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  #11  
Old 02-19-2010
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i wonder if someone lived on the boat and used a lot of heat, ie not electric heaters what it would cost to heat a 30ish foot boat for a normal east coast winter ( say new york to va area ). i dont mean heating for a weekend i mean for a winter. this alone could be a problem for those who run diesel heaters, as its kind of hard to run to the fuel dock when its closed or across a solid harbor.

this could also be a propane advantage as home depot sells propane year round. but i am sure a 5 gallon jug of diesel will last days too.

my cheapskate butt still like wood as its basicly free
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Old 02-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
Like others have said, I think it depends ...

If you're one of those "just do it" types then I think diesel is your answer, you just install the thing right, get your diesel fuel which you probably already have for the motor anyway, and you're in business. Do some maintenance on occasion, install safety devices like CO detector, etc.

For me I see heating and cooling in a few more shades of gray than some ...

Some conditions just call for warmer clothing, extra blankets at night. Especially in September, but also through October and even some days in November, all you really need is to get bundled up in some cloth, I kind of think too much warmth on a cool September morning almost ruins it. Come late March, April, into May again you can be content with clothing and blankets, cup of hot chocolate or coffee to get going.

Some conditions call for Sarahfinadh's oil lamp approach. Having used oil lamps quite a bit this year I can say that if all you need to do is take the edge off, oil lamps are a very good option. They are warm, use simple easy to find fuel (and not much of it), and I think a good solution for preparing the space for going to sleep, just warm it up, blow out the flame, and get in under the blankets. Relighting the oil lamps in the morning along with cooking a bit of breakfast warms the place right back up, don't forget your slippers!

The above two things and a few other tricks can take you most of the way, but of course then from about late December through February you get real winter, actual cold (at this latitude, YMMV). When it gets really cold I prefer wood heat.

I think choosing wood heat really depends a lot on how you live. If you don't live on the boat all the time it probably doesn't matter much, but if you are on the boat all the time I think it matters much more. There are downsides, some written about above, others less obvious such as having to stay on the boat if you want to keep it from freezing because the fire has to be tended. Choosing wood is kind of like choosing to be without a watermaker, or a refrigerator, it is committing to a little extra effort every day or every week. With wood you really will have to clean it out sometimes, and you'll have to go ashore for wood, and store the wood, and all the rest. Without a watermaker you have similar kinds of chores, you'll have to get water. Without refrigeration you'll have to break out the pressure canner sometimes and can some meat, etc. All of those things are a bit of trouble, but if you're on the boat all the time, living on it, retired, isn't that part of the charm of it all ?
Windy,

There's some merit to what you say. We used these methods for years to take the chill off during the shoulder seasons, and got along alright.

That said, now having sailed for a few years with the real cabin heater -- I would NEVER go back. The difference in comfort level so is so stark that it's really beyond comparison. It's almost like the difference between sleeping in a tent and staying in a hotel (slight exaggeration). Our early and late season forays are much more enjoyable now. Of all the "comfort" investments we've made, that cabin heater was some of the best spent money.

Fuel choice is always debatable. As I've said in other threads, if we were long-term voyagers/live-aboards, I'd certainly give serious thought to the Webasto/Espar forced hot air diesel heaters. I've experienced those and they are wonderful units. But for our kind of sailing it's more difficult to justify that expense -- something like 10-15 times as costly.

Wood is tricky for a lot of reasons, but if that's what you prefer so be it. However, I would not recommend the Dickinson Newport wood heater for serious cabin heating, based on my conversation with them. Instead, if I was going with wood, I'd look at something more along these lines:

Navigator Stoves

Wouldn't it be cool to have one of those in an old wooden schooner?
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Dredged up some old threads

Here are some old threads that discussed cabin heaters:

Cabin Heat

I will add more as I find them. The search function is really clunky.
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Old 02-19-2010
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My experience with propane.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
I just went through this decision process and decided on the propane bulkhead heater in my case, but I can certainly understand why other choices would make sense in other cases; there's some pretty decent products out there for each of the different fuel types.

A few factors that swayed me . . .
1) I have a propane locker in the back of a canoe stern boat and since it's advised to vent a diesel exhaust where there's no risk of it being below the waterline when heeled over, such as on the stern centerline, I couldn't run a hot exhaust pipe through the propane locker, so this was problematic.
2) For long range crusing, I didn't want to draw off the my diesel supply in case it's needed for running the engine. I can use 2 20lb propane tanks on my boat so I can use the LPG for heating / stove and reserve diesel for the engine.
3) I like propane for the reasons stated by others above, but also agree that the precautions mentioned are really important, such as having a fume detector and a CO detector, and also performing the leak checks frequently.
4) The cost of the propane bulkhead heater is significantly less than forced air diesel heaters.
5) The forced air diesel heaters use a bit more battery to run the blower.
6) The simulated fireplace is a nice touch.

These were some of my reasons, but I agree there's some offsetting benefits for some of the other options that can make another choice better depending on the boat, user requirements, and budget.

I agree the duel intake / exhaust pipe is a real plus for the bulkhead heaters, so there's little risk of consuming all the oxygen in the boat and/or having the exhaust become a problem inside.

I share the concern about the 3" hole required in the deck. I'm considering installing a larger deck place first, and installing the intake/exhaust pipe into that, so if I were ever in really dangerous seas, I'd have the option to remove the pipe and substitue the deck plate lid. I haven't thought this one all the way through yet though, so I'd be interested in any feedback anyone might have on a better approach. The concern about getting lines tangled around it can often be mitigated by a guard the vendor offers.


I did an install of Dixon P-9000and you are invited to read my post:
Sail Delmarva: Search results for heat propane

3" hole in the deck.
No troubles yet, and I had 30 inches of melting snow at one point! Do seal the cuts with epoxy. The stack came with a good gasket and I added 3M 4200 for luck. the stack had no trouble melting a hole through the snow, though I did check on it now and then.

Heat on the deck.
I can only speak for the Dixson. Because of the double wall pipe, the external pipe is only about 140F where it aproaches the underside of the deck. The sleave that touches the deck is only warm to the touch - you can hold it.

Wind.
The Dixson design seems impervious. I have had 45 knots without trouble. Lighting in those conditions is a bit more touchy - close the door fast - but not difficult. I also added a solid spray guard forward to deflect green water.

Capacity.
Try electric heaters first, to be certain how much heat you need. I am an engineer and know how to calculate heat loss... but how do I know for sure what is in the walls and where the leaks are? I prefer test data.

Line snagging.
I made a custom guard that does fine. It also keeps lines away from the hot areas (would'nt want to damage a line). Do pick a deck location that is not underfoot. There should be a no-snag cure for any stack.

Power draw.
There is a fan, it's noisy on high, and so I generally turn it down. I only need high to warm the cabin, after which I turn the gas and the fan lower. The power draw is about the same as an anchor light. It will run without the fan, but the fan really helps spread the heat.

Heat distribution.
I have a cat and this is a real problem. I use fans to chase it around, but the sleeping cabins are aft, around a corner, and stay like ice. Some boats really need central heat, particularly for live-aboards. I think cabin heaters are for occational cruisers, like me.

Safety.
I added a CO monitor and it has never chirped. I have fume detectors and all of the standard propane safeguards. I like the fact that the Dixson is sealed from the cabin, further reducing potencial hazards.

Efficiency.
The stack temperature when at full load is 310F with 6% O2 in the stack, giving an efficiency of 85%. That is as good or better than most boilers, better than most all small heaters, and as good as you are going to get shrot of and ultra-high efficiency condensing system, not available on boats. I have heard some coment that the Dixson design is wastefull because