What is the best liveaboard heating method? - SailNet Community

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Old 07-29-2010
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What is the best liveaboard heating method?

I'm curious, what does everyone use to heat their boat during their winter liveaboard months? I've searched this forum and I have not found a thread that specifically covers this topic, but if I'm duplicating threads, please point me in the right direction!

We are in the final stages of purchasing a boat to be our liveaboard. The boat is 35', and we are a family of 4, and will be living in the Annapolis / Chesapeake area. I will be working each day in DC, but my wife will be a stay at home mom for our twin boys who are 11. I'm a little concerned about keeping the boat warm during the winter months, without breaking the bank by running an electric heater from shore power all the time. SO, I'm reaching out to the mass collective knowledge (aka SailNet Forums), in search of what everyone else has found to work the best.

What works best?
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Old 07-29-2010
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hydronic heat is absolutely the best...can be pricey, but is quiet, efficient, easy to use, safe, and some systems work without shorepower full time...
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Old 07-29-2010
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We lived onboard for two winters in the NYC area and had an Espar forced air system. This seemed to work better than boats that relied on electricity. Our boat was warmer (we never had our heater on full-blast) and drier and did not have the cold spots near the floor that they had. Downsides are that you have to jerry jug your fuel in (we used about 20 gallons every three weeks on a 45' footer - and I was on the boat most of the time) and the capital cost. Also the duct work takes up a fair bit of space in lockers - but keeps these lockers toasty and dry. A hydronic system would avoid this problem since you are running small-diameter water hose rather than much larger air ducts - but these systems are even more costly and more complex.
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Old 07-29-2010
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Old 07-29-2010
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Eberspächer UK - Applications for Marine

The Airtronic D5 kit is about 3k [ in the UK ] runs on diesel.

Eberspachers are the most widely used diesel heaters in Europe, boats and trucks rely on them.
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Old 07-29-2010
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Old 07-29-2010
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Espar D5 diesel forced air heater. I like it.
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Old 07-29-2010
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Espar or Webasto both make excellent hydronic/FHW or FHA units. I tend to like the scorched air units as they keep the boat nice and dry. Four people on a boat with all that breathing and condensation and you may be better off with FHA. If one or two people a hydronic system will be more comfortable and can heat your hot water too..

Defender now sells Webasto kits. I love Espar units but our distributor in Norther New England I rather dislike. Have used both systems and they are both very nice..
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Old 07-30-2010
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Both my present life and my boat size don't allow me to live aboard, but when I do need to heat the cabin in the winter I use a very simple yet effective solution:

A clay vase (a simple unpainted one, obviously) upside down on top of a camping-gaz stove. You'd be surprised of how much ambient heat this configuration can produce from a mini stove running on the mininimum possible setting...

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Old 07-30-2010
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Thought I should mention, when friends of ours wintered over south of Baltimore, they enclosed the cockpit with a plastic curtain hanging from the bimini -- this gave them both an "airlock" and a place to store beverages to be cooled, etc. Seemed to help their boat stay warmer.
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