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Old 21-12-2013, 18:04   #76
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Because ever hot requires an adaptable diesel water heater to pair it with. Those aren't easy to come by. The only one I know of is the Dickinson Alaska. Correct me if I'm wrong...



Any diesel fired hydronic system-or your engine. Propane systems are dangerous. Mine runs on an OL-60.
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Old 21-12-2013, 18:50   #77
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Tankless Propane Water Heater?

And at only $4600 who wouldn't want one of those?!?!?! : )
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Old 21-12-2013, 19:28   #78
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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And at only $4600 who wouldn't want one of those?!?!?! : )



? Mine cost less than $500 I think. A hydronic system, on the other hand, ain't cheap. 8k for OL-60 and about as much again for the install. 'Cause it has all the bells and whistles, like an Everhot.
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Old 21-12-2013, 19:29   #79
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

The sealed combustion chamber requirement from ABYC is not just about keeping CO out of the boat - it's about keeping propane out of the boat as well. If the burner fails to light it can be dumping propane. A burner that is open to the interior of the boat will dump propane in the boat which will settle to a low spot in the bilge and pose an explosion risk. With a sealed combustion chamber (actually sealed from the boat's interior, and open to the exterior for air supply and exhaust), any unburned propane dumps safely overboard.
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Old 21-12-2013, 20:32   #80
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

We used a on demand propane hot water heater for over 20 years, never had a problem! Also had a diesel heater with water heating coils in it, that supplyed enough hot water to heat the whole boat with bus heaters ! Ya just need to get an old plumers heating book for examples of hot water heating ! A small pump and your in bizz!!
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Old 21-12-2013, 21:19   #81
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

So, here is a question for you Maine Sail. If you surveyed a boat and found a Precision Temp, or an older Wolter, both designed for marine use, and the heater had power venting overboard, and was installed into an airtight locker that had outside air vented to it for combustion, would you then be happy it meet the "voluntary" ABYC standards? This is not hard to do, and is what I did do on my current installation. I'm betting you'd still find it unacceptable, because you've made up your mind you don't like these units.

Some said boats where going to start blowing up all over the place when they started putting propane stoves onto boats. Turns out there were fewer problems than with older designs, and fewer insurance claims.

In the past, I lived aboard for eight years with the Wolter 300, with the power vented option installed on it. It was used at least a couple times a day. It was installed in a cockpit locker. It had its own propane solenoid, its own gas line, and its own propane gas detector in the locker it was installed in. ABYC would not have approved it, since it used air from the boats interior for combustion. So, be it, that can be rectified, but I think this is paranoid and ridiculous. Your propane stove also uses air from inside the cabin. What is to stop someone from putting a flower pot on a stove burner for heat and closing up the boat? Nothing.

I totally disagree with the idea it is an unattended device. No one should leave a boat unattended with the propane solenoid on, or for that matter the freshwater pump. Would you disagree?

Additionally, all the flash heaters I've had apart, and that is quite a few, have a flow monitor that shuts down the device if the water flow is inadequate to maintain safe burner operation. A dripping faucet would not cause the heater to come on. I know, you will say the flow switch could fail. All right, so someone, not to smart, left the propane solenoid on, the fresh water pump on, and there was a dripping faucet. The flow switch failed so as to allow the gas to come on and the burner ignited. Well, there is still one more safety feature that will shut down the burner if it gets too hot, the over temp thermocouple.

Incidentally, having worked on many flash heaters, the flow switches don't fail in the on condition; they get dirt in them and fail to come on, thus disabling the heater. Not saying it could not happen, it just would be very rare.

As far as people who clam these things kill people, well yes they can. Like many other devices we use everyday. I only know of one case where a marine heater killed a woman. She was using a heater installed in the shower, without a vent, in the winter, with the hatches shut, and was asphyxiated. This was clearly using the heater in a way not approved by the manufacture. If people are going to make clams that these devices kill people when properly installed, I'd like to see some evidence. Many of these devices have been installed in boats and other places with very few problems. Should we condemn them because some will not install them properly?

I say, give me a break. I already have the government, and many others, telling me what to do, how things should work, and so on. Sailing is the last vestige where I can go and be free. At sea I'm responsible for my safety, I make the decisions. Have you looked at the list of equipment for doing some of the cursing rallies? They have grown and grown, and yet I believe this year's groups needed more outside assistance than ever. This is too bad as it will just lead to more gear and more rules. Maybe we need one more rule. You don't tell me how to equip, manage, or run my boat, and I will not carry an EPIRB or sat phone and ask for any help. There is a rule I could live with. In fact I do and I don't carry insurance, so I don't need you or ABYC to approve anything on my boat.

