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Old 13-02-2009, 05:11   #1
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Dickinson Solid Fuel Heater

I am considering the solid fuel heater aboard. A few weeks ago with two 1500 heaters running really did very little to keep it warm. We usually use one in the salon area and another in the aft cabin. 42' center cockpit boat. Just curious as to the difference in heat output. The electric heaters do not seem to put out heat for the power they consume. I grew up around wood stoves and know very well the benefits. Just wondering what this heater would do for the salon. Thanks

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Old 13-02-2009, 05:45   #2
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Dickerson should be able to help you determine the BTU requirements of your vessel.
IMHO solid fuel heaters are a pain if you are a full time liveaboard. Dickerson makes a line of diesel heaters that can be plumbed to a gravity tank that you can fill and forget for days. These types will also show a flame in the cabin for ambiance.

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Old 22-02-2009, 10:25   #3
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diesel vs. solid fuel

after a very chilly first winter living aboard we are looking at different heating options. Initially we liked the idea of a solid fuel source but after discussing it with a few liveaboards as well as at our local boat shop, we are thinking the diesel heat source is more convenient (and cleaner). The recommendation we received was the same, using a gravity tank to feed the heater.

Our vessel is smaller, 34' tricabin, however two heaters at full power couldn't keep up when the temp dropped to 35 degrees or below. I am curious what others experience has been with using either heat source? Any advice in installing a diesel tank (ie tank size, location on the boat, etc)?

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Old 22-02-2009, 11:18   #4
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The manual has some answers for you on where to mount the tank, but the fuel pump would be much easier, IMO.
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Old 22-02-2009, 12:07   #5
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Having survived a winter onboard in Maryland I now have a little expertise on heating ;-)
The dickerson Newport diesel heater will keep a 40 foot boat toasty pretty much all over, my neighbour has one and his boat runs about 63 degs.
I was using a 1500 watt oil filled electric radiator plus a small fan heater and my main cabin was running about 62-64degs.BUT I was using the 12vfans to move the heat around, and Rhosyn is well insulated. Being a 38 foot center cockpit I could not keep the aft cabin warm with those heaters, but i just shut it up for the winter. I was considering adding a diesel heater, but this is the first time we have been in "winter" for a long time and dont plan on repeating.....
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Old 22-02-2009, 13:11   #6
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Anyone have any experience with the Webasto diesel hot air blower type, ducted thought the boat?
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Old 27-03-2009, 17:29   #7
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Old 27-03-2009, 20:15   #8
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We have a Webasto Hydronic heater and I must say it is awesome. Very highly recommended, and to quote my buddy, " Dude, this boat's heater is better than the one in my house!!" We stayed very toasty with the thermostat having plently of room to spare. It takes fuel from the diesel tank, the heater draw being slightly higher than the engine's so you can make it to the refueling dock after running dry on heat alone...
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Old 28-03-2009, 03:06   #9
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We live on board with two persons and just wintered in de northern part of Biscay.
We have 3 kinds of heating on our 44 feet boat:
1.Webasto 5000 airtop heating. With 3 outlets in salon and sleeping areas.
2. Dickenson Newport with electric pump.
Both are connected to a seperate fuel tank.
3. electric heater.
For us the Webasto is the best heater and can easily heat our boat, also when it is really cold (really cold means for us –10 Celius). If we close the front cabin, the heat is pleasant, it heats the complete boat through and through, and the temperature stays constant while the electric heater and the Dickenson give a more superficial heat. (The surroundings of the Dickinson and the electric heater are warm but a bit further away it gets colder and the heating is more superficial), which is logic because the electric heater is 2000 Watts and the Webasto is 5000 Watts.
We use the Dickinson when we are on anchor, because is uses almost no power. It is only sized for heating the living area.
Note that we wintered in a harbour where electricity is included in the price, so we used the electric heater a lot.
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Old 29-03-2009, 05:55   #10
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My experience

I got through the Winter comfortably in NY with a Dickenson diesel heater and two Caframo electric heaters. While I stayed comfortable, it took some time to figure out the best way to arrange things. I would keep the forward and aft stateroom doors closed, so I was only heating the galley and salon (46ft boat). At night, I would move a Caframo into the stateroom and keep it on the low setting.

The diesel heater was pretty nice, but it took a while to learn how to tune it so that it burned cleanly. Until I learned how to burn a "lean" air/fule mixture, I fought lots of soot. Very nasty soot - requiring degreaser to clean up. Inside and outside the boat. Also, my heater is at galley level, while the salon is lower in the boat. It was hard to move the warm air down into the salon. So I would recomment locating the diesel heater as low in the boat as possible.

At the beginning of the Winter, I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into. By the end of the Winter (it did end!!!!) I was very comfortable, and absolutely love having the marina to myself.

If I could justify the expense, a Webasto hydronic system would be the cat's meow. But I am fine with what I have.
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Old 08-02-2010, 16:55   #11
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for those thinking of installing any diesel heater that is fueled by red diesel, be sure to check out this report of a very unhappy espar owner : the red diesel resulted in his unit simply not being able to perform as warranted. both webasto and espar are having some problems due to the nature of the red diesel commercially available.

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Old 08-02-2010, 17:17   #12
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I have the Dickerson pacific galley stove that runs on diesel off of a pump. I also have the Dickerson Newport propane stove in the aft stateroom.
First problem is that the Pacific is just too much for my 40 fishing trawler. I have to have windows open when its running. I cant seem to get it dialed down far enough and still keep it burning cleanly. Also the pump clunking every 30 seconds is enough to keep you awake if you are a light sleeper. I know that the pump issue can be resolved by moving it onto a rubber mount and rubber mounting the fuel line but havent gotten there yet.
I will be installing the water coil into the heater and putting a couple of bus heaters around the boat. That should move some of the heat out of the galley and to other areas of the boat. I will have to see how well that works.
The Newport propane is a great heater. heats the bedroom just fine. only complaint is that the heater fan is loud. I am looking for alternatives to this but I havent talked to Dickerson yet.
Overall I am very happy with the heater and the stove but I am going to have to work on them to massage the performance and to keep them quiet and easy to live with.

Not sure if thats helpful or not but I cant imagine doing a liveaboard with solid fuel and not having to spend all my time figuring out how to collect and stow enough fuel. With diesel and propane I already have these fuels onboard for cooking and propulsion so why not use them for heat as well.

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Old 26-02-2011, 05:56   #13
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Re: Dickinson Solid Fuel Heater

we installed a solid fuel heater last spring. so far, not impressed. we used primarily charcoal briquettes. Perhaps there is a significant difference in heat output of different brand briquettes?
We will try other fuels such as presto logs and wood scraps, but I am not optimistic.
We chose solid fuel because we are familiar with it in Montana and because we do not live full time on the boat and because we hope to spend most of our time on the boat in warmer climates.
Would I do it again? no.
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Old 26-02-2011, 17:30   #14
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Re: Dickinson Solid Fuel Heater

I use a Cole stove with solid wood oak "off-cuts" from the local lumber yard, its fine for those fall and spring days to get the chill out, My boat being 34'. However I would not go into a winter with one, during the night I will burn about 10 2x2x6 inch blocks. I have some friends that use the espar type heaters and they rave about them, especially a couple that have the ducts running through their clothing lockers. to quote " there is nothing like putting on warm socks"
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Old 26-02-2011, 17:43   #15
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Re: Dickinson Solid Fuel Heater

Originally Posted by CDunc View Post
" there is nothing like putting on warm socks"
maybe not, but a warm towel after a shower comes awfully close.

cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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