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Old 24-01-2016, 10:12   #31
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Hmm... I don't agree with the 'propane is wet' notion; a proper propane heater should be vented outside and get replacing air also from outside. This way it does not create any co2 or moisture inside the boat. Having the flame consume oxygen or pumping co2 or , even worse co, into the boat is just a non starter in a cold clime, where you want to keep hatches closed in the first place.

I do have a bulkhead mounted propane heater with water filled radiators throughout the boat and it's a nice system. Takes a while to heat the boat, but it's silent and uses no electricity, although there is an electric pump to aid circulation, if you want to distribute heat a bit quicker.

That said, if I would re-do the heating, I'd probably get a Reflex with a coil and fit it in the same radiator-loop already present. I do like the fact that they can also be run without electricity and agree that propane has it's own problems. Done right propane should be safe, though.

Absolutely agree what was stated about insulating.
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Old 24-01-2016, 10:23   #32
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Hoezit Lizzy,
What are you replacing it with?
Groete, C.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizzy Belle View Post
Depends very much on where you are -- right now it's winter here in the Netherlands and trust me, while a dehumidifier helps a lot (mine is running 24/7 on max), it's literally raining in my V-berth and the 'walls' (hull) on the inside are all wet. I can see the drips hanging in the cupboards.

The HeatPal (and alcohol stove) will also produce water and happily add that to the (wet) air in your boat, same as the Zibro I have. Which is why I'm replacing it

Obviously, this is a bigger issue in a Dutch winter then a Caribbean summer
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Old 24-01-2016, 11:38   #33
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Two Dickinson diesel heaters came with this boat an Atlantic in the galley and an Arctic (or is Antarctic, can never remember) in the aft/sleeping quarters. As I have often said here, they can change your whole attitude toward colder weather.

Do think about hot water coils, they will add years to the life of your hot water heater and you will probably never worry about interior condensation again. The customer support from Dickinson is unbelievably good.

Size does matter though . Right now it's 42'F out and I'm using the electric heater because the Atlantic will have me roasting and opening skylights in about 3 hours, whereas the smaller diesel heater in the aft cabin has been on continuously for the past five weeks, just purring along keeping me at somewhere between 63 and 68 day and night. I may just pull out the electric hot plate to cook on later since I don't like it when it's 80'F in here.

In other words my only complaint is that it works too well. Size any heater according to the space it will be in. How much of your time will be spent in cold weather?
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Old 24-01-2016, 12:10   #34
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by robert644 View Post
Well, since you already have diesel on board, I would say go with that. Wrestling around, storing, and procuring propane is a just another problem. I try to keep things simple.
Ditto!
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Old 24-01-2016, 12:21   #35
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I for one have had both. In Alaska the diesel heater keep the boat (s/v Whistlestar) snug and used very little fuel once it warmed the entire boat. The down side was the smell. Diesel stinks and after awhile all of my clothes and interior had that pungent diesel tang.

On my new boat (s/v Oregon) I installed a Dickerson Propane heater that draws its makeup air from its outside vent pipe.. I have zero condensation inside. I have a propane alarm in the bilge and do not use the heater when I am not on board. Small electric heater maintains temp while at the dock.

Also I saw someone's comment about not driving a propane car and know that city buses and fleets of trucks all across the country use propane as their fuel.
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Old 24-01-2016, 12:34   #36
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Espar works great, keeps the boat dry, uses very little diesel fuel which you already have, and is easy to use. In Maine, even when seriously numbing cold it works like a champ. Having dry warm air when it's howling topside, whether down south, up here in the frozen north, or even when we have summer warmth dry heat is great. The idea of not having a separate fuel for the heater makes it simpler for stowage.


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Old 24-01-2016, 14:26   #37
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

In response to the OP, he should avoid diesel heaters that do not have thermostats that cycle on/off (i.e. don't use Dickinson, Sigmar, Refleks, etc). In southern climes they put out far too much heat - by the time they are finished starting you will want to turn them off. I have a Sigmar and love it for colder areas, but it is useless for just taking the chill off. Basically any heater that is capable of heating the boat in cold weather is not going to be able to run low enough for just chilly nights - it will have to cycle to do it, and that should apply to gas as well. Perhaps using a smallish propane heater, one not capable of heating in cold weather, would be a good solution.

In merely chilly weather it is hard to dry the boat out enough to prevent moisture problems. In really cold weather it shouldn't be a problem provided there is ample ventilation throughout the boat. Where so many get it wrong is to close up the boat to keep the heat inside: that traps the moisture and just creates misery. It may seem wasteful but usually the best approach is to move a lot of outside air through the boat and turn the heat up enough to compensate.

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Old 24-01-2016, 17:39   #38
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

If you are looking for heat while motoring up and down the ICW, consider an engine waste heater - sometimes called a school bus heater. Ours pours out a steady stream of warm, dry air - right at my feet when underway. It is essentially free heat, requiring only a small fan.
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Old 25-01-2016, 08:30   #39
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Having a little difficulty with some of the posts suggesting that propane and alcohol is a wet heat. The product of any combustion should be vented to atmosphere to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

While propane and alcohol burns cleaner than most other fuels, you still shouldn't breathe the combustion products. While you operate these on the boat in summer while the hatches and windows are open. They shouldn't be operated with the boat closed up, when you are trying to heat it.

