Product Update: From Solar Panels to Electronic Flares
Several products caught our eye at the Newport Boat Show in Newport, Rhode Island in September, along with some updates to past tests.
Solbian Hit Solar Panels
Renowned offshore racer Bruce Shwabb of Oceanplanet Energy and well-known technical guru Nigel Calder, author of the Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual, have teamed up to deliver a rigid, low-profile solar panel from Solbian featuring Panasonicís Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer cells (HIT). Oceanplanet is the US distributor for the panels, which feature more rugged interconnections that virtually eliminate the impact of micro-cracking. Prices start at $520 for a 78-watt panel.
Garmin Handheld GPSMAP 86sci
Garmin has a new marine GPS, the GPSMAP 86sci. The 86sci is a marinized version of a similar model that has been marketed to hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts for a couple years. The compact unit comes loaded with g3 Coastal Charts and, most notably, an integrated InReach satellite communicator (subscription required) that permits satellite messaging, tracking, and distress calls. This watertight rechargeable has a list price of $650.
We reported on the versatile SeaLife camera and video in December 2016, including our observation that the back of the camera was not impact-proof to our standard (1 meter drop on all sides). SeaLife has since beefed up the camera, which now aces our drop test. The intelligent camera shoots video on land and sea, down to 200 feet. Prices start at around $700.
EF-30A-3 Electronic Flare
In the April 2019 issue we reported on MOB lights and found that the EV-30A-2 from NASS was clearly the brightest, but some samples didnít pass our drop-test and immersion test. The maker has improved the design and the new NASS EV-30A-3 has passed all drop and immersion tests to date, and is super-bright.
Clockwise from above: Schwabb and Calder and Solbian HIT panels; the Garmin 86sci; Sealife Camera, the NASS EF-30A-3.