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Old 13-11-2016, 11:34   #1
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Forced air heater

The previous owner of my sailboat installed a forced air heater that runs off of heated water from the engine.

I'm at a loss for just how this is beneficial. Engine's off while sailing, so no heat then. Run the engine while at anchor? Not sure this is desirable - you would need to run the engine every hour to keep a boat warm in winter.

I'm considering pulling it out of the boat to simplifying connections with the engine and add a bit more space.

So, how are other sailboat owners using this type of cabin heater?
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Old 13-11-2016, 11:39   #2
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Re: Forced air heater

If you're motoring it's "free", dry heat -- using no extra fuel. Otherwise it has the pitfalls you mentioned.


For a snowbird who's doing the ICW it's a great thing to have. Otherwise maybe not so much.
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Old 14-11-2016, 06:14   #3
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Re: Forced air heater

I too have traveled intercoastal in the winter and having one of these heaters is great. Mine is below the companionway ladder and lots of times I would just sit in the companionway with my feet on the steps. I'm anchored out in Florida now and on cold mornings when I have to leave for work it's nice to wake up a half-hour early start up my engine go back to bed and then get up and have a hot shower in a hot boat. I also have a small electric heater that I run off my inverter that I put in my shower before I use it.
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Old 14-11-2016, 07:38   #4
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Re: Forced air heater

I certainly would not remove it. Especially living in the Seattle area.
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Old 14-11-2016, 07:48   #5
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Re: Forced air heater

It sounds like you have something like this:

Tech Wiki – Catalina 34 International Association

If so, KEEP IT.

I just moved from SF to Vancouver Island and sure wish I had one.
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Old 14-11-2016, 07:56   #6
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Re: Forced air heater

These heaters (called "bus heaters" around here) are great, but only if you're motoring. I wouldn't rip it out. One day you'll be glad you have it.

I'd hesitate to run the main just for heat or hot water, although in a pinch I've done it. For that you're better off with a generator.

Better still would be a diesel-fired hydronic heating system which can heat both the potable water and the cabin. Down side is where to put the baseboard heaters, not to mention the cost. For now my forced air diesel heater works pretty well, but one of these days I'd like to add a bus heater. Let me know if you do decide to remove it!
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Old 14-11-2016, 11:42   #7
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Re: Forced air heater

Isn't it hard on a diesel engine to be started and run at idle for short periods of time?
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Old 14-11-2016, 11:57   #8
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Re: Forced air heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmksails View Post
Isn't it hard on a diesel engine to be started and run at idle for short periods of time?
Not really. They carbon/soot up, but it burns out quickly. Commercial salmon fishermen run their diesel at near idle while trolling. Often for 12 or more hours a day. Their engines last as long or longer that other marine diesels.
It would be better to idle a diesel every day in the winter than let it sit for months. But a Webasto or similar would be cheaper to operate.
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