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Old 10-10-2008, 23:44   #1
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Best Heater for a 30-Footer ?

Hi everyone, winter close approaching here and it will be my first on the boat (a 1970 Newport 30). The nights are already getting pretty chilly and I need to choose which type and size heater would be best to keep the entire cabin and V-berth at a cozy temp through the coldest of winter nights. Any advice, help or comments greatly appreciated.

PS: I was thinking about something with a thermostat, but haven't seen many on boats, if any one has experience with one please let me know how you like it.

Cheers,
Jesse
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Old 11-10-2008, 03:11   #2
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Where will you be using the heater: at dock, or anchor (mooring).
Do you live-aboard?
What fuel(s) do you have available?
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Old 11-10-2008, 07:34   #3
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If you have a propain system, the dickinson bulkhead mounted fireplace in 9000 & 12000 btu are very nice, and easy to install.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:04   #4
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I have the same question about my boat, 27 Com-Pac. We have both diesel and propane onboard. I like the idea of using diesel for the safety factor but which is more efficient? Which fuel gives the most BTU per fuel unit? How much diesel or propane will the smallest heater use?

After all that the little Force 10 propane heater looks like it would fit best on the bulkhead where I need to install it. Plus it uses a 1 inch tube for venting.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:23   #5
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The dickinson heater adds a nice cozy atmosphere with the fireplace flame through the glass door. Effeciency is good 1lb of propain lasts about 7hrs on low 5hrs on high.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:32   #6
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I lived aboard a 38-footer on Georgian Bay for several winters and installed a Dickinson kerosene heater that kept the boat (and me) warm and cozy in -25 C. temps. A bit tricky to install but well worth the effort if one is in extreme cold. Today, we use an Eden Pure 1,000 watt, but we're in much milder weather, so your impending climate and conditions should be the determinant.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:46   #7
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Has anybody used the Origo alcohol heater? For less that $200 and easy storage that might be the way to go for me.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:56   #8
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Has anybody used the Origo alcohol heater? For less that $200 and easy storage that might be the way to go for me.

The unit really does not put out a lot of heat, uses a lot of fuel and the fuel is really, really expensive.
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Old 11-10-2008, 10:21   #9
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If you have a gas engine then take a look at the Wallas heaters. They run on kerosene--a small container fits under the galley. If you have a diesel engine then have a look at the Toyoset NS-2800
For your furnace, heater, and stove needs. Rural Energy Enterprises, Inc.
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:45   #10
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I like the idea of using diesel for the safety factor but which is more efficient? Which fuel gives the most BTU per fuel unit?
Diesel has the highest amount of energy per unit volume. We have a Sigmar heater. The newer ones like they put in over the road trucks are exceptional. They are a long torpedo shape and are self contained and run on 12 volts. They can be set up with a thermostat and duct work. Clearly the best setup for on the hook.

All fuel burning heaters need outside air and external venting. Our diesel heater is not a fancy new one and it requires preheating with about an ounce of alcohol to get it hot enough to begin burning. It uses a 2.5 lb self regulating fuel pump. With the adjustable damper and regulator you can get too hot to stand inside the boat. I use rigging tape for the chimney cap when it's not in use to avoid water down the chimney.

If you don't properly adjust them you can accumulate black soot inside over time.

Reverse cycle AC at the dock works exceptionally well so long as the water is above 50 degrees F. When the water gets colder the heat pump does not put out enough heat.
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Old 11-10-2008, 13:24   #11
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First, you need a ventilated stove if you are talking heating a boat with ambient temps much below 50 degrees. If the heater isn't ventilated the water vapor in your breath and the by product of combustion condense on the interior of the boat. I spent one winter in Norfolk, VA heating with a couple of electric heaters. The condensation was so bad that I thought I had massive deck leaks. Every surface was wet and water would pool in low areas. Everything in the boat was clammy and unpleasant. Was the most unpleasant 3 months of my life. Fortunately, the winters are short in Southern VA or I probably would have given up on cruising outside the tropics.

