A simple exhaust fan can do a LOT to keep the galley cool, by removing cooking heat and steam. Here's one that you can install in seconds -- no holes in the boat and low power draw!

Simple Exhaust Fan

An exhaust fan in a wonderful thing in a galley (or head, for that matter).  A simple exhaust fan can do a LOT to keep the galley cool, by removing cooking heat and steam. Here's one that you can install in seconds -- no holes in the boat and low power draw! Most that you see are permanent thru-deck installations, such as the solar exhaust fans we used (in the picture at right — I obviously never planned to publish the photo).

While I used to “recommend” these as being better than a simple dorade, I also warned that they were a real pain to install and incapable of being installed so that they would be safe for offshore passages. They also cost about $150 each and we found that we had to replace them every 2 to 3 years.

I found something much better recently — cheaper, virtually no installation and totally removable in case of bad weather.  Oh, yeah — they move more air, too.

Admittedly, these do require power — but only about 6 amp-hours per day (on low) IF you run it full time. It can be plugged into a cigarette lighter or hard-wired.

When I first saw one of these — on Jan’s boat (see her web site CommuterCruiser) — I thought it was just a computer fan and I know they move an “okay” amount of air, but nothing astounding.  Then we were boiling pasta and I saw the steam coming from the pan and going straight up to the fan and presumably out the port (couldn’t see the steam once it hit the fan).  Hmm, that’s NOT a computer fan!

A simple exhaust fan can do a LOT to keep the galley cool, by removing cooking heat and steam. Here's one that you can install in seconds -- no holes in the boat and low power draw!

These “Port Fans” come from svHotwire — a company owned and run by a couple of cruisers who still live aboard.  On high speed, the fans will move about 4 times as much air as a computer fan.  Depending on which way you turn it, it will either pull outside air in or — my favorite use for it — exhaust the galley or head.  You can bungee it to a port or you could Velcro it into place — either way, it’s easily removed when the weather turns bad.  And there’s no hole in the boat to leak!

A simple exhaust fan can do a LOT to keep the galley cool, by removing cooking heat and steam. Here's one that you can install in seconds -- no holes in the boat and low power draw! These are good for places where you have just a small space to mount a fan — it’s about 5″ square versus an 8″ diameter for the Caframo fans — and less than half as deep.  It’s quieter than the Caframo, too — although I wouldn’t call the Caframo fans noisy. The downside is that it’s about the same price as the Caframo and moves about half as much air — but it is rated to last about 8 years in continuous use and our experience with the Caframo is that they died after 5 years of “usually on” use.

By the way, if you ever Google for svHotwire, remember to include the “sv” at the beginning or else you’ll get the travel site!

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

34 Comments
  • Mary Dixon
    Posted at 20 February 2012 Reply

    I replaced our 2 dorades with these mini solar vents. Get fresh air with no amp draw. http://shop.hunterowners.com/prod.php?17329

  • Mary Dixon
    Posted at 20 February 2012 Reply

    Regarding the mini vents, I made covers for them when we are running a/c for long periods. Could also put covers on them if concerned about sea passages. Had them for 2 years and still running great.

  • Nita Knighton on Facebook
    Posted at 20 February 2012 Reply

    we did this and it does work!

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 20 February 2012 Reply

    Sounds good.

  • Relinda Ted Broom on Facebook
    Posted at 20 February 2012 Reply

    We have a couple of them. During really still hot nights we will use one to draw in air and the other to pull it out. Helps a lot.

  • Michelle
    Posted at 15 June 2012 Reply

    I would love to feel how much air…the boat fans i have seen dont impress me..
    But I do know your help will be saving me from getting things that dont work!!
    cant wait to try these!!!
    thanks!!!!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 15 June 2012 Reply

      They are definitely better than the typical “computer” fan . . . but no, they don’t move as much as say the Caframos. But they’re great for lots of applications where the Caframos won’t work. And they exhaust a LOT better than those little solar fans we used.

