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Old 23-01-2016, 16:15   #1
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Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

As we all watch the latest round of storms pound the northeast, I ponder the question of installing a heater for the cooler months cruising southbound. No not talking where the snow is 2 ft deep, more for these cold snaps in Florida. I looked at the propane fired wall furnace/fire boxes vs the diesel. Looking for real world feedback




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Old 23-01-2016, 16:34   #2
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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.
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Old 23-01-2016, 16:45   #3
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I'm a liveaboard, and currently only have a Zibro heater. Works just fine, but not the safest option and it does nothing to keep the boat dry (quite the opposite).

Before next winter, I'm installing a Webasto. Officially, they're diesel only, but they do fine with petroleum* as well. Which, at least here in the Netherlands (well - Belgium to be honest), is (a lot) cheaper then diesel.

*Hope that's the correct English word for it - I mean the same stuff you use for Zibro heaters.
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Old 23-01-2016, 17:02   #4
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

It's kerosene... and Espar and Webasto should work fine with them. The diesel fired forced air is fast and pretty dry heat... but your metal bits like hatch and port frames will have lots of condensation... Most boats have poor thermal insulation... and will sweat when then inside air is warm... and people inside are putting moisture into the air by breathing and cooking.
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Old 23-01-2016, 17:04   #5
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

check out Wallas heaters and stoves.


Diesel, quiet, low power and fuel consumption, reliable.
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Old 23-01-2016, 17:21   #6
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Why not Air Con? These reversing systems seem to work well. If you have a 52' boat I am sure you must have aircon already. Simply upgrade the aircon to a newer version (Dometic) and you will have both cooling and heating. No mess.

Yes you need to have onboard genset or hooked to shore power but I am sure that you must have already with this size of boat.
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Old 23-01-2016, 17:51   #7
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I've got an Origo 5100, so alcohol (also my backup cooking stove). 1.5kw peak output.

When I get back with the boat I'm getting a twin burner Origo stove to put in (a lot cheaper here than in America), so will be all alcohol.

There's an LPG stove with oven on the boat I am in the process of buying, my brother in law will check it and all of the gas lines for safety (he's a fully qualified gas fitter), and I 'might' keep it if it's got a clean bill of health, but probably not.

I really don't fancy lugging gas bottles around to see if I can get them filled.

I'm getting a dehumidifier for use when connected to shore power anyway, and I'll be able to run it regularly when under way, so condensation won't be a problem (or anything getting damp for that matter).
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Old 23-01-2016, 17:57   #8
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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I'm getting a dehumidifier // so condensation won't be a problem (or anything getting damp for that matter).
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 23-01-2016, 18:23   #9
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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Why not Air Con? These reversing systems seem to work well. If you have a 52' boat I am sure you must have aircon already. Simply upgrade the aircon to a newer version (Dometic) and you will have both cooling and heating. No mess.

Yes you need to have onboard genset or hooked to shore power but I am sure that you must have already with this size of boat.
I agree. In my opinion, a bi-directional heat pump is the way to go. If you don't have an enormous solar array, you'll need a generator. There are both AC and DC options.
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Old 23-01-2016, 18:48   #10
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

Propane is heaver than air. Any leaks settle in the bilge - waiting for a spark or flame. A byproduct of burning propane is water. Unvented propane heaters, besides suffocating you make the insides wet. MY barbecue is propane and stays outside.
If you have a diesel engine the fuel is already aboard. Diesel doesn't easily ignite or explode.
In a cool climate a diesel stove is one of the best ways to go. But it will roast you out in the tropics. Then a either a diesel heater or something like a Wabasco heater.
Some of my favorite propane boat pictures:
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Old 23-01-2016, 19:42   #11
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Propane is heaver than air. Any leaks settle in the bilge - waiting for a spark or flame. A byproduct of burning propane is water. Unvented propane heaters, besides suffocating you make the insides wet. MY barbecue is propane and stays outside.
If you have a diesel engine the fuel is already aboard. Diesel doesn't easily ignite or explode.
In a cool climate a diesel stove is one of the best ways to go. But it will roast you out in the tropics. Then a either a diesel heater or something like a Wabasco heater.
Some of my favorite propane boat pictures:
While I quite agree that diesel is a very good choice for heating a diesel powered vessel, your "propane pictures" are a pretty cheap shot. I can post a nearly infinite array of photos of "propane boats" that are in good nick, and an even bigger array of automobiles smashed beyond recognition... so I guess that you don't recommend driving one... similar logic IMO.

Jim
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Old 23-01-2016, 20:34   #12
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
Some of my favorite propane boat pictures:
"Fireman" is an interesting name for a boat destroyed by a propane explosion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
While I quite agree that diesel is a very good choice for heating a diesel powered vessel, your "propane pictures" are a pretty cheap shot.
In my opinion, those photos are a fair illustration of the explosions that propane can cause, a problem that is not caused by diesel or electric heaters. A fire can also destroy a boat, but at least it's possible to fight a fire or escape from it before it becomes deadly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
I can post a nearly infinite array of photos of "propane boats" that are in good nick, and an even bigger array of automobiles smashed beyond recognition... so I guess that you don't recommend driving one... similar logic IMO.
I don't recommend driving a propane powered automobile.
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Old 23-01-2016, 20:43   #13
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I wouldn't run a forced air diesel furnace on #2. I use #1 in my Toyostove and would in any other forced air installation. The drip fed models do just fine on #2 and that is what everyone runs their powerplants on anyhow.
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Old 23-01-2016, 20:48   #14
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

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I don't recommend driving a propane powered automobile.
propane auto :
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Old 23-01-2016, 21:13   #15
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Re: Heaters. Propane? Diesel?

I'll chime in on the side of the diesel camp. We have a Webasto system which is circulating hot water around to 5 different radiator/fans around the boat. I like this system better than the old Dickinson diesel stove we had in general.

BUT, (there's always a but), the Webasto does use a lot of power. It draws in the neighborhood of 5 amps when it's running. Currently, on a cold night in central FL, it's running about 10 minutes per hour. When it's colder, it obviously runs more. Last winter we launched in March in Rhode Island, and when the temperature was below about 20 degrees, it was running continuously and not quite keeping up. This equates to something like 100 amp hours per day (and 3-4 gallons of fuel).


Of course, the electrical demands on the refrigeration decline with temp, so the heater's draw is somewhat offset when it gets really cold.

We are not polar sailors, however, and during seasonal highish latitude cruising, we find the consumption of power and fuel to be very reasonable. We used it all summer in Newfoundland's coldest in history most recently, and it worked like a champ.

And, it's drawing right from the main supply, no need to carry other fuel.

It's dryer than propane by far as well.

Hope that helps.

TJ
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