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Old 22-12-2013, 12:25   #91
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Boatpoker,

Maybe you'd like to see mine? It can be done and it is not that difficult.
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Old 22-12-2013, 12:32   #92
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Originally Posted by fgd3 View Post
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
Your statement is picking freckles off an ants butt. It uses up oxygen to burn. You really don't think that is bad?
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Old 22-12-2013, 12:41   #93
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Originally Posted by tdunlap View Post
I do get tired of ABYC. 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.Cheers,Tim

Many people take issue with ABYC Standards and quite often I find that it is due to lack of understanding or misinterpretation. There are only two places the standards require double clamps... exhaust hoses and fuel fill hoses. No other fuel lines, fuel vents, throughulls, drains or plumbing fittings are required to have two clamps in ABYC Standards.
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Old 22-12-2013, 12:49   #94
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Originally Posted by tdunlap View Post
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
Non-venting in closed areas should concern you. Complete propane/oxygen produces Carbon Dioxide. Unbalanced burning produces Carbon Monoxide. Neither of which are good for you. Ecotemp I don't believe has ever said it can or should be used indoors or for marine use. I assume responsibility for the installation. I have heard the Wolter's are a good and safe unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlie p View Post
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.
Please note that the L5 Burns way more than all the burners on a 3 burner stove together. You can imagine the exhaust output.
The stake design that I have used with great success is called a Charley Noble stake. I built one of these for a diesel space heater I had one time and operated well in winds even above 25 knots. Where I have my L5 now was a charcoal burning mini-stove. Quite useless actually and I am using the stack that came with it. Barely adequate for a home hot water heater.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
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.
See my response above regarding exhaust output.
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Old 22-12-2013, 14:30   #95
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

We've lived aboard with propane instant water heaters for 27 years.We would not be without one. If you live on anchor and want hot water, this is a good solution. We've had 2 Paloma's, 1 Rinnai, 2 Challengers (they all rust out or fail eventually). Never had one do anything dangerous except one Paloma which started with a minor explosion one day. Needless to say it came out immediately. Ours is in the head compartment and not vented out to the exterior but a small hatch is near it and the overhead does not get hot. We shower in a separate stall. This installation would not be ABYC approved.

As stated, it is pretty clear that these things are not approved by ABYC and many, if not most, insurance companies would not allow one to be in a boat, and most surveyors would note the presence of the unit on the survey. So with insurance these are probably not practical but since we stopped carrying hull insurance when we left the US 17 years ago that's not a problem for us. Prior to that we didn't know about the insurance issue and no surveyor mentioned it. Might have had a problem collecting on any fire related claim if they found out, but that never happened. With our experience, we don't think they are unsafe.

We were told that these use equivalent of 16 stove burners. WOW! We do know that our 9.5 gal propane tank runs 21 days, and has consistently for 27 years, using the propane stove and propane hot water for all of our domestic hot water.

In many places in the world you can buy them anywhere for about $125, including all the standard safety features. They mostly seem to be made in Japan and look about as well engineered as a Japanese car. Nowdays they all light with 2 D-cells.

Like I said, we would not be without one.

Fred, SV Wings, Cartagena
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Old 22-12-2013, 14:49   #96
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
We've lived aboard with propane instant water heaters for 27 years.We would not be without one. If you live on anchor and want hot water, this is a good solution. We've had 2 Paloma's, 1 Rinnai, 2 Challengers (they all rust out or fail eventually). Never had one do anything dangerous except one Paloma which started with a minor explosion one day. Needless to say it came out immediately. Ours is in the head compartment and not vented out to the exterior but a small hatch is near it and the overhead does not get hot. We shower in a separate stall. This installation would not be ABYC approved.

