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Old 03-11-2020, 15:40   #1
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Diesel Heater Advice

Today the temperature here in Bermuda plummeted to 19 degrees Celsius. I had to wear trousers and a coat. My wife's fingers have gone blue. Yes, we are soft....

Rather than harden up we have decided to invest in a diesel heater. It's not a matter of life and death as it is for some of you and import duty is high, so it'll be a cheap Chinese unit.

There seem to be either two options - a ready-assembled unit or you can buy the bits separately and assemble them yourself. I think I want to install the unit in the aft lazarette rather than the cabin, which probably means self-assembled version. Plan is to draw clean air for combustion and ventilation from the lazarette, exhaust out of a re-purposed clamshell vent at the stern and duct the warm air into the cabin. Questions:

1) does this sound like a reasonable setup?

2) where is the thermostat? Is it on the little control panel wired to the unit or is it in the remote? If the former, how long is the cable? It would need to be about 12 feet to make it from the lazarette to a reasonable spot in the cabin. How many wires are there? Can I just splice a bit in the middle if it's not long enough or is the thermostat essentially a variable resistor, in which case changing the wire length would screw it up?

Thoughts? Comments? Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-11-2020, 15:55   #2
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

We have a Chinese knockoff heater installed (this one or remarkably similar). Overall we've been quite happy with it. A couple of thoughts:

What else do you have in the lazarette? If you have ventilation air coming from there it will smell like whatever is in the lazarette. And if there's anything dangerous (gasoline, paint thinner, propane,....) then might want to re-think that location.

Make sure you install the heater in a place where you can get to it or remove it easily. Especially if you run #2 diesel. It will need maintenance, the burner chamber will coke up eventually. The more you run it on low speed the sooner it will be, and the dirtier your fuel the sooner it will be. #1 diesel is still available here and greatly reduces coke formation. I presume kerosene would be the same, but haven't run our heater on kero.

The temperature sensor for control is in the LCD control panel. This panel has three wires and you can easily splice in extra length (we added 2-3m of cable for the same reasons).

The LCD controllers fade over time. Turn off the power to the heater when not in use to reduce the fading. New ones are available separately online, I would recommend carrying a spare (although maybe it's not a deal breaker for you if the heater doesn't work).

For maintenance, get a spare set (at least one) of gaskets when you get the heater.

The exhaust pipe can get quite warm, protect it from contact with anything flammable and add insulation. Be particularly careful of plastic things you might throw in the lazarette (fenders, dock lines, ....).
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Old 03-11-2020, 20:06   #3
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
We have a Chinese knockoff heater installed (this one or remarkably similar). Overall we've been quite happy with it. A couple of thoughts:

What else do you have in the lazarette? If you have ventilation air coming from there it will smell like whatever is in the lazarette. And if there's anything dangerous (gasoline, paint thinner, propane,....) then might want to re-think that location.

Make sure you install the heater in a place where you can get to it or remove it easily. Especially if you run #2 diesel. It will need maintenance, the burner chamber will coke up eventually. The more you run it on low speed the sooner it will be, and the dirtier your fuel the sooner it will be. #1 diesel is still available here and greatly reduces coke formation. I presume kerosene would be the same, but haven't run our heater on kero.

The temperature sensor for control is in the LCD control panel. This panel has three wires and you can easily splice in extra length (we added 2-3m of cable for the same reasons).

The LCD controllers fade over time. Turn off the power to the heater when not in use to reduce the fading. New ones are available separately online, I would recommend carrying a spare (although maybe it's not a deal breaker for you if the heater doesn't work).

For maintenance, get a spare set (at least one) of gaskets when you get the heater.

The exhaust pipe can get quite warm, protect it from contact with anything flammable and add insulation. Be particularly careful of plastic things you might throw in the lazarette (fenders, dock lines, ....).
Great advice here thanks. I've taken it all on board.

We don't get #1 and #2 diesel, just diesel in whatever grade it arrives. Probably #3! However one of the gas stations still sells kerosene from the pump. We will most likely be running at low speed most of the time so that's great advice about coking.

