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Old 15-09-2015, 06:31   #1
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Solar vents- safe for offshore?

I am thinking about installing a solar vent on my forward hatch.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a unit that would be safe for offshore, i.e. that can be shut absolutely tight and not get displaced easily in boarding seas?
Or are these vents a safety hazard offshore?
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Old 15-09-2015, 07:20   #2
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

Bad idea IMHO.. both solar vent and installing on a hatch. Better to have proper dorade vent.
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Old 15-09-2015, 07:29   #3
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

We have solar vents (Nicro 3000, or something like that). They have a shutoff ring on the inside that makes them waterproof when it is pushed into place. We have never had water come in ours even when open, but the hatches they are on are never submerged and only see glancing spray at best.

These are very cheaply made things that cost a lot of money. The solar part of them only lasts a year or so before malfunctioning - quitting entirely after a couple of years. We have had 4 of them bought over several years, so I don't think we just got bad ones.

I dorade vent on a foredeck would likely be an awful decision, as it would catch lines and be a tripping hazard and require a hole through the deck. It would depend on just what/where you mean by "forward hatch".

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Old 15-09-2015, 07:34   #4
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

Just a quick warning about solar vents. They are easy to pop out of the hatch. My boat was broken into by popping off the vent and reaching in the opening to open the hatch. If you use them, put a pin through the lower flange inside the hatch so they cannot be yanked out easily.
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Old 15-09-2015, 09:00   #5
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

Ours are through bolted through the hatch using four bolts. This is the OEM design. While it is possible to chisel and smash the vent off the hatch and squeeze a hand through the 3" hole, it would be easier and quicker to simply pry or break the hatch off with a bar.

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Old 15-09-2015, 09:03   #6
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

My hatch cracked around the vent from stress - don't think they are safe.
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Old 15-09-2015, 09:13   #7
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

What stress is being put on them? Ours only weigh a couple of ounces and see no loading. The hatch glass is 3/8" acrylic and the vents are mounted in a sandwich flange that takes the mount load.

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Old 15-09-2015, 09:38   #8
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

I think these solar vents are better off mounted in a dryer location that still gets sun. Ours is under the Bimini and directly over the stove to help shed heat in the tropics. The batteries can be changed every few years. I personally don't care for the way they are made to seal with an internal plug. I suspect though that if I turtled the puppy, these wouldn't be my first concern. They can be a bit noisy at times, like "what the heck's that noise?"
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:06   #9
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

We have two Nicro solar vents installed on the forward end of our coach roof (Cal39), one over the head and one in the v-berth. We've owned the boat for 10 years and have cruised extensively along the west coast of Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. The vents were installed by a previous owner and save for replacing the internal batteries from time to time (~36-48 months) the vents have worked 24/7.

They are (poorly) designed to be water-tight (?) by pushing the internal vent opening up into the cut out. The only times we've found it necessary to close these off is during the bash up the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula. These vents don't leak with heavy spray, but green water causes them to drip. While not truly waterproof, the amount of leakage is minimal, but annoying. They are rather flimsy in construction. For these two reasons, I'd not recommend them in exposed locations on a blue water cruiser. The suggestion of going with a true dorado style vent would be the choice for relatively fool proof, weather tight ventilation. My two-cents worth.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:20   #10
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captstu View Post
My hatch cracked around the vent from stress - don't think they are safe.
The stress you talk of is probably from a poorly cut hole. If you cut the hole with a sharp hole saw and then polish it there will be no stressed areas.

The crack started from your hole not the solar vent.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:29   #11
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

We have two and they do drip a little when green water takes to them. They stopped working after about a year. I have not gotten around to changing the batteries.

Would I use them again? Maybe - when the boat has to be battened down during a heavy rain squall with no wind they provide much needed airflow - although that is not a lot.

A much better design would be a 12 volt with a fan inside the cabintop and a mushroom vest that can be closed well on the outside. I may end up removing them and putting a on mushroom vent instead, then mount a simple 12 volt computer fan below the vent.
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Old 15-09-2015, 11:39   #12
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

I had one beside the mast, in the head, not through the hatch. It was great.
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Old 15-09-2015, 12:16   #13
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

Lots of good comments-some too absolute though IMHO.

You can almost never have too much ventilation. But while you might use all or most of the capacity most of the time, if you are going into challenging conditions that might compromise one or more venting points you must be able to completely close off that access point securely. That means deck plates on deck or below (preferably bronze) to completely close off dorade and other deck vents, storm shutters over larger fixed ports, a sea hood over your companionway slide, securable drop boards, gasketed cockpit hatches, plugged deck pipe, etc. You generally don't get second chances, be secure NOW. Cheers




Quote:
Originally Posted by tominny View Post
I am thinking about installing a solar vent on my forward hatch.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a unit that would be safe for offshore, i.e. that can be shut absolutely tight and not get displaced easily in boarding seas?
Or are these vents a safety hazard offshore?
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Old 15-09-2015, 12:40   #14
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

On my former O'Day 23, a previous owner had put one in the front hatch. One day I came to the boat and the whole top cover was missing. The fan and controls were still in place, just the cowling was missing. Did not strike me as a break-in attempt, but who knows?
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Old 15-09-2015, 16:18   #15
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Re: Solar vents- safe for offshore?

We have 2 solar vents and we like them. We have high freeboard so they almost never admit any water. They have a means of closing them to make them watertight when you want to. One lasted 5 years and the other lasted 9 years before needing replacement because the fan motors went out. The batteries on the old ones were NiCd and they are replaceable. Maybe the new ones are NiMH; I don't know. They are in essence a mini-dorade in that they have a cowling that covers them and a sill to prevent water from entering the hole. There are passive hatch vents (no fan) built on the same principle that work well, too. When the passive vents fail it is owing to UV damage.
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