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Old 06-09-2005, 06:48   #1
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Boat Heat (It's that Time of Year for Some of Us!)

A couple of questions for everyone:

1) If you heat your boat, what type of heating system are you currently using?

2) I plan to use wood. I know it's weird, but I have my reasons (free source of fuel, less dependency on fossil fuel and doesn't require electricity, etc...) Does anyone have experience heating a 45' x 14' boat with wood?

3) I'm looking for a stove that looks something like what you see on the right in this link.

http://www.warmfurniture.com/page/75

Has anyone ever seen one like this that is smaller (say 2'-3' in diameter) that won't take up much space in my boat, but will heat it sufficiently for a winter in say... Maine? (I figure if it can do that, it can do any weather.)

Thanks in advance for any input.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:03   #2
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Wood stoves in boats

I've been considering one of these for the refit of my galley:

http://www.marinestove.com/sproductinfo.htm
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Old 06-09-2005, 08:57   #3
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Sean, I note your post on wanting to use a non-distribution type heating source on your boat in a severe climate and a couple of thoughts pop to mind...

First, think of your boat as a series of spaces and consider how your source of heat will reach each of those spaces. Some spaces will be insulated from the hull (e.g. the cabins can benefit from many lockers, cushions, etc. and so the heat - once it gets to that space - has some chance of affecting the temperature. Other spaces are isolated from all sources of heat and have few insulating layers, the head being the most critical one but also hanging lockers, underberth spaces, etc. And therein lie your two challenges: getting heat to the places you need it, and how to deal with the warm/cold interface where a slug of warm air is put in one of those more remote spaces (likely with little steady ventilation) after which a bit more condensation is created.

A single radiant heat source is about the worst possible choice I can think of, no matter what it burns. Your pleasure at not using electricity to put fire in the box will be offset by running fans to try and distribute the warm air...and that air will feel cold except very near the heat source.

Sorry Işm not more encouraging but - especially in places like Maine - candor needs to overcome romantic thoughts, I think.

Jack
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Old 06-09-2005, 11:08   #4
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Hi Jack,

Thanks for the candid comments. They are actually appreciated greatly. I am not interested in making any costly mistakes, so input is great. I do have some questions and/or responses though.


1) I have heard that those electric powered diesel heaters (Espar, etc...) don't last too many years without breaking. Do you have experience with one that has lasted more than 5 years without needing fixing? The last thing I want is to have absolutely no heat for some period of time over the winter in a harsh climate.

2) I grew up in a house that was heated solely by radiant heat (as in 2 wood stoves). Although other people's houses were more comfortable, we had heat when the power went out in major blizzards. I also don't remember ever being so cold that a good sit by the fire wouldn't warm me up. Why is radiant heat so bad? I know it is not even - my room was in the opposite corner from the stove in my childhood house, so it was the coldest. But... I had wool socks, down comforters, and was fine. Do you think the hardship will be too much with radiant heat on the boat?

3) I understand your analysis of the enclosed spaces on the boat. It's tough to reach them, and I actually wouldn't at all in many instances. Is this a major issue, given I will store nothing in them that will be affected by colder temps?

4) The cabins we are using are our main salon (stove would be located here, sharing a wall with the head we use), V berth, and head situated between the two. My feeling is that installing the stove on a wall in the main salon, which is also shared by the head will keep us nice and toasty for winter showers. Also, I have air conditioning with an intake in the V and an outlet in the main salon. I plan to put a small fan in this air handler and just push the warm air from the salon back into the V via the existing ductwork. I know this will require electricity, but I could get by without this fan in a pinch and still have heat - while other people with heaters that can't run without electricity will freeze.

See where I'm coming from? Does it make sense now, or am I still crazy to think I can heat the boat with a radiant heater?

Thanks for the input, and I look forward to any flaws in my thinking being pointed out.



Quote:
Euro Cruiser once whispered in the wind:
Sean, I note your post on wanting to use a non-distribution type heating source on your boat in a severe climate and a couple of thoughts pop to mind...

First, think of your boat as a series of spaces and consider how your source of heat will reach each of those spaces. Some spaces will be insulated from the hull (e.g. the cabins can benefit from many lockers, cushions, etc. and so the heat - once it gets to that space - has some chance of affecting the temperature. Other spaces are isolated from all sources of heat and have few insulating layers, the head being the most critical one but also hanging lockers, underberth spaces, etc. And therein lie your two challenges: getting heat to the places you need it, and how to deal with the warm/cold interface where a slug of warm air is put in one of those more remote spaces (likely with little steady ventilation) after which a bit more condensation is created.

