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Old 13-02-2013, 10:46   #1
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Safe Portable Cabin Heater

Was looking at Amazon.com: Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater: Home & Kitchen for a portable heater. Don't want to install anything yet. We have a good quality CO2 detector

Anyone have experience with portable heaters that are safe for a 34ft sailboat cabin?

Cheers,
Erika
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:01   #2
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Re: Safe portable cabin heater

I use one in my boat. Of course I could not leave it alone and made a few slight modifications. I disconnected the onboard regulator and hard piped the heater to my LP system. That BTW will increase CO emissions on high and is not recommended. And for fun, I also installed a draft hood and vent on the top of it with a through deck vent cap. Totally not safe to do BTW, unless your an engineer....

But it works fairly well even as a ventless heater.
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:31   #3
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

We use a small single cylinder coleman heater all the time, both in tents, (which it is made for) and the boat. Never an isse, works great. LEave a window cracked very slightly for air, have done this every winter for last 10 years or more. The one you show works great also, but on high with both tanks it can suck them dry in 5-6 hours. You can use just one tank on the mr heater, , (we had one like the one in your link , but found the smaller one more efficient and used less space. ) It will warm up a 34' nicely.
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:43   #4
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

i had a similar propane heater on my un-insulated 50ft ferrocement yacht in turkey a few years back....funny thing it started raining inside every time i put it on!
that is untill i learned to crack a hatch!

great heat but not very economical and the condensation is a nightmare!

when the gas ran out i bought an electric fan heater and plugged into the free shore power in the marina,the boat dried out after about 2 weeks!
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Old 13-02-2013, 12:00   #5
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

There are many heated arguments on the forum. Do a search and you will be treated to everyone's opinion.
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Old 13-02-2013, 12:04   #6
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

I have a mr heater big buddy and it heats up my little boat really fast. I don't sleep with it on and always have ventilation.
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Old 13-02-2013, 13:49   #7
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

I'm living aboard in New England right now with that exact heater. Works great. I love how easily it mounted, on high setting it warms my 26ft boat from less that 20 degrees to in the 60's in about half an hour, on low it keeps the boat comfortable all night. You can get the yellow ones from Lowes for about 50$ and last time I was in Home depot I saw one with a stainless steel body for 60$.

The obvious worries are that you are bringing something aboard that uses propane and gives of CO2. Get yourself at least one, preferably two more CO2 detectors and put them at different heights all around the boat (Floor near heater, cabin wall, and main berth). Also you're better off mounting the heater as close to a hatchway as possible (I found it causes less condensation near even a closed hatchway, although my hatches aren't air tight or anything anyway).

Couldn't hurt to have an extra propane detector on board too, even if you only use the small bottles. Propane accumulates in bilges and even spinning a small bottle on and off a few times a week will leak propane. On my boat I opted for the 12ft long large tank adapter hose and additional filter. It keeps all propane back in my vented locker where it should be and lets me run the heater for about a week or so on a 20lb bottle (again get extra CO2 detectors just in case)

With all the extra junk included you'll make out alright. The heater is rated for indoor use anyway and as long as you treat your propane storage as though it could blow you up (cause it can), and factor in extra warning bells it’s the most inexpensive heater you'll likely find.
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Old 13-02-2013, 15:07   #8
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

Thanks for the input. Sorry to create yet another thread on heat, I did a search, but most were about installed heaters. We just want something to heat once in a while, it doesn't get very cold down here( shorts weather today ).
Thanks
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Old 13-02-2013, 15:47   #9
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

If you do a Google search you will find the operating manual for this heater and although it claims to be "indoor safe" there are some restrictions on it use in an enclosed space such as a small boat. Basically they are all the same as given in other CF threads on the subject - you need adequate ventilation to get rid of the CO and other fumes, etc. that are generated by these type heaters.

