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Old 09-09-2020, 13:35   #1
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Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Thank you all for your previous input on Dickerson Heaters. I think I am going to go for a remote forced air heater. There is the Espar and Wabasco in the $3K range, the Planar at about $1K and then some nameless brands at around $200. HELP!!

Thank you in advance for the education and input.

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Old 09-09-2020, 15:19   #2
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

I put in a planar 4kw system. Overkill for just our main berth,but plan to t it off to the saloon as well.
Cost about 1200 cad,for all supplies to install. Took a couple hours to put in and I have not regretted it yet
If we hit a point that we need heat in the other hull, I will put in a 2kw unit in that side
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Old 09-09-2020, 16:46   #3
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

We have an Espar that is probably about 10 or so years old. It's brilliant. It used a lot of power to start up but then drops down to something like a fridge in terms of amps. It uses roughly 0.1 l/h of diesel.

We have two boats. The other one has a Force10 bulkhead mounted propane space heater. It is a very primitive piece of equipment compared to the Espar. The latter are not cheap but they really work.
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Old 09-09-2020, 19:05   #4
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Iíve got an eberspacher/espar installed in about 1998 two owners ago. Havenít run it since this morning.
Itís wonderful. Really sweet. Nothing like warm dry air on a cold foggy morning.
Iíve been told that running full on/full off results in lower maintenance than than the half power modes. I did have a thermostat issue this year but took apart and cleaned and lubricated the potentiometer and all set.
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Old 10-09-2020, 08:13   #5
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Why not a two way air condition system to get cooling capability along with heat. There are many out there like Dometic under $2000 plus installation

(probably under 1000). Living in Florida I lack experience in using as heater but see no reason why it would not proform well. Certainly, on resale, A/C capability would be more valuable than a heater.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:21   #6
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

We have the Espar Hydronic 10 diesel heater on our 40 foot sailboat and love it.

There are four heat exchangers in our system. One in the v-berth, one in the aft cabin, and two in the salon. All the water lines are concealed behind the lockers and under the berths. Extremely efficient in terms of diesel usage and battery power.

We used it all winter for two winters while we were living aboard in Portland Oregon refitting the boat. We had no trouble maintaining a comfortable 75 F+ degrees inside the boat. It provides warm dry air and draws diesel from the main tank, which is extremely convenient.

We are surprised by how many nights we have used it during winter cruising in Mexico in the Sea of Cortez, in the slip and at anchor. I guess we are officially acclimated.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:35   #7
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

I have both a bulkhead diesel heater(FabAll - original sigmar brand) as well as Espar D5.

I like both, and honestly I prefer my bulkhead heater to the Espar.

The Espar works great, have no real complaints from it other than it is a power hog. On dock it works great because unlimited power, on anchor not as good due to power constraints(the wife enjoys being warm).

I think if I was doing a new system on a boat, for the price, I'd go with a hydronic heater. Running 4" or 3" tubing throughout a boat is VERY difficult. To the point where i removed the v-birth and head ducting due to it not actually heating the space and causing the main saloon to not get enough heat that I felt the heater was working over time just to get the area heated properly.

A hydronic system would be a much more efficient system and it would also mean you get hot water from it.

I am considering about upgrading my system to be a hydronic based system for the additional hot water ability.

If you run with a Airtronic/forced air system, I think they are okay for smaller boats where its really only heating one, maybe two spaces that are small, but if your runs are going to be long with lots of bends, really consider a hydronic heater.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:05   #8
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

I've got one of the "knock-off" $200 heaters installed and had if for a couple of years now. Works very well. The real cost is the arts for instal. I spent $400 in parts to get my $200 heater installed! If it dies early I can get either another $200 and drop it in or switch to another one. But what I'm working towards is 2 indepenent fuel sources.

Small wood burner in the main cabin (Cubc mini) in addition to the diesel heater. For me its about options..
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:30   #9
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

The smallest Webasto would be good. Installed several in new boats and they were very reliable. Managing a couple charter boats the Espar's were more trouble, not sure why. just offering that up.
People have been using forced air commercial truck heaters by Webasto (I think?) also. Dirt cheap comparatively.
PS: You can install a small forced air unit on a bulkhead with ease, similar to the Dickerson etc you were thinking about. keeps things very simple.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Webasto-Air...wAAOSwIKZdEg9E

I had an inexpensive Toyoset forced air one on the bulkhead of the boat in my Avatar. It worked very well once I went to Kerosene and a small tank.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:49   #10
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

We installed an Espar D-3 diesel forced air heater when we first moved aboard and the heat it produced was very nice to have. It is dry heat and fast. We choose forced air instead of hydronic because I wanted to avoid the weight of the pipes and radiators (and water) and the complexity of pumping water through the boat.

