system allows you to distribute the heat throughout the boat as opposed to a stove which is a single
source which relies on radiation and a bit of convection or the heated air in the cabin
Like any stove it is very hot near the stove and cooler far away of in other cabins.
A distributed system using air ducts or hot water
piping will over the most comfortable interior
throughout the boat.
Another consideration is the fuel
source and combustion air. If generating heat requires combustion it will require oxygen and genreate carbon dioxide. This means a flue for exhaust
gas and a fresh air source for oxygen. Flues carrying exhaust
gas are very hot and require special attention.
Finally there is the fuel
type. Do you want a separate fuel source? DO you have the place to properly and safely store it? Are there hazards in attaching the fuel to the combustion chamber? We know that propane
is heavier than air and can end up in the bilge
and produce and explosion.
does not combust without lots of heat and pressure so it is a safer fuel than propane
and it is easier to store.
After consideration of the above I find the diesel
fired heater such as Espar or Webasto make good sense. They are small, invisible in the boat interior
, provide even heat throughout the boat, can be thermostatically controlled, are safe and don't require a separate fuel source or place to store that fuel.
The Espars are user friendly installs which any competent sailor could do requiring mounting the furnace, the thermostat, connecting the fuel pick up and pump and running the ducts to the outlet grilles in the location you select. Our 36' boat has three outlets with adjustable grilles which can be directed or closed and provide a very even heat rather quickly too. There is a some noise
from the blower and fuel pump
. Both of these are minimal and tolerable. And of course you don't have to give up real estate inside the cabin
to have heat, the components are all placed out of sight in lockers or engine
compartments with a small thru hull
at the stern for exhaust gases.
The cost for our system was less than one boat unit ($2,000), but the next size will be between one and two boat units. The install took one day with running the ducts and installing the grilles and exhaust hose being the most time consuming part of the project
We love the system and it makes use of the boat in cool weather
possible and we can dry our the dampness pretty nicely on cold clammy days. If I had to live at dockside I would use individual electric
heaters I suppose, but at anchor
or underway nothing beats this system.