As to the Ecotemp (I think that's what it's called), I think this is a good heater and well engineered. It even has an O2 sensor that most likely would have prevented the accident mentioned above. I do think it should have a vent installed. On boats, it is often difficult to get proper fluing with a short exhaust stack that is often required to fit it in. Therefore, I'd want it to be power vented. You would have to custom fabricate this yourself. Let's face it; this heater is not made for the boating market. Can it be used without problems? I think so, if you take some precautions when installing it and using it. This is true even without a vent stack. But in our litigious society, the person installing it may find themselves with some problems if anyone is injured by such an installed heater; never mind having to live with the consequence. It's your boat, your life; you weigh the consequences and make your decision. I just whish ABYC would get real with the requirements, instead of trying to write them to exclude these devices, which is what I think they are doing.

Anyone that thinks ABYC doesn't have some stupid ideas has not read the rules. I've been building boats for some time, and trying to meet some of these requirements will drive you nuts. I don't think I've seen a single boat that I could not find some problem with it meeting ABYC. The CG may have too few rules for pleasure craft for some, but ABYC takes it to the other extreme, at least in my view.

Sorry for the rant, but I felt someone should take the opposite positive view on these devices, as passionately as you take the negative.

Cheers,

Capt. Tim Dunlap
USCG Master, 100T
61' Custom Cutter
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Old 22-12-2013, 04:16   #82
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
The ABYC has NEVER, EVER said propane water heaters are not acceptable. EVER.. They do however require all propane devices, whether they be attended or unattended devices, to meet minimum safety requirements.

You may get lucky with a poor surveyor and have them overlook it or look the other way on a water heater installation, but most good ones are going to spot it and document it.

Can someone name a builder building to ABYC or NMMA standards that is currently installing on-demand gas water heaters?

I would love to see more boaters join the ABYC, get involved in the safety standards process, and see how standards development really works....
Sorry you got me on a TECHNICALITY. I should have said they prohibit propane water heaters when they are not sealed from the interior space (feel free to quote the actual abyc language if it makes you feel better). I think everyone knew exactly what I was talking about.

Surveyors will typically note it just as they note all the onboard equipment. We have a Gemini and the subject comes up occasionally on the yahoo group. It's actually the opposite of what you suggest. Mostly it's buyers wondering if the surveyor will have an issue. We've only come across a couple of times the surveyor made an issue of it. Never heard of an insurance company denying coverage.

If it's safe or not is a separate subject (one that is overblown if you use a bit of common sense) but once the insurance company has been informed and they choose to issue insurance anyway, they don't get to decline coverage after the fact.
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Old 22-12-2013, 07:39   #83
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Sorry you got me on a TECHNICALITY. I should have said they prohibit propane water heaters when they are not sealed from the interior space (feel free to quote the actual abyc language if it makes you feel better). I think everyone knew exactly what I was talking about.
People misstate what they ABYC standards actually say quite often I just wanted to be clear that they do not prohibit LPG fired water heaters..

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Surveyors will typically note it just as they note all the onboard equipment. We have a Gemini and the subject comes up occasionally on the yahoo group. It's actually the opposite of what you suggest. Mostly it's buyers wondering if the surveyor will have an issue. We've only come across a couple of times the surveyor made an issue of it. Never heard of an insurance company denying coverage.
And surveyors will also note that the heater does not meet current safety standards and then cite the where or why it does not meet it. Some follow the NAMS or SAMS guidelines better than others, some look the other way and some simply don't know what they are doing when it comes to appliances like that..

I have had to remove water heaters because owners had insurance surveys or pre-purchase surveys and the insurance company noted it in the survey. Many, many, many Paloma paks etc. have been removed due to insurance coverage issues I have personally been indirectly involved with a Boat US insured customer with a Paloma and Inamar/Ace customer with a Paloma. In both cases the insurances companies demanded they be removed after a survey. I was not involved in the removal just called for a second opinion due to the owners disagreeing with the surveyor and insurance recommendations. For one I sent him the applicable standard to read, which the surveyor was unwilling to do for some odd reason? I removed a brand new Excel because of this too.

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If it's safe or not is a separate subject (one that is overblown if you use a bit of common sense) but once the insurance company has been informed and they choose to issue insurance anyway, they don't get to decline coverage after the fact.
I agree and I DO believe some of them can be used safely. I tend to think the Precision Temp heaters are well engineered but they technically still do not meet the standards for safety because they lack sealed combustion and fall under the unattended category..

