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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 12-08-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

I''m looking for a boat heater. I like the simplicity
of a solid fuel heater: no preheating, no pumps, nice
smell... but people tell me that I should go for
diesel.
My boat is 32 feet, fiberglass, 1980 East Orient (lots
of teak) so a solid fuel Dickinson (or other make)
would fit nicely. Are there any other small bulkhead
mounted solid fuel heaters?
And is it true what diesel heater owners say that they
are dangerous, dirty. can''t use them when you sail and
don''t put out enough heat?
The solid fuel heater owners I talked to love theirs,
but they own older boats and I didn''t get a chance to
see the heaters.
I''m in Southern Spain, so it''s not that cold here, but
it''s damp and I''d like dry heat at anchor and while
sailing.
Thanks for any advice you could give.
Barbara
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Old 12-08-2004
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santeana is on a distinguished road
Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Hello, I''m in UK, sail above Lat 50, and like you am evaluating which direction to take. Our boat situations are also similar; GRP 34 footer, trad design, lots of lovely teak (inside!). I caution, I''m no expert, just sharing thoughts! My key driver is "practicality" which I think is different to ''simplicity''. I like the idea of a ''single fuel'' boat, so am going down the diesel route; easy fuel stowage, ''unlimited'' supply, easily topped-up, near instant off/on, fairly clean, low maintenance. To be honest I''ve not thought twice about solid fuel. Measured against the ''practicality'' factors above does it measure up? I know it has it''s proponents, has a nice rustic feel about it, but not my bag, I''m afraid.

If it''s any help, on the diesel front, I''m looking at products from Dickinson, Hurricane, Kabola, Lockgate, Refleks, Sigmar, Taylors and Wallis.

Best wishes and good hunting - hope you get more informed comments! Ron
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Old 12-08-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Thanks Ron, I may have to go the practical route as well, so keep me posted how you do with your search.
Barb
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Old 12-09-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Don Street, in The Ocean Sailing Yacht, talks a little bit about wood/coal heaters. The main problem seems to be back drafting of the air flow when the boat changes tack or when the sail drives air into the stack. Also, the stove pipe needs to be heated initially to get the air to draw properly. I think Street went through a couple of systems before deciding on one that suited him. I forget which one he ultimately kept and which ones he threw overboard.

So, the question of what type of heater to use would have to do not only with your sailing grounds and fuel availablity but also with whether you''ll be sailing a lot while you use it.

Another writer (I forget who) said she loved the wood stove when sailing in the North Pacific but that wood itself is bulky and heavy for the heat it provides and that they ended up having to cover the entire deck with loads of wood when they could find it.

(On another note, some propane heaters now burn so efficiently that they don''t need an exhaust vent.)

Chas.
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Old 12-09-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

The other problem with wood stoves is the creatures that come aboard and make a home within the wood. Both coal and wood need to be kept dry and they also need more tending than a diesel stove which is self tending.

Jeff
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

FWIW Here in Puget Sound we have had nothing but a wood-burning cooker on our boats since 1967 and like them very much. We have found that it is important to have completely dry fuel for creosote free burning and at least a 4-foot of charlie noble to promote good draft especially when forcing the heated gasses around the oven. Down drafting has been very rare and I believe, depends upon the smokehead design and its distance above deck. I''d say 16-inches is a mimimum.

Our fuel of preference is the original "Presto Log" cut into 1 1/2-inch waffers. We do not like the smaller diameter (2 1/2 to 3-inches) pressed logs sold in grocery stores which smell as bad as oak) Next is apple or cherry although other hard woods, except oak which is too acrid smelling for us, are satisfactory. Charcoal briquettes work very well but great caution is required to not over stoke and get the fire too hot. Soft coal is not an option, too messy and sooty.

Our biggest complaint is that when motoring in a flat calm the helm may have to shift about to avoid the light but disagreeable smoke. It may only appeal to the traditionalists but as yet, we wouldn''t be without our wood butning stove.

Cheers, George
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Old 12-09-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Diesel hands down.

The Dickenson have a combustion fan, where you can control the speed of the air blowing into the chamber. This means lighting it is a snap, and backdrafts snuffing out the fire are normally avoided.

We''ve used ours under sail, and at the dock in 30 kt winds without any lighting or blow out problems. We use our engines fuel tank as the source with a small lift pump delivering the fuel. At max heat, and max fan the draw is well under an amp. Gravity fed it would be even better.

Just make sure that you have fans circulating the air inside the cabin to maintain an even temperature, and if you don''t have decent dorades, to leave the hatch open for fresh air to enter the cabin. A smoke detector, and co2 detector is a must. (Even without the heater imho.)
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Old 12-10-2004
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Seagypsywoman is on a distinguished road
Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Thanks everyone for the input. I plan to use charcoal, so critters would not be a problem. Any more owners of wood heaters out there? So far my top choice is the Newport-Dickinson.
Barb
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Old 12-14-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

If you''re still lookong for a heater, let me join the guys pushing the diesel.

We have an Espar D12L installed Espar D12L and can''t say enough about it. Super unit and burns exceptionally clean.
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Old 12-29-2004
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Heaters: diesel or solid fuel?

Still wondering about solid fuel heaters? I have a shipmate brand. It''s somewhat heavier than the Dickenson, and a little bigger, but more substantial. You might take a look at them. Second Wave in Seattle is a used gear store that has one available for $250 used, and they have a photo of it online too.

I also have a Dickenson Bristol diesel stove in the boat. It works fairly well, but delivers soot to the deck and since the chimney is located on the starboard aft area of the deck, I can smell it''s annoying chimney diesel smell when I''m running the tiller. yuk. Otherwise it''s pretty nice, provides dry heat and cooks great.

I''ve used the Dickenson Newport solid fuel heater and like it, except that it doesn''t have any firebrick inside or mass to hold the heat. You have to feed the tiny firebox all the time too.

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