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Old 15-11-2014, 19:03   #106
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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Originally Posted by captainKJ View Post
Is 6650 btu enough to heat a 35 foot sailboat?????
No it isn't! I nearly froze on my 35 with 15000.
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Old 15-11-2014, 20:32   #107
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

Guys, don't get me wrong, I like the info here, though if a writeup on this topic is really going to be valid in it's conclusions, there's some other info needed other than what heater one uses. Especially, as I , like a lot of other folks viewing this thread, are looking for useful information... given the time of year.

I'm going to have to come back & re-read all of this thread, but given all of these comments about heater efficiency etc., how many folks really run/test them offshore, heeled over 30 degrees going to weather? If it only works well or is trustworthy when tied up at the dock then; that's something I'd like to know, or perhaps should say need to know.

Also, a HUGE component of making comments on, & opinions of a heater has to do with one's insulation setup. As without a good picture of this, it's not readily possible to get a good impression of a heater's output.
- When I say insulation, I don't just mean what you have glued to or sprayed into your hull. It's also whether or not you have cored decks, & or hull. If there are secondary panes for ports & hatches for winter. A fitted, insulated cover for your mast if it's keel stepped, to prevent heat loss through it, etc.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but for an evaluation to be of use, one needs to have all the pieces/big picture. And I know that this is a bad pun, but one needs to have the big picture as in via a thermal imager. Just like folks do with their homes & other structures.
It'll surely let you know what needs work, & what doesn't, especially (and this is key), what that thermal picture looks like when it's blowing 35kts & you're on the hook.
As that's the only way you're going to get a true, realistic idea of what's working to keep you & your vessel warm. And such pays dividends when it comes to other, less harsh circumstances. Such as when you're anchored in a well protected cove, or tied up in a marina, behind the wind shadow of a giant sport fisher.
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Old 16-11-2014, 07:27   #108
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

If you want a diesel heater you can use ay 30 deg heel, you have Espar, Wabasto, or maybe Wallas.

Someone please tell me if there is another diesel option for those conditions.

A pot burner is good up to maybe 10 or 15.
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Old 16-11-2014, 12:40   #109
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

One of the problems heating a boat is where the heat is.... It's just nearly impossible to make boat really feel warm in real cold weather. If you stand up... all the heat is up at the top two feet of the cabin... and your feet are freezing. It seems having outlets or portable heat right where you spend most your time works best. I had a little Toyoset diesel heater in the main cabin of my 44 footer. (living aboard in Seattle) I doubt it was more than 10000 btu... but worked pretty well as the heat duct exited under the table in the main salon where we sat. Small electric space heater was used in the sleeping cabin.
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Old 16-11-2014, 13:15   #110
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

We have a Webasto Airtop 3500 and have been very happy with it. It also ducts the warm air at the floor. Don't have any experience with other models though. In my commercial dive boats (small boats 32 foot), I have used a dickson oil stove and were also very pleased with them.
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Old 17-11-2014, 02:58   #111
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

As you will have gathered from all the replies, there is no perfect heating system -- they all have their pluses and minuses:

1. Hydronic (Espar, Eberspacher, Webasto, etc.) Pluses: Transports heat to multiple points around the boat; heats water; quiet if you use radiators instead of fan coils; needs no bulkhead space if you use fan coils instead of radiators. Minuses: Needs regular professional service so no good for Arctic expeditions or remote places; noisy if you use fan coils; consumes electrical power; need bulkhead space if you use radiators.

2. Forced air (Espar, Eberspacher, Webasto, etc.) Pluses: Simpler than hydronic. Minuses: Noisy; can't transport heat as far from one point; hard to run thick ducts through the boat; consumes electrical power. Needs the same regular professional service as hydronic.

3. Pot burners (Dickenson, SIG, etc.) Pluses: Simplest, service it yourself, does not require electrical power. Minuses: Chop a hole in the cabintop for the flue; soot on your sails and deck; gives heat at one point only; need space on a bulkhead.

4. Heat pump (Dometic etc. aircon run in reverse) Pluses: Extremely efficient at moderate ambient temperatures; same equipment will cool you in summer. Minuses: Needs a lot of electrical power; won't work when the water temperature gets to 5 or so or below.

5. Electrical resistance (fan heater or oil-filled radiator). Pluses: Simplest of all. Minuses: Needs a whole lot of electrical power.


So you pays your money and takes your choices.

