old 12 volt.

Here is the e-mail they sent:

Make sure the boat is in direct sunlight, or remove the vent and place in direct sunlight. Remove the three screws on the top of the vent. Take a small screwdriver or use your fingernail to remove the clear panel.

Remove the battery. The fan should run. If the fan doesn’t run, press the power button.

If the fan does not run, the motor is bad and the vent needs to be replaced. No need to check anything else.

I f the fan runs, check the voltage at the battery leads. It should be about 2V. Next, measure the battery voltage, and reinstall the battery. Make sure the battery is making good contact with the leads. Let the battery charge for a few hours, and measure the battery voltage again. The battery voltage should have increased. If not, we will only have to replace the battery, not the whole vent.

If the battery voltage increases to at least 1.2V after charging for a few hours, you may have had a bad connection at the battery. Check the terminals for corrosion and or poor connection.

If you are within the two year warranty period, submit an online warranty request using the link below. Proof of purchased is required. Attach with RMA request. Under the “comments” provide the results of the test . We might only need to replace the battery, and not the entire vent.
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Old 08-04-2016, 02:57   #5
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Similar thing with ours several years back. Microsoft has a rebuild kit for both 3 and 4 inch fans. (Parts are different for each) it was about $40 US several years back. WM had to special order. Kit included motor, switch, new one ring gasket several screws and new fan blades. You have to solder very small wiring and fan switch is a bugger to take apart, but is do-able. The motor was the problem with ours. Do a search, several years ago there was a forum about this subject.

First time died we purchased a whole new vent $180.00. It lasted about 3 seasons, 2 year warrentee? Thats when i started to check into rebuild kit.

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Old 08-04-2016, 04:46   #6
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

It's (obviously) a bit late now. But fans, due to being air moving devices, create static electricity. Which tends to draw lint, amongst other bearing clogging debris. So that if you can remember to pull off the fan blade with some regularity, & clean the units, before the attracted grit & grime tries to make it's way into the motor's housing...
And this applies to all fans, not just the ones in these units.

Gotta' love those "timed" warranties. AKA "Planned Obsolescense" is one of my biggest pet peeves!
Kind of like how plastic cowl vents are made out of a grade of plastic which has a higher specific gravity than that of water... how convenient, for items in the marine environment. Not!
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Old 08-04-2016, 08:18   #7
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

There is an extensive thread on this subject on SailNet. It is long but there is good information on the repair/restoration of the Nicro Day/Night vents. We have effected good repairs on our 1990's era vents at a cost of about $28.00 each (including the cost of replacement 2000 MAh rechargable batteries) that have endured for several years. For more see (click on) Nico Day/Night Vent Repair.
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Old 08-04-2016, 08:34   #8
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

It just seems to me somebody could compete in this space very easily since Nicro is just sitting on their butt doing nothing.

The old unit we have is square, the solar panel is broken, the plastic it's mounted to is broken, the o-ring is shot, if it leaks the water drains into the battery compartment. I had already replaced the batteries with NIMH before we left the dock.

These spare units I have appear to be mfg in 97 and 98. Compared to the old one they are very cheaply made. The mounting to the deck is a poor design, I ended up modifying it to work better. I put a new NIMH in one of them without charging it first and it died shortly after sunset, and then when removing the stainless to get to the battery I realized I had to totally remove the damn thing to get at the battery since the screws face the deck.

I don't know who designed the thing but they should have their engineer card cut up, unless their management said "re-design this so we can have it made in china for $10, and replace it 5 times under warranty and still make a profit."

If you look at the reviews at west marine most people say they barely last 3 months.

I'll probably end up frankensteining the old one, because at least it was designed well from an ability to close, stop water, etc. Maybe I'll design a new one that can be 3d printed and start a kickstarter... but if you'd rather do it that would be easier!

Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2016, 09:22   #9
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

I am thinking that a liberal application of anti-corrosion treatment to the internals when they are brand new may help extend their life.

Some say you shouldn't bother putting anther hole in the boat but for us, they are an excellent way of actively ventilating the boat when its closed up or when raining cats and dogs. Not so good in boarding seas.
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Old 08-04-2016, 09:38   #10
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Ditto on Gulfstar - I had the same motor death and contacted the company. Bought a new motor for cheap from them. But of a pain to solder in but it's been whirring around for at least 3 years since.
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Old 08-04-2016, 09:40   #11
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Your post and title sounds more like editorial opinion than a quest for help.
Maybe so, but it is an opinion shared by many, including me.
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Old 08-04-2016, 10:20   #12
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I am thinking that a liberal application of anti-corrosion treatment to the internals when they are brand new may help extend their life.

Some say you shouldn't bother putting anther hole in the boat but for us, they are an excellent way of actively ventilating the boat when its closed up or when raining cats and dogs. Not so good in boarding seas.
You can't suck air out of the boat with a fan or anything else unless there's a hole for replacement air to enter. I stopped using mine because what air it did bring through the boat came through the bilge and engine compartment. Other than the engine vents, the boat is air tight (more or less).
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Old 08-04-2016, 10:39   #13
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

We bought a 3" vent last Fall to draw air through our Nature's Head.

One night a few weeks ago we noticed a smell. Fan was not running. Next day it ran off the solar panel.

We called Defender. They referred us to the mfgr but said they'd take care of us if the mfgr didn't.

Called mfgr. They said they had a bad batch of batteries but had no way to trace them.

New battery is on the way.
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Old 08-04-2016, 12:42   #14
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

We bought a 3" vent last Fall to draw air through our Nature's Head.

One night a few weeks ago we noticed a smell. Fan was not running. Next day it ran off the solar panel.

We called Defender. They referred us to the mfgr but said they'd take care of us if the mfgr didn't.

Called mfgr. They said they had a bad batch of batteries but had no way to trace them.

New battery is on the way.
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Old 08-04-2016, 13:02   #15
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Re: Alternative to cheaply engineered overpriced nicro vents?

You don't have to get your replacement batteries from the manufacturer. Any decent battery store or electronics store will have them.

Free batteries from the manufacturer excepted.
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