A single radiant heat source is about the worst possible choice I can think of, no matter what it burns. Your pleasure at not using electricity to put fire in the box will be offset by running fans to try and distribute the warm air...and that air will feel cold except very near the heat source.

Sorry Işm not more encouraging but - especially in places like Maine - candor needs to overcome romantic thoughts, I think.

Jack
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Old 06-09-2005, 11:11   #5
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Re: Wood stoves in boats

Quote:
7knots once whispered in the wind:
I've been considering one of these for the refit of my galley:

http://www.marinestove.com/sproductinfo.htm
Thanks, 7knots. I'm wondering if this little unit will be able to heat the amount of space I have. I'll have to contact the manufacturer and see what they say.
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Old 06-09-2005, 16:31   #6
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Heater

I use a Wallas 3000D and have for the last 10 years. It has been repaired 2X in that period and probably run 500hours. There might be a better forced air heater, but I have been satisfied with this product from Finland (they must know about cold). If you want warm in your boat, you want forced air. The nice thing about this is that it has only a reostat rather than thermostat to prevent cycling. That is a good feature I would seek in any system.
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Old 06-09-2005, 18:49   #7
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Espar

We had an Espar diesel heater in our last boat for 13 years without a single incident. It fired each time and was never cleaned or repaired. While the usage was only for weekends and an occasional week during the winter (in Connecticut), it never failed. Espar and Wabesto are minaturized versions of a standard home forced air heating system. There are many good features to having an installed central heating system.
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Old 06-09-2005, 18:51   #8
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you might also check with your insurance co. to make sure they won't wiggle if things go wrong. stuff happens. capt. lar
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Old 06-09-2005, 21:42   #9
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Re: Heater

Thanks for the info on the Wallas. So if it was repaired 2 times in 500 hours of operation, it would be repaired 2 times in only 21 days of continuous use... not so good when it's the only source of heat I have.

Ok... maybe forced hot air is the way to go... I'm just not so sure diesel is the way to go.


Quote:
Ray Durkee once whispered in the wind:
I use a Wallas 3000D and have for the last 10 years. It has been repaired 2X in that period and probably run 500hours. There might be a better forced air heater, but I have been satisfied with this product from Finland (they must know about cold). If you want warm in your boat, you want forced air. The nice thing about this is that it has only a reostat rather than thermostat to prevent cycling. That is a good feature I would seek in any system.
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Old 06-09-2005, 21:45   #10
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Re: Espar

Thanks, Jim. This is interesting. I guess I may have to look into this in more detail. I wish I could find some data on the reliability of diesel heaters. My instincts don't trust them as something that will keep me warm indefinitely. They are quite complex little machines.

Quote:
Jentine once whispered in the wind:
We had an Espar diesel heater in our last boat for 13 years without a single incident. It fired each time and was never cleaned or repaired. While the usage was only for weekends and an occasional week during the winter (in Connecticut), it never failed. Espar and Wabesto are minaturized versions of a standard home forced air heating system. There are many good features to having an installed central heating system.
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Old 07-09-2005, 01:58   #11
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Sean,

Maybe the way to go is a central FHA heating system for your everyday use (I've heard good things about Espar), and a bulkhead mounted woodstove for ambience and emergency backup use. In other words, there's nothing (except maybe budget) that says you have to have only one or the other -- so why not both?

FWIW, in my NH house, we have the thermostat on our central oil-fired hot-water baseboard system set in the low 60's, and use the woodstove to complement and supplement that.

Which brings to mind -- I don't know to what extent you'll be moving your Gulfstar around vs. staying put, but have you considered hot water radiators supplied by your engine's heat exchanger?

Regards,

Tim
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Old 07-09-2005, 06:42   #12
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you logic is flawed on the wallas 3000. repaired twice in 10 years is not repaired every 250 hours - it is just repaired twice in 10 years. you assume it is the hours run that created the need for service. with most equipment, lack of use or infrequent use and lack of routine servicing that will cause the problems. i dont think you can make any assumptions on reliability with the info provided.

for my 2 cents - you need a distribution system regardless of fuel type or combustion chamber decisions.

capt. lar
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Old 07-09-2005, 07:57   #13
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GOT IT!!! :)

Thanks for all of the inputs. (It was nice to hear from someone from Keene - I'm from NH originally)

I have listened to your inputs, and I have to go with the advice you have all given. Radiant heat stinks. It was tough to change my thinking, but last night, I woke up in the middle of the night with the thought that I need to have a forced hot air system, as you all suggest.