I have a hydronic Eberspacher (Espar) D10 on my boat, with three fan coils. I have it serviced every two or three years. As long as you don't let it go too long between service, it works great. But you can't fix it yourself, so you're SOL if it stops working in the middle of a cruise in a remote, cold area.

I don't like the fan coils, which are not actually thermostatically controlled and don't modulate the heating water. They run constantly on either high or low fan speed and are noisy (I can't hear the running genset over them). I'm thinking about replacing the fan coils this winter.

In port with shore power I use two el cheapo Chinese fan heaters which cost I think 5 quid each. I settled on these after various experiments with oil-filled radiators. The oil-filled radiators are heavy, bulky, and hard to store, and will not put out their rated amount of heat unless you train a fan on them. The fan heaters are great, and can be moved around the boat and put just where you need heat (important on a big boat like mine, where it can be impractical to heat the entire interior space).

If I were building a boat from scratch, I would definitely install some built-in electrical heat for use when on shore power. A heat pump would be great, but not worth it if you don't need aircon (as I don't, rarely cruising below 50N). As an alternative, I think an electric water heater spliced into the hydronic system would be the thing -- maybe with its own separate shore power lead. A 16 amp European shore power connection will give 3.6kW -- a marginal amount of heat for a boat my size (my hydronic heater is 10kW), but if combined with the hydronic furnace could be ok.

Incidentally, living on board in a cold climate with no shore power, I'm always having to decide whether to heat with the hydronic system, or use the electric heaters with the generator running.

I always assumed that electric heat from the genset is extremely inefficient, and used to use that only if I needed more load on the genset anyway.

Well, I recently calculated fuel consumption of each method, and as it turns out the genset, in its sweet spot (between 25% and 75% load), only needs twice the fuel to produce the same kilowatts, as burning that fuel directly in the hydronic system. And since electric heat is 100% efficient, and there are big losses during transport with the hydronic system, the difference is even less. Plus an electric fan heater can be put right where you need it -- like under the nav table when I'm working there. Or in the heads when I'm going to take a shower, and don't need to warm the whole boat up (which is useful for drying them out afterwards, as well as for having a pleasant bathing experience).

So it's a lot more efficient than I thought, relatively speaking.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we waste vast amounts of heat just dumped into the ocean from all the diesel engines on board. This winter, when my boat is out of the water, I'm going to splice the main engine and genset engine cooling systems into my hydronic system in order to capture some of that heat.
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Old 17-11-2014, 03:14   #112
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
One of the problems heating a boat is where the heat is.... It's just nearly impossible to make boat really feel warm in real cold weather. If you stand up... all the heat is up at the top two feet of the cabin... and your feet are freezing. It seems having outlets or portable heat right where you spend most your time works best. I had a little Toyoset diesel heater in the main cabin of my 44 footer. (living aboard in Seattle) I doubt it was more than 10000 btu... but worked pretty well as the heat duct exited under the table in the main salon where we sat. Small electric space heater was used in the sleeping cabin.
An excellent point.

That is a big minus of pot heaters and other bulkhead-mounted passive heaters.

And a big plus of hydronic and forced air heaters -- you can direct the heat at the floor.

The designer of my boat also put a hot air outlet inside the wet locker. What a great idea! So when the heat is on, your wet oilskins are being dried out.

If you are designing your perfect heating system from scratch, don't forget to put in a towel warmer in the heads. Cruising or living aboard in cold weather, getting towels dried is a big problem. And in general, the more extra heat you can get in the heads, the better -- to dry them out.
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Old 17-11-2014, 03:25   #113
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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3. Pot burners (Dickenson, SIG, etc.) Pluses: Simplest, service it yourself, does not require electrical power. Minuses: Chop a hole in the cabintop for the flue; soot on your sails and deck; gives heat at one point only; need space on a bulkhead.
There's something wrong with your burner if there is soot, they should burn clean. I have a refleks which is on all the time if I'm onboard in the winter. A computer fan above helps circulate the heat a bit but still not perfect. Having a lovely pot of stew bubbling away on the hotplate on a wild winters night is very cosy though.
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Old 17-11-2014, 04:29   #114
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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Originally Posted by conachair View Post
There's something wrong with your burner if there is soot, they should burn clean. I have a refleks which is on all the time if I'm onboard in the winter. A computer fan above helps circulate the heat a bit but still not perfect. Having a lovely pot of stew bubbling away on the hotplate on a wild winters night is very cosy though.
Maybe, but soot is a very common complain among users of this kind of heat.

