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Old 24-04-2020, 17:29   #1
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ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

I have been researching Diesel fueled heaters to identify which one will be suitable for our steel boat so as to winter as liveaboards above Lat 49 N.

(Next year, we will travel from Philippines to Kodiak via Hokkaido, Aleutian Islands, clearing in at Dutch Hbr)

Deciding Issues for me on what system to retrofit are:

Ease of Installation: This steered me towards a Hydronic system running piping for Heating Fluid in Series though to 5 Zones, rather than Forced Air. I could not afford to lose all the storage space of fitting a forced air ducted system

Ease of Maintenance: I wanted a system that I can trouble shoot and maintain myself and to fit boiler inside my engine room where it is dry and spacious

Reliability: This is where I am dependent on the experience and advice of others

Energy Efficiency: Initially I was very much attracted to the quiet Passive system of Radiators. Then I found out that Radiators use a 3/4" copper fin and tube.

To compare 1 foot of Copper fin and tube is only 500 BTU whereas a small Cabin Heater fan provides 8700 BTU. So, I would need 17 feet equivalent tube to compare. Also, more plumbing is involved as you need to branch off to radiators and then come back in the main loop.
That means more challenges with Noise and Vibration

Comfortable Interior at -6C?: The coldest month on record at Vancouver International Airport was January 1950 when an arctic air inflow moved in from the Fraser Valley and remained locked over the city, with an average low of −9.7 C (15 F) and an average high of only −2.9 C (27 F), making for a daily average of −6.3 C (20.7 F), 10 C (18 F) ...

So, does that mean I should size heater for the worst at -6C or take an
average of say 8C from Nov to March?

If I oversize, the Heater may cycle on and off too many times, which could cause fuel nozzle problems and premature failures. If undersize, then slow to heat up and be comfortable after a days sail.

What would those living aboard in those conditions advise from their experience?

Calculating Cabin Heater Size:
One Manufacturer uses the formula of Cubic Feet of Zone x 0.80 adjustment for furniture,
Then Multiply by
x8 For small spaces like heads
x10 For sleeping spaces for all other
x12 For all other spaces generally below 48 North and Non Liveaboard
x15 For High Use Spaces and Liveaboard.
I asked the sales person which factor I should apply, his reply 15 is for a colder climate but that is fine you can be really safe with that. The heater will cycle off more. Usually between 40 to 60%.

So, for those liveaboards in cold climates like Vancouver would you advise using Factor 15 for ALL sizing Cabin Heaters?

Noise and Vibration Levels: I think it is important as a liveaboard to have a system you can live with instead of listening to a Truck Heater all evening. Any thoughts and advice on that is really appreciated.

From my shortlist of Hydronic suppliers, this Canadian one ticked most of the boxes.

https://itrheat.com/products/marin-heating-systems/


I do remember reading negatives about them from one user on another CF Thread, but no details.
Appreciate reviews and advice from those who have used and installed them

Thanks for reading
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Old 24-04-2020, 19:20   #2
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

We've had an ITR Zephyr for 4 or 5 years. It has been a really good system. We use it everyday to get on-demand hotwater. I removed our old hotwater tank and installed the ITR in its place.
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Old 24-04-2020, 20:11   #3
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
We've had an ITR Zephyr for 4 or 5 years. It has been a really good system. We use it everyday to get on-demand hotwater. I removed our old hotwater tank and installed the ITR in its place.
Hi Paul,
Do you liveaboard year round?
What was the coldest temperature you designed the 33,000Btu Zepher for?
Did you use that multiplier 15 for cabin heater sizing?
How noisy are their cabin heaters?
Thanks
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Old 24-04-2020, 20:46   #4
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

