|Solar-Powered Vent Helps to Prevent Mildew, Eliminate Odors|
|Most boats suffer from mildew, not only during winter months when they're closed up, but also during the summer. Whether we blame El Nino or last summer's inordinate amount of rainfall, the fact is mildew is an on-going problem. The problem is exacerbated on boats with no passive ventilators or opening ports.|
Following up on a suggestion from a reader, we ordered two Nicro Night and Day Solar vents and installed them on a 33-footer with a particularly acute below decks mildew problem. One vent was located in the head to bring air in, and the second was placed over the galley to expel stagnant cabin air. Each vent comes with two fans, one intake and one exhaust. It's very simple to change blades.
The fan in the Night and Day Solar vent runs off solar power during the day, while also using solar power to charge a small 2-amp nickelcadmium battery used to power the fan at night. In effect, you get 24-hour operation. (Nicro also makes a number of other models that run off solar power or the 12-volt system.)
After several months monitoring the cabin for mildew, we can't say that the vents have completely solved the problem, but they have made a big difference. There was still some mildew on cushion bottoms, but considering that the entire sole in the head and Forward cabin had previously been blackened by fungal growth, we felt we'd licked a good part of the problem. And the cabin smells a whole lot better these days.
Day and Night Solar Vents are available in 3-inch and 4-inch sizes. with covers of white plastic, stainless steel, or brass. We installed the snap-in (also available with threads) 4-inch models (the bigger the better) with stainless covers. Retail price is $194.50, but you can pick them up at discount for about $130. There are a variety of accessories. We used the Thru-Deck Hole Liner, recommended for decks more than 2 inches thick, white plastic Deck Plate, and Teak Trim Rings. Warranty on the vent and accessories is two years. Installation requires cutting a 3- or 4-inch hole in the deck. After cutting the hole, you caulk under the deck plate flange, fasten it with #10 machine screws (supplied), fit the desired trim ring from the inside, then simply pop in the vent. We recommend sending for the Nicro catalog, which includes all parts and prices, Plus installation instructions.
The Day and Night Solar Vent is not inexpensive, but it's a quality product, and it works. Considering the amount most boat owners have invested in interior furnishings and fixtures, it seems like money well spent. (Nicro Marine Corp., 2065 West Avenue 140th, San Leandro. CA 94577; 510/357-8332.)
POWERBOAT REPORTS JULY 1993
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