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Old 06-03-2013, 11:34   #1
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Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Hello,

My wife and I are considering buying an espar heater to use on the boat while we are in a marina. We would like to be able to keep the boat at at least a minimal temperature while away for work to keep the cats from freezing.

Is it safe to let the espar heaters run while away from the boat?

Thanks!
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:36   #2
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Safer to give the cats some nice cozy places where they can snuggle up together. They wont freeze; at least not before your water pipes do.
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Old 06-03-2013, 11:55   #3
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Where is the boat, and what kind/size is she? What are you using right now? I have known many liveaboards that use the oil filled electric heaters for this reason.

Chris
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:10   #4
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

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Originally Posted by zboss View Post
Is it safe to let the espar heaters run while away from the boat?
I accidentally let mine run for two weeks once when I was out of the country. While it's nice to return to a toasty boat, I can't say I recommend it.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:32   #5
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

We don't have a boat yet - we are still shopping - trying to work our plan out and see what our options are and be safe about it. The cats freezing to death while we are working is a fear of my wife and I am trying to be sensitive to her feelings and help find a solution so this sailing thing can work long term.

It is my understanding that cats can take really cold temperatures but I don't want to come home to a freezing boat either. Almost all of the boats we are looking at come with diesel heaters already but I have heard all sorts of problems with letting them go while you are not around. I figured that the espar heaters would be preferable over an oil filled heater since the cats cannot knock it over, plus it doesn't take up floor space.
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:44   #6
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

We did it last winter. Ran for 2 months or more.

If you get the "controller" where you use the thermostat on the heater itself it will run until it goes dry or runs the battery flat.

If you get a "smart controller" it will shut down after 10 hours. But you can start it up again right away. Or just cycle it off and on before the 10 hours.

The way I see it is.....they are sold mostly for guys in semi trailers, to sleep at night. I think that if they were a safety danger it would be bigger for someone sleeping in the cab than for letting it run unattended.

But you need to make up your own mind.

2
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:52   #7
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

zboss, we lived aboard in a cold climate for a while and have 2 kitties. We have a diesel heater but chose instead to run 2 small ceramic electric heaters while in our slip. They worked great. I would not run a diesel heater and leave for the day. The electric heaters are safer, especially for kitties.

Now...condensation...that's another matter for consideration in a cold climate. Simply place Dri-Dek under all cushions. Happy sailboat shopping!
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:54   #8
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

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... I figured that the espar heaters would be preferable over an oil filled heater since the cats cannot knock it over, plus it doesn't take up floor space.
The oil filled ones are much safer to leave unattended then the forced air ones. I cannot imagine most cats being able to knock it over, but maybe it is possible. They don't get hot enough at any one place to set things on fire, and some may even have a tip over switch???

If you do go the electric route when buying a boat, just make sure the shore power cord is less then a few years old, and in good shape. Same thing for the outlets on the boat and the dock.

Chris
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Old 06-03-2013, 12:56   #9
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Unattended appliances (those intended to function without frequent attention by an operator, and that may cycle on and off automatically/thermostatically controlled cabin and water heaters, are required to have a direct vent/sealed combustion chamber (utilizes outside air for combustion) that eliminates the oxygen depletion hazard.

I believe the Espar complies.
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Old 06-03-2013, 13:07   #10
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Electric heater and cat sweaters will work better.
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Old 06-03-2013, 13:08   #11
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

As an Espar owner (Hydronic 10), here a a couple of my thoughts:

1. They aren't all that reliable. Even the owner's manual says that if the unit doesn't start, to shut it down and try restarting it. I just don't know if I'd count on it to keep cats alive.
2. It's a significant project to install one. We have four registers on our boat and I think I spent over 80 hours installing the whole thing. It called for 6AWG duplex wire to be run from the battery to the boiler, for example.
3. The west coast distributor for Espar heaters told me that I should not run it on diesel but rather on kerosene as, according to him, the diesel in the US is too dirty (not with actual dirt but it generates a lot of soot which can plug up the units - it happened to ours). Apparently it's different in Europe, where they're made and most common.
4. I spent almost twice as much on our Espar heater for our boat than I did for a furnace for our 2,000 square foot home. They're not cheap.

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Old 06-03-2013, 13:11   #12
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

We have been living aboard since 2010 and leave our Hurricane II diesel heater on 24/7 in the winter. Temp is controlled by 3 programmable thermostats. It is no less safe than a home oil burning furnace.

We also leave the reverse cycle AC on 24/7 during the summer to keep the pup comfy.
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Old 06-03-2013, 13:50   #13
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Re: Espar Heater While Away for the Day

Holy cow... those espar and webasto ARE expensive.
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Old 06-03-2013, 15:08   #14
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Having had several units in as many boats , all I've installed myself , I would stay away from the hydronic units , the hot air are very reliable.

They are much better if used frequently. All the issues I have are due to lack of use because the boat is laid up over the winter

There is no reason not to allow them to run unattended. You can even get a controller that Can be controlled by mobile phone.

Periodic servicing amounts to cleaning the glow plug and the flame detector.

They do struggle a little on gas oil as opposed to DERV, but they do work fine albeit they get carbon buildup and the little filter on the pump inlet gets clogged

Gas oil does make for a more smokey startup , but once running there's no smoke.
Dave
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