Comprehensive Review of Top Flush Mount Chartplotter Models for 2024

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Flush mount chartplotter has become an essential component in the world of marine electronics, offering seamless integration into the boat’s dashboard. By embedding these devices directly within the console, boaters benefit aesthetically with a sleek, uncluttered helm and functionally by preserving valuable space which is often limited on a boat’s console. This method of installation not only enhances the overall look of the vessel but also protects the equipment from environmental exposures, such as direct sunlight and water splashes. The flush mounting approach ensures that the chartplotter remains securely in place, reducing the risk of damage during rough sea conditions and improving visibility and access.

What is a Flush Mount Chartplotter

A flush mount chartplotter is a specialized type of navigational device used in marine environments, designed to integrate seamlessly into the dashboard or console of a boat. Unlike other types of mounts, this device is installed so that the surface of the chartplotter aligns evenly with the boat’s helm, providing a clean and streamlined appearance. Here are the distinct characteristics and differentiators of a flush mount chartplotter:

  1. Design Integration: Flush mount chartplotters are built to blend with the boat’s console, making them part of the vessel’s integral design rather than an add-on.
  2. Space Efficiency: By embedding the device within the console, it maximizes space, which is particularly valuable in smaller cockpits or bridges.
  3. Reduced Exposure: Being recessed within the dashboard, these devices are better protected from environmental elements like salt spray and direct sunlight.
  4. Security: Flush mounting provides a more secure installation, reducing the risk of theft or accidental knocks that could dislodge the device.
  5. Enhanced Visibility: Positioned at eye level and without protrusion, these chartplotters offer easier viewing, which is essential for navigation.
  6. Aesthetic Appeal: This installation method offers a neater, more professional look compared to bracket-mounted units.
  7. Reduced Wind Drag: For high-speed vessels, having a flush mount chartplotter means there’s less wind resistance, which can be beneficial.
  8. Ease of Access: Controls are often more accessible when the device is mounted flush, as it naturally aligns with the boat’s operational panels.
  9. Custom Fit: Most flush mount installations are custom-fitted to ensure that the device perfectly matches the specific contours of the boat’s console.

How Does a Flush Mount Chartplotter Differ from Other Mounting Options

When comparing flush mount chartplotters to other mounting options, several key differences become apparent:

  1. Installation Complexity: Flush mounts require more precise installation, often needing custom cutting into the console, unlike bracket mounts that attach externally.
  2. Permanent Solution: Once installed, flush mounts are not as easily removable as swivel mounts or gimbal mounts, making them a more permanent fixture.
  3. Impact on Boat’s Resale Value: A well-integrated flush mount can increase a boat’s resale value due to its professional appearance and appeal.
  4. Maintenance Requirements: Flush mounts might be slightly more challenging to access for maintenance, as they are embedded within the structure.
  5. Cost: The installation of a flush mount chartplotter can be more costly due to the customization and labor involved.
  6. Durability: These chartplotters are less exposed to mechanical stress and environmental wear, which can prolong their lifespan.
  7. Limited Adjustability: Unlike tilt-and-swivel mounts, the angle and position of a flush-mounted chartplotter are fixed.
  8. Integration with Boat Systems: Flush mounts often allow for better integration with other onboard systems, providing a centralized control panel.
  9. Professional Installation Required: Due to the complexity of installation, professional help is often necessary, whereas bracket-mounted units can often be self-installed.

Each mounting option offers advantages, but for those valuing aesthetics, space efficiency, and device security, a flush mount chartplotter is often the preferred choice.

Choosing the Right Flush Mount Chartplotter for Your Vessel

Selecting the ideal flush mount chartplotter for your boat involves careful consideration of various factors. Each vessel and boating style demands specific features to ensure optimal navigation and functionality. Here are nine key aspects to keep in mind when choosing the right flush mount chartplotter for your vessel:

  1. Size of the Console: The physical space available on your boat’s console will directly influence the size of the chartplotter you can install. Measure the available space to ensure a fit that’s neither too large nor too small.
  2. Screen Resolution and Size: Depending on your visual preferences and how detailed you need your maps and readings to be, choose a chartplotter with a screen size and resolution that offer clear, easy-to-read displays, even in bright sunlight.
  3. Sonar Capabilities: Consider what type of sonar technology is compatible with your fishing or navigational needs. 
  4. Mapping Software: Ensure the chartplotter supports up-to-date and detailed mapping software suitable for the regions where you typically boat. Some chartplotters come with preloaded maps, while others offer compatibility with advanced charting options.
  5. Integration with Other Devices: For a streamlined experience, your flush mount chartplotter should integrate seamlessly with other onboard systems such as radar, autopilot, and engine data.
  6. Waterproof and Weather-Resistant Features: Given the marine environment, ensure that the chartplotter is durable and designed to withstand exposure to water and extreme weather conditions.
  7. Ease of Use: The interface should be intuitive, with touchscreens or buttons that can be easily navigated while at sea. Consider the complexity of the menu and available custom settings.
  8. Network Connectivity: Options for connectivity with NMEA 2000, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other networks are crucial for updating software, sharing data between devices, and enhancing functionality.
  9. Power Consumption: Check the power requirements of the chartplotter to ensure compatibility with your boat’s power system, especially important for smaller vessels or those with limited power options.

Installation Tips for DIY Flush Mount Chartplotter

Installing a flush mount chartplotter on your boat is a rewarding project that can enhance your navigation capabilities while maintaining the sleek appearance of your vessel’s helm. To ensure a successful installation, careful planning, precise execution, and attention to detail are crucial. Below, you’ll find a structured guide and several practical tips to help you install a flush mount chartplotter effectively.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Install a Flush Mount Chartplotter

Installing a flush mount chartplotter involves several critical steps, from planning to actual installation. Here’s how to do it right:

  1. Preparation and Planning:Begin by thoroughly evaluating the intended installation area on your boat’s console. It’s essential to measure the space accurately to ensure the chartplotter will fit without hindrance and verify that there’s adequate room behind the console for cables and connections.
  2. Choosing the Right Location:The location of your chartplotter should offer the best balance of visibility and ease of operation. Select a spot that avoids glare from the sun and is easily viewable and reachable from the helm.
  3. Template Usage:Utilize the mounting template provided with your chartplotter. Securely tape it to the intended location on the console and use a level to ensure it is perfectly horizontal before marking the outline for cuts.
  4. Cutting the Console:Start by drilling pilot holes at the corners of your template outline. These holes will guide your jigsaw, helping you to neatly cut out the required space. Proceed with caution to maintain a clean cut.
  5. Test Fitting:Insert the chartplotter into the new opening to ensure a snug fit. Check for any obstructions or misalignments and adjust the opening if necessary.
  6. Wiring and Connectivity:Route all necessary wiring to the installation site, ensuring each connection is secure and according to the chartplotter manufacturer’s specifications.
  7. Securing the Chartplotter:Fit the chartplotter into the cutout and secure it using the mounting hardware provided. Make sure it is firmly in place to avoid vibrations or movement.
  8. Sealing the Edges:Apply a marine-grade sealant around the edges of the installation to prevent water ingress, which could damage the chartplotter and the console.
  9. Final Testing:Once everything is set up, power on the chartplotter to test all its functions. Ensure it operates correctly and is easily viewable from the helm position.

Tips and Tricks to Ensure a Sleek and Functional Installation

For a sleek and functional installation of your flush mount chartplotter, consider the following tips:

  1. Ensure Adequate Ventilation:Electronic devices can overheat, so make sure your installation allows for proper air circulation around the chartplotter.
  2. Avoid Overcrowding:Keep the area around the chartplotter clear of other devices to ensure easy access and functionality.
  3. Use High-Quality Tools:Invest in good-quality cutting and drilling tools to achieve clean, precise cuts in your boat’s console.
  4. Consult the Manual:Always refer to the chartplotter’s installation manual for specific instructions and recommendations, which can vary between models.
  5. Maintain Aesthetics:Choose sealants and other installation materials that match the color and texture of your console to maintain a uniform appearance.
  6. Regular Maintenance:Inspect the installation periodically for any signs of wear or loosening, particularly after rough sea outings.
  7. Protect Electrical Connections:Use corrosion-resistant materials and ensure all electrical connections are securely sealed against the marine environment.
  8. Plan for Future Upgrades:Allow space for potential upgrades or additions to your electronic navigation system, avoiding the need for a complete overhaul in the future.
  9. Seek Professional Help if Unsure:If the installation seems beyond your skill level, do not hesitate to consult with or hire a professional. This ensures the safety and reliability of your navigation setup.

