Here's another 2 cents.... My real-world experience is limited to using a Dickinson
Bristol (the smallest model with an oven) for 4 years of full-time liveaboard-ing. I knew of Dickinsons from my time living/fishing in Alaska
where at one time almost every commercial
boat had a Dickinson
and many people had the larger models in their homes for heating/cooking. So I jumped on one that was advertised for free. The owner was taking it out to replace with a propane oven
because his wife didn't like waiting for the Dickinson to warm up---- understandable given that they were just occasional day-sailors.
In contrast, I burn the Dickinson pretty much 24/7 from late November until early April. Mine has a carburetor (i.e., valve) factory adjusted for kerosene. I have a spare valve calibrated for diesel
but prefer to burn kerosene because its cleaner and this means a) less odor
and b) less frequent cleaning
of the burn chamber. When the stove is running 24/7, I look at use of the oven
(or the stove top) as "free" cooking
. I'm using the stove as a heater and the cooking
doesn't "cost" anything over what I'm paying for heating
. As far as the cost of heating
, I constructed my (previous) boat with a ply-foam-ply composite sandwich throughout and it takes little to heat the place-- I almost always burned the stove on the lowest setting and had t-shirt temps in the cabin
. At that setting, the stove would burn approx 1 gal. in 24 hours. I rarely used the fan and had a gravity feed tank (I used to place more of an emphasis of being totally free of the grid than I do now... but still think its an important consideration to have a stove/heater that can function well without consuming any electrical
The heat is a wonderful dry heat--- much like what wood or coal would offer (I imagine--- having no direct experience with those two). I use one of the Canadian-made "magic" fans to circulate the air off the top of the stove. These fans are made for wood stoves and produce their own electricity based on heat from the cooktop (seems like perpetual motion to me).
Baking in a Dickinson is truly amazing-- very even temperature throughout the oven.
So, high praise from me for heating and cooking with a Dickinson--BUT, I'm evaluating options before I install a stove on my "new" boat. I suppose I'm hesitating (on installing another Dickinson) simply because of the rising cost of kerosene/diesel. Bio-diesel is an interesting option but after burning anthracite coal in a Godin stove (wanna see a work of art? look up Petit Godin on the net and just look at the photos) in my workshop last winter, I'm tempted by the possibility of using coal (but only anthracite) in say a "Halibut" model from that place putting out the navigator stoves. One thing I notice is that some of the manufacturers are not really clear whether they intend for coal, not just charcoal, to be burned in their stoves. Anthracite produces a very hot fire and a little goes a long way in a well-designed stove.
Probably end up with another Dickinson though!