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Old 30-07-2021, 11:39   #1
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Heating a 33ft sailboat

Hi all,
I'm planning on living on my 33ft sailboat this winter in Maryland. My boat currently has a small propane heater that simply does not cut it. I'm looking for advice on installing a new heater. I'm thinking a forced air diesel heater. I've done a lot of reading about the Espar brand and have had some other brands suggested to me. Any advice or opinions on specific heaters would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
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Old 30-07-2021, 13:15   #2
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

There is a Chinese knock off that is cheap that might work the first year allowing you to see if that will work for you.
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Old 30-07-2021, 13:30   #3
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

We fitted the Webasto ST2000 to our 31ft yacht a decade ago before the Chinese copies became available. Brilliant bit of kit we often have to turn it down when using it in the UK winter. We have two outlets to rear cabin and main saloon.

How do you plan on heating water? will you have mains electric as well?


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Old 30-07-2021, 13:42   #4
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obrien1234 View Post
Hi all,
I'm planning on living on my 33ft sailboat this winter in Maryland. My boat currently has a small propane heater that simply does not cut it. I'm looking for advice on installing a new heater. I'm thinking a forced air diesel heater. I've done a lot of reading about the Espar brand and have had some other brands suggested to me. Any advice or opinions on specific heaters would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
If you are going to be at the dock, would go for several electric radiator type heaters. Quiet and constant heat.
Maybe a ceramic electric heater if you need a lot of quick heat.
Do like the Espar 5kw knockoffs which could also work for your size boat. More work to install and feed fuel than electric, but great if anchored out.

How well insulated is your boat (what boat do you have?)? A poorly insulated boat will be difficult to heat/keep warm especially when the water is near freezing and the air temp is even colder.

Other tips will be to get a good dehumidifier and possibly an electric blanket. Even if you don't run the electric blanket all night, it's really nice to turn it on before hopping in to the sack to take the chill off.

On a previous boat I made a frame and used clear shrink wrap on it, which kept it much warmer and kept the snow off most of the boat. Added bonus was the "sunroom cockpit" that would warm up nicely during the day to add more room.
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Old 30-07-2021, 13:47   #5
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

We have a Wallace DT40 on our boat, installed in 2006. This unit provides adiquate heat for our 36í sailboat in PNW conditions. The Wallace is expensive but has provided good reliable operation. Ours has been back for service a couple times but parts are still available. The unit looks and operates pretty much as new.
The extra expense may or may not pencil out depending on how long you plan on keeping your boat.

This heater uses diesel from the main tank (only saying this because some units recommend burning kerosene or diesel in a day tank). There is a relationship between the fuel tank level and the heater level. As I recall the heater cannot be mounted at a lower level than the tank. Youíd need to confirm this but it could have an impact on the mounting location.
Even though our unit has a thermostat we donít normally use it. The burner tends to soot up when it cycles on and off. Newer units may not have this problem.

If I were doing it again, Iíd insulate the heater ducts, but thatís about it. What ever unit you decide on, consider doing a search to determine if parts are available for a reasonably old unit (3 to 5 years-ish).
Good luck with your decision.
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Old 30-07-2021, 14:09   #6
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

Just a note. On a 33 you can just install a forced air heater like a free standing unit without running a bunch of vents and ducts etc through the boat. Sure, it will mainly heat the main cabin, so think about that. But the reality on a boat is your feet can be freezing while it's 80 degrees at the ceiling!
I put a forced air Toyoset in my 44 footer and it was great, (once I switched to kerosene instead of diesel) the outlet could be directed but we kept it mostly on our feet under the table.
There are diesel Webasto units for big trucks that are cheap and this would be a good application for that. Depends on your budget.
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Old 30-07-2021, 18:08   #7
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

While I haven't used it (yet), the previous owner of my boat installed a Navigator Sardine wood stove.
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Old 30-07-2021, 19:05   #8
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

I installed a planar forced air deisel heater in out catamaran. 4 kilowatt system. Ballpark price was $1200 (cad) and it took me about 3-4 hours to install with a heat duct only to the main berth.
When the outside temp is around the freezing point, keeping it on the lowest setting kept the room very warm. During the day we could turn it up (door open) and turn on the 12v fans throughout the boat and were quite content.
They are way more efficient than propane(costwise) but I would agree with an earlier statement that an electric heater or 2 would be better if you have dock power.
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Old 30-07-2021, 20:20   #9
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