With the Precision Temp heater, even if we ignore the technicalities of the ABYC definitions, is that to meet its own definition of safely installed it requires make up/combustion air of 12 square inches. That is a pretty big hole to the outside of a boat. Still I think it is a well engineered unit and likely quite safe. Still not going to stop a surveyor from flagging it under unattended/no sealed combustion....

You are also correct that once the insurance company has been informed, and they don't care, you are good to go. Sadly they are becoming more and more strict on how they interpret surveys and what they will allow outside of safety guidelines. Many have snuck by for years but in the last 5 or 6 the demands from insurance companies have become a tad bit crazy.

My BIG GRIPE is not the safety, it is the manufacturers who purposely lie or mislead customers into believing their product meets the safety standards for marine use. It is NOT that I don't like these heaters it is that I dislike SLEAZY marketing practices by companies who know that what they are claiming is misleading at best and outright lying in other cases...

This is simply NOT FAIR to the end user, like my Excel customer, who bought it under the guise of it being "marine" when in fact it was a non-vented unit, forget it even being sealed combustion.

Or my customer who was recently told the heater he was looking at was an attended appliance when in-fact it is not considered attended by the ABYC definition.

The manufacturer may feel it is an attended device but he really should call the ABYC and get involved to change the standards rather than selling his product though less than ethical practices where a customer may be the one hung out on the line to dry..

Lies and deceit by manufacturers is what I have little tolerance for. If these manufacturers believe these heaters are safe for marine use they should GET INVOLVED at the NFPA, ABYC, standards level.. It is NOT difficult to get involved or get on a committee to broaden the safety discussion and eventually effect a change in the standards.

If you are going to market a water heater for marine use should the customer not expect the product to meet the bare minimum safety standards for marine use?

For guys like me I simply won't install a heater that does not meet current safety standards because some surveyor will likely come along in a few years and flag it than the customer will be flaming mad at me. Not fair to me & not fair to the end user to be misled by a manufacturer.

I am on the receiving end of survey items quite a bit doing what I do. You would be amazed at what the insurance companies demand upgraded or fixed to get or retain coverage. It gets worse & more nit-picky every year.

If you have an on-demand heater I would strongly suggest hiring a surveyor who is known to look the other way on these devices, if you feel it is safe and want to keep it.

I am NOT arguing the safety of these heaters I am merely pointing out that they don't meet current safety standards if they are not sealed combustion etc. etc.. This may cause insurance survey issues or per-purchase survey issues when you go to sell the boat. It has happened to my customers and this is why I point it out.

Would it not suck to buy one of these heaters, at large expense, and then have a surveyor flag it as not in-line with current safety standards? It would be nice if the manufacturers were not intentionally & knowingly lying or misleading customers but the reality is that is what some tend to do.

I can say knowingly because one of those manufacturers has been informed of this and still has refused to change marketing tactics. Is that fair to the end user?
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Old 22-12-2013, 08:39   #84
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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I've had them on two boats; a Paloma unit in the 80's and more recently an Eccotemp L5. The Eccotemp appears to have all the safety features and maybe more than any other marine gas device. It works alot better than the old Paloma did... much more uniform water temperature. It also has a Piezo lighter.
It's all about how you use it. You wouldnt leave your cook stove oven pilot on all the time would you? I just light mine each time I use it... just like the cook stove. The Eccotemp L5 at about $125 is a real bargain. Both my installations had the unit right below an overhead hatch. You could duct it if that concerns you more than your cookstove does....
Let's face it... there are some people who shouldnt be using gas appliances of any kind and there are some who can manage their systems well....
I'm reluctant to share about my L5 because it's like talking about anchors. First, I'll say the L5 is NOT a marine unit. Now that said, I will also state you CANNOT instal it as it is out of the box, in your cabin. It needs to be ducted outside somehow. I am an Engineer, Toolmaker and TIG welder. That said, you can see from the picture attached that I have made a robust exhaust manifold for it, venting outside the boat. The drawback for me currently and I will rectify this, is that the stack on top of the cabin is inadequate. Any wind over 10 knots, tend to blow out the flame. While the flame is out, the heater igniter tries to reignite and gas is flowing inside the boat...not good. The unit is immediately beside the galley sink, so not a problem if it happens. However, if I'm in the shower and it happens, then it is a problem. So I either shower under 10 knots of wind while at anchor or have crew watch the burner. I have always liked on demand units. I use to have a Paloma that was located a the companionway hatch and it never blew out. My L5 was $100.

