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Old 07-02-2015, 15:44   #1
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Few Liveaboard Questions

Live in Washington State USA: 42' Trawler

Wife and I are going to start living aboard and have a few questions.

-Heat, should we go with propane, electric, solid fuel or diesel and bulkhead type, heat pump mini split, oven/heater or ??? and why pros and cons etc.

-Should we have a second 30amp shore power inlet and box etc installed or ?

-Is there any items people would consider must/nice haves for living aboard?
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Old 07-02-2015, 15:47   #2
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

If free shore power is included in your marina rent, use electric heat. Otherwise, go with diesel.
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Old 07-02-2015, 15:56   #3
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

We live in Seattle and I agree with Ken. Electric is easiest but cost of power is a concern. Diesel is best for convenience and you can "take it with you" when out on the water.

We don't live aboard but spend significant time on board and sail all year long. The wife made me install a Webasto hydronic heating system which uses a diesel heater to heat a coolant circuit that feeds four small radiators equipped with fans around the boat.

Best decision "I" have made...

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Old 08-02-2015, 06:36   #4
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

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Originally Posted by drzasa View Post
Live in Washington State USA: 42' Trawler

Wife and I are going to start living aboard and have a few questions.

-Heat, should we go with propane, electric, solid fuel or diesel and bulkhead type, heat pump mini split, oven/heater or ??? and why pros and cons etc.

-Should we have a second 30amp shore power inlet and box etc installed or ?

-Is there any items people would consider must/nice haves for living aboard?

I think your climate is relatively mild when it comes to low temps? Reverse cycle AC would likely work easily enough, no muss, no fuss from shorepower at the dock. You don't mention whether you have a genset, but if so, electric heat underway is easy, too. Service is mostly about occasionally cleaning the condenser coils and the fins, and keeping your sea strainer clear, and maybe very occasionally running something like Rydlyme or Barnacle Buster through the system.

For lower temps, you could also add a resistive heat unit into the ducting system, to work in concert with the reverse cycle blower. That could work no matter whether your sea cocks are open or not (i.e., without regard to water being pumped through the reverse cycle system).

Some of the newer residential heat pump systems seem promising, and that would eliminate the seawater-related service issues, but reading suggests the outside unit might be susceptible to salt water damage. Probably not impossible to mitigate, but maybe depends on where you might have available to locate and protect that outside unit. Worth some research, especially if you don't already have a reverse cycle system and related seacock/water pump.

You might also do a comparison between the cost of electricity in your situation versus the cost of something else (e.g., diesel) and then if there's a difference, perhaps you can decide if the $$delta is worth the "no muss" factor. (Would be, in our case.)

The same debate would likely apply to cooking; propane, diesel, electric, etc. We would choose the latter (combo microwave/convection over, and induction stovetop) for much the same reasons. Your situation may argue for a different choice.

As to another 30-amp shore power inlet; yes. You'll want to spread your electrical loads, and that's an easy way to underpin the process.

FWIW, I think your last question is good for another separate thread, perhaps after you read through all the existing "liveaboard" threads that speak to questions like that.

-Chris
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Old 08-02-2015, 06:38   #5
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by drzasa View Post
Live in Washington State USA: 42' Trawler

Wife and I are going to start living aboard and have a few questions.

-Heat, should we go with propane, electric, solid fuel or diesel and bulkhead type, heat pump mini split, oven/heater or ??? and why pros and cons etc.

-Should we have a second 30amp shore power inlet and box etc installed or ?

-Is there any items people would consider must/nice haves for living aboard?
I doubt you'll find a safe and approved propane heating system for a boat so rule that one out. Electric heat is simple and "free" if you're paying a fixed rate for electricity at your marina. If you have metered electricity, it's going to be expensive and you might want to look at diesel heat or a heat pump.

If you have only a single 30 amp service to your boat, you'll certainly need to upgrade to use electric heat or a heat pump.

