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Old 18-12-2018, 17:46   #1
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What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

Wonder what type of heat systems do people use if any on the cold days.
Which is safe and better to use then others????
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Old 18-12-2018, 20:33   #2
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

In my slip I have never seen it get below freezing inside my boat so usually I don't bother. And if it's THAT cold I am certainly not taking the boat anywhere. An electric blanky when it is really really cold. Otherwise I sleep under two unzipped sleeping bags as needed, and dress warm. I have also ran a 1000w space heater in the vee berth at night, with the door closed. Never woke up shivering since I bought all the sleeping bags. On a previous boat I built a Franklin type stove out of scrap steel, chimney pipe, and a 30gal steel drum that originally contained chain. It put out a tremendous amount of heat but the fire would get cold about 4 in the morning if I didn't get up and feed it a little in the middle of the night. When it started to burn through in a couple of places I decided it wasn't worth the hassle. Can't use a wood stove where I am now. Not allowed. They allow propane, but not wood. Go figure. In New Orleans, electrric blankets and space heaters are very popular with liveaboards. Our needs are modest and my marina has showers so no need to take "ho baths" in a cold boat.


I will probably install a homebrew pressurized diesel stove in Brute Force, unless I find a sweet deal on a used one. I like using the same fuel for engine, generator, cooking, heating, lights, etc. Kerosene is another option for me since I have several backup kerosene anchor lights, running lights, house lamps and lanterns, etc and the wicks tend to clog up when burning diesel, even ultra low sulfur road diesel. My single burner on the little boat will cheerfully burn diesel or kerosene, either one, but it has no flue so can't use it to heat the boat, and I have to open the hatch for cooking with it.


Motorboaters have an advantage when it comes to heating. Just run the cooling water through a radiator, or wrap copper tubing around the exhaust manifold. Well, at least it works when the engine is running.
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Old 18-12-2018, 20:37   #3
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

Oh BTW speaking of light, pressurized diesel lamps put out a LOT of heat. BryteLyte is one good brand. Butterfly makes one a lot cheaper but still works pretty good. Just remember you must have SOME ventilation as like all open flames, it produces CO.
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Old 18-12-2018, 23:10   #4
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

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Originally Posted by videorov View Post
Wonder what type of heat systems do people use if any on the cold days.
Which is safe and better to use then others????
When in SE Florida, I did not need any. Same in the Great Lakes due to the seasonal use only (although, last June temperatures deeped to 40F on Northern Lake Michigan, which was boarderline tolerable). For the PNW use, I am having a diesel forced air heater installed by the manufacturer. A quote for a hydronic system came too high, so I passed on it. For a dock side use only, an electric system, either resistive or a heat pump type, would most likely suffice.
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Old 18-12-2018, 23:34   #5
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

Cruise in the PNW. Spent last winter in Petersburg, AK and this winter in Kingston, WA (Puget Sound)

We have a Webasto forced air diesel that works very well. When at a marina we use an oil filled electric radiator and small electric resistive when the electric rate is included in the slip charge
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Old 18-12-2018, 23:39   #6
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

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Wonder what type of heat systems do people use if any on the cold days.
Which is safe and better to use then others????
on my sailboat I use forced air diesel 5k unit on my boat same fuel as engine
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Old 18-12-2018, 23:40   #7
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

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Cruise in the PNW. Spent last winter in Petersburg, AK and this winter in Kingston, WA (Puget Sound)

We have a Webasto forced air diesel that works very well. When at a marina we use an oil filled electric radiator and small electric resistive when the electric rate is included in the slip charge
take a look at Poulsbo the rates are a bit lower and there is a lot more to do off the boat .
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Old 18-12-2018, 23:45   #8
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

Our aircon had a heat option...at dock, you simply plug in. Away, you run the generator but usually don't anchor out much when really cold.
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Old 19-12-2018, 00:02   #9
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

I use an Espar D5 Hydronic heater. While perhaps more complicated to install than forced air, it circulates hot water from one end of the boat to the other--and under the floorboards--resulting in even heat throughout the boat. I also run the hydronic circuit through a heat exchanger on the engine, so that while motoring the boat is heated by waste engine heat.
On the dock, however, where electricity is available an oil-filled radiator type electric heater keeps the middle of the boat reasonably warm.
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Old 19-12-2018, 00:17   #10
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

We are on our 6th winter in the Med - our first 2 in Tunisia we used a small heater that we got from West Marine. Generally it is warm in Tunisia but one winter we had snow on the beach at New Years - it got a bit cold.


We spent 3 winters in Turkey and the first one we got by on our WM heater but year 2 and 3 we had to go out and get a bigger heater as the little WM one did not do the trick. We had to run it 24/7 as it got cold.


This winter we are in Israel and we have yet to pull the heaters out - in fact we are in shorts and tee shirts most days -
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Old 19-12-2018, 01:43   #11
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

+1 on the Eberspacher unit. We were able to put heat throughout the boat without big insulated air ducts and less noise than a fan trying to push enough air fast enough to make sure the heat got to the front....
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Old 19-12-2018, 01:53   #12
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

I have a radiator with small topflo pump and circuit through my hot water heater, so yes, it needs shore power, otherwise same circuit goes through the Dickinson stove. In minutes 10 it is about 7 degrees inside Celsius, by the hot water heater, keeps insider from freezing.
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Old 19-12-2018, 10:04   #13
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

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take a look at Poulsbo the rates are a bit lower and there is a lot more to do off the boat .
Thanks Newhaul.

We had looked at Poulsbo, but Ray in Kingston was nice enough to hold a spot for us while we were on the hard in Pt Townsend, so we felt a little obligated.
Truth be told, Ray and the whole staff here are wonderful. (check out our Christmas lights!)

It may be a little more than Poulsbo, but it beats the heck out of Shilshole if you can even get in!

We have been to Poulsbo a few times since we have been in - I frequent the used nautical store there and Sluys Viking Caps are real artery cloggers.


Happy Holidays
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Old 19-12-2018, 10:17   #14
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

We have a Webasto reverse cycle AC/heat in our boat. (Atl, GA) Works well in both summer & winter.
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Old 19-12-2018, 10:24   #15
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Re: What type of heat system do people use on boats when its cold?

I would also be interested in what's best to use that's temporary and portable, for use to get through that section of the ICW in the fall when the cold catches up to you, until you make it far enough south and it warms up.
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