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  #1  
Old 02-10-2011
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Thoughts on Nicro vs. Sunforce solar vents?

So I've done a little research and have decided to put in at least one, and probably two, solar vent fans. One in the hatch covering the stern lazarette (it already has a passive dome vent in it, which I will replace with a solar vent fan) and probably one in the small acrylic (I think it's acrylic) hatch over the dinette. I figure that way, I can set the one over the dinette to draw air in and fit the one in the lazarette with a hose down to the bilge and set it to draw air out and get a nice circulation through the cabin and bilge.

Anyhow, I'm comparing what's out there - Nicro seems to be the most popular name, and based on price and reviews, appears to be perceived as the best out there.

I find that Defender has Nicro and Sunforce vents. The Sunforce vents are substantially less expensive and look to be lower-profile - I think aesthetically, they look better than the Nicros. But my experience in life in general and with marine hardware in particular is that you don't get what you don't pay for, so I have to wonder, with the price difference, whether the Nicros truly are that much better that they are worth the big price difference.

I have never had an opportunity to actually hold them in my hands and compare - the local West Marine doesn't keep a whole lot in stock, and last time I was there, they had only a couple Nicro vents to look at.

Anybody have any experience with either or both or have some basis for comparing? Thoughts, opinions, snide remarks (as if I need to solicit those from this crowd)?

Thanks!
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Old 02-10-2011
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I've got a pair of older Nicro vents on my boat, and they're still going strong. They were installed in 2006. I also installed a smaller Nicro vent last season to air out the anchor locker. :-) No experience with the Sunforce vents at all.
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Old 02-10-2011
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I'll never buy Nicro again. I didn't get even 2 years out the one
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Old 02-10-2011
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I think what I'm looking at is the Nicro Day/Night 2000 versus the Sunforce Solar Vent 3000.

They seem pretty comparable over all. Both have 2-year warranties; both have batteries to enable them to run at night or in cloudy weather; both have an on/off switch. Both can either pull air in or push air out - the Nicro does it by providing two different fan blades, and you put in whichever blade you want. The Sunforce does it with a push button, which seems a lot more convenient, and you don't have to remember where you put the other blade if you want to reverse the air flow.

The Nicro comes with a trim ring and insect screen. The Sunforce comes with an interior trim ring also, but I don't see anything about a screen, so I don't know.

Defender has the Nicro at $150 and the Sunforce at $83. So I essentially could get two Sunforce vents for only a few dollars more than the price of one Nicro. Given the 2-year warranty, I'm starting to think it might be worth the shot - I'm already spending a whole lot of money on my boat this season, with a complete engine overhaul and converting from raw water to fresh water cooling, new main sail, glassing over a couple old through-hulls, painting the bottom, re-bedding deck hardware, maybe the cutlass bearing.... yikes!

So anywhere I can legitimately save a few bucks at this point will help.

And I still need a new sail cover and dodger cover...

Nobody said owning a boat would be cheap.
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Old 02-10-2011
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There was a thread on Cruisers recently regarding some disappointed users of the Nicro day/night vent. From what I recall the older units seemed to last longer, especially the electric motors. I bought the Nicro product and installed it in November. It doesn't come close to moving air all night and seems to quit around 10PM. I've not tried to replace batteries becuase at night I don't necessarily need the same level of air flow as I do with the sun beating down on the boat. If I had it to do over again I would buy a straight solar vent without the battery option. Mildly disappointed.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarCry View Post
There was a thread on Cruisers recently regarding some disappointed users of the Nicro day/night vent. From what I recall the older units seemed to last longer, especially the electric motors. I bought the Nicro product and installed it in November. It doesn't come close to moving air all night and seems to quit around 10PM. I've not tried to replace batteries becuase at night I don't necessarily need the same level of air flow as I do with the sun beating down on the boat. If I had it to do over again I would buy a straight solar vent without the battery option. Mildly disappointed.
One issue is the batteries that come with the Nicro vents isn't the best, and replacing them with a high-capacity NiMH rechargeable helps a lot.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
One issue is the batteries that come with the Nicro vents isn't the best, and replacing them with a high-capacity NiMH rechargeable helps a lot.
That makes sense. Someday when upgrading the batteries makes it to the top of my boat to-do list, I'll replace existing with new higher capacity ones.

I am disappointed when any product falls so short of it's advertised function and requires modification or additional $'s be spent to work at 100%.

The vent has made a tremendous difference in lowering daytime interior temps when the boat is closed up.
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Actually, the issue is that the NiCd batteries that come with the Nicro vents suffer from memory issues, because they don't get recharged properly, since the solar cell doesn't have enough wattage to do so most of the time. So the capacity of them drops lower and lower. The NiMH batteries don't suffer from the memory issues, so they tend to do better.

I found that the mold/mildew and temperature issues that plague some boats haven't been an issue on my boat because I have two vents installed and a fairly dry boat.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FarCry View Post
That makes sense. Someday when upgrading the batteries makes it to the top of my boat to-do list, I'll replace existing with new higher capacity ones.

I am disappointed when any product falls so short of it's advertised function and requires modification or additional $'s be spent to work at 100%.

The vent has made a tremendous difference in lowering daytime interior temps when the boat is closed up.
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Old 02-10-2011
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I bought a Sunforce at Fry's Electronics a couple of years ago, and returned it once I opened the package and got a good look at it; it just didn't look like something that would survive on the deck of a boat. Also, I think the reason the Sunforce looks like it's lower profile is that it's a lot larger diameter than the Nicro vent; the actual height above the deck is probably not all that different between the two brands.

The Nicro vent I have has lasted several years now. I replaced the C-cell battery with a NiMH and gave the motor shaft a spritz of WD-40 a year and a half ago. It's starting to sound like it needs to be oiled again, other than that it seems to work well.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post
I bought a Sunforce at Fry's Electronics a couple of years ago, and returned it once I opened the package and got a good look at it; it just didn't look like something that would survive on the deck of a boat. Also, I think the reason the Sunforce looks like it's lower profile is that it's a lot larger diameter than the Nicro vent; the actual height above the deck is probably not all that different between the two brands.

The Nicro vent I have has lasted several years now. I replaced the C-cell battery with a NiMH and gave the motor shaft a spritz of WD-40 a year and a half ago. It's starting to sound like it needs to be oiled again, other than that it seems to work well.
You're probably better off with a dry lubricant than WD-40, which isn't designed as a lubricant, but to displace water. WD-40 will attract dirt and can cause the motor shaft to gum up.
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