Cabin Fan Test Returns

In April 2008, Practical Sailor evaluated 11 cabin fans from seven manufacturers. Since that test, Caframo has gone back to the drawing board and redesigned its 748 Bora. The company also introduced a new weatherproof version of its Kona. Testers were pleased to see that the new fans clearly addressed complaints raised in our last test: The Bora radically changed its blade design to pump more air, and the Konas corrosion-prone metal grill was replaced with a plastic grill that will hold up better in salt air. Based on the new data, the Bora has climbed up into the recommended rankings. Stay tuned for this years Fan Death Match.

Conversion Kits that Turn Your Boat’s Ice Box Into a Galley Refrigerator

Practical Sailor tested three kits that convert onboard ice boxes into full-fledged refrigeration systems. The three reefer conversion kits in the review-the Waeco-Adler Barbour Cold Machine (CU 100) from Dometic Corp., the Frigoboat Capri 35F by Veco SPA, and the Sea Frost BD-represent a cross-section of whats available on todays refrigeration conversion kit market. Testers looked closely at energy efficiency and the 12-volt units abilities to cool a small ice box with the least amount of amp hours possible. Testers looked at quality, details, reliability, and cooling capacity.

Shore-Power Boat Fire Protection

With the increased demand to have all the electrically powered comforts of home onboard, it should come as no surprise to boaters that the majority of AC-related electrical fires involve overheated shore-power plugs and receptacles. Prime Technology, aims to change all that with the introduction of its Shore Power Inlet Protector (ShIP for short), a monitoring and alarm device that automatically disconnects AC shore power when excessive heat is detected at the power inlet connector. We reviewed the ShIP 110 designed for use with a 110-volt, 30-amp system. The company also offers a similar unit (the ShIP 220) for use with 220-volt, 50-amp service. Charred plugs and receptacles are the result of resistance build-up (due to loose or corroded connections), which generates heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as water heaters and air-conditioning units. In addition to monitoring the temperature of your vessels shore-power inlet plug and its wiring, the ShIP system automatically disconnects AC shore power when an unsafe temperature is detected, providing visual and audible alarms. (The audible alarm shuts down after five minutes to avoid prolonged disturbance to surrounding boats.)

Next Best Thing

While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.

Practical Sailor LED Lightbulb Test

In this LED cabin light test, Practical Sailor looks at 17 light bulbs from seven manufacturers. The LEDs were tested to see which was the most worthy replacement for a 20-watt xenon bulb in a bulkhead-mounted reading light. Testers measure LED beam angles and intensity, LED power consumption, LED color temperature, LED radio frequency interference, and LED reading and cabin illumination. The LED lights tested include: Alpenglow TR LED complete brass fixture; three lights from Cruising Solutions; three lights from Doctor LED; four from Imtra; two from Opto Technology, two from Daniel R. Smith & Associates (DRSA) manufactured by Mast Products; two of Scad Technologies (Sailors Solutions) Sensibulbs; and one LED light from West Marine.

Troubleshooting AC Units

I have an air-conditioning unit with more than 14,000 BTUs. Here in Florida, with a 38-foot boat, that just doesn’t hack it. The unit’s been checked for efficiency by a technician. My prior boat (also 38 feet) had two units totaling over 20,000 BTUs. Those were effective, but that output is enough to cool a small store ashore. How are boat A/C BTUs determined? I suspect the temperature of coolant water is a major factor. Also, what is the effect when coolant water is suppressed by a clogged filter? Are they built to automatically shut down the compressor?

The Bug Battle Begins

With bug season upon us, a new product we unearthed during our medical kit test (see page 32) seemed worthy of a closer look. Natrapel 8 Hour, from Tender Corp. (parent company of Adventure Medical Kits), promises DEET-free protection from mosquitoes, ticks, no-see-ums, biting flies, and other nasties. While DEET, an EPA-registered pesticide, is the most common active ingredient in bug sprays, Natrapel uses Picaridin, a chemical that has been used in Europe for 20 years and made its way into the U.S. this decade. The Centers for Disease Control recommends both DEET and Natrapel as effective insect repellents. Both also are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which includes oil of lemon eucalyptus and oil of citronella on its list of active ingredients for repelling insects.

Hot Water Heater Installation Tips

To keep pipe joints from leaking, use Teflon tape or pipe joint compound, and remember that hose barb-to-hose connections are much easier to make drip-proof with a hose clamp than the same connection made on a threaded pipe stub.