    Accessories and Enhancements for Flush Mount Chartplotter

    Optimizing your flush mount chartplotter involves selecting the right accessories and enhancements that not only protect the device but also extend its functionality and integration capabilities with your vessel’s systems. Below, we explore essential accessories designed for protection and usability, as well as enhancements that improve connectivity and overall navigation experience.

    Recommended Accessories for Flush Mount Chartplotter

    Accessories can play a crucial role in the longevity and effectiveness of your flush mount chartplotter. Here are some key accessories that are highly recommended:

    1. Protective Covers: Specially designed to shield the chartplotter from harsh marine conditions like salt spray and intense sunlight, enhancing the durability of the touchscreen and internal components.
    2. Sun Covers: These are essential for preventing UV damage to the screen and casing, especially when the chartplotter is installed in an open area exposed to direct sunlight.
    3. Anti-Glare Screen Protectors: Reduce glare from sunlight, making the display easier to read during bright conditions.
    4. Mounting Brackets and Kits: Even though your chartplotter is flush-mounted, having additional mounting brackets can provide extra support and security, particularly in rough waters.
    5. External GPS Antennas: Enhance the reception quality of your flush mount chartplotter GPS, especially useful if the installed location has a partial view of the sky.
    6. Power Supply Enhancers: These are crucial for ensuring that your chartplotter maintains consistent voltage supply and protects against electrical surges.
    7. Cleaning Kits: Specialized for marine electronics, these kits help maintain the clarity and responsiveness of the touchscreen.
    8. Security Locks: To prevent theft or tampering when the boat is docked or unattended, security locks can be a vital investment.

    Enhancements to Improve Usability and Connectivity

    To maximize the performance of your flush mount chartplotter, consider integrating various technological enhancements that boost its connectivity and usability:

    1. Transducers: Essential for fishing boats, they improve the sonar capabilities of chartplotters, providing clearer images of what lies beneath the surface.
    2. NMEA 2000 Network Setup: Integrating your chartplotter into an NMEA 2000 network allows for seamless communication between all connected marine devices, enhancing data sharing and system interoperability.
    3. Ethernet Hubs: These allow multiple chartplotters and other devices to share sonar, radar, and mapping data, ideal for larger vessels with multiple stations.
    4. Wi-Fi Modules: Enable wireless connectivity, allowing your chartplotter to access online services, download map updates, and sync with mobile apps for enhanced features.
    5. Bluetooth Adapters: Add Bluetooth functionality to enable wireless communication between your chartplotter and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
    6. AIS Receivers: Increase safety by integrating Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers, which help in tracking and identifying nearby vessels.
    7. Digital Switching Interfaces: Control boat systems directly from your chartplotter screen for added convenience, such as lighting, power systems, and more.
    8. External Video Inputs: Incorporate video cameras into your system, allowing for live feeds directly on the chartplotter display—useful for monitoring decks or underwater cameras.
    9. Weather Receivers: Attach weather receivers to get real-time weather data directly on your chartplotter, crucial for planning and adjusting your routes according to weather conditions.

    By carefully selecting the appropriate accessories and enhancements, you can significantly extend the functionality, ease of use, and connectivity of your flush mount chartplotter, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable boating experience.

    Maintenance and Care for Flush Mount Chartplotter

    Maintaining your flush mount chartplotter is crucial for ensuring long-term functionality and preserving its appearance. Regular maintenance not only helps in keeping the device in optimal condition but also prevents common issues that might impede its performance. Below are some best practices for maintaining flush mount chartplotters, followed by common issues and troubleshooting tips.

