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Old 25-09-2019, 07:00   #31
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Originally Posted by joycemango View Post
Going Chinese may have the downside of poorly written installation instructions, and a kit that does not have "it all." Any advice or recommended brands on this front?
Joyce - as someone who has lived aboard on/off for about 5-years total (granted, San Francisco is more temperate than VA), I really doubt you will be sorry you went this route. The alternatives are not great. Not sure you will need an additional tank though - easy enough to cart a 5-gal can to fill-up every couple weeks.

Others: I'll echo Joyce's request for a recommendation. I watched the YouTube video recommended by another post and noted the heater sounded a bit loud in the background. Would add 'quiet operation' to Joyce's general request for a recommendation.

Thoughts?
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Old 25-09-2019, 07:11   #32
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

This look cozy:
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7281/...5a955e1c_b.jpg
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Old 25-09-2019, 07:23   #33
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Old 25-09-2019, 07:36   #34
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Originally Posted by joycemango View Post
I'm not sure how much more anyone can tell us about these systems; from Webasto just now I have heard:
Installed a ST2000 Webasto blown air heater (2KW) on our 31ft yacht 5 years ago now. Brilliant bit of kit. The UK had a really bad freeze in Feb 18 with temperatures down low enough for sea water to freeze. This was the month we decided to move on to the boat whilst we had a new kitchen and boiler fitted in the house. Sounded a good plan several months before hand

Anyway 31 ft yacht with 700w portable oil filled radiator kept the chill off during the day and with the ST2000 running at half setting on board temperatures reached 74f in the evenings. Had to open the hatch at times. The boat was icy cold when we moved on board and had a real problem for 48 hrs with condensation even in lockers. Tins of food had water running down them. But after two days the blown air heater had warmed the whole boat, the condensation blown out the vents and life became quite pleasant.

The kit took 2.5 days to fit but included fiber glassing a panel to the cockpit locker to mount the heater on. Connected to the main 90 litre tank but that was cleaned out so no problem with fuel. The heater does have a little in line filter. In the UK Webasto sell an extra insulate cover for the air pipes, these are not available in every country sadly. The difference is without the extra insulation I could hold my hand in front of the heater outlet. Subsequently fitting the insulation, the hot air was too hot to hold my hand in front for more than a couple of seconds. So insulation with temperature rated material is strongly recommended.

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Old 25-09-2019, 07:51   #35
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Right you are about the water being shut off, one of the Norfolk marinas I spoke with casually mentioned the water being shut off in December - yikes! I was speechless and said what do liveaboards do (some of whom I'm sure drink tea)? Without missing a beat, he threw back at me that the yard water was still on (like I knew what that was) and otherwise they could get a bucket and fill it somewhere (???) - like these were all OK.
Didn't know what to make of this, so pushed it out of my mind, like Scarlet O'Hara.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:07   #36
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

For boat heating at a marina then electric is the way to go. I am not sure why posters have had condensation problems with this type of heat. Burning propane certainly generates a lot of moisture. But I am not sure how a passing electricity through a resistive element generates any water vapour. Our boat is well insulated which helps tremendously, and may not be representative, but we have had no condensation problems with electric heating.

Away from the marina the drip fed diesel heaters have lot to recommend them. They are very simple, there is almost nothing to break down, don’t need any servicing (we have not even cleaned ours yet) use no electricity and can also be used for cooking. However, they are large and have specific installation requirements so can be difficult to retrofit.

This is our Reflex heater test fired during construction:
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:22   #37
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

I will install a 5kW chinese forced air diesel heater next month on our cat. We have reverse A/C units on board, but the 220V intake pumps die frequently and you have to run the onan genny, marinas in Europe provide low amp connections, not sufficient to run more than one the A/C unit at a time.

Bought it on eBay, 200$, all parts included, like, control board, hoses, cables, clamps, day tank, muffler. Only the troughhull and a tank probe to connect to the main fuel tank was needed extra up to now. Will probably add some more higher quality parts and buy a second unit as spare if it works as expected, I will start with the day tank and if it needs too often refills, i will route a fuel line to the main tank.

I plan to feed in the hot air into the existing piping of the salon A/C, down bellow we will use a dyson electric heater if needed, the berth do not need to be that warm either and the bathroom is quickly cosy before showering.

Not sure about the combustion air intake. I am thinking about getting the air off the bilge to force venting and dehumidification, but if there is any smell, I will route the intake to the anchor locker outside. The air intake for the heater will be shared with the A/C unit under the settee.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:29   #38
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

I stay aboard much of the time in Seward Alaska in the winter. My temperatures generally get down into the 20ís with highs in the 30ís and 40ís.

I use a Wallas diesel forced air heater for heat. This has a fresh air intake as well, so I am getting a mix of recirculated air, and outside air. This keeps the humidity down pretty well.

I also have a plug in home depot dehumidifier that keeps the humidity down during really humid times, which is also warm weather times makong the furnace run less.

If you are serious about staying aboard during the winter you need a good quality diesel heater.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:35   #39
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Joyce,

Everyone with experience is giving good advice.

Living aboard between 56-62įN we are asked these questions often. Therefore we have a series of posts based upon our experiences in cool weather over the years- broken down into topics.

In case it is of interest, Living on a boat in cold weather is our first post in that series, and contains links to several others on this topic.