Any bulkhead mounted heater should be mounted as low as possible, preferably on the cabin sole. Heat rises and the higher the heater, the more a fan will be needed to distribute the warmth. Had one boat with the stove mounted about 4' off the sole. Without a fan, my head would be sweating while my feet froze. In any case, a fan will probably be needed to distribute the heat. The higher the stove is mounted, the more powerful and amp hungry the fan will need to be. Also, the longer the flu, within reason, the better it will draw and the more trouble free heat it will put out.

Propane is the simplest way to go and probably the cheapest. The problem is keeping the beast fed. If you have smallish bottles and/or want to hang out away from a marina and a car, refilling the tanks gets to be a pain. My new boat came with a propane catalitic heater. It goes through a 1lb bottle in a few hours on high setting which is necessary when temps drop below 50 degrees. Too expensive to use with the small bottles.

Diesel is great for long term use in all conditions. They will heat a even in arctic conditions. Highest heat output and most boats carry a lot of fuel. Diesel heaters are expensive to install, however. A separate filter is reccomended, they either require a day tank or a fuel pump, and running the 3" flu is often a challenge. The cost of flu pipes, pump, etc can come close to the cost of the heater, itself. There can be backdraft problems though think that is mostly caused by too short flu run. If your boat is going to live in cooler areas, a diesel cook stove is a good source of heat and cooking.

Wood stoves work well. The problem is dealing with the ash and storage of fuel. Big advantage is the fuel is free if you're coastal cruising. Plenty of dead wood available in the more remote areas. For daily liveaboard use, dealing with finding fuel around a marina and clean up of ash is a chore.

If you want true liveaboard comfort, the forced hot air or hydronic heaters are the way to go. They can be thermostatically controlled for consistant heat output. It is a dry heat and can be distriubuted to all areas of the boat. The heater can be tucked in some out of the way place that would be otherwise dead space. The big problem is they are expensive. The ducting is relatively large, do take up a significant amount of space and a problem to run that could be a concern especially on smaller boats.

Alcohol to me is a non starter. Fuel is high in cost and low in heat density. Unvented, they put out a lot water vapor.

Aloha
Peter O.
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Old 11-10-2008, 14:38   #12
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As roverhi says, the forced air heaters (Eberspacher etc.) are very effective, but bear in mind that they do need electrical power for the fan and the ignition glow-plug. About 20 amps for start-up and shutdown (which can occur repeatedly under thermostatic control), and around one to two amps when running normally. They are frugal on diesel but can give your battery a bashing if you've no handy way of recharging it.
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Old 11-10-2008, 14:39   #13
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I have had a Wallas Diesel heater made in Finland and distributed in the US by Scan Marine. It is forced air just like a home system except it is about the size of a briefcase. Comes in a kit like the Espars and Webasto with the duct work and a nifty intake/exhaust tube--so you do not have to worry about CO or O2 depletion. I have had it for about 14 years and had to service it a couple times--mostly just to clean out the fuel line. I understand that these all are similar. I like this one because it is simple enough to service myself--comes apart easily and parts are easy to get and replace. I would warn against a thermostat on a diesel heater--cycling is messy. Mine uses a reostat so that it does not cycle. It uses very little fuel and very little electricity. I cannot compare it to Webasto or Espar as I have no experience with them.
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Old 11-10-2008, 15:35   #14
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A trip to the Bahamas or further south is recommended
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Old 11-10-2008, 15:54   #15
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A trip to the Bahamas or further south is recommended
While this might not be the most practical solution, it is certainly the best one
I am a proponent of solid fuel heaters. Propane burns allot of fuel, and generates moisture. Diesel is OK, but it can be a real PITA at times. As for safety, propane is probably the best. Even with the hazards of propane, most of the dangers can be easily prevented. With diesel, and alcohol, you have burning liquid on the boat. To me, this is far less safe than propane. (I have not used an alcohol heater, but hated our stove). Solid fuel is simple, generally cheap to buy, and install, and fuel is available everywhere. Stop at a remote anchorage, and go collect some firewood ashore. Try that with propane. I like the heat from solid fuel, and the smell is pleasant as well. Type in "Little Cod" to the search, and you will see threads on one of the best, in my opinion, solid fuel heaters out there. There is plenty of room on a Newport 30 for this heater.
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