Is This the Best Marine Fan You Can Get?
Updated: Sep 11
Note: I/we are not sponsored by any companies mentioned in this article. We cruise full time on our test bed, SV Confianza, and we enjoy sharing our tests and opinions to give back to the community.
A poor night's sleep on passage can be made even worse by a loud, rattling, vibrating fan. Confianza came with 6 Caframo 757 fans that were getting on in age. These suckers were loud. Bbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbd all night long. We recently upgraded to the Caframo Scirocco II. In our testing, they're the best on the market, but should we be satisfied with that?
The Caframo 757 is Horribly Noisy
The design of these things is actually pretty silly. A small imbalance in the blades makes it rock back and forth and make a ton of noise. And with flexible blades, they get imbalanced quite easily.
I can't remember when exactly the breaking point was, but I think it was when Angie and I were getting agitated from raising our voices across the galley because we had two fans on medium speed while sailing.
Side note: It's totally normal to accidentally get agitated with your crew or your partner when having to raise your voice over noise. It naturally raises your adrenaline and can cause stress when no stress really needs to exist. It's worth acknowledging before going too far down the path of an argument.
How hard could finding a decent marine fan be? It's a just a fan for Pete's sake.
The Hunt for the Best Marine Fan
I started looking if there was a good RV fan instead of a marine fan. Sometimes there's money to be saved if an RV option is available. But this road just took me back to Caframo. There are other options available, but they were made of non stainless metal or otherwise not sturdy enough to handle boat life.
The best option seemed to be the Caframo Scirocco II. Decent reviews across the net, but why did it need to be so expensive? And why does it need to be complicated with a timer function?
Fan Side by Side Testing
On a trip to West Marine, I happened across a wall of interior fans. They each had test buttons to see the airflow. I tested each one on display, and was completely baffled that they all rattled! This Includes the Caframo 757 and the Caframo Bora. I was expecting the Bora to at least be a nice middle ground and relatively quiet.
Well, they all rattled except for one, the Caframo Scirocco II. So I bit the bullet and bought six of them. Even though I thought the whole tilt mechanism seemed more breakable for guests unfamiliar with it than I would like.
Finally, No Rattling
I am happy to report that we are two years into using them, with none failing, no rattling, and sounder sleep. It has actually been more of an upgrade than one would think. They move a surprising amount of air for their low power usage.
Power Usage and Features
On low, at 12 volts, it used a mere 0.25 amps. On medium, 0.3, and on high, 0.45 amps, as measured by my Victron Smart Shunt. That's 3, 3.6, and 5.4 watts, respectively.
The timer function is a bit silly. I'm not sure when that would ever be used. If I'm hot going to bed, I assume that I'll be hot if the fan shuts off in an hour. And the power usage is so low, why even shut it off. What I do find is that I often hit the silly timer button by mistake instead of the fan button.
We did have one issue with one of the six. The power/time switch was reversed. It was driving me nuts when I first installed it, thinking that there was some reverse polarity issue or something I must have caused. I had to disassemble the base and flip the back side of the switches around.
Overall, it's been an important upgrade. Having quiet, low power air movement all over the boat has made the boat significantly more comfortable.
I still have to wonder why we are stuck with really one decent option at a high price point for such an important staple.
Update October 21, 2022: At the Annapolis Sailboat show last weekend, I paid special attention to what fans were used on all of the new boats. Seems that there have been no new entrants.
Ninety percent had the Camframo Sirocco II, and the other ten percent were a mix between the Camframo 757 and the Camframo Bora. No other brands were represented on the boats that we saw.