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post #1 of 13 Old 07-30-2007 Thread Starter
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Diesel Heater/Home Heating Oil

Question - will a diesel marine heater run off of regular home heating oil ? If I understand the situation correctly, home heating oil is just diesel with some kind of red coloring in it that they use to make sure you aren't running the heating oil in your engine for tax reasons. That means it should work fine in a diesel marine heater ?
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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Until this year we could buy red diesel for both heating and engines in Belgium. It works fine. Now we have to buy white diesel and pay road tax. My engine works fine on white, but the heater seems to object. Probably a coincidental failure. Snag with having red just for heating on a boat over here is you have difficulty proving it can't be used in the engine. The local customs and excise in Netherlands are going for the Brits, as they still get red until 2008. Keep your receipts is the motto, to prove it was bought in Britain.
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post #3 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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Heating oil is slightly different to diesel and is more viscous; in cold climates heating oil is added to diesel to stop the diesel from jellying and is given the name Alpine Diesel (in Aus).

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post #4 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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In the US, home heating oil and diesel fuel are the same thing. The red dye is so untaxed heating oil can't be sold as taxed motor fuel. Should work fine in a diesel oil heater.
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-30-2007 Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the great responses.

That answers my question.

I do have another related question, however. I have been looking at diesel heaters and I know nothing about them except what I see online, I have never seen one in person. It looks like they are pretty simple, that there is an stack for them, and I am sure there is a lot of requirements about how high the stack comes off the deck and that kind of thing, and I can figure that out by reading the installation instructions, etc. But what I was really wondering is, what else does it hook to, what other requirements are there for it's operation besides a stack and obviously a connection to a fuel source. Does it need any kind of a fuel pump or does it already have something like that built into it ? I guess it probably needs an electrical connection to spark ? Does it use a lot of amps of electricity ?

I assume too that there isn't any real chance of carbon monoxide building up so long as the stack remains intact and is venting to the outside. (?)

Thanks again for the diesel/heating oil answers.
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post #6 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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I have a Dickerson heater Alaska model on my boat, which I am removing. It works very well, I just will not need it where I am going. I ran it on diesel and home heating oil, no difference that I could see.

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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My diesel heater direct experiences have been with the old Espar 3DL heater, which my boat was originally commissioned with, and the Espar Airtronic 4D upgrade I installed last year.

The system I have is actually simple, consisting of a diesel fired furnace unit ignited by an electrical glow-plug. Diesel is delivered to the unit via a low amperage, in-line metered pump. Integrated circuitry regulates the required amount of fuel to whatever temperature the bulkhead mounted digital thermostat calls for.

A stainless exhaust conduit connects the combustion chamber to a stainless port, located on the exterior high side of the hull. Just below the aft cabin's rubrail on my boat - since it's 5'-10" above the water line. Most other sailboats have the exhaust located on the transom.

Fresh air is provided by an above deck intake vent. There are six individual, damper controlled forced air outlets, positioned throughout the boat, all connected to the furnace plenum by concealed, flexible round ducts.

The Espar 4D sips fuel with the meter pump and only uses .8 to 3.0 peak amps during use, 12 volts - so heating the boat away from shore power is of no big concern. More info on Espar is available HERE if you're interested.

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post #8 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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Actually I just had to rewrite this. for a second time.

As for the carbon monoxide, search google. Use the quotes
"diesel heater" carbon monoxide

If you just search diesel and carbon monoxide it mostly returns diesel engines, which produce very little (0.4%) carbon monoxide under full load and about the exhaust is about 18% oxygen. The exhaust smell would be rather annoying, but no death.

A diesel heater, like any other heater, does produce enough carbon monoxide to kill. You will need a place for fresh air, such as an open window, and if the wind blows the exhaust back down the pipe and out the window, well you've got a problem.

Make sure to get a carbon monoxide detector or two.
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-30-2007
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IIRC "regular" home heating oil in the US is #2 grade, which may be similar to #2 diesel. There are different grades of both, you might want to make sure that's not an issue in your area. In the US there is also "winter diesel", i.e. the diesel fuel you buy in Minnesota in February will be different from the stuff you buy in Florida, to make sure it doesn't turn into jelly in the cold.

One hopes the heater will come with instructions as to what it can tolerate.

I also remember there are some specific warnings about not shutting the heaters down "immediately", apparently the ceramic parts in some can shatter from sudden temperature changes, so if the instructions say anything about warm-up or cool-down periods--follow them.
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