Propane for Heat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-10-2006 Thread Starter
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Propane for Heat?

The other day I was verbally abused by an old salt for using the propane stove to heat the cabin of my boat.

It was a bit chilly so I fired-up two burners (and the cabin heated up nicely). I received a lecture about the dangers of this method, and was told to go out and buy a dedicated heating unit.

Personally, I can't see a problem with my method. If it's that dangerous to use the stove, then why have one at all?

Is there a legitmate reason to purchase a seperate heating unit? Wouldn't it just *increase* the risk of fire or explosion to have a diesel or kerosene heater? (Not to mention having to carve another hole into the boat.)

I already have propane sniffers and fire alarms.
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-10-2006
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There are two excellent reasons NOT to do as you did. The old salt was right to set you straight.

Burning propane in an open flame like that allows the products of combustion into the cabin - I know that's true for cooking too, but usually stovetop cooking time is relatively short lived compared to using it as a heater.

Consumption of cabin oxygen and potential CO (carbon monoxide) emissions are the bad guys here, but another product of combustion is water vapour, so you are adding moisture to the cabin too. Typically, if you are cold, you will not have hatches open for ventilation either.

Since you already have the sniffer etc, adding a vented propane heater such as Dickensons P-9000 or P12000 btu models would be an easy addon - it draws combustion air from outside, and vents all products of combustion out the stack. In additon you get a nice visible "fireplace" for ambience and a circulation fan.

This is a much safer and more efficient way to heat the cabin, and comes in at less than $1000.

Last edited by Faster; 12-10-2006 at 07:16 PM.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-10-2006
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We have a forced-air, diesel central heating system onboard which I had upgraded earlier this year. It works very well. During the upgrade transition, on a cold day in April, we used the propane range to heat up the forward cabins - which did the trick quite nicely.

However, since we never operate the propane stove without first opening the overhead hatch for ventilating accumulating CO, this was counterproductive, but served to heat up the space temporarily. The old salt may have been out of line, if he knew it was just a temporary measure. But I too would be concerned and would recommend you not keep the propane stove on for duration - without a proper venting system, especially if you and crew are sleeping onboard.

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post #4 of 28 Old 12-10-2006
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The manual for my new Force 10 stove had the same warning....do NOT use for heating.

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Phyllis, many people have gotten away with using their stoves for heat (on land and sea) for many years. Then again, every year some die from it. So the question is, as Dirty Harry said, "Are you feeling lucky today?"

I'd rather buy the winning lottery ticket if I was SURE I was going to be lucky.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-10-2006 Thread Starter
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Very well...

Thanks for the info. Obviously it's not worth the risk.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueBlue
We have a forced-air, diesel central heating system onboard...
Which brand? Doesn't the diesel smell get to you? When waves crash over the boat does the deck flu block out all the water, or does some trickle in?

Thanks for the input.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster
Since you already have the sniffer etc, adding a vented propane heater such as Dickensons P-9000 or P12000 btu models would be an easy addon - it draws combustion air from outside, and vents all products of combustion out the stack. In additon you get a nice visible "fireplace" for ambience and a circulation fan.

A nice visible fireplace? That's sounds damn cozy. I'm sold!

Last edited by capecodphyllis; 12-10-2006 at 09:05 PM.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-10-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by capecodphyllis
Which brand? Doesn't the diesel smell get to you? When waves crash over the boat does the deck flu block out all the water, or does some trickle in?

Thanks for the input.
Our boat was originally commissioned with an Espar 3DL diesel forced air system, but needed a new control module ($$$). Instead, I decided to upgrade to the new Espar 4D Airtronic system http://www.espar.com/htm/applies/marine.htm . . . very impressive - but a bit pricey. We went through the East Coast distributor, which fortunately was only a couple miles from our marina - Ocean Options http://www.oceanoptions.com/espar_airtronicD2D4.html - great support and good people.

There is no diesel smell at all, since exhaust is external and fuel supply is completely sealed - only a very comfortable warmth whenever we need it. Since the new unit has a maximum 3 amp draw, there is very little draw on our battery banks when away from dock. I was able to retain the five outlet registers and ductwork, corrugated stainless exhaust pipe line and stainless hull fitting, fuel line and fresh air intake duct and fittings. The required upgrade package included a new 4D furnace unit, sound isolator mounts, fuel metering pump, wiring harness', larger (4") plenum outlet ducts, transition fittings, a couple SS outlet louvers and the upgraded digital thermostat.

Our existing SS through-hull exhaust fitting is well above the aft cabin operable portlights and above the normal high water line when heeling. There is also a high loop in the SS exhaust hose, preventing any backflow of seawater when sailing. During heavy weather, I usually plug the port with the supplied rubber stopper.

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post #10 of 28 Old 12-10-2006
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Hi CapeCodPhyllis:

Here are a couple of links to heater mfrs:

http://www.sigmarine.com/our__product_line.htm
http://www.ahoycaptain.com/shop/cabinheaters.html
http://www.boatelectric.com/espar1.htm
http://www.webasto.us/am/en/am_marine_heaters.html

The standing type heaters require a sizable vent chimney, usualy 3" diameter.

I would prefer the Espar or Webasto solution, since the venting can be done through the transom or topside by means of a smaller pipe and so no charlie noble is needed. That would keep your deck space clear. They also deliver heat by means of ducts or radiators and so have less hot surface to stay clear of in the cabin.
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