"• This heater can only be used in a recreational or commercial enclosure with a window or roof vent. It may also be used outdoors.
• This heater requires a vent area of 9 square inches (example 3” x 3” opening) minimum for adequate ventilation during operation. Do not use other fuel burning appliances inside.
"

So long as you operate the unit with ventilation or as other posters have mentioned - use it to take the chill off the boat and then turn it off when you are breathing in the area - then they are fine. Catalytics heaters supposedly are better in keeping CO down versus radiant and other heaters - so adequate ventilation with this heater should be considered critical.
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Old 14-02-2013, 21:01   #10
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

and now for something completely different.

i also used a propane heater for awhile. we have maybe a few weeks a year of cold weather here in
central florida and it seemed too much trouble. so i bought an infra red heat lamp. here's what i've learned -

1. don't look at it. it's bad for your eyes. mount it behind you.
2. don't leave it on for more than 30 minutes. it just gets too hot.
3. get the lowest wattage bulb you need - a 125 watt bulb heated up our entire sleeping area, about 7' by 5'.
4. mount it so that it's not near anything flammable.
5. at dock, power is no problem. at anchor, consider your battery power.

i've been thinking about wiring up a thermostat that would turn it on and off automatically. the obvious
downside is the current draw. but the upside is there is no concern with excessive moisture or propane
leaks. you don't have to provide ventilation which means heat is not lost out an open hatch. it's not for
everyone but worth considering....
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Old 14-02-2013, 21:20   #11
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

I would recommend against the Mr. Heater for the fact that it provides wet heat. Depending on the ambient moisture and temperature, you could the inside of your cabin dripping with condensation. Been there and done that with several different propane heaters and didn't care for having to deal with all the moisture.

Last month, I took the plunge and bought a Planar forced air Diesel heater. It is by far a superior choice for heat -- as it is dry, efficient, and extremely powerful. I love being able to roam around in my 72 degree cabin in shorts and a t-shirt while it is 35 degrees outside.

However, the unit I mentioned above is not portable. Arguments have been made on this forum about vented versus non-vented heaters. I don't want to go there in my post. I just want to point out that a portable non-vented (by default) heater has its drawbacks.

Also, the Mr. Heater unit you are referring to has yet another disadvantage. There are only two settings and nothing in between. This is common for many of Mr. Heater products. If you were to get a propane heater, definitely get one with multiple settings so you can have a good balance between fuel consumption and appropriate heat output.

Olympian makes great portable catalytic propane heaters that have multiple settings. They are very common in RV's. It is a slightly more expensive unit than the Mr. Heater you referenced, but well worth the premium.

With all that said, I would avoid a non-vented propane heater. Just my two cents.
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Old 14-02-2013, 21:28   #12
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

If you're on shore power it seems simplest to use an electric. But I have used that heater and a couple others in RVs and Boats without issues. For Texas (I'm in Kemah) it's rare you need to run it at night, especially if you have a snuggle Buddie.
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Old 19-02-2013, 19:41   #13
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

Thanks all
We did order the mr heater, will sit in the companionway, very drafty there. We have a big down comforter for nighttime, so will heat up cabin then shut off till morning. In port we will use the electric.
Thanks so much for the input and for making me extra cautious with the propane.
Erika
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Old 19-02-2013, 19:55   #14
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

We've used an Origo alcohol heater for the past 10 years. Mostly we sail Lake Superior, so we know something about living with the cold. I've found this little heater sufficient for our needs so far.
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Old 19-02-2013, 20:00   #15
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Re: Safe Portable Cabin Heater

Erika I've got one and it works great. Shop around for fuel canisters, unless of course you plumb it in to ships LP. Which I would not recommend, especially since it is for occasional use. Diesel forced air would be way overkill but not doubt superior.

I had to dive on the prop yesterday morning and clean all the barnacles off for the trip up river to the yard. DEspite the wetsuit, it was chilly, and temps were cold for coastal NC. There was skim ice on the creek, unusual. It was nice to have the Heater Buddy cranked up when I came back in sopping wet.

The dial can be awkward until you learn its peculiarities, have to depress it sometimes, sometimes not. Incredibly handy and cozy if you are freezing in an anchorage and uses no power.

Cheers-
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