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Old 18-07-2013, 18:12   #1
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I have a 3k to 9k BTU propane portable heater that I use in my camper, is there a reason this would be unsuitable for my boat?

I also glanced at heaters online, has anyone used a wood/charcoal powered heater on their boats?
Can you share experiences?
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Old 18-07-2013, 18:22   #2
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Think ventilation and air used for combustion. Enough dead people that can't comment. What heater how is it vented.
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Old 18-07-2013, 18:59   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sabray View Post
Think ventilation and air used for combustion. Enough dead people that can't comment. What heater how is it vented.
This heater is designed to be used in a confined space, such as my camper.
How is a sailboat cabin significantly different than a camper in terms of ventilation?

My current heater...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0002WRHE8

The heater I saw shopping around...
http://www.go2marine.com/product/200...-00-newsf.html

Bear in mind that I already own the first one, and it requires no permanent mods to my boat to use.
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Old 18-07-2013, 19:14   #4
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Re: Heat

The first heater, the propane one, is unvented, plain and simple. The second, solid fuel heater is vented. In addition to the venting, propane tanks on a boat should be mounted either outside the boat, or in a vapour-proof locker, venting to outside the boat, and controlled by a solenoid switch. The solid fuel unit you are looking at is, in my humble opinion, an excellent unit, but will require proper venting which could be fairly expensive and time consuming to install.
Good luck.
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Old 18-07-2013, 19:37   #5
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Think that air in large quantities is consumed by combustion. Maybe you got lucky or the camper was designed with enough intake. Just cause I worked once doesn't make it safe. Google propane heater deaths.
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Old 18-07-2013, 20:05   #6
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Re: Heat

You should really listen to Sabray. Combustion in an enclosed space will produce CO (carbon monoxide) and can kill you. Not worth the risk.

Yes there are heaters that claim to be safe for use inside, most I think because they include a low oxygen sensor and shutoff. This will not protect you from CO poisoning as the body will absorbs CO more readily than oxygen so even when there is plenty of oxygen in the air you can die from low levels of CO as it builds up in your system.
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Old 18-07-2013, 20:37   #7
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Re: Heat

I use a Force 10 propane heater, but it is vented to the outside.. Remember that carbon monoxide settles in low places as propane does. Boats do not vent out the bottom........... I always carry my propane bottles in a mount off the stern and have and use a solenoid switch when not in use....... Be safe and think about the consequences w/ your actions, death is not a good thing... I have had one Friend die on his boat w/ the same idea you have... Michael..
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Old 18-07-2013, 20:54   #8
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Ok, thanks for the answers

Just looking to get a better answer than "Just don't do it".
I think I have that here
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Old 18-07-2013, 21:01   #9
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Re: Heat

Quote:
Originally Posted by oblivionboyj View Post
Ok, thanks for the answers

Just looking to get a better answer than "Just don't do it".
I think I have that here
Not sure of your meaning here. I'm assuming you are saying that you wished the answer was different but agree with what was said?

Or are you saying "just don't do it" was not enough information and you wanted more detail?
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Old 18-07-2013, 21:06   #10
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Or are you saying "just don't do it" was not enough information and you wanted more detail?
This.
An answer in the affirmative would have been convenient, but wasn't what I was fishing for.
Just looking for a clearly defined reasoning for not using my camper heater.
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Old 19-07-2013, 05:55   #11
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Re: Heat

Quote:
Originally Posted by oblivionboyj View Post
This.
An answer in the affirmative would have been convenient, but wasn't what I was fishing for.
Understand and can relate. Encountered similar situations a number of times while rebuilding my boat. Have a problem to solve, system to repair, whatever, find something that I think should be a solution but for some reason it just isn't appropriate. Want it to work because it's convenient/cheap/easy but it just isn't the right way to do it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by oblivionboyj View Post
Just looking for a clearly defined reasoning for not using my camper heater.
Well thought I thought there were some clearly defined reasons why not but let me elaborate.

CO is produced by combustion IE burning a fuel. Any combustion process will produce some CO but incomplete combustion where there is insufficient oxygen to allow a fuel to burn completely greatly increases the rate of CO produced. Complete combustion will produce the much less CO and mostly the less dangerous gas CO2 (carbon dioxide).

CO is extremely dangerous because it binds more easily to hemoglobin than oxygen. So even if there is plenty of oxygen in the air to safely support life, very low levels, as low as 100 ppm, of CO will displace oxygen in your blood, accumulate in your system quickly over a relatively short period of time causing CO poisoning which can kill you. Even if you survive you can suffer long term or even permanent health problems.

Some data: Each year in the US approximately 40,000 people are treated for CO poisoning, about 200 people per year die. CO exposure is the leading cause of death by poisoning in the US.

Some heaters try to protect against this problem by including oxygen sensors which in theory will shut down the heater if O2 concentration falls to a level low enough to generate higher levels of CO instead of CO2. However in practice, O2 sensors are far from 100% reliable and can be effected by high humidity (like on a boat), dust and dirt and especially aging IE over time they lose sensitivity and just no longer work. The aging issue is inherent in how O2 sensors work and over time they will fail. Also, even with sufficient oxygen in the air there will be some CO production in any heater.

Using any sort of combustion heat indoors can be dangerous. Regardless of any built in safety features on a heater you are betting your life on a mechanical device that at some point will fail. If you must use a combustion heater inside a boat make sure you install at least two battery operated CO detectors and test them often. You should also make sure you have ventilation to supply fresh air to the heater and some way to evacuate the CO that will accumulate in low spots in the boat. Of course when you are trying to heat the boat you won't want to bring in cold air so this is a problem as well.

Bottom line, with great care you could probably use the unvented heater but you will be gambling with your life. The best solution is a proper, marine type heater that vents the combustion gases or go with an electric heater.
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:22   #12
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CO detectors were already high on my list for the boat.
I have one in my (admittedly small) camper.
I'd also guess that ventilation is less of a problem in the camper, based on your responses, as the beds are elevated and it is a pop up (soft sided).

Guess I'm looking for a better solution for heat on that boat.
Thanks guys
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:28   #13
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Re: Heat

Yes, CO detectors are a good thing no matter what kind of heater (or no heater at all) you have installed. I have two and no heat installed (nice thing about living in FL)

And as you say, just by the way they're built, a camper especially a pop up, is going to be pretty well ventilated and much less likely for CO to gather in the low spots. On a boat, you are hopefully going to be leak proof at least in the hull so a lot better chance for gases to accumulate.
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