For cruising in cold, remote places, however, this is the only feasible heating system, in any case.
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Old 17-11-2014, 05:04   #115
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Maybe, but soot is a very common complain among users of this kind of heat.



For cruising in cold, remote places, however, this is the only feasible heating system, in any case.

The only way there is soot associated with a diesel pot burner is if the heater isn't being adjusted properly. They definitely aren't "push button" type devices, and it does take a bit of experimenting with each installation to dial the systems in.

I have hydronic heating hooked up to the diesel stove, the engine, and the HWH, it extends the heat into the v-berth, the head, and the pilot house, to include defrost on the windscreen. The heater hoses are ran through a wet locker, and other compartments that benefit from some dry heat. I have the heater hose insulated except where I want some heat, and then I keep the hose bare and mount a computer fan so that the air passes over the hose. It worked very well, and is very low draw electricity wise.

Will it work while heeled to 30*? Although I haven't had the chance yet to find out, I doubt it. But calling the limit 15* doesn't seem accurate either. If I AM heeled to 30* I'm probably in my mustang suit (thanks Newt) and outside. I don't want my heat on under those conditions anyway, you would cook in your suit every time you step into the cabin I would think. The times that I've been offshore, I spent more than half my time in my suit anyway. I guess I'm not to sure if the heeling issue is a good criteria for evaluating the heating systems.

I do require that I be able to fix my boat systems myself as much as possible, and that the system be reliable, and have some redundancy if possible. I can carry a complete set of spares, to include hot water circulating pump, for almost nothing, and can fix most of the system with a screw driver and a small adjustable wrench. Being able to heat the boat from the engine, the stove, and/or the HWH is a great boon in my opinion. Of course, it's not like I invented this stuff. The fishing fleet in Alaska has been using this exact same set up for a long time, in harsh environments, and it's not the first time I've found that resource to be much more adept at accomplishing goals that appeal to me, rather than the recreational marine industry.

All that being said, different horses, right? The right tools for the job and all. As a side note, my system cost me about 3.5k total (parts), and a lot of tweaking the system. We were in the mid twenties for the last week and I have to say, I used no shore power and kept the boat at 72* easily. And we're dry as a bone as well.

One last thing and I'll shut up. Insulation! First and foremost, insulation!
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Old 17-11-2014, 05:22   #116
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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Originally Posted by Strait Shooter View Post
The only way there is soot associated with a diesel pot burner is if the heater isn't being adjusted properly. They definitely aren't "push button" type devices, and it does take a bit of experimenting with each installation to dial the systems in.

I have hydronic heating hooked up to the diesel stove, the engine, and the HWH, it extends the heat into the v-berth, the head, and the pilot house, to include defrost on the windscreen. The heater hoses are ran through a wet locker, and other compartments that benefit from some dry heat. I have the heater hose insulated except where I want some heat, and then I keep the hose bare and mount a computer fan so that the air passes over the hose. It worked very well, and is very low draw electricity wise.

Will it work while heeled to 30*? Although I haven't had the chance yet to find out, I doubt it. But calling the limit 15* doesn't seem accurate either. If I AM heeled to 30* I'm probably in my mustang suit (thanks Newt) and outside. I don't want my heat on under those conditions anyway, you would cook in your suit every time you step into the cabin I would think. The times that I've been offshore, I spent more than half my time in my suit anyway. I guess I'm not to sure if the heeling issue is a good criteria for evaluating the heating systems.

I do require that I be able to fix my boat systems myself as much as possible, and that the system be reliable, and have some redundancy if possible. I can carry a complete set of spares, to include hot water circulating pump, for almost nothing, and can fix most of the system with a screw driver and a small adjustable wrench. Being able to heat the boat from the engine, the stove, and/or the HWH is a great boon in my opinion. Of course, it's not like I invented this stuff. The fishing fleet in Alaska has been using this exact same set up for a long time, in harsh environments, and it's not the first time I've found that resource to be much more adept at accomplishing goals that appeal to me, rather than the recreational marine industry.

All that being said, different horses, right? The right tools for the job and all. As a side note, my system cost me about 3.5k total (parts), and a lot of tweaking the system. We were in the mid twenties for the last week and I have to say, I used no shore power and kept the boat at 72* easily. And we're dry as a bone as well.

One last thing and I'll shut up. Insulation! First and foremost, insulation!
Sounds like an excellent system!

I agree that heating on a heel is irrelevant. I don't heat when sailing hard at 20 degrees heel.

And of course who could disagree about insulation. A fully cored hull helps a lot there.

