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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 11-27-2007
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portable heater or de-humidifier?

Now that it's getting colder here in Seattle, dampness is ready to set in. Am I better to get a heater or dehumidifier that I'll use on shore power in order to reduce mold, etc? I was thinking of using a Davis Air Dryer. http://shop.sailnet.com/product_info...keywords=Davis
Right now I just have some of the 'pellet' products that pull some moisture from the air. I'd like to get some opinions on this subject.
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Are you going to be using the boat, or living aboard the boat? If not, then the best way to get rid of humidity and prevent mold is to ventilate the boat well and to use a big package or several smaller ones of DampRid, or something similar.

Electrical heaters are one of the biggest causes of fires on boats, and unless you're living aboard, or sailing the boat regularly, leaving a heater on long-term is a rather risky proposition IMHO.
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I leave light bulbs on during cold winter nights...25w up fwd, and 40w in maim cabin....
Sometimes I use a 'Gold-Rod' under the engine and leave it on at night. It's rated 12w or so and seems to keep the bilge dry. I'm not sure it's doing anything, really, but make me more comfortable.
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We use a small dehumidifier similar to the one you mention, and do notice the improvement inside the boat. However we were told to keep a little heat on too otherwise the cooling plate in the dehumidifier will freeze and it will stop working.

I check the boat regularly - twice a week at least, and leave the heater on "warm" rather than the hotter settings... keeps the boat at around 12 - 14C when it gets close to 0C outside. The reservoir in the dehumidifier gathers about half a liter(quart) in a week of soggy west coast weather.

Overall we're quite happy with this arrangement. SD is correct in the need for ventilation, so if security concerns allow, leaving a hatch cracked somewhere helps keep the air moving. We have also, in the past, hung a couple of computer "muffin" fans to move air around.
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The solar ventilators, like the Nicros, are pretty good at getting/keeping the air moving in and out as well.
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A diesel bulkhead heater on low is surprisingly good at drawing the damp, inside air and sending it out the chimney. The key is circulation...if you draw in even damp air, your breath will make it damper still unless you can vent it positively out.

I have recommended the book "The Warm Dry Boat" before. As it was written by a guy living in B.C., its advice should be applicable.
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I was discussing this topic with a dock neighbor who has run 24/7 during the winter for several years a pair of West Marine portable heaters at the low setting (see below..)

They are a low profile so tipping over does not seem an issue and they have a switch that turns on if the temp falls below 38 degrees.

Was wondering if any one else has used them?


http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...2&classNum=743 )
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAK View Post
I was discussing this topic with a dock neighbor who has run 24/7 during the winter for several years a pair of West Marine portable heaters at the low setting (see below..)

They are a low profile so tipping over does not seem an issue and they have a switch that turns on if the temp falls below 38 degrees.

Was wondering if any one else has used them?
We've been using that heater for about 8 years and have found it to be reliable. However, we only use it when we're aboard and attached to shore power -- I would worry about leaving any electric heater unattended for long periods. It does a fair job of taking the chill off in the cabin of our 31 footer, but not nearly as good a job as our Dickinson Newport P9000 propane fireplace.
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We just vent the boat with the solar vents and a mushroom vent on the forward hatch when we're not on board. The only thing running off of shore power when we're not "camping out" on board is the battery charger. We have one of the small electric heaters we use up front and an Espar forced air heater to keep things cozy when we're on the boat and (knock on wood), we've had no problems with dampness. When we leave the boat, we prop up the cushions from the v-berth (where we sleep) and open all the cupboards to allow venting. There's always water in the bilge, but we have a keel stepped mast and the couple of inches of bilge water is fresh, so I don't worry about it (much).
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Good advice and suggestions so far. I am not sleeping on the boat and will use it infrequently during the winter, although I check on the boat about once a week. I have been keeping a 100 watt bulb on connected to shore power and have a couple of the small dry-eze tubs. I was thinking about also using a small fan I have to move the air, but was concerned about the safety of that.
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