The moisture, that is most certainly a product of propane or alcohol combustion, goes up the chimney.

When choosing a heating system, one should consider:

1. Fuel availability.

2. Safety.

3. Storage space consumed

4. Cabin space consumed.

5. Deck space consumed.

6. Heating in slip vs underway.

7. Heating when aboard vs off the boat.

8. Ambiance.

9. Insulation.

10. Ventillation.

1. Fuel availability. From a fuel availability standpoint, it is wise to consider the type(s) of fuel already aboard. If one has a diesel engine, that fuel is already aboard. If one has a propane BBQ, that fuel is already available. Rarely would firewood be on-board already. If the boat has shorepower or a generator, electricity is available.

2. Safety. Diesel has low chance of accidentally combusting. However a spill from a leaking connection is possible. Propane is explosive in concentration and heavier than air so may ne the most dangerous. On the other hand, any propane heated vessel, likely already has a propane BBQ and stove, and should be equipped with a "sniffer" to detect a leak, and solenoid to shut off the propane supply (and a valve) when the heater is not in use. Wood or charcoal may combust if stored too near the heater. Bringing firewood on board risks undesirable insect infestation. Electricity is likely the safest "fuel" to have aboard, as long as the boat wiring is proper, and a safe heater is used. Alcohol, while burning clean, also can burn invisibly. Many a boat fire has happened due to this (including a dear friends, using a non pressure alcohol stove we sold them). Radiant heaters pose a serious burn risk if one should accidentally come in contact during operation, whereas forced air heaters, not so likely.

On our first 20' boat some 20 years ago, I realized we had:

1. Propane for the BBQ.
2. Gas for the auxiliary and dinghy motor.
3. Butane for the portable stove.
4. Lamp oil.
5. Wax candles.
6. Arial flares.
7. BBQ lighters.

That's a lot of combustibles in a pretty small space. On subsequent boats, we have taken steps to avoid building floating bombs.

3. Storage space consumed. If one has a diesel engine, there is no additional storage space required for diesel. Same goes for propane if a BBQ exists. Fill-ups may be more frequent. For wood, charcoal, kerosene and alcohol, this may not be so, and additional storage space may be consumed. Shore power electricity consumes no space.

4. Cabin space consumed. Every kind of system will consume cabin space. Forced air heaters are often mounted in remote storage areas of the boat of lowest value storage, but the ducting running throughout the boat, may be through high value storage areas, like under settees.

Radiant cabin heaters consume a lot of highly valuable real estate in the cabin (especially when including the minimum clearance zone around them).

5. Deck spaced consumed. For diesel and propane, this is usually none (as no additional fuel storage space is required if the fuel already exists aboard. However, radiant heaters require a vent coming through deck, that is usually unsightly, may catch on lines and sheets, and may be a toe stubber, shin scraper in the summer.

6. Heating in slip vs underway. A few years back we were hired to consult a new liveaboard (Ontario) on heating options. As soon as it was ascertained that heat was not desired when away from the slip, electric quickly became favoured. (Installaing a generator solely for winter heating, would be cost prohibitive.) We installed a 30A shore power system to handle normal boat electrics, and primary 1500W electric kickspace heater. We installed a second "deep winter" 30 A shore power system to handle the bilge heater, two bubblers and a second kickspace heater. (This took advantage of the marinas shore power offering of 30A year round charge plus a secondary "deep winter" shore power charge.) Most other heating methods can be used underway, which if desired, eliminates electric heat (unless the vessel is equipped with an AC generator.)

7. Heating when aboard vs off the boat. This gets very tricky. For a winter live-aboard, the heating system must operate all the time to prevent freeze-up, perhaps for several days. This eliminates wood and charcoal for sure. I do know some who have left forced air diesel heater for extended periods. Most marina and vessel insurance policies will prohibit leaving portable electric heater unattended. For this purpose, permanently mounted electric heating becomes very attractive. (If leaving the boat for extended periods, it is wise to have a slip neighbour in a winter live-aboard community ready to start and keep running your potable generator in the event of marine power failure.)

8. Ambiance. There is no doubt a fire is a heart-warming visual. Our current boat is equipped with a forced air diesel heater. When we want a romantic atmosphere, we light the "Crackling Fire" DVD. ;-)

9. Insulation. Insulation is helps to reduce heating costs, and prevent condensation when moisture laiden air contacts walls. Any hatch metal frames will drip like crazy, as will the ceiling above sleeping areas. There are all kinds of commercially available insulating materials. Metal film coated bubble wrap is a great solution for some requirements. Insulated tarps laid on the deck are a low cost solution for winter live-aboards.

For winter live-aboard in freezing climates, a greenhouse is a virtual necessity. This also increases living space on nicer days, and prevents vessel access snow and ice build-up.

10. Ventilation. This is second factor in the condensation reduction formula. For winter live-aboards, who don't use forced air systems, we install several 12 Vdc fans to keep air moving thoughtout the boat. It is also important to "open up" all enclosed areas, by installing vents in lockers, under settee and berth upholstery, and the head. (Nothing worse than a chilly seat.)

