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Old 10-10-2011, 00:51   #1
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Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

I am looking to refit my 48 ft wooden grand banks with central diesel heat. Any advice or experience on performance of the diiferent brands and systems? Forced air or water heat? Espar or Webasto or ?
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:53   #2
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Re: Best diesel heating systems for wooden trawler?

Water (hydronic) heat is more efficient, quieter, and makes domestic hot water besides doing space heating. It is more expensive.

We have Espar (Eberspaecher), a 10kW unit on a 54 foot sailboat. Couldn't live without it, sailing year round in our climate. It is fairly troublesome and not cheap to maintain -- requiring decoking of the combustion chamber and various repairs on a regular basis. Parts and service are expensive.

It's also not powerful enough to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the boat when the temperature is below freezing or near freezing. So I have to supplement with electric heat driven be genset or shore power when it's really cold.

Doesn't sound so great, does it? Well, I still wouldn't live without it -- it transforms life on board - for the better -- in a cool climate. Maybe Webastos are more reliable; I have not heard that, but might be worth a try.
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:03   #3
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Re: Best diesel heating systems for wooden trawler?

I have the Webasto Airtop 5000, like Dockhead says, once the temp drops to close to freezing, it does not keep the internal temp at a comfortable level.
I've insulated all the air ducts which helped a bit, and insulated the mast between keel and deckhead (the mast being an efficient conductor).
Again it suffers from coking, but I strip it down once a year for cleaning, so far I have only had to replace the fan, which was damaged at the time of purchasing the boat.
Some parts for Webasto and Ebar can be found at a reasonable price on ebay.
Whatever you fit, place it so you can easily remove it for maintenance.
Better off purchasing either system from an auto supplier rather than a marine one.
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:04   #4
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Re: Best diesel heating systems for wooden trawler?

You might look into waste heat from the diesel for heat, also. If you can heat your boat thoroughly while you are underway from your diesel, it will make it a lot easier for your Webasto once you get there.

Marine diesels are no more than 30 to 40 percent efficient, so if you are using even 20 horsepower to maintain a relaxed cruising speed in a sailboat (in your boat, much more), that's about 30 kilowatts of heat being dumped into the ocean. That's a ton of heat.

I would like to figure out some way to plumb my engine fresh water circuit into my heating circuit. I gues some kind of heat exchanger would be the right way to do it -- if someone has some tips or practical experience, it would probably be useful for the OP as well as for me and others.
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Old 10-10-2011, 07:53   #5
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Re: Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

I have seen the FWC plumbed into a simple automobile block heater with the framed sort of computer fan behind it...and this was for an Atomic 4. I believe the block heater was from an old Lincoln.

I'm sure anyone who has a heat exchanger plumbed to a hot water tank could rig a diversion valve to do the same sort of thing.

It might be an "either/or" idea, however: I have a pilothouse that, suitably insulated, would be very easy to heat on its own, whereas heating the far ends of the boat on engine waste heat would be problematic due to the differing heights of saloon, pilothouse and aft cabin. For that, I need forced air from a dedicated unit, but I could divert engine warmth to go only to the pilothouse, leaving diesel heater warmth to go to the rest of the boat.

Two tips here: I've seen insulating blankets used in the companionways of standard aft-cockpit boats to avoid heat wastage out that end, and I would recommend this book as a good primer on how to get the damp out and keep the heat in.
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Old 10-10-2011, 13:21   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead
You might look into waste heat from the diesel for heat, also. If you can heat your boat thoroughly while you are underway from your diesel, it will make it a lot easier for your Webasto once you get there.

Marine diesels are no more than 30 to 40 percent efficient, so if you are using even 20 horsepower to maintain a relaxed cruising speed in a sailboat (in your boat, much more), that's about 30 kilowatts of heat being dumped into the ocean. That's a ton of heat.

I would like to figure out some way to plumb my engine fresh water circuit into my heating circuit. I gues some kind of heat exchanger would be the right way to do it -- if someone has some tips or practical experience, it would probably be useful for the OP as well as for me and others.
Oddly enuf the PO had plumbed in a HW diversion from port engine connected to an old automotive heater in main saloon. I had to yank it out becuase the system was old rusty and leaking. It would be simple enuf to replace and certainly heat the main salon while underway.

The twin diesels are located directly below the main salon and actually wrm up the salon plenty just from the engine room ambient heat ( thanks to a poorly insulted engine room ceiling ) .

But this does not solve the need to heat the other staterooms and also provide heat while connected to land. I tried last winter, my first as owner of this classic, to heat with oil filled electric heaters but the marina electrical bill matched my monthly moorage fees!

I do have a dickenson alaska wall mount diesel fed furnace but again it only warms main salon and leaves ceiling sooty with a nice aroma of spent diesel lingering in the air. I dont mind the smell but my friends are complaining that my clothes reek of diesel. So that is fun.

I have started to beef up insulation in critical areas but still fantasize of a warm dry boat with central heating. Maybe it is a fantasy
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Old 10-10-2011, 14:13   #7
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Re: Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

Take a look at hurricane heaters. They are a little larger but are apparently pretty good. Passagemaker did a review on them a while ago, one writeup on the install of the Hurricane II and then they were going to do a review after a season in service. I never did read the follow up review so it would be worthwhile looking up in their archives.
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Old 10-10-2011, 14:32   #8
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Re: Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

We used Eberspacher Hydronic system and siamesed an electric water heater and circulating pump into system so when on shorepower electric and when away diesel worked well
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Old 11-07-2013, 05:38   #9
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Re: Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

Im not sure what a Lincoln block heater is, but it seems to me that the following would work:

1 Divert engine coolant through a car or motorbike radiator. use a fan to blow air through it along ducts with gate/flap valves. just remember to keep the above separate from the engine to avoid blowing engine smells thru the boat.

(btw, I have often wondered whether a radiator with fan and large intake / egress could replace marinisation heatex / keel coolers. it could solve 2 issues at once)
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Old 11-07-2013, 06:05   #10
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Re: Best Diesel Heating Systems for Wooden Trawler ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Take a look at hurricane heaters. They are a little larger but are apparently pretty good. Passagemaker did a review on them a while ago, one writeup on the install of the Hurricane II and then they were going to do a review after a season in service. I never did read the follow up review so it would be worthwhile looking up in their archives.
On a wooden boat I would go with a hydronic system. A forced air system may be too dry.

I installed a Hurricane 35,000btu unit on our Caliber. I wrote an article for Living Aboard magazine a few years ago detailing the installation. LA magazine is now gone but you can read the article on my website below(it is under Projects-Caliber).

Very good efficient heat. It also has an on-demand hot water option and an engine pre-heat option. It warms our boat very comfortably during our Maine winters where we can get temps below 0F. It runs entirely off 12v so we can also use it at anchor. It has extended our sailing season in Maine to 7 months(May 1-Dec 1)

ITR makes the Hurricane and is located in your neck of the woods. They are not cheap but they are very well built.
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