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Old 07-01-2016, 15:19   #1
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Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

We are prepping a 35' 1975 Christ Craft Catalina for Liveaboard. This model has a large main bilge area. Approx 10 feet x 12 feet and 40 inches deep. Of course the two gas engines, generator, hot water heater, etc are in this area.

We are getting ready to rebed all the deck hardware, while we have everything exposed on the inside. As you can see in the photo below, it definitely needs done. And as you might guess by the half a dozen layers of caulk on the vents, they have leaked and the deck is soft in that area, so I will be beefing that up while at it.

Those vents are passive and attached to 4" ducts running into the bilge area. There are separate vents with bilge blowers for clear gas fumes, these are simply for bilge ventilation.

I was thinking it might be worth while to install Nicro Solar Day/Night vents while at it. Questions are

1. Good idea or just save $ and stick with passive?
2. Use 4 Nicro, with 2 set for intake at front, and 2 set for exhaust at back.
3. Use 2 Nicro set for exhaust at the back and leave front intakes passive?
4. Use 2 Nicro set for intake at the front and leave the back intakes passive?
5. Some other arrangement I didn't think of?

Background, it will be full time liveaboard, Gulf Coast Cruising, mainly in slip, rarely on hook or mooring other than a few trips per year.

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Old 07-01-2016, 16:19   #2
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

In my experience nicro solar vents are expensive pieces of crap, see if you can find a cheaper more durable item.
This is just my opinion based on my experience.
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Old 07-01-2016, 16:27   #3
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

Yep, expensive pieces of crap. Either go passive, or work out another type of active system.

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Old 08-01-2016, 07:15   #4
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

Two votes against the Nicro.

So I guess the next question is, do I need to worry about an active system?

Will I benefit from it? and How?

Or do I just stick with passive.
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Old 08-01-2016, 07:29   #5
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

I've got six of the Nicros, and have had them for several years now. I found out that if you just open them up and replace the battery with a better C-cell rechargable, they actually work just fine. Very simple. A solar panel, a rechargable battery, and a motor. They all seem to fail within six months, but after replacing the battery they come with, I've gotten another year and a half with zero problems. I have four of them installed in hatches, and two in the deck ventilating the composting toilets. I bought six batteries on Amazon for $4 each ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o00_s00 ) and no further probs. When these go, I'll just go buy another NiCd.

Yeah, they're kind of expensive to start with, but they run day and night trouble free, without worrying about the rest of the DC system. The design is good in that I don't have to worry about closing them in inclement weather. Didn't have to run any wires. No fuses. No switches. They're quiet. Come with bug screens. Run year round. It's a trade off. Bet you've heard that before.
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:26   #6
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

I have two Nicro Solar Vents which ventilate my lazarette. I think they are splendid. The locker is dry in all conditions, and the little fans just keep spinning day after day.

I think the advice to change out the batteries is probably good. I had not investigated the possibility, but it seems like a quick project.

Your general goal of keeping some air flowing all the time, for both condensation and odor reasons, sounds very good to me. I bet that two blowing in, and two pulling out would be a good solution.

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Old 08-01-2016, 09:41   #7
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

With a long tube going to that clamshell type, you should have more chimney effect velocity than a Nico will put out from the fan.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:17   #8
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

I had an issue with my Catalina 27 where the PO added two Nicro vents in the cabin. one in the V-Berth and one over the stove in the galley. I have a diesel engine and what was happening was that the two Nicro vents were actually pulling the engine room and bilge air into the cabin and out the vents. I was basically living in the engine room. The boat is equipped with a bilge blower that I still like to use when I crank the diesel but other than that its passive except for the two nicors constantly pulling on the engine room from the cabin. Know that computer fans are rated for 100% duty cycle and that they are 12vdc I decided to try and experiment to place one down in the bilge on the same vent hose that the blower is in (cowl pointing aft, port side). I brought the fan to a local hardware store and found an aluminum adapter that goes from 4" round to 3" round duct. I was amazed that when I squeezed the 4" round end into a square that it fit perfectly around the square housing of the computer cooling fan! I drilled and riveted the fan into the adapter, slipped the 3" side into the flexible duct and hose clamped it on. Ran a wire to my 12vdc panel put an inline fuse and switch and now I have a continuous vent that draws air through the starboard side cowl and the cabin. When at the dock on shore power is leave it on all the time. My boat cabin is smells sweet and my engine room is fully vented 100% of the time. When I get underway I can even use my blower if I want too because the computer fan does not block the vent. I switch of the computer fan when I disconnect the shore power and when I go on anchor or return to the dock I turn the fan back on. I do not have hot engine room air being drawn into the cabin anymore and when I place my hand on the cowl I can feel the gentle flow of warm air being pulled from the engine room. I am not sure about the abyc standards for my hookup or if its legal but I am fuse protected and because my vent inlet is down under the engine I am pulling air from the lowest point of my engine room. The health of both my cabin and engine room is dramatic. I have thought about a timer to shut it off at night not to pull in damp air and then back on during the day but it works so good right now that I am leaving it alone.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:08   #9
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