One hard tradeoff on a boat in winter is ventilation. Adequate ventilation is really important in such a damp environment, but your heat goes out those dorades, at the same time. My boat is so well ventilated that even 10kW of heat will not get the whole interior to 20C when the outside temperature is below freezing -- if there's some wind blowing, which activates the dorade vents. I have so far resisted the temptation to close them off.
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Old 17-11-2014, 08:02   #117
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

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4. Heat pump (Dometic etc. aircon run in reverse) Pluses: Extremely efficient at moderate ambient temperatures; same equipment will cool you in summer. Minuses: Needs a lot of electrical power; won't work when the water temperature gets to 5 or so or below.

If I were building a boat from scratch, I would definitely install some built-in electrical heat for use when on shore power. A heat pump would be great, but not worth it if you don't need aircon (as I don't, rarely cruising below 50N). As an alternative, I think an electric water heater spliced into the hydronic system would be the thing -- maybe with its own separate shore power lead. A 16 amp European shore power connection will give 3.6kW -- a marginal amount of heat for a boat my size (my hydronic heater is 10kW), but if combined with the hydronic furnace could be ok.

Incidentally, living on board in a cold climate with no shore power, I'm always having to decide whether to heat with the hydronic system, or use the electric heaters with the generator running.

I always assumed that electric heat from the genset is extremely inefficient, and used to use that only if I needed more load on the genset anyway.

Well, I recently calculated fuel consumption of each method, and as it turns out the genset, in its sweet spot (between 25% and 75% load), only needs twice the fuel to produce the same kilowatts, as burning that fuel directly in the hydronic system. And since electric heat is 100% efficient, and there are big losses during transport with the hydronic system, the difference is even less. Plus an electric fan heater can be put right where you need it -- like under the nav table when I'm working there. Or in the heads when I'm going to take a shower, and don't need to warm the whole boat up (which is useful for drying them out afterwards, as well as for having a pleasant bathing experience).

So it's a lot more efficient than I thought, relatively speaking.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we waste vast amounts of heat just dumped into the ocean from all the diesel engines on board. This winter, when my boat is out of the water, I'm going to splice the main engine and genset engine cooling systems into my hydronic system in order to capture some of that heat.
If one already had an AC unit with reverse cycle heat, wouldnt they still work in really cold climates as long as they had water that was warm enough going through them?

Some ideas:

1) Running the generator to power an AC unit, maybe somehow use the waste heat to warm the water going into the AC. Directly plumbing the freshwater side might be too hot, but a water to water heat exchanger could work.

2)On shore power with expensive electricity or not enough breathing room in the electric service, use a diesel fired hydronic system to warm the water and reduce diesel consumed. That's just a theory, not sure if it would in fact reduce fuel consumption. But as the water would only have to be heated just enough that the heat pump process doesn't freeze the water, say inlet temps of 40°F, a much smaller unit can be used, or can go to an insulated tank and not run as much.

3) Since heat pumps are more efficient (more kW out than put in) if you are on shore power that's included in the slip fees, or cheap electric, you could use a instant hot water heater. The smaller ones are between 750 and 1500 watts. If you have enough electrical service, tacking on another ~12 amps (1500 watts at 120v) might be doable. Webasto's FCF 16000 puts out 4.6kw at 12.4 amps. So for approximately 24 amps, you can have 4.6kw of heat vs 3kw using two 1500 watt heaters. 16,000 btu/hr vs 10,000 btu/hr for the same current draw. The advantage is even better if you can turn down the power on the instant water heater to get to a 40°F inlet temperature. I would wire it using a time delayed relay (~10s) controlled by the circulation pump circuit.

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Old 11-11-2015, 00:13   #118
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

I'm sitting here snug as a bug with my solid fuel/wood burning stove. "Cole" brand (made in Seattle). Dickinson makes one too. I've settled into burning "Presto Logs" broken into 3" think wafers. I've also burned wood pellets. Scrap paper is enough to take the chill off. There is no unpleasant odor and It's a nice dry heat that doesn't result in humidity problems like my neighbor's diesel heater does.
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Old 29-01-2016, 15:01   #119
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Re: Best Diesel Heater

Just an observation on Reflection heaters. I had one years ago. It worked fine. I think it performs almost exactly like other pot burner bulkhead type/size heaters. If there's any difference between it and Dickenson or Sigmar, it's very slight. They're not as decorative, mine had no heat shield, so it's more about price/availability Imho.

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