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Old 03-05-2011, 20:33   #1
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Boat Heaters

I have a 40' Schucker motosailer that I am permanently moving to Southeastern Alaska. I'm thinking of installing two oil heaters one in the pilot house and the other below deck. Has anyone here have any experience with boat heaters? Do you have any problems with back draft. Any opinions on Sig-Marine drip oil heaters. I won't have any shore power. Thank you all.
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Old 03-05-2011, 21:00   #2
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Re: Boat heaters

Mine is great. I have it on a gravity tank:

Rebel Heart - Sailing, cruising, liveaboard blog and website - Eric's Blog - a couple steps closer with the diesel heater gravity*tank

It does back draft which happens during some winds, or whenever the staysail is up. According to my friend if I raise the charlie noble up a bit off the deck I won't have that problem anymore. It's pretty bad when it blows out. Sometimes it lights right back up, but more often it floods the cabin with diesel smoke (and I have it "close loop" vented, both intake and exhaust). Even the tiny crack between the door and the the body is enough to smoke out the cabin and make everything stink like diesel smoke for a week.

It uses 1-2 gallons over a 24 hour period. Minus the blow out problems, it's terrific.
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Old 03-05-2011, 21:00   #3
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Re: Boat heaters

ya they work great,use about gal to gal n half day,consider using only one with a back boiler and radiators on a 40 ft boat
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Old 03-05-2011, 22:12   #4
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Re: Boat heaters

I have enough experience with ESPAR to state i could never recommend that brand for use on a boat. It has been a maintenance nightmare.
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Old 03-05-2011, 22:35   #5
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Re: Boat heaters

I've had Webasto diesel heaters on my last two boats, and have never had a hiccup with either system.
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Old 04-05-2011, 06:02   #6
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Re: Boat Heaters

Four years with a Webasto and substantial costs to keep it running (and days on end cold while it was down). Replaced with an Espar and have had two years of excellent results.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:18   #7
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Re: Boat Heaters

I'd second the Espar maintenance hassle.
Current boat has an Ardic, 16 years old.
Only repair was the fuel pump due to a leak.

Oops, I take that back.
A few years later, the fuel nozzle clogged with a piece of weld flash.
You could hear it rattling and it acted as a check valve during operation.
I bought the last one in the world a few years ago, and it's worked fine since.
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:14   #8
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Re: Boat Heaters

We have a Sigmar. They can put out the heat. You do need a chimney for them, but I also have a cap I can attach for when underway as any water over the deck would tend to go down the chimney. It runs from a 12 volt tractor fuel pump and we have a 12 volt muffin fan that blows down from above down the chimney to revcover heat that tries to go out the chimney. It's all wired to the same power and the fuel pump. You just add an inline fuel filter to the pump. Sigmar and Dickenson work about the same and use a 2.5 lb self regulated fuel pump. You have a small dial to control the flow on the stove. You preheat the stove with 1 oz of denatured alcohol and turn on the fuel after the flames are just about out. You do need to mess with the damper just a bit to make it most efficient. With s few 12 volt fans you should be able to get the heat around the boat.

The truck style heaters are better and can run from a thermostat and use forced air and duct work like an air conditioner. You don't really need shore power to run them. They are self contained and can be installed in a lazarrette. They cost more but are less prone to smelling up the boat.
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:31   #9
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Re: Boat Heaters

Funny, within 4 posts there are 2 loves and 2 hates for 2 brands....hard to pick one with that statistical distribution......gotta love boat buying.
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Old 04-05-2011, 11:12   #10
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Re: Boat Heaters

We have Webasto. As it is quite new and was in use maybe for a month total, not much to say about reliability, but easy to operate and provides enough heat for comfort. Recently it started to be a bit noisy in operation, so we are anticipating some problems.

Would love to hear from those who had problems with Webasto about failure modes they had.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:21   #11
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Re: Boat Heaters

We ahve a Dickinson Antartic and a Webasto boiler. The Dickinson is our fireplace and came with the boat. The first owner put it in and he cruised for a bit in alaska using only the Dickinson. I added the hot water system because I like to have heat even when sailing and the Dickinson will backwind when the sails are up. Never had it backwind when swinging on the hook but have had some issues with minor backwinding at the dock in strong conditions. If I had the fan on it may have prevented the back winding. When sailing even in ligt conditions the backwind was strong enough to put out the fire and fill the baot with smoke, so at least with my set up I would not use it while sailing except with a forced draft. I will say it does put out a nice heat and if the temperature is much above the high 30's or low40's (F not C) it will drive you right out of the boat if it's set above a low flame. Hardest part is to distribute the heat to the ends of the boat (we use a fan but even with the door open the head stays cool). As far as Espar vs Webasto I've had both in a boiler and have had better luck with the Webasto but the Webasto is a much bigger unit and in the smaller size (i.e. higher tech) they may have just as many issues. With the hot air heaters everyone I know has been 50-50 on which they have more problems with. The livaboards I know all swear by hot water boilers as being less of a maintenance problem than hot air. Not a scientific pole just ancedotal based on dock talk.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:53   #12
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Re: Boat Heaters

In all the threads on heaters it appears that the BIG thing is... installation. If you get a good installer or do a proper job yourself then they all seem to work well. Get a poor installation job and you are in for grief until you get things sorted out.
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Old 05-05-2011, 11:57   #13
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Re: Boat Heaters

Quote:
Get a poor installation job and you are in for grief until you get things sorted out.
Air conditioning is even more true. A quality install takes a lot of planning and attension to tiny details. Most things you install on a boat can be screwed up pretty easy even when you think you are trying.
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Old 05-05-2011, 18:15   #14
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Re: Boat Heaters

Hello, I have spent many decades living aboard on the West coast of Canada, and worked commercial boats for much of my career in the same area. Almost all the vessels had the simple drip style diesel heaters such as the Dickinson, Fab-all or now Sigmar. With the dual stack system where the intake air is beside the exhaust pipe, the atmospheric pressure in the stove is equalized to prevent down drafting. My experience with the small sigmar heaters on my boats and on friends that once they are set up they burn with a very clean flame as from a propane torch. One issue that needs pointing out is that with many of the forced air and high tech hot water heaters there is huge fuel consumption and power drain. I am putting a Reflex hot water system on my new boat as it has the old drip style burner and a very small elecrical draw.
cheerio, greg
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Old 05-05-2011, 20:56   #15
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Re: Boat Heaters

I just finished designing my new hydronic heating system for our Nauticat 52 with the help of Sure Marine and my friend Larry at Emerald Harbor Marine, here in Seattle. We went with the new OL-60. This setup,like most hydronic systems, lets you have a single boiler in the engine room which powers fan heaters throughout the boat. We set up four thermal zones with individual on/off for each stateroom, a 14,00 BTU defroster for the pilothouse windows, and an insta-hot powered by the same boiler. The whole system cranks almost 90k BTU. Larry has installed these on all the new Nordhavn he's commissioned for years now and hasn't got a single call. They're super reliable and efficient. The new ones are also much quieter-sounds about the same as my fridge compressor. Complicated system to set up-but it's cold out there...


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