Nice to have when living aboard? We don't know what you already have but a washer and drier would be nice. A stove, oven and microwave are nice. Cable TV is nice.
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Old 15-02-2015, 16:24   #6
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

I am wintering on the Columbia River and it is probably a few degrees warmer on average than Puget Sound. But I have wintered in Tacoma, SE Alaska and East Vancouver Island. I am also a former commercial fisherman, so that taints my view.
Time has shown propane to be a dangerous fuel inside a hull. Propane is heaver than air and leaks will settle in the bilge until ignited by some spark. I have a gas barbecue on the open stern and that is my limit for propane. Included are a couple pics of propane on a boat.
My favorite heating is a diesel stove. I already have the fuel aboard. It easily heats a large cabin and with an internal hot water coil either gives you hot water or you can plumb it to a radiator elsewhere in the boat. Fishermen sometimes run a diesel stove continuously, regulating temperature by leaving ports or doors open. It's not hard to learn how to cook on a diesel stove. I never understood having an electric stove and running a generator just to cook. You burn 2-3 times more diesel than if used in a diesel stove and it's hard on the generator. (When running under a light load, like simmering, over time it glazes the cylinders, requiring new rings and sleeves too often.)
I heated for about 18 months with wood. I'm 66 and not inclined to do that much work anymore. Usually you're either hot or cold. The main wood pile is a long way from the boat, and buying cut, stacked, DRY wood is expensive. I burned 5-6 cords over winter.
In my travels, most docks catering to large commercial boats or yachts have 50 amp service. Most docks mark up electrical rates, so it's more expensive power unless you're at a private dock like I am. I pay $.068/kwh
My boat came with a hydronic system and diesel fired boiler. The system was installed when diesel was about 20/gallon. Heating the whole 83' boat in below freezing weather is about 4-5 gallons a day. I haven't looked into newer diesel water heaters, but would do the math before I jumped. Because I have the room, I installed a pellet stove and my own internal water coil that heats the boiler water. Now I average about $2-3/day in pellets and about $30/month in electrical heat. In the current mild winter weather I use a 40# bag of pellets every 3 days.
Insulation goes a long, long way.
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Old 20-03-2015, 08:30   #7
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

Heating:
I'm looking to buy a Hunter 45 to live on. Looking for the best heat source that also handles humidity if possible. I've had a quote on an Espar Hydronic system but it was rather expensive. $13,000. Is the cost of this worth it? Does it control humidity? What if any repairs need to be done to keep it running? Does it use much hydro? Is it reliable as I do work and the boat would have to be unattended for 8-10 hours a day?

Thanks
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Old 20-03-2015, 08:41   #8
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

We live in the PNW and have a hydronic system (Webasto) and absolutely love it. It keeps the boat warm and toasty and gives us "unlimited" hot water as well. My wife would not sail up here without it.

That being said there are some disadvantages, the first of which you have already noticed: cost.

Second, they are noisy when the unit fires up. We put ours in a soundproof box which helped tremendously = more cost.

We believe that the advantages have far outweighed the cost but keep in mind the sound issue.

Dhillen
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Old 23-03-2015, 03:13   #9
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

Dreamer. Have a look at Eberspacher hydronic systems with blown air ducting and option to heat domestic water. I am not sure how common they are in your part of the world and are prolific in Europe in commercial vehicles and marine installations. I had one in the Uk and was relaible and economic. I fitted one whilst in E Australia and was fairly easy to do myself.
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Old 23-03-2015, 10:43   #10
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Wink Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

Thank you for the info.
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Old 26-03-2015, 04:03   #11
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

We spent five years living aboard a pilothouse ketch in the PNW. We used an Espar airtronics heater with great success for living and cruising in WA, BC, and Alaska. We preferred the simplicity of the forced air model vs. a hydronic unit. The added benefit was how dry the boat was in the winter. The dealer support is good and I just got some good technical support from the company as we look to put an Espar into our new liveaboard sailboat.


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Old 26-03-2015, 05:42   #12
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Re: Few Liveaboard Questions

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Dreamer, & JMK.
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