As stated, it is pretty clear that these things are not approved by ABYC and many, if not most, insurance companies would not allow one to be in a boat, and most surveyors would note the presence of the unit on the survey. So with insurance these are probably not practical but since we stopped carrying hull insurance when we left the US 17 years ago that's not a problem for us. Prior to that we didn't know about the insurance issue and no surveyor mentioned it. Might have had a problem collecting on any fire related claim if they found out, but that never happened. With our experience, we don't think they are unsafe.

We were told that these use equivalent of 16 stove burners. WOW! We do know that our 9.5 gal propane tank runs 21 days, and has consistently for 27 years, using the propane stove and propane hot water for all of our domestic hot water.

In many places in the world you can buy them anywhere for about $125, including all the standard safety features. They mostly seem to be made in Japan and look about as well engineered as a Japanese car. Nowdays they all light with 2 D-cells.

Like I said, we would not be without one.

Fred, SV Wings, Cartagena
You have said in one post what I was trying to say in many. 16 stove burners?...Whoa! I was estimating 3...now I know.
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Old 22-12-2013, 14:57   #97
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
We've lived aboard with propane instant water heaters for 27 years.We would not be without one. If you live on anchor and want hot water, this is a good solution. We've had 2 Paloma's, 1 Rinnai, 2 Challengers (they all rust out or fail eventually). Never had one do anything dangerous except one Paloma which started with a minor explosion one day. Needless to say it came out immediately. Ours is in the head compartment and not vented out to the exterior but a small hatch is near it and the overhead does not get hot. We shower in a separate stall. This installation would not be ABYC approved.

As stated, it is pretty clear that these things are not approved by ABYC and many, if not most, insurance companies would not allow one to be in a boat, and most surveyors would note the presence of the unit on the survey. So with insurance these are probably not practical but since we stopped carrying hull insurance when we left the US 17 years ago that's not a problem for us. Prior to that we didn't know about the insurance issue and no surveyor mentioned it. Might have had a problem collecting on any fire related claim if they found out, but that never happened. With our experience, we don't think they are unsafe.

We were told that these use equivalent of 16 stove burners. WOW! We do know that our 9.5 gal propane tank runs 21 days, and has consistently for 27 years, using the propane stove and propane hot water for all of our domestic hot water.

In many places in the world you can buy them anywhere for about $125, including all the standard safety features. They mostly seem to be made in Japan and look about as well engineered as a Japanese car. Nowdays they all light with 2 D-cells.

Like I said, we would not be without one.

Fred, SV Wings, Cartagena
First, G'Day Fred... been a long time since our wakes crossed! Glad to hear that you are still out doin' it!

And your experiences are very similar to ours: we've used Paloma heaters for some 20+ years (can't remember just when we put the first one in) and have had no difficulties with them. Our current installation has a short, straight stack to the deck head, and is mounted in the head compartment. It is used solely for showering, is valved off when not in active use, has flame-out protection and when it is on, a small fan drives air into the head compartment from the saloon. We don't seem to worry much about it!

We too do not have hull insurance... third party only... and can't see how a heater, compliant or not, would affect it. The insurance agent who surveyed our boat didn't seem to care when he saw it.

I'm curious as to whether those who worry about voiding their insurance with their gas heaters think that the installation would mean non-payment for ALL claims, or just ones related directly to the heater in some way? This makes a big difference in how important it would be in your lives.

And finally, re the ABYC rules: it seems that one needs not to re-define the standards for the heaters themselves, but to re-classify them as attended units, (the way they are most often actually used on a yacht). That simple change would remove the stigma. Meanwhile, I certainly understand the professional stance of Mainsail and Boatpoker, for their livelihood is at stake.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 22-12-2013, 15:07   #98
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Celestial,

You are quite right about the high burn rate of the L5. It's about double that of a 3 burner cooktop and triple that of a 2 burner. Actual numbers are: 37,500 btu/hr for L5, typical burner about 6,500. Large burners can be as high as 10,000.

I'm not sure that it is a problem though. If the alternative is heating water on the cooktop, it's a wash. Assuming similar efficiencies, the BTU's (and hence oxygen depletion and CO2 production) required are the same. People heat water on cooktops all the time without a problem. In fellow engineer speak, the problem is linear.

