From the Forums

Published in the February 2011 Issue February 2011 Ask The Expert

Many houseboat owners are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their craft. Whether that's using less power or making that third room a little more habitable, there's always a project lurking in the back of their mind. Forum member Bamby had the idea to add solar-powered vents to a 35-foot Crest pontoon houseboat, and came to the place where houseboat lovers gather for ideas. They did not disappoint.

[Bamby] posed the question: I've been around the web trying to make an informed purchase of a decent quality vent, but have been unsuccessful as of yet. Most, if not all, the units I've looked at on the web seem to be made for much thinner decks or installations than I have. Also, since this project would involve making a pretty good-sized hole in my roof, I'd also like to utilize a fan unit that is at lest repairable when the batteries, blades or motor fail. Does anyone here have any experience with these, and can steer me in the right direction?

[stmbtwle] came up with a quick response: If you want my honest opinion, they're not worth the trouble of installing them. It's a good idea, but they simply don't move enough air. I'd look into RV vents. If you want solar power, order the panels to run, and charge your batteries at the same time.

I have a Fantastic vent and the only issue is that I had was I needed to install a conventional RV vent cover over it to keep the rain out, so I could leave it open all the time for ventilation. They do have some with rain sensors, that will close them automatically, but after replacing the drive mechanism two to three times, I converted to manual and the cover. The Deluxe Maxx fan does the same thing without an extra cover.

[Bamby] was grateful: Thanks, those are nice units you've suggested, but I'm reluctant to go to the expense of installing a solar array at this point. It seems that everyone has more and better access to my resources (money) anymore than I do, and I was hoping to keep the costs down to the bare minimum for this project. It would seem that someone would make or manufacture a unit such as I'm actually looking for.

[joetil] had some experience: I followed Willie's advice last year when I removed my rooftop AC's and installed these vents and covers.

The vents were a perfect fit for the hole left from the old AC's, and they've made a major difference in the temperature inside our boat, not to mention eliminating that stuffy, closed up boat smell.

To view this thread in its entirety, visit the forums at and search for the "Question about Solar Power Vents" thread.

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