Full Disclosure: I sell and install vessel HVAC systems. This post is offered as friendly advice and is not intended to solicit business.

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Old 25-01-2016, 14:58   #40
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Curious, since it's come up, the skill level required to do an install of diesel forced air. Our new to us boat has ducting from a previous install, so if I could use that seems like I'm a step ahead, but wondering how challenging the rest of it is.... particularly curious about getting into the plastic fuel tank for diesel supply.

Haven't done a whole lot of research yet but partial to the Wallas 30DT based on what I've read about them.

-- Bass

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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
check out Wallas heaters and stoves.


Diesel, quiet, low power and fuel consumption, reliable.
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Old 25-01-2016, 15:53   #41
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Basically any heater that is capable of heating the boat in cold weather is not going to be able to run low enough for just chilly nights - it will have to cycle to do it, and that should apply to gas as well.
Greg
THis is not universally true. For instance, the Webasto DBW2010 puts out 45k btu, and is either on full blast (heats water) or off.

Some of the smaller Webasto and Espar hydronic units have several heat settings, as well as all of the Webasto Airtop and Espar D2-D5 series air heaters.

Chris
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Old 25-01-2016, 16:23   #42
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I did an install of an Espar D3L I think it was and then an Espar Airtronic4 using the same ducts.

The install is not complicated... you have some challenges however:

finding an accessible and at the same time out of the way location for the heater.

running the exhaust pipe/hose... it gets super hot so it needs to be insulated and properly supported - a thru hull installed for the exhaust (transom)

Connect combustion air hose to burn air from outside... thru hull? into combing pocket? cockpit lazarette?

++++

If the ducts are there.... you saved some decent work.

Installing a diesel fuel pick up in the main tank... and routing the fuel hose to the heater... it includes an inline filter and metering pump. There are clear specs about how to place these items.

Install the thermostat ... inside wall... at about 5' high... run the supplied cable to the unit.

Mount the controller (all cables run between it and ... pump, T stat, heater.

attach proper diameter flex duct

run a fuse 12v supply to the unit

connect the supplied cable to the metering pump and controller
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Old 25-01-2016, 16:59   #43
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Concerning existing duct work, do not assume it was installed correctly. Too many bends, restrictions or both can cause serious problems for these heaters.


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Old 25-01-2016, 17:25   #44
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Well, that about sums it up! Sounds so... errr... easy?

I am hoping when I investigate further that most of the stuff that scares me is already in place, since there was a Wallas in there before... most specifically hoping I don't have to deal with the through hulls for exhaust or fresh air intake, that's above my pay grade. I have seen Wallas' setup for fuel line into the tank, might have the yard help me with putting a hole in my poly tank.

-- Bass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandero View Post
I did an install of an Espar D3L I think it was and then an Espar Airtronic4 using the same ducts.

The install is not complicated... you have some challenges however:

finding an accessible and at the same time out of the way location for the heater.

running the exhaust pipe/hose... it gets super hot so it needs to be insulated and properly supported - a thru hull installed for the exhaust (transom)

Connect combustion air hose to burn air from outside... thru hull? into combing pocket? cockpit lazarette?

++++

If the ducts are there.... you saved some decent work.

Installing a diesel fuel pick up in the main tank... and routing the fuel hose to the heater... it includes an inline filter and metering pump. There are clear specs about how to place these items.

Install the thermostat ... inside wall... at about 5' high... run the supplied cable to the unit.

Mount the controller (all cables run between it and ... pump, T stat, heater.

attach proper diameter flex duct

run a fuse 12v supply to the unit

connect the supplied cable to the metering pump and controller
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Old 25-01-2016, 18:07   #45
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

My 2.

We have 2 steel boats and have sailed around Newfoundland a couple of times. We live on the boat part time, last winter it got down to 1F one night. Last night it was somewhere in the teens. We also have a hunting cabin with a Dickenson diesel stove. I like it there but not on a boat, too hard to modulate the heat and the stack is a PITA.

I have an Espar D4 in each boat. They also have kerosene based bulkhead heaters as a back up. The D4 is well sized for the 33'er and a tad small for the 44'er but it works well enough. I installed one myself. It's not that hard but y gotta think it through. Espar of Michigan is a good resource.

IMHO you need to ask yourself if you need heat while sailing or just while anchored or docked. If you need it while sailing then I think the Espar is by far the best answer. The drip heaters have a gravity car berate and I don't think they work over a certain amount of heel.

On a 52' boat I would consider mounting 2 D4 units, if y want the whole boat warm, not just certain areas. Why? Because it limits the duct runs, gives you some zoning, and one will still work if the other breaks. Some warm areas are better than none. I don't find the maintenance a major issue, but carry spare glo plugs and mount the unit so you can change them. Run occassionally on some Kero as noted before.

Oh, and understand the thermostat options. They come with a "controller" which may not work for you. The base tstat will only run for 10 hours, then need so be reset, that is not at all obvious from the literature. They also have a 7 day thermostat.

In my book, if you want a "home" like experience Espar is the way to go.
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