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WadeNooy 01-17-2013 09:45 PM

Heat Help
Hello Sailnet Community

I am purchasing a 42' boat to live aboard in the Pacific Northwest. She's a beautiful boat and I absolutely adore her, but there are two glitches:

Heat and Heat

1) Heating the air: She has no heater on her because she was used for cruising in warmer climes... so here is my first question:

I am debating space heaters versus installing a more 'substantial' system. I have heard that the drip heaters and propane heaters are not necessarily designed to be used heavily... but I have a hard time trusting a space heater (especially when I am away.)

Wondering what others do? And if you just use space heaters, it seems like all 1500 W heaters are essentially the same... (assuming similar safety features) despite differences between things like infrared or ceramic... Thoughts?

Which brings us to concern number 2:
Heating the Water
She has ONLY an engine heater on an 11 gallon system. So no electric. Do I install just an electric? The reviews of the ones at West Marine seem horrible. Which ones are people using and loving?

All thoughts and advice are appreciated. (it is a semi-moderate climate, but still damp and chilly here)

jrd22 01-17-2013 10:21 PM

Re: Heat Help
I have an electric heater going all winter in our boat to keep it dry and for freeze protection. I replace it every couple of years (West Marine brand) so I don't lose sleep about it, although I know people say to never leave one running if you are not aboard (what is the option?). I would also advise you to consider some form of heat while you are sailing/cruising. Even during the summer cruising months we end up using our heater some times, and use it full time during the rest of the year. We installed a forced air diesel heater and love it (Wallas), many people recommend the Dickinson propane bulkhead heater, and the engine coolant (bus) heaters are great for when the engine is running.
Can't tell you much about hot water heaters, we have one that uses engine coolant or shorepower and I've never had to mess with it (probably just jinxed myself for saying that).
Oh, welcome to SN!

Waltthesalt 01-17-2013 10:37 PM

Re: Heat Help
If you're living aboard you might want to invest in the more substantial system. A good local reference book on the subject has been "The warm dry boat" and you can usually get copies at the Boat Show and at Captians. I lived in a HR 41 with electric plug in heaters and it worked well that but was a warmer clime. A key is that not using a heater that generates water. Anything that burns makes water and you need to deal with the venting. Keeping the humidity down is what makes the boat comfortable. A forced air system will do it but at a cost and complexity that may be necessary if your primary use is alongside where your have shore power As for showers, I generally ambled down the dock to the marina shower rather than run the engine to heat up water. Running the engine unloaded is reeeely bad for it. Going down the dock in the winter can be a pain. Most more modern engine boat hot water heaters have built-in AC electric heaters. Might want to check yours. I think that would be the most effective way to go.

Familycruisers 01-18-2013 12:00 AM

Re: Heat Help
Your water heater might have a plug where you can insert an element. Worth a look. If it doesnt have one then you might have to get one that does.

Minnewaska 01-18-2013 05:39 AM

Re: Heat Help
We have an electric water heater that also recycles through the motor to grab heat when its running. We never leave it on when away, but can have hot water for a shower in about 20 mins. Even at anchor, by popping on the generator. I honestly don't know its exact capacity, but I would bet its only 5 or, at most, 10 gallons.

I've only used reversed cycle heat pumps around here for cabin warming in the shoulder seasons. Won't work in serious cold. I think if I were to need year round cold weather heat, I would do diesel. Either a bulkhead unit with chimney or I believe they make units that will integrate with the duct system for the air conditioning.

Seaduction 01-18-2013 07:47 AM

Re: Heat Help
Does the boat have air conditioning? If so you may want to switch to a cool/electric heat unit or a cool/reverse cycle heat type unit.

Minnewaska 01-18-2013 08:12 AM

Re: Heat Help
Reverse cycle A/C doesn't work well below 60 deg water temps and virtually not at all below 50.

Tim R. 01-18-2013 08:13 AM

Re: Heat Help
Will you be living aboard? Do you want to just heat at the dock or will you need it cruising? The answers will help narrow down your choices.

Our boat came with 2 reverse cycle AC heaters(Mermaid). we use the AC at the dock in the summer because we cannot always be facing into the wind. We use the heating component in the shoulder season at the dock.

For winter and heat at anchor we installed a 12v Hurricane H2 diesel furnace. It is a hydronic system and it actually helps keep the boat drier. The furnace is in the cockpit lazerette with exhaust out the transom so so worries about a flame adding moisture to the boat. It has a water jacket with a glycol mixture that gets pumped throughout the boat to small fan/radiator units. We have 3 zones with programmable thermostats. Aft cabin, Salon/galley and forward cabin. It was 9 last night and we were toasty warm. This extends our season in Maine from April to December now that we can comfortably anchor out and stay warm below.

Our fuel tankage is 210 gallons which usually gets us through the winter.

This heater also has the capability for on demand hot water and engine pre-heat. Having the heater in the engine area also keeps it from freezing so I never have to winterize. I do run the engine at least monthly to keep her well oiled.

See my projects link below for more info.

Seaduction 01-18-2013 08:28 AM

Re: Heat Help

Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 977536)
Reverse cycle A/C doesn't work well below 60 deg water temps and virtually not at all below 50.

Then it would be the A/C with electric heat option. But do we know if the boat has an air conditioning system installed?:(

chucklesR 01-18-2013 09:06 AM

Re: Heat Help
Those of you that live up there - could you also talk condensation and insulation issues?

I don't, but would like to hear about how it works out as I "may" get to cruising northward sometime.

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