Product Update November 2019 Issue

Product Update: From Solar Panels to Electronic Flares

In descending order: Schwabb and Calder and Solbian HIT panels; the Garmin 86sci; Sealife Camera, the NASS EF-30A-3.

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.

Sealife Camera

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.

Comments (3)

The price for those solar panels is pretty stiff. Still, it is good to see the emerging technologies even if we can't afford them. Prices almost always come down with time.

Posted by: OneMist8k | November 11, 2019 9:07 AM    Report this comment

Really, $520 for 78 watts of solar ??? Most of us sailors are more of the "have to watch the budget" type and with traditional panels approaching $1/watt, this just seems absurd.

Posted by: Rein40 | November 10, 2019 9:04 PM    Report this comment

With regards to the Selfie Camera and EF 30A flare; while good to know the manufacturers improved their products very basic performance in response PS very important test, I would challenge the case by asking why at all trust a product from a manufacturer that obviously didn't ran the most vigorous testing before launching (quite pricy) marine devices, especially safety related, when no second chance to test and replace is an option...?
-- Nitzan Sneh, S/V GDY-Kids, Contest 43, Boston, MA

Posted by: GDYKids | November 9, 2019 1:15 PM    Report this comment

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