At the same time, I was thinking how expensive diesel heat would be. Even if it drops to $3/gal, the Espars for my boat draw .3 gallons/hr. Given that I'm on the boat 24/7 fixing it and living on it, that's a whopping .3 gals x 24 hrs x 30 days, or $216 per month. OUCH! Also, I don't like the heaters themselves because I don't want to ever have to fix them.

So... I arrived at a EUREKA!

I will get the woodstove - but will have forced hot air! I will put a metal heat exchanger (for air) on the flat top surface of the "little cod", running a couple of air ducts to the corners of the boat that might be hard to heat. This way I can have my cake (wood) and eat it too (heat in all the corners).

Thanks so much everyone. Without your insistence on the fact that radiant heat by iteslf is nearly useless, I would have never come up with such a creative solution that keeps me off diesel, allows me to heat without reliance on anyone or anything, AND will still heat the boat evenly and comfortably.

You all are the best.
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Old 07-09-2005, 08:01   #14
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Absolutely...

You're right, Lar. Lack of use is often a culprit. Also... below, you are leading into my "eureka" moment. Having forced hot air AND a wood combustion chamber. Right on the money!

Quote:
capt lar once whispered in the wind:
you logic is flawed on the wallas 3000. repaired twice in 10 years is not repaired every 250 hours - it is just repaired twice in 10 years. you assume it is the hours run that created the need for service. with most equipment, lack of use or infrequent use and lack of routine servicing that will cause the problems. i dont think you can make any assumptions on reliability with the info provided.

for my 2 cents - you need a distribution system regardless of fuel type or combustion chamber decisions.

capt. lar
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Old 07-09-2005, 08:19   #15
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Sean, it sounds like you´re on your way...so I´ll just add these thoughts in case Plan A doesn´t work out as planned.

We too relied on a wood stove for heating when living ashore. The house was built to new (at the time) code in Maryland, not a state known for extreme temps (except in July <g>) and I think it illustrated well the problems with radiant heat: wood is a relatively dirty fuel, requires non-stop tending if it´s your sole heat source, and it allows for a lot of cold spots.

Here in Europe, some sailors enjoy their boats all year round and they choose from the following products:
1. Diesel-fired, forced air - already discussed. (We relied on an Espar for 3 winters in Annapolis while living aboard and the dock power was routinely unreliable. They improved their start-up circuitry about 10 years ago and performance is usually very reliable assuming a clean fuel source. Europeans are paying $5 USD/gallon for diesel but find this is a hard choice to beat.
2. Diesel-fired closed cycle hot water system - this tends to be favored by liveaboards who are cruisers and I think the reason is that it is easier to install (small holes thru bulkheads vs. large ones), self-installatilon fits the cruiser budget, and the fuel burn is much lower (also a cruiser-budget benefit). It takes many hours to uniformly heat a boat sitting in cold water using this method...but then, liveaboards don´t care as much about this because they tend to put the thing on a timer. Each cabin typically has its own thermostat and so the fans operate independent of one another. Another bene is that the hot water hoses typically are run under the cabin sole except where they rise up to a register and then back down again; ergo, warm cabin soles and more uniform heat distribution. I was told by a long-term Espar mechanic that these tend to fail regularly because the systems were designed to keep diesel engines warm while trucks were parked and loading, therefore not designed for long term use. However, users of this system donşt report that...and so other factors may apply, including how the system was installed by someone who wasn´t planning to rely on it. A final benefit is that you can add a hot water run to your domestic hot water heater, essentially getting ´free´ hot water for bathing, dishes, etc.
3. At what point did you stop being interested in the New Zealand Whispergen system? It would seem like you are an ideal candidate for that approach IF they have a distribution system on the USA East Coast. I was also left wondering if you could even wrangle an ínitial installation´ pricing plan given its relative novelty. It was fuel thirsty, as I recall...but then, heat is a bit like oxygen when it comes to living comfortably.<g>

Just like the 3 qualitiies most important in selling a home are location, location, location, the importance of insulation in all those interface areas canşt be overemphasized. Also, we recommend both diluted bleach and vinegar for cleaning and killing mold spores.

Good luck on the Big Adventure!

Jack
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