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Old 05-11-2011, 10:00   #1
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Challenge: Keeping Above Freezing

I live in southern Kentucky, on beautiful Cumberland Lake and have never owned a cruiser before. The winters here are medium in severity. Temperatures below zero for more than a few hours are uncommon. I am considering putting a heater on my boat set to about 38 degrees. I have winterized the boat, but worry about freeze damage, anyway. I would like to hear some thoughts from other cruiser owners. The cruiser is 34'.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:40   #2
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Re: Keeping above freezing

I use (4) 240 watt heat lamps positioned around inside the boat, and a oil-filled type heater for when the temps get really low. The lamps burn all the time keeping it dry down to 30 F outside. The oil-filled heater is set to it's lowest point and comes on if it gets down to that.

My boat sits on the hard all winter and has worked this way for 10 years. And no fires to worry about. I direct the lamps towards the center of the cabin areas and secure them so they can't fall.

I assume this is a power boat. If so, a lamp in the motor compartment is good too, as I do even on a sail boat.

One other thing too, is to try to keep the outside of the fuel tank(s) warmer, or the same temp, then the inside. This prevents condensation inside the tanks, or keep the tanks full up.
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:33   #3
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Re: Keeping above freezing

Thanks for the response.
Do you have any idea of the monthly cost to run the lights and heater?
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Old 05-11-2011, 15:31   #4
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Re: Keeping above freezing

I guess that would depend on the area your in. You can figure 1000 to 1750 watts 24 hours a day. You would have to look at your electric bill to calculate it out. Mine, the marina supplies the power, it's a set rate, part of my monthly.
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Old 05-11-2011, 17:42   #5
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Re: Keeping above freezing

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And no fires to worry about. I direct the lamps towards the center of the cabin areas and secure them so they can't fall
A key point in delmarrey's post.
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Old 05-11-2011, 21:40   #6
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

You didn't mention if the boat was in the water or not. I'm assuming its not.

I regularly keep my boats on the hard over the winter at -10C - -20C for a few months over the winter. After winterizing the engine, and draining the water system completely I've never had a problem with frost damage. I leave a few ports open and have an cover rigged over them so air can circulate but no rain or snow can get in.

I used to add antifreeze to the water system but find the taste is sometimes a pain to get rid of. So a complete drain is best, run the pressure system until its dry, then disconnect the hoses and let the remaining water out into a bucket.

I would hesitate to leave any sort of heater on board unless you are actually there. As a matter of fact it is against club rules to even leave the boat plugged in over night and our security people are very conscientious about disconnecting any cords they find. Hell if you plan on spending a night aboard you'd best let them know and leave a note the panel or you will wake up with frost in your beard.
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Old 05-11-2011, 22:04   #7
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

I agree with SabreKai, I have been winterizing my boats for years in the northeast and when done properly I have had no problems. I don't use a heater and I am not allowed. I guess if your boat is on private property you can run a heater but at most marinas you are not allowed.
For what its worth, last winter it got really cold early in December and I almost froze my motor. I did not think it would be in the 20's that early in the winter.
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Old 06-11-2011, 20:41   #8
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My boat stays in the water. I winterize all systems, the only heat are 2 oil pan 200 watt heaters on the mains. We've had temps below 0 and I've never had a problem. I drain the waterheater & tank, blow out the lines on the water system, run the pump long enough that it has no water in it. I run pink rv antifreeze thru the a/c units, heads & pour some thru all the drains & shower drain pump. Air won't freeze & the pink is insurance.
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:10   #9
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

If you're using heat lamps, make sure your insurance is up to date. Don't make decisions based on your shopping in the "discount" aisle. Purchase proper "ignition free" marine bilge heaters. Even the oil filled heaters can be dangerous if unattended (turn the lights out, then turn the thermostat up and down; you'll see it spark). Remember electricity fails. If you had been living in CT the past 2 weeks, using any type of electrical heater would have been academic.
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Old 08-11-2011, 15:08   #10
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

All comments are appreciated. The cruiser stays in the water. Did not realize the oil heaters "sparked" when they came on. With all systems winterized, anything else may be redundant.
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Old 08-11-2011, 15:33   #11
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

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Originally Posted by Carver Heaven View Post
Did not realize the oil heaters "sparked" when they came on.
If one has to worry about a spark then I'd be afraid to even walk into the boat. When I mentioned fires, I was refer to a single glowing element burning away @ 500 to 1500 watts. Nothing is idiot proof.

Also I use the 250 watt Rated clamp-on holders for the bulbs. Heavier wire and a porcelain socket.
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:49   #12
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

For the potable water, I have use a little vodka to prevent freezing. There's no problem with taste like anti-freeze. The heat doesn't have to be much to prevent freeze damage. If the boat is covered (either with its own custom canvas or shrink wrap) that helps quite a bit. A solar panel or wind generator can often provide enough heat to take care of most days, at least here in NYC. For serious cold snaps then it is time to go to the boat and prep it specifically for the bitter cold. Good luck.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:06   #13
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

The most important thing for a stored boat is ventilation not warmth. You want it dry not full of condensation.

If you are going to put heat in, do not use any space heater that costs less than about $300. The cheap ones just do not have the wiring for sustained use. The odds of a fire are quite high.

Light bulbs or heat lamps are a much safer idea if they are carefully mounted in appropriate fixtures. Often called "Brooder lamps" because they are used to hatch chickens. Make sure the fixture is big enough and has a front wire shield such that the bulb can not get close to any combustible material. Even so, mount them so there is no way they can fall.

Things like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Designers-Edge...1038030&sr=8-9

http://www.amazon.com/WATTS-HOURS-LI...ef=pd_sim_hi_6

But fair warning. Even though these are relatively safe your insurance company and boatyard (or their insurance company) may not agree.

Carl
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:31   #14
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

CarlF makes a good point about the condensation. There are some dehumidifiers out that don't use heating elements. These may be more attractive to marinas and insurance companies. If the deck is covered that also greatly reduces potential damage from freezing water in minor cracks.
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:35   #15
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Re: Keeping Above Freezing

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmyDaveNY View Post
For the potable water, I have use a little vodka to prevent freezing. There's no problem with taste like anti-freeze.
Sounds like a waste of vodka to me!

I'm gonna keep a close eye on this thread - been looking out for condensation free, low power methods of heating for the live aboard....
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