Staying warm, safe, and comfortable is absolutely achievable.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:44   #40
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

I assume you are saying you are not living aboard?
Stor-Dry units take only 100 watts like a light bulb. They keep just enough heat to avoid freezing and keep things dry. They will not burn up shore power cords or flip breakers like space heaters. When I lived aboard with one or two space heaters on low I would burn up a shore power cord every year.
There are a couple different brands of these Caframo and another. They are great and trouble free. On a big boat get maybe 2 or 3 , one near the engine.
If possible I would take the cushions home for dry storage.

If living aboard, you have decisions to make and many options are listed above in posts. Diesel forced air heaters are expensive, complicated and require maintenance; if it's just one winter and then heading south , I would just go with a couple small electric space heaters. However, you can just bulkhead mount a small Webasto forced air diesel heater without a bunch of complicated ducting and keep it simple. If you run it on kerosene you will reduce maintenance a ton.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:55   #41
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

The main concern with the knock off/ counterfeit diesel heaters is that there is no quality control and no safety compliance. They very well could be using tin foil for the combustion chamber and when/if it burns out you will have combustion gasses (carbon monoxide among others) dumping into your living space and or a fire. A lot of cost associated with compliant products is safety testing and inspections by third party companies. You may luck out and never have an issue but with a spill-able appliance this is a big risk IMO. The out of country (ie Chinese) manufacturer/retailer have zero obligation or liability for your safety or well being.
IMO webasto are great units but overpriced. Planar is another reputable name at over half the price of webasto. There are also numerous counterfeits online these days so buyer be ware.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:57   #42
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

I have not read the whole thread but will chime in based on having spent a few winters in the Chesapeake. I'm going to assume that you'll be in a slip.

- If this is just a short term (one winter) situation, then I would advise getting 2-3 oil-filled electric radiators. Two will be adequate for most of the winter, but if there is a serious cold snap they won't keep up and pressing a third into service will probably be necessary.

I had two on my boat (also 40'), but the boat also has built-in diesel heat. It was set to kick on when the temperature in the boat went below @ 60F or so.

- Plug your heaters into the electric pylon on the dock, buying adapters if necessary, and use quality heavy-duty extension cords of the appropriate capacity. CHECK THE PLUGS REGULARLY. Any resistance or loose connection and the risk of fire is significant. Yes your boat may have shore power 110v receptacles but the wiring is likely older and heating up the wires in an old boat with a significant electrical load (3000-4500 watts) is a really bad idea.

- Ideally you would have the boat shrink wrapped, not only for heat retention but also to keep snow and ice off the boat, which can really wreak havoc on the deck of an older boat, particularly if the gelcoat is not well sealed and in good condition. Also, it helps alleviate the condensation problem you can vent the boat into the enclosure and you don't have that hard thermal barrier right at the surface of the boat. Yes shrink wrapping is expensive but it is worth the expense.

- Run a dehumidifier if you have one, particularly if you are cooking and showering on the boat. Don't buy one of those Peltier kind...they are worthless for anything other than lowering the RH by a couple of percent.

- Consider buying crampons for your boots for walking the dock. Can turn into a skating rink in some conditions and can be a real hazard. A few people drown in the Chesapeake each winter from slipping on docks and falling in. The water is colder than you'd think.

- Keep your boat at a marina with floating docks, if possible. Trying to climb up to a fixed dock at low water when there is ice on the boat and the dock can be treacherous. Being on a fixed dock, were days during the winter when I could not leave my boat as it was simply too dangerous, despite being an able-bodied and relatively athletic person.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:58   #43
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Should also add to the electric concerns that if you are living aboard I would highly recommend you upgrade your shore power connection to the Smart plug or similar system. Standard shore cords are the leading cause of boat fires and chances are if you inspect your current one there is charring already taking place.
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Old 25-09-2019, 08:58   #44
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

We have a Chinese knock-off as noted above and like it. A couple of notes:
  1. The exhaust and combustion air inlet are intended to be installed pointed down. Hadn't even thought about that when we ordered it, just assumed exhaust went up. Not how it's designed. The manual advises that if you install up you have to put a low spot in the exhaust line and drill a hole for water to drain - doesn't seem smart to be drilling a hole in the exhaust line If you can install down then great. If not, then you'll have to figure out a way to keep water out of the exhaust and combustion air inlet.
  2. The silencer(s) that come for the exhaust and combustion lines have no fittings, they just jam into the end of the hoses. The exhaust one was pretty robust and I think is necessary, we made it work. The inlet one was cheesy plastic and we had no good way to use it, so fashioned something different.
  3. The exhaust pipe can get quite hot and is a fire hazard, the one thing the kit does not include is anything to deal with that. Go to NAPA (or some other auto parts place) and spend $10 on some exhaust wrap.
  4. If you burn diesel the burner chamber will coke up at some point. It takes about 15 minutes to open up the unit, clean it out, and put it back together. Install the heater unit in a way that it is easy to access and remove. Also keep either a spare set of gaskets or some gasket material on hand.
  5. We did have a problem with the controller and had a hard time getting satisfaction from the vendor, but they can be bought separately on Amazon/eBay for $20, same for parts like gaskets.

That may sound like a lot of warnings, but we love our heater and wouldn't be without it. Just want to paint the whole picture.
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Old 25-09-2019, 09:01   #45
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
When I lived aboard with one or two space heaters on low I would burn up a shore power cord every year.
That is scary.

Many marine electrical shore power connections /fittings have very optimistic current ratings in my view.
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