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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Boat Equipment, Boat Maintenance, Marine Electronics, Powerboating, Sailing, UK, US |

Saving Your Overheated Marine Electronics

Electronics confined in small, unventilated spaces can benefit from the addition of a simple low-draw fan.

Question: I’ve noticed that the back of my chartplotter and other instruments get really hot on a bright sunny day, and I’m afraid of damaging my expensive equipment with the continual exposure to high heat. The gear is all in the pod shown in the photo, and there is really not much air circulation inside. The equipment does have cooling fins on the backs of the cases, but the temperature inside the pod is scary hot! Any tips on fixing this would be greatly appreciated.

Electronics can get hot when installed in close proximity in an instrument pod.

Electronics can get hot when installed in close proximity in an instrument pod.

Answer: This is a good question, and there is a pretty easy fix. In the photo below you see a small “pot” fan that you can purchase quite inexpensively at any Radio Shack store. These fans are nearly silent in operation and only draw milliamps of electrical current.

This small, low-wattage fan can help keep electronics cool. Make sure the blades are exposed to fresh air.

This small, low-wattage fan can help keep electronics cool. Make sure the blades are exposed to fresh air.

You’ll need to figure out the best mounting location inside your pod, but it’s not a big deal to screw these things almost anywhere. They weigh almost nothing. Just make sure the fan can draw air in and push it around (both sides of the fan blades exposed to open air). As for the wiring, you could simply find a powered and grounded lead inside your pod(red and black wires typically). Use a toggle switch to activate the fan. Or, if your boat is set up with an “Electronics” master switch at the DC panel and you are a bit handy at wiring, set the system up so that the cooling fan is automatically powered on whenever the electronics master switch is activated. Inside the pod in your photo one of these small fans should take care of the overheating you are experiencing.

- Ed Sherman