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Why would anyone with a Diesel engine use a propane on demand system when diesel fired systems like the Everhot exist?
Price, probably. When I googled them, they were $700-$1300. The advantages of them, that I see are; 1) Hot water storage tank means better temperature control for showers. 2) Using diesel allows your tanks to recycle fuel rather than storing and growing algae.
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Old 22-12-2013, 09:30   #85
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Now that said, I will also state you CANNOT instal it as it is out of the box, in your cabin. It needs to be ducted outside somehow.
That simply isn't true. According to the manufacturer it is designed for outdoor installation and use and you SHOULDN'T install it indoors without ducting the exhaust outside, but there is nothing to prevent you from doing so.

The question of whether it can be operated safely in a closed space is a different one. In that regard, usage is key. Any combustion in a closed space is potentially deadly. That doesn't stop people from striking matches, burning candles, operating gas cooking burners, and so forth in closed spaces. It depends on how tightly closed the space is and how much combustion exhaust is produced.

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Old 22-12-2013, 10:47   #86
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Celestialsailor,
Nice work on the hood and vent. I like your style and determination. Your issues with blowing out the flame are pretty common. I think what this shows it that a marine installation takes some very careful planning.

I used a Wolter 300 that was initially installed with a vent, but not a forced "power vent", I too was concerned about flame out, or even just proper fluing. I did not experience any fame outs, but Wolter had some test for adequate fluing, that when conducted, showed the flue operation to be marginal. I added the power vented option and this completely solved the issue. This involved installing a different cap on the heater, one that had a fan in it. Wolter units, both, the old and now obsolete 300, and the new Precision Temp units, have instructions in their manuals as to careful set up of the vent systems. I think he realized that you need a forced fan driven exhaust system, and this is why the new Precision Temp has it standard. On the Precision Temp the unit will shut down if the blower fails and is not producing adequate exhaust flow.

I'm sure if Wolter sees a market for it, he can adapt the Precision Temp, over to using outside air for combustion too. I think the cost to develop and sell these by a US manufacture is cost prohibitive. People want a heater that cost a hundred dollars, not a thousand. So even if Precision Temp is adapted to outside air, it may not find its way on many boats due to cost.

What I see is these products, as Mainesail says, are being marketed improperly. Still, I think it is possible to meet the ABYC rules, if you are willing to go to the lengths required to install it, so that it is vented, and has outside combustion air. This is not an easy task on a small boat. My boat is 61 feet and I have the space to build a sealed compartment to put the heater into, and give it an outside air source and a vented exhaust. What worries me is that somewhere down the road, someone will read a survey that states my boat has a flash propane heater and will insist it can't meet the safety requirements and needs to be removed. Wrong!

I am troubled when I read people install these things in heads, unvented. Even in a cabin, unvented, worries me. It's not that I don't think it can't work, but that it requires people using it to have enough sense to make sure it is getting enough air from outside so that you don't have people passing out. Leaving the companionway hatch open for a unit installed in the cabin, or a hatch over the unit in a head may be fine. Trouble is, someone will make the mistake of not opening that hatch, and in fact they have with dire results. Then we find ourselves with insurance companies wanting to band all of them.

As people figure out how little fuel they use, and how nice they work, more will want to install them. They really do make living aboard much less of a camping experience. I have several ways to heat water on my boat, but this is still one of the best most efficient ways. I hope ABYC will look at the rules and try to find a balance that allows a thoughtful and safe installation of these devices. Right now it sure looks to me they are creating rules that ban even a very well designed and easy to install unit like Precision Temp. Precision Temp is pretty clear on combustion air requirements in the manual.

Maybe ABYC should require an O2 depletion sensor on the heater, or that it can't be installed in living spaces. Already an engine room is not allowed. Maybe a Carbon monoxide detector should be on board.

Anyway, there is no way you can ensure someone won't put one of these on a boat in a way that will result in bad things happening. You can't regulate common sense, but you can make regulations that create unnecessary expense and burdens, as well as regulate good things right out of existence. Life is not without some risk. I think it is pretty clear there are many of these flash heaters on boats operating successfully. I don't think the very small number of incidents is a reason to ban them outright. We would all live in a bubble if we think this way.

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 22-12-2013, 11:06   #87
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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That simply isn't true. According to the manufacturer it is designed for outdoor installation and use and you SHOULDN'T install it indoors without ducting the exhaust outside, but there is nothing to prevent you from doing so.

The question of whether it can be operated safely in a closed space is a different one. In that regard, usage is key. Any combustion in a closed space is potentially deadly. That doesn't stop people from striking matches, burning candles, operating gas cooking burners, and so forth in closed spaces. It depends on how tightly closed the space is and how much combustion exhaust is produced.