Which type of liquid fuel heaters has the least smell in the cabin ?
I am going to get rid of my diesel engine and -tank, and have some fresh air, so no diesel heater.
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Old 30-07-2021, 20:29   #10
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

Hi, OBrien1234:

We are in Tasmania, 43 deg. South, approx. We came into a marina for the colder part of winter. We bought a de-humidifier rated at ten liters per day. (Actually, two of them, but that's another story.) We have taken thin clear pvc, and stuck it on the inside frames of all the opening ports and hatches. The previous owner put in spray insulation in the inside of the hanging locker and low overhead spaces in the forepeak and the head. With the de-humidifier, we no longer have the rainforest we had last year, and that is a huge improvement. The electricity for the dehumidifier and the little electric heater ran about $50 last month.

As to heat, we have a Dickinson copy called a Fab-All, a diesel, burner type heater, and there is a small computer fan mounted on the overhead, to encourage the warm air towards the cabin sole. We do not have a genset, so we use a hot water bottle instead of an electric blanket. On the colder mornings, when there is snow nearby, we also use a cheap electric heater to blow air under the table where our feet usually are. We are able to be warm enough this way. If you are used to winter in Maryland, you will already have adequate clothing for the conditions, and probably do a way better job of it than we, tropically acclimated, did.

Jim knew, and I was surprised, how very much difference the de-humidifier has made. There has been no rain forest in either aft cabin (a long way from the heat source.)

Some friends of ours who sailed from here to Alaska and return insulated all their cupboards, and created a clear plastic cockpit enclosure, except for the top of the dodger, which is opaque, for sun protection. The "crystal palace" not only creates a warmer space, it really extends the working/living area, and it is nice to be able to see out. We have two sets of friends with "crystal palaces": one had theirs made to their specifications, and the others have made both dodger, frame, and enclosure themselves. It is a big project when you start from scratch, but you get to make it just the way you want it. Besides the warmer space, it also gives you somewhere above decks to put wet foul weather, and other gear.

Good luck with it.

Ann
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Old 30-07-2021, 21:16   #11
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

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Originally Posted by carstendenmark View Post
Which type of liquid fuel heaters has the least smell in the cabin ?
I am going to get rid of my diesel engine and -tank, and have some fresh air, so no diesel heater.
A forced air diesel heater should have no smell in the cabin. If it does, you're doing it wrong.
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Old 30-07-2021, 21:28   #12
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

hi..
i have a beautifully crafted wallas heater....
great unit...

abe
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Old 30-07-2021, 21:36   #13
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
the reality on a boat is your feet can be freezing while it's 80 degrees at the ceiling.

agree 100 percent with that. also like the OP said: if you can run a good dehumidifier along with your heater .. it makes a huge difference.
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Old 31-07-2021, 09:35   #14
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

I live on my 32' sailboat and run either one or two space heaters from Walmart. $20 each.
When cool weather starts I use one. When it gets really winter cold I use 2. I always have a backup because if one dies chances are they all sold out in the middle of winter. I have never been cold. I have one facing my v-berth which I keep on low and the other in the galley which I keep on high. This is 24/7 during the winter and my electric in Va reaches $100 a month which is very reasonable to keep toasty!
I also place a runner on the sole of the cabin and I use insulation on all the windows and hatches. $68 at home depot
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Old 31-07-2021, 11:08   #15
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Re: Heating a 33ft sailboat

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Originally Posted by Bill O View Post
Other tips will be to get a good dehumidifier and possibly an electric blanket. Even if you don't run the electric blanket all night, it's really nice to turn it on before hopping in to the sack to take the chill off.
Lots of good ideas here - I can strongly recommend the electric blanket as well. A previous version of our hot water heater was poorly insulated but well situated under the V-Berth. In the cold months, this was great. We subsequently lived in New Zealand for several years where central heating of houses virtually does not exist - at least our house did not have such a system. However, an electric blanket (underneath the mattress cover) was amazingly effective. We turned it off once in bed, but it was great getting in after it had been on for 40 minutes or so. Strongly recommended!

Our boat in Vancouver has an Espar forced air furnace. Its great and much, much better than the bulkhead mounted Force10 propane heater on the other boat. If I were installing another diesel fired heater and had the money, I would go for the circulating water version because it can also heat the hot water supply while at anchor.
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