Now, that is not to say there might not be a problem, just that it is the same problem we have had for decades. Close up the cabin, run your cooktop for a long time, bad idea. Makes no difference if it is for cooking or heating water.

Our center cockpit cat has an unusual 20 sq ft sliding hatch that is protected even in rain, so it is almost always open. Huge air exchange.

Quick question on your install. It is obviously vented, but does the intake air come from the cabin or outside? Can't be sure from the photo and didn't want to assume anything.
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Old 22-12-2013, 15:32   #99
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Thanx Charlie..The other problem I see with the L5 is if there was a flame out for some reason without the stack and you were in the shower and it tried to auto relight, then catch...Booosh! Could be the Hindenburg all over again...
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Old 22-12-2013, 15:53   #100
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

Hold on there. Equivalent to 16 burners, I don't think so. My Force 10 galley stove's burner on high is 8,200 BTUs.

Most of these water heaters are someplace below 50,000 BTUs output, or even less. I suppose you could buy one designed to supply a house that would have much more, but I don't think that is what we are talking about here.

My old Wolter 300 had an output of 27,000 BTUs. In the summer I turned down the burner as it was too much, so we ran at less than this figure. In the winter, I turned it up to full, and it made water hot enough even when our hull was sitting with ice floating around it. So, worse case, in the winter the heater is equivalent to about 3.2 stove top burners.

The Precession Temp modulates its output and runs between 10,600 - 44,000 BTUs. It does this automatically maintaining the set water temperature. Worst case, it is equivalent to a bit less than 5 of the burners on my Force Ten stove.

Nothing like 16 burners, but I'll give you that it is more than adequate to kill you if installed in a small compartment that is not vented.

I think we beat this horse to death.

I stand by my previous statements about ABYC. It is a lot like government. It has to constantly come up with new "rules" to justify its existence. It's like mold, once it starts to grow, it is very difficult to stop. I don't like ABYC. They don't even publish their recommendations, you have to buy them. How nice. All there guidance is a bit like the required home inspections builders have to get, somehow the consumer that is not well informed still ends getting burned with crap, despite the requirements. Every wonder why that is? In ABYC case, there work is not mandated by anyone. They are recommendations. They would have no teeth at all, if it were not for insurance companies choosing to use some of it. I have had surveyors tell me I needed things to comply, and the insurance company stood by their word, even when they were wrong. Battery boxes come to mind. They are not required, there are requirements for battery installation, but boxes are not one. Of course, how would you know, if you don't want to shell out the money to buy the "recommendations". I'm sure your insurance company did bother to buy them; they just rely on the surveyor.

Tim
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Old 22-12-2013, 16:06   #101
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

And....no Booosh. They have a controller that will stop the gas supply after a few seconds of no flame condition. They also have a delay to "purge" before relight. This is why I like a power vented system, like Precision Temp, because it ensures the burner is clear of excess gas before relight. If relight is unsuccessful, they also time out and stop trying. All these parameters are set by the manufacture.

That's all pretty standard gas burner operation. If the thing was operating in some kind of fault condition, it may be possible to get a small amount of gas escape into the bilge, but that is why you have a gas fume detector that shuts off the gas tank solenoid, right. You do have one?

It would take some spectacular set of circumstances to create a situation where an explosion would occur. Same for your stove. I have never heard of a boat blowing up from one of these heaters.

Seen one catch fire and burn when a gas dock attendant filled the fishing rod holder instead of the gas fill. Maybe we should band fishing rod holders?

Tim
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Old 22-12-2013, 16:40   #102
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater?

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And....no Booosh. They have a controller that will stop the gas supply after a few seconds of no flame condition. They also have a delay to "purge" before relight.
Not the L5
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Old 22-12-2013, 16:52   #103
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater ?