Fabbian
Well yes , you CAN install it right out of the box and I have. As mentioned earlier it was directly below the companionway and the heat/exhaust went right out the companionway. I really dont get why people think this is any differnt than using your propane cook stove.. those burners are not vented and some dont even have flame out failsafe devices.
Use your propane hot water heater as you would your stove, turn the solenoid on/off when you use it. They light easy and have flame out protection.
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Old 22-12-2013, 11:20   #88
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Wow, this thread sure rose from the dead!

I have some experience with the L5 on both my boat and my van conversion. I am happy with both installations but they are quite different.

The van is even more confined than a sailboat, so I opted for isolated combustion air. The heater is near a metal wall with an intake opening in the floor. Exhaust is captured by a sheet metal hood and vented out the side. The entire assembly is isolated from the van interior. Not quite as nice as the fine job by Celestial, but it works well.

Celestial's comments about backdraft in the exhaust are spot on. Though not usually a problem, it is the one thing I am looking to improve. We have used this rig about 50 days a year for 3 years and love it.

I described the boat setup before. Because of the catamaran layout, there is lots of room above the heater. Letting it vent into the interior is fine for the limited duration it is on. No different than using the cooktop. In Celestial's case, the location near the ceiling requires a vent for fire safety reasons.

I also have a Dickinson propane heater. In cold weather, it may run for hours, but it has isolated combustion air. I would never run it that way if it used cabin air.

Fabbian's comments are correct. It is all about usage.

Interestingly, though I am satisfied with the safety of both setups, I consider the boat installation to be slightly safer, even though it uses cabin air.
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Old 22-12-2013, 11:49   #89
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

I have no comments about how safe or unsafe these units are but as a surveyor I don't ever want to be sued in a wrongful death suit because I did not mention that the water heater ............
a. Did not meet ABYC Standards
b. Did not meet NFPA Standards
c. Was not installed in accordance with manufacturers instructions.

I have never seen one of these units that met any of the above requirements so I note that in my reports. The rest is between you and your insurance company and maybe your wife .
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Old 22-12-2013, 12:23   #90
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Yea, it's like anchors, everyone has a steadfast opinion.

Don't get me wrong Cheechako, I'm with you. I think these can be operated safely. My comments are purely personal in nature, and trying to protect my own interest. I mean I don't want to see people getting hurt by these things, because it will result in a total ban by insurance companies, or maybe even federal regulations.

Any intelligent person can read the manual and figure out how to fit, and use one of these. I believe we should be unencumbered in our efforts, but I also believe you have to accept that occasionally someone will get hurt. This I think is true for many things. People today can't seem to accept this, and think no one should die of anything but old age. That's how we end up with books and books of regulations and rules.

Some believe you should sail with a life vest and safety harness on at all times. If that's your belief, go for it. Just let me make my own decisions.

My concern is that if people install these and are harmed, well then, you can expect they will be regulated out of existence. I sure don't want that to happen.

So install them, but use them wisely. I think as people figure out how nice these work, and how little fuel they use, well they may end up like propane stoves, accepted. I don't think a propane stove is inherently any safer, but you'd get a hell of an uproar if someone suggested they should be removed from boats. There is strenght in numbers, and if more people want these, the markets will respond with something appropriate.

For now, I'm not taking no for an answer. I will do everything to meet the ABYC rules that I can. I think my installation meets the standard and I don't accept any challenges to it. Do I think I went overboard to meet the standard, and could have made a safe installation with less effort, sure.

Perhaps we need to write letters to ABYC or our insurance companies to express our views.

I do get tired of ABYC. There are many suggestions they have I don't like, and many that you just have trouble meeting. Sometimes I can't find a manufacture that makes things to meet the standard. Many in the industry ignore much of it. The other day I was looking at a Yanmar engine. On the engine Yanmar installed fuel line, it had connections done with one hose clamp. Do you think that passes ABYC? Then look at the fuel fittings most marine stores sell, and try to figure out how to get the two recommended hose clamps on them. It used to be double hose clamps was something for seacocks below the water line. Now they want them on everything. I think this created a burden on the builder as you can't find inexpensive readily available fittings that two clamps fit on. In all my years of boating I can't say I ever saw a fuel line come off or even leak. A well maintain boat that has an owner that does routine inspections does not need two hose clamps on a diesel fuel line, in my opinion. It seems they just pile on more things because they sound good, not because of a need vs benefit. This is just one small example. Obviously, Yanmar for years thought one hose clamp was good enough.

So, I am with you, I want people to be able to install and use flash heaters. I hope the industry responds to make this possible, with good equipment, and rules we can live with, at a cost we can afford. A tall order for a flash heater, I don't think so. I'm amazed at the technology that is out there now.

Cheers,
Tim
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