  • Idarae
    Posted at 31 July 2012 Reply

    S/V Hotwire ROCKS! Great people…great support! These little fans aren’t hurricanes but sufficient for the amount of power they consume & you can put them just about anywhere!

  • Janice Fleischmann
    Posted at 31 July 2012 Reply

    We have two oscillating fans on board but they are too noisy. Are these fans fairly quiet ? Also, we have dealt with svHotwire and they are great. We purchased our wind generator from them.

  • Carolyn Goodlander on Facebook
    Posted at 02 April 2013 Reply

    On Ganesh, I put one in the dorade vent in the forward head to exhaust the odors. Found 3 fans in a discarded computer in the dumpster!

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 02 April 2013 Reply

    Great idea to stick one in a dorade – never thought of trying that. And great job of dumpster diving! It’s sometimes funny what you can find.

  • Relinda Ted Broom on Facebook
    Posted at 02 April 2013 Reply

    We use this in our aft cabin to help move air through. Quiet enough to sleep through.

  • John
    Posted at 27 July 2014 Reply

    We are looking to replace a 4 in. Solar exhaust fan on a boat with one that operates on 12v. Do you know where we can find one. We have done a google search with no success.
    John

  • Libbie Ellis
    Posted at 20 October 2014 Reply

    Our Deluxe Port Fans (with the bulkhead bracket) are not permanently mounted. You can easily remove the fan from the bracket and use it in many other places on the boat. The Deluxe version comes with the 2-speed switch, and 3 mounts: bracket for the bulkhead, bungee for the opening ports, and Velcro for wherever. The best use for the Velcro that we’ve found is up in the frame of your hatch. We mounted ours oriented like a ceiling fan. Doesn’t matter if the hatch is open or closed. Once you get that vertical column of moving air, it circulates all over the boat! Just be sure to let the Velcro cure for 24 hours before putting the weight of the fan on it! Otherwise, you may get an uncomfortable head lump!
    We also make a basic version with no switch and no bracket mount.

  • Muzaffer Namoglu
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    It can be done also with replacing the electricity with magnets for running without power…….

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 15 November 2014 Reply

    Does it make much noise?

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 16 November 2014 Reply

    Like the sound of that.

  • Rodney Lewis
    Posted at 05 February 2015 Reply

    I’ve dismantled quite a few old computers. The 12v. ones are rare, but I always save them.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 05 February 2015 Reply

      The SVHotwire ones are definitely an improvement on computer fans, even though they look very similar.

  • Jennifer Dean Neumann
    Posted at 05 February 2015 Reply

    I’ll have to check into this!

  • Lisa Robinson
    Posted at 05 February 2015 Reply

    Sara Wood check out this neat idea;)

  • The Sea and Sailors
    Posted at 05 February 2015 Reply

    Interesting and nice!

  • Lisa Orr
    Posted at 28 January 2016 Reply

  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 28 January 2016 Reply

    I love the idea of using a bungee or strap to attach a lightweight fan! I found a12v fan that has a clip big-enough to clip to the ports. Works very well.

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 28 January 2016 Reply

    They’re really not loud. Much quieter than most fans.

  • B. Charles Reynolds
    Posted at 28 January 2016 Reply

    I really like those equipment cooling fans. They’re quiet, inexpensive and move lots of air. I’m building brackets to use them for bunk fans on the ship I’m working aboard, now.

  • Shirley Sinclair
    Posted at 28 January 2016 Reply

    It is quiet and great for sleeping too.

  • Carolyn Goodlander
    Posted at 29 January 2016 Reply

    Actually, you can take one out of a broken laptop computer for free.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 29 January 2016 Reply

      I’ve known a lot of people who have done that — particularly for adding a fan in the refrigerator. These surprise me as they move a lot more air than any of the laptop fans I’ve seen (wish I could put one in my laptop to keep it cooler, in fact!)

  • Edward Popka
    Posted at 29 January 2016 Reply

    Seems like an excellent option

  • Luigi Tommaseo Ponzetta
    Posted at 30 January 2016 Reply

    I know, shame as we have 4 in the loft in the uk

Post A Comment