    Best Practices for Maintaining the Functionality and Appearance of Installed Flush Mount Chartplotters

    1. Regular Cleaning: Use a soft, damp cloth to clean the screen and console area. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the screen or casing.
    2. Software Updates: Regularly update the chartplotter’s software to ensure you have the latest features and improvements. This can also fix bugs and enhance the device’s overall performance.
    3. Check Connections: Periodically inspect all wiring and connections for signs of wear, corrosion, or looseness. Secure any loose connections and replace any corroded elements.
    4. Sun Protection: When not in use, cover the chartplotter with a UV-resistant cover to protect it from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, which can degrade the screen and casing.
    5. Moisture Control: Even though most flush mount chartplotters are waterproof, ensure that the seal around the device remains intact to prevent moisture ingress. Check the sealant and reapply if necessary.
    6. Ventilation: Ensure that the chartplotter’s installation allows for adequate ventilation to prevent overheating, especially during high temperatures or extensive use.

    Common Issues and Troubleshooting Tips for Flush Mount Chartplotter

    1. Screen Flickering or Blackout: Check the power supply connections. Loose or corroded connections can cause intermittent power issues. Secure or replace connections as needed.
    2. Unresponsive Touchscreen: Restart the device to reset the software. If unresponsiveness persists, check for updates or recalibrate the screen according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    3. GPS Signal Issues: Ensure there is no obstruction above or near the GPS antenna. Consider relocating the antenna if the problem persists, as it may be hindered by the vessel’s structure.
    4. Inaccurate Depth Readings: Verify that the transducer is not obstructed by debris or damage. Clean the transducer carefully and check its alignment.
    5. Corrosion of Connections: Inspect all electrical connections for signs of corrosion, which is common in marine environments. Clean or replace corroded connectors to restore functionality.
    6. Software Glitches or Freezes: Ensure the chartplotter’s firmware is up-to-date. Outdated software can lead to operational glitches. Resetting to factory settings may also resolve persistent issues.
    7. Data Sync Problems: Check network settings and connections if the chartplotter is failing to sync data with other devices. Ensure compatible settings and properly functioning network cables.
    8. Chart Errors or Missing Details: Update the map data. Outdated charts can lead to navigation errors. Many manufacturers offer periodic updates for their mapping software.
    9. Loss of Settings after Power Off: This can be due to issues with internal memory or battery problems. Refer to the manual for battery maintenance or replacement procedures, and check if settings are properly being saved before power down.

    By following these maintenance tips and troubleshooting common problems, you can ensure that your flush mount chartplotter remains a reliable tool for safe and efficient navigation.

    FAQs about Flush Mount Chartplotter

    What is the difference between a chartplotter and a depth finder?

    A chartplotter and a depth finder serve distinct purposes on a boat, catering to different aspects of marine navigation and fishing. A chartplotter is a device that combines GPS data with marine charts, providing a real-time display of your boat’s position relative to land, underwater features, and navigational aids. This device is crucial for route planning and tracking, offering detailed maps that can include data layers like weather patterns, tides, and currents. Chartplotters often come with additional functionalities that can integrate with other navigation tools, enhancing their utility.

    On the other hand, a depth finder, commonly known as a fish finder, is primarily designed to provide information about the water depth directly beneath your vessel and to locate objects in the water column, which could be fish, the seabed, or other submerged objects. Depth finders utilize sonar technology to send sound waves into the water; these waves bounce back to the device, which then calculates the depth based on the time it takes for the echoes to return. Modern depth finders can provide detailed images of the underwater environment, which are invaluable for fishing and navigating in shallow waters.

    While both devices are vital for maritime activities, chartplotters provide a broader range of navigational features, whereas depth finders focus on underwater imaging and depth measurement.

    What is a flush mount kit?

    A flush mount kit is a set of hardware and accessories designed to install marine electronics, such as chartplotters or depth finders, so that they are integrated into the boat’s dashboard or helm area. This kit enables the device to sit flush against the surface, providing a streamlined, built-in look that many boat owners prefer for aesthetic and practical reasons.

    The typical contents of a flush mount kit include a mounting bracket, screws, a cutout template, and sometimes a protective cover. The template helps in marking the exact size of the cutout that will be required in the dashboard for the device, ensuring a precise fit. The mounting bracket then supports the device from behind the console, securing it in place and preventing it from moving or vibrating while the boat is underway.

    Using a flush mount kit not only enhances the appearance of the installation, making it look neat and professional, but it also protects the device from external elements and reduces the risk of theft or accidental damage. This method of installation is particularly favored for its ability to integrate devices seamlessly into the boat’s control panel, making them an integral part of the boat’s console.