I was planning to replace one of the current clamshell vents with an all-metal variety, use that as an exhaust vent and wrap the entire length of exhaust pipe in fiberglass insulating tape. Will that do the trick do you think?
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Old 03-11-2020, 22:17   #4
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

+1 on the Chinese diesel heaters. They are becoming quite popular in my neck of the woods and I am getting ready to install one myself. It has been recommended to me to get the 2kw version as it will run higher and has less chance of coking up.
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Old 04-11-2020, 01:37   #5
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

We just ran our planar heater last night in South Carolina. It puts out practically instant heat and is cheap to run.
We are on a cat, but heres my setup.
4kw heater(I would have gone smaller if I knew how much heat they produce)
Secured the clamp to a block already in place in the engine bay(in swimstep)
Hooked up exhaust and ran out the side of hull(well above waterline with loop above in pipe)
Ran intake up through airflow vent in engine bay
Reduced 4" vent to 3" and ran 1 duct to main berth. V is in place to add second run if needed
Tapped into fuel just after racor filter for engine
Ran thermostat into main berth.
The unit came with all components needed for about $1200cad and took about 3-4 hours to install.
The only problem I had was the operating instructions were in Russian. But there's only 3 buttons, so pretty easy to figure out.
We have had it for about 1 year now.
Even in a marina with power, we still use it since it's so quick, and cheap to run
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Old 04-11-2020, 06:04   #6
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Thanks again. Most of the units on Amazon are 5-8Kw. I'd been looking at 5Kw units but I will now search for smaller ones.

$1,200? The ones I'm looking at are going for about $140!
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Old 04-11-2020, 06:57   #7
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Don't forget the CO monitor, to go with the purchase. Do NOT cheap on that.
Best wishes
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Old 04-11-2020, 07:17   #8
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

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Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
...wrap the entire length of exhaust pipe in fiberglass insulating tape. Will that do the trick do you think?
Yes, this is how ours is set up. Thankfully up here I can walk into any store and get replacement wood stove door gasket material. This is tubular, high temperature mineral wool and has an ID that perfectly fits the exhaust pipe, just pull it on like a sock and it canít come off. Cheap too

Having looked at them Iím not sure thereís much difference between the 2 and 5kW units (at least in the knockoffs) but certainly worth exploring.

One more caveat, the hot air that comes out of our vent is hot. As in approaching 90C (200F). The further it goes down the duct the more it cools, but this rules out using plastic duct extensions and means you need to have a little care about vent location.
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Old 04-11-2020, 07:29   #9
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

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Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
Thanks again. Most of the units on Amazon are 5-8Kw. I'd been looking at 5Kw units but I will now search for smaller ones.

$1,200? The ones I'm looking at are going for about $140!

Planar heaters are Canadian made, with North American service and distribution, geared more towards the trucking industry. Reliability at -40C is really important.
There are counterfeits, buyer beware.
They even have a sales and service dealer in my city, and I am at the end of the pavement in Northern Canada.
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Old 04-11-2020, 07:41   #10
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

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Planar Heaters Ltd. is the exclusive North American distributor of the diesel-fired autonomous heating systems PLANAR manufactured by Russian company Advers (Russia).

Planar Heaters Ltd. has been in business since 2013, serving our dealers and customers in Canada and the United States...
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Old 04-11-2020, 07:45   #11
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Thank you for the correction. Built in a place that has even colder temperatures.��
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:15   #12
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Be cautious with Chinese heaters, I've seen some catch fire in vans. One thing you need to think about is how much power they consume. My airtronic at startup burns 9.5amp/hr, high burns 5 and low burns 3.5
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:18   #13
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by DefinitelyMe View Post
Today the temperature here in Bermuda plummeted to 19 degrees Celsius.
I normally need sun cream if it get that hot

How long will the air heater pipes be? I fitted a Webasto before the chinese heater became available. I then went back and put insulation on the heater pipes. On a 4m x 60mm pipe run without the insulation i could hold the back of my hand in front of the outlet. After installing the insulation, it was too hot for more than a couple of seconds, so well worth doing. Although the insulation is quite expensive per metre it was well worth it so the heat now heats the cabin, not the cockpit locker or behind the furniture. Mine is marked Webasto, but believe it isn't a universal Webasto product so you may need to order off e bay etc.

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Old 04-11-2020, 10:00   #14
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

Diesel has a lower smoke point than kerosene and produces more soot. Kerosene has a very slightly higher calorific value.

Kerosene is used in aviation (Jet#1). There are 2 grades of kerosene depending on the sulphur content the higher or more refined grade, less sulphur, 1-K produces very little soot.

Running these types of heaters on kerosene instead of diesel reduces maintenance considerably.
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Old 04-11-2020, 12:56   #15
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Re: Diesel Heater Advice

I also went with Planar (Russian knockoff). Very happy. I went with planar over Chinese because of availability of repair parts. Planar has good distribution channel in US an Europe.
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