Realy, do I have to get the manual and prove it to you? Unless it was made 50 years ago, I think you are wrong.

Respectfully,
Tim
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Old 22-12-2013, 17:13   #104
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater ?

I looked at the web site and it clearly has a controller. The settings will not be as conservative as the Wolter units. The L5 is designed for outdoor use. It still has all the normal safety features.

The controller is part of the batter box - from their website.
The Eccotemp L5 Battery box and control pack the main component for providing power and also the ignition sequence for the unit.

Why would you buy this to mount below decks when they specify 36" of overhead clearance? Hum....

I think there are other low cost units that might work better. I really think a vent is the only way to go. But you pays your money and takes your chances.

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 22-12-2013, 20:11   #105
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Re: Tankless Propane Water Heater ?

I told you, don't take my word for it, e mail their help desk and find out for yourself. You own the thing, not me. Do you really need someone to hold your hand? Sorry, just more " babbling ”

However, if you watch their videos and read the troubleshooting section, you start to see some of the nuances as to how the thing works, like the 20 minute time out becomes clear. A lot of manufactures don't go into the controller in the manual. Sometimes they give some details in the sales brochure, but not always.

For the various units I've owned and worked on, I took the time to call the manufacture and find out what controller they use. Sometimes you can just read the labels on the board. Mostly these kinds of units use off the shelf controllers, like the one Wolter used for the 300. It was made by Fenwal. Fenwal builds all kinds of these covering the RV market and more. I was able to download a spec sheet, with a wiring diagram, from their website. Surprising, because they don't make the one for the Wolter any longer. I also found they have a replacement that works, but one of the settings is a bit less conservative. To Wolter's credit, they did use one that was fully potted to keep moisture out of it, and it had pretty conservative settings.

I don't have any equipment on my boat that I have not researched. I want to have all the information on the equipment that I can get, including the parts in the equipment that might need replacing or worked on. You can't always get this stuff, but mostly you can.

With an in depth understanding of things like these heaters, you can then confidently test the interlocks from time to time, to see they are working. Some are easy to test, like water flow; others require a bit more effort, and maybe a meter (DVM). Once you get your head around them, fixing them and keeping them working is easy. Mostly the safety circuit is a series loop going through the water flow switch, thermocouple, air flow sensor and whatever else they have. Open any and the controller responds buy shutting down the burner. It is quite basic.

If you go cruising, you find outside help is not easy to get. I try to take the time to get to know my equipment. Like on my engines, I have service manuals, and I attended classes for my diesels, even though I had been working on them for years. I took apart things like my water heater, and even modify parts of it. Should everyone? I don't know. I have an electrical engineering background, so it comes natural. I've also built boats, restored boats, and have spent my life on or near the water.

I'm not trying to poke you in the eye, but to tell people that even this poor selection for a boat water heater will vent gas for 20 minutes is just not accurate, and feeds into the hysteria some people develop for these things. Is that what you want to do?

Even the L5 can probably be used on board a boat by a person with the brains to figure it out, and operate it in a safe way. That is if you don't mind ignoring ABYC.

I have never heard of a boat blowing up or catching fire due to one of these units.

I also, have never heard of anyone being harmed by one, if time was taken to ensure it was properly installed and operated. The few cases I've heard of where someone came to harm, and one that I'm personally aware of, involved sealing up the boat with an unvented unit and using it. This is hardly the devices fault.

I read someplace that three million people head out on the water in the US each weekend, . Yet the total boating deaths is less than 700 per year. That's less than people slipping, getting hit by lighting, or many other obscure things. Yet pick up any boating magazine and it is hard to find one with less than one article on safety.

Want to go on a crusade on saving lives? Why not chose the number six killer in the country, going to your doctor. I've read that way north of 100,000 people die of medical mistakes each year. They are not totally sure because much goes unreported. So before your worry too much about boating killing you, or your water heater, maybe you may want to avoid your doctor. I mean what are we afraid of?

Cheers,
TD
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