In my 54 x 14 Sunseeker i have installed niko vent pulling in in the front of the boat an one pulling out in the back over the fridge. Fantastic. The inside temperature is much coller in the boat.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:16   #10
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

My nicro lasted almost exactly 6 months before failing. I'm going to try a new rechargeable battery to see if that gets it going again.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:41   #11
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

I have no opinion of Nicro brand, but I can tell you, the driest boat I ever owned was one with big dorade vents on boxes - no hose to the bilge, just great venting of the cabin - no condensation after 30 years.

I think anything that greatly restricts the flow of air is not good- and most solar vents only give a tiny amount of cross sectional area.

Looking for a cheap solution - you could pick up all the hatches into the bilge whenever you are not on the boat, if you are not a liveaboard.

Or how about those big vents coming out the side of the hull, with louvers? I guess they are typically used for the engine blower but why not passive ventilation too?

I don't like the location of the vents on the deck no matter what they are, and the only way I can think to fix that is thru the side of the hull.
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:57   #12
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrau18 View Post
My nicro lasted almost exactly 6 months before failing. I'm going to try a new rechargeable battery to see if that gets it going again.

I had the same experience, 6 months on the original battery. Installed a green colored Eveready NiCd and it's been humming along for more than 2 years now.

My complaint with the Nicro is the edge of the SS that touches the fiberglass is leaving a small rust stain. I'm going to pull it and try some Wichard Wichinox on it to see if it re-passivates the metal and stops the staining.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:50   #13
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrau18 View Post
My nicro lasted almost exactly 6 months before failing. I'm going to try a new rechargeable battery to see if that gets it going again.
I wrote NiCd before but they're actually NiMH batteries. Pretty easy to come by. Even the grocery store here in the TCI carries a workable C cell rechargable. I bought better ones from Amazon with more capacity and have not had one of the new ones fail yet.

I don't care for blog floggers, and I try not to be one, BUT I did take some photos last year of what I found in one of these that had stopped working but still had a good battery. It was a little corrosion ( Rule #1, it's ALWAYS connectors) and easily fixed. If you want to look at some photos of one of these disassembled I put some up here:
2 Gringos in the Caribbean: Waiting for Jonas

Just skip down through all the blah blah stuff until you see a photo of a Nicro vent taken apart. That might be useful to you. They are dead simple to fix. Everything in them is pretty easily replaceable.

We've seen a big difference in the boat since adding all the ventilation. She just sat on the hard here through four months of hurricane season, with all the hatches and doors closed tight and the solar and charging systems disconnected. When we opened the door in November, having closed it in june, we were pleasantly surprised to find the boat no more musty smelling than if we'd closed it up overnight. those six fans pulled air through it day and night, without a hiccup. And I didn't have to worry about my lead acid batteries being involved.
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Old 08-01-2016, 12:59   #14
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

Quote:
Originally Posted by Canibul View Post
I wrote NiCd before but they're actually NiMH batteries. Pretty easy to come by. Even the grocery store here in the TCI carries a workable C cell rechargable. I bought better ones from Amazon with more capacity and have not had one of the new ones fail yet.

I don't care for blog floggers, and I try not to be one, BUT I did take some photos last year of what I found in one of these that had stopped working but still had a good battery. It was a little corrosion ( Rule #1, it's ALWAYS connectors) and easily fixed. If you want to look at some photos of one of these disassembled I put some up here:
2 Gringos in the Caribbean: Waiting for Jonas

Just skip down through all the blah blah stuff until you see a photo of a Nicro vent taken apart. That might be useful to you. They are dead simple to fix. Everything in them is pretty easily replaceable.

We've seen a big difference in the boat since adding all the ventilation. She just sat on the hard here through four months of hurricane season, with all the hatches and doors closed tight and the solar and charging systems disconnected. When we opened the door in November, having closed it in june, we were pleasantly surprised to find the boat no more musty smelling than if we'd closed it up overnight. those six fans pulled air through it day and night, without a hiccup. And I didn't have to worry about my lead acid batteries being involved.

Canibul, I got curious and pulled my spare out of storage, NiMH here also.
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Old 08-01-2016, 13:03   #15
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Re: Bilge Ventilation using Nicro Solar Vents

If you have hoses from these vents down to the bottom of the engine compartment then these are probably air inlets for the fume removal blowers. You should not try to suck on them if that is the case.
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