I have an ITR Hurricane, 50K BTU and it can turn the boat into a sauna. Great system. Assists the hot water heater, takes heat from one of the engines, and has electric for minimal support at the dock. I could look up my volume later if it would help, but I doubt I have anything close to a factor of 15.
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Old 24-04-2020, 21:55   #5
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by wefleenor View Post
I have an ITR Hurricane, 50K BTU and it can turn the boat into a sauna. Great system. Assists the hot water heater, takes heat from one of the engines, and has electric for minimal support at the dock. I could look up my volume later if it would help, but I doubt I have anything close to a factor of 15.
Thanks wefleenor. Note you have a big cat in Oregon.
How cold did you factor for there in wintertime?
Do you liveaboard full time?
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Old 24-04-2020, 22:40   #6
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
We've had an ITR Zephyr for 4 or 5 years. It has been a really good system. We use it everyday to get on-demand hotwater. I removed our old hotwater tank and installed the ITR in its place.
I replaced my hot water tank with an ITR 4 zone system, works great now in its 7th year.......I only use 3 zones and the 4th loop goes to preheating my engine....
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Old 24-04-2020, 23:54   #7
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by nwdiver View Post
I replaced my hot water tank with an ITR 4 zone system, works great now in its 7th year.......I only use 3 zones and the 4th loop goes to preheating my engine....
Hi Nw Diver,
Note that you are from Vancouver, which was my home town. Since we will winter there as liveaboard, how did you calculate your cabin heater sizes and are you happy with it during a cold snap?
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Old 25-04-2020, 00:23   #8
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Hey Pelagic

We live aboard in Alaska on a 47’ steel pilothouse and have an ITR hurricane 2, we love it and couldn’t imagine using something else. It kept our boat toasty all winter, even during the cold snaps down to 0F we could have made a sauna.

It was installed when we bought the boat, but it doesn’t seem difficult, as long as you have access to run heater hose and wire for the fan. Previous owner did the install himself.

Maintenance is straight forward, we just did the 3 year service on it, took maybe an hour. Fuel nozzles are affordable and easy to clean so no big deal if you coke one up, you will notice it start to run rougher if you do.

Our heater is pretty quiet but our engine room is well insulated, ymmv. Fans are quiet too, I can barely hear them. It runs maybe 4-6 hours on a cold (5F) winter day and burns about 2 gallons per day, and maybe runs for an hour on a 40F day burning about 0.5 gallons per day. We also use it for hot water.

No idea what the cabin fan sizing is but will look into it.

Give the exhaust port some consideration. Ours is the one which also has an air intake and they are sensitive to saltwater intrusion. Ours is mounted on the side and I wish it wasn’t, we have to turn our heater off and plug the exhaust sailing in any heavy seas.

Cheers
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Old 25-04-2020, 04:01   #9
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, SteelEagle.
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Old 25-04-2020, 10:59   #10
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
We've had an ITR Zephyr for 4 or 5 years. It has been a really good system. We use it everyday to get on-demand hotwater. I removed our old hotwater tank and installed the ITR in its place.
Wow between 4 and 6k spendy
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Old 25-04-2020, 11:07   #11
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Thanks wefleenor. Note you have a big cat in Oregon.
How cold did you factor for there in wintertime?
Do you liveaboard full time?
Pelagic,

I simply told the builder that my wife can stand anything but cold. When I calculate the internal volume of the boat that I want to heat, or cool, it comes out between 3200-3500 sq ft. That would provide a factor of about 13-15. I have only been farther north in the summer months, but boat is currently in Portland and for the barely freezing temperatures there the heater does not work very hard to keep it toasty. I do not live on board, but since I live 600 miles away, I do spend a week there almost once a month (except now).

Bill
Double-Wide
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Old 25-04-2020, 11:10   #12
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

We just completed our first winter in PNW with our ITR Hurricane Combi 2.

First, to be clear, it is a hydronic heater such as Espar and Webasto, which means that it uses a diesel burner to heat up fluid (coolant) which gets circulated through hoses to heat exchangers that have 12v fans to blow warm air into the cabin, so to me it is a forced air heater, not a radiant heater because it has a fan that forces air over the heating element. If you review the video you provided you will see that clearly. The difference is that you use hoses (2 hoses per register) rather than ducts, which might save some space, but not by much.

We've lived aboard our boat for 3 years now, spending the first two in CA refitting her for full time high latitude cruising. In CA we used the Combi mostly for hot water. It's a great on-demand hot water system (no hot water tank needed). Gets up to full temp within 5 minutes.

During our refit we expanded the heating system of the Combi to 5 registers throughout the boat. This past winter we experienced temps in the low 20's, which our heater easily handled. Other owners tell me that this system can handle temps far lower.

Using the "Summer/Winter" valve on the Combi you can switch between hot water only (5 minutes to cycle up) and hot water + heat (15-20 minutes to cycle up and comes on @50% of the time to keep temp up).

It is a pretty easy unit to service, and the customer service of ITR is great. I have their tech support on speed dial and between texting and phone calls they have been very generous in spending as much time needed to help me figure out and fix any problems.
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Old 25-04-2020, 12:22   #13
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Check out Sure Marine Seattle's website. Lots of info on how to size a system and they have some kits priced out with suggested equipment needed to fully install a system. Note that a $3500 heater can easily become close to $10000 with all the fan heaters, circ pump, valves, hose, thermostats, etc. Then figure 40-60 hours for a professional installation.
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Old 25-04-2020, 12:22   #14
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Obviously, that is 3200-3500 cu ft and not sq ft. I have to hope none of those students I chastised over units all those years see this error.
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Old 25-04-2020, 23:12   #15
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Re: ITR Marine Heater Review and Installation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelEagle View Post
Hey Pelagic

We live aboard in Alaska on a 47’ steel pilothouse and have an ITR hurricane 2, we love it and couldn’t imagine using something else. It kept our boat toasty all winter, even during the cold snaps down to 0F we could have made a sauna.

It was installed when we bought the boat, but it doesn’t seem difficult, as long as you have access to run heater hose and wire for the fan. Previous owner did the install himself.

Maintenance is straight forward, we just did the 3 year service on it, took maybe an hour. Fuel nozzles are affordable and easy to clean so no big deal if you coke one up, you will notice it start to run rougher if you do.

Our heater is pretty quiet but our engine room is well insulated, ymmv. Fans are quiet too, I can barely hear them. It runs maybe 4-6 hours on a cold (5F) winter day and burns about 2 gallons per day, and maybe runs for an hour on a 40F day burning about 0.5 gallons per day. We also use it for hot water.

No idea what the cabin fan sizing is but will look into it.

Give the exhaust port some consideration. Ours is the one which also has an air intake and they are sensitive to saltwater intrusion. Ours is mounted on the side and I wish it wasn’t, we have to turn our heater off and plug the exhaust sailing in any heavy seas.

Cheers
Hi SteelEagle,
Welcome to CF and great first post on a beautiful boat that is similar to mine, which helps me a lot!
Really encouraging to hear your use figures for a cold snap and typical chill temps

Took a look at the Kristen 465 Pilothouse… really beautiful and purposely built for colder climates, whereas mine, (16 years older) was built in Holland for the Med, then did a circumnavigation but after 1995 with new Owners stayed in Tropics until now with their focus on lots of Aircon and a Marina/ generator boat!

Changes I’ve made since buying in 2004 in Phuket has been to make her more off grid and cruising ready. ...Now to take her to high latitudes

The Hurricane is a big-ticket item for me @ over $10k +shipping and I will self-install in the Philippines so appreciate any tips from all, on various things to consider.

Your note about Exhaust Shutoff in rough seas being a weakness is right on and I’ve already brought this up with ITR.

They don’t have a solution for an internal shutoff valve that can handle the heat, so I’m still looking for one. Maybe our detail guru, GordMay or others have ideas. (My first thought was a “Steam Valve”)
On the leg trip from Japan to Bering Sea, it would be nice to have a useable heater if conditions allow!

It would be nice to know more about the Cabin Heater choices and where the previous owner installed the cabin heaters for your similar layout

Note, your H2 is rated at 35,000 BTU/h I am specing out the Chinook which is at 50.000 BTU/h because it can be maintained from the front. But I am working on these decisions sight unseen. It replaced The Hurricane Combi 2 that SV Grace has on board

My Boat is a bit longer at 55ft on deck (not counting Bowspirit) but skinner for that length, and I doubt if she has as good a temperature insulation as your boat.
So I just don't know yet if that 50,000BTU/h is overkill??

Boiler Location: ….My Midship Engine room would be better place as the aft locker is a wet locker storing storm sails, towing warps and fenders etc…. ER is dry, well insulated for sound and I have dedicated spaces . So to exhaust out the stern is too long a run

Sketch shows Blue Exhaust so no issues with back pressure Green Fresh Air Intake from side vent or maybe a 2nd hull penetration above and Fwd. of exhaust. (Need to think about best location for loop to diffuse salt water mist? )

Photo shows the location where an overkill Aircon compressor will be relocated beside so that Chinook front facing inboard, with left side Aft.

I am presently going thru a design and installation checklist with ITR Sales and Marketing VP Marcelleo in Richmond, who has been very responsive to my questions?

So will document on this thread to help others and hopefully get advice for my installation and design....

Cheers! Nick
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