So I have a very nice helm station in my pilothouse with 3 MFDs built in, plus two 4" displays, engine gauges, inverter panel, 2 VHF radios, an AIS transceiver, and a bunch of other stuff. Most of it generates heat inside the console. After 8 hours of cruising, touch the back of one of the MFDs at your own peril. All this trapped heat can't be good for all the electronics. It's been on my list to do something about. So while I was waiting on parts for my steering upgrade (yet another project thread), I thought I would do this small project.
First I needed a fan. So I went to AC Infinity who I used for a fan in the apartment refrigerator project, and found this:
It's a 4", surface mount, dual ball bearing fan. It has a 26 CFM flow rate, 17 dba noise level (really quiet), and draws 1.1 WATTS
of electricity. It's powered with a USB plug and comes with a 120 VAC adapter. $25 plus shipping.
Off of Ebay I purchased a power supply from 12 VDC to USB 5 VDC female socket. It's advertised as being 90+% efficient. $6 including shipping.
So this door to port is louvered. The shelf below the displays goes all the way back to the pilothouse front wall. There are several 3" holes in the shelf below the displays to run wiring through. These holes also will allow air from the louvered door to come up behind the displays. I may add an additional 4" hole to port to facilitate airflow going behind everything.
As heat rises and the fresh air entered from port, it seemed only logical to pull it to starboard and vent it out the top shelf.
Fan installed in the top shelf.
Where to power the fan from? I briefly considered another breaker on the 12 VDC panel to handle the extreme 1 Watt load (no I didn't). I have a circuit that powers the NEMA 2000 network, the 4" displays, and the AIS transceiver, that stays on until I dock (on when anchoring out). That seemed a logical choice. Here it is installed with a 1 amp fuse (smallest I can find).
Post installation analysis:
The rigorous testing involved putting a half sheet paper towel over the fan discharge. The paper towel was easily blown off the fan. Testing completed.
26 CFM is a fairly low flow rate, but should exchange the air behind the console several times per minute. How much cooler will it keep the 3 MFDs, probably significantly cooler, but they are also the majority of the heat production. I'm hoping the rest of the equipment stays much cooler. Maybe I should install a remote digital thermometer with maximum temperature memory, to monitor the temperature.
My overall cost was less than $50 and the power consumption with the power supply factored in, should be under 35 watts per day. Maybe I should install a solar panel and lithium battery to power it.
Most of you will think this a waste of time and money. But I like it, and that's all that counts!
I'm sure Healhustler will be along shortly complaining that this will be just another project on his list, and it's some how my fault.