Simple Exhaust Fan

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

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!

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!

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  1. Mary Dixon says:

    I replaced our 2 dorades with these mini solar vents. Get fresh air with no amp draw.

  2. Mary Dixon says:

    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.

  3. Nita Knighton on Facebook says:

    we did this and it does work!

  4. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    Sounds good.

  5. Relinda Ted Broom on Facebook says:

    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.

  6. Michelle says:

    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!!!

    • 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.

  7. 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!

  8. Janice Fleischmann says:

    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.

  9. Carolyn Goodlander on Facebook says:

    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!

  10. 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.

  11. Relinda Ted Broom on Facebook says:

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

  15. Does it make much noise?

  16. Like the sound of that.

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

  18. I’ll have to check into this!

  19. Sara Wood check out this neat idea;)

  20. Interesting and nice!

  21. 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.

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

  23. 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.

  24. It is quiet and great for sleeping too.

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

    • 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!)

  26. Seems like an excellent option

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

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