We loved to have the heat at the dock and also when we were out at anchor on a sub-freezing day, and it worked while sailing. It used about 3 amps, continuously.

There were two basic problems:
  • The Espar D-3 was too small for our boat and was over-worked, plus we needed additional BTU. We installed an additional bulkhead heater, which was more economical (electrically and cost wise) but could not be used while sailing due to downdraft issues.
  • There were frequent mechanical problems, 15 times in the shop in 21 months, we sued the seller but since the warranty period was over, we lost. We removed the Espar and kept the bulkhead heater, which we still have.
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Old 10-09-2020, 11:15   #11
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
Why not a two way air condition system to get cooling capability along with heat.
Reverse-cycle heat works really great right up until the sea water temperature reaches 41 degrees F (5 C) or so. In the Chesapeake for example, water temp usually dips into the 30's for January and February so you need a bit more muscle to heat the boat.
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Old 10-09-2020, 11:33   #12
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
I've got one of the "knock-off" $200 heaters installed and had if for a couple of years now. Works very well. The real cost is the arts for instal. I spent $400 in parts to get my $200 heater installed! If it dies early I can get either another $200 and drop it in or switch to another one. But what I'm working towards is 2 indepenent fuel sources.

Small wood burner in the main cabin (Cubc mini) in addition to the diesel heater. For me its about options..
I saw one of these in action from a neighbouring mariner.

I was actually fairly impressed at its performance, he said the exact same thing. Installation is key to long term reliability and overall performance. As well as the fuel you put through it obviously.

I might try one as a shop heater. Price is nice.

OP, you wonít be disappointed with a forced air diesel heater.

I use a planar personally, also have a Dickinsons bulkhead mount diesel heater as a backup.
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:28   #13
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Thank you Salior647 for this information on the Espar Hydronic unit. My Cal 246 is needing a new heat source as the old heater is past its due date. Nice to hear from a user. I have 3 or 4 heat exchangers plumbed but will probably replace the hoses as I believe they are 47 years old. I look forward to heat.
C
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:30   #14
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chayal View Post
I saw one of these in action from a neighbouring mariner.

I was actually fairly impressed at its performance, he said the exact same thing. Installation is key to long term reliability and overall performance. As well as the fuel you put through it obviously.

I might try one as a shop heater. Price is nice.

OP, you wonít be disappointed with a forced air diesel heater.

I use a planar personally, also have a Dickinsons bulkhead mount diesel heater as a backup.

That's actually how I started with my $200 heater. I built a temp carrier for it and put the exhaust out one of my stern ports while I was working on my boat during the first winter I had it. Had zero issues so I decided to mount it permanently. The hardest part with forced air is getting the balance right between outlets! My aft cabin gets more heat then my main cabin. I need to find a good damper I can add to adjust the air flow.
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Old 10-09-2020, 13:30   #15
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Re: Sailboat Heater Input/Advice Needed

i HAD A 46' PANOCEANIC AND LIVED aboard in San Francisco area where it gets darned cold in winter...I used one of the small square heaters like the ones in Holland....small ceramic tile on front, door that has window so you see the fire. Mine was the Dickinsons bulkhead anD WOULD HEAT up the entire boat very nicely and it would burn wood, coal or whatever. small pieces of wo0od worked great.AND AN ADDED BONUS WAS THAT IT WAS A VERY DRY HEAT thus keeping the interior of my boat dry rather than the moist air from the sea.


The Dickinsons bulkhead with Diesel burn is rather nice but it is not a dry heat and I just did not trust that one to go a night when I was in bed.


But remember no matter which one you purchase you will need sheet metal behind it, and double insulated pipe going up thru the deck...Not knowing your deck layout, you have to take into consideration air flow on the deck no matter which one you get. Hope that helps .


If your boat is in the 46+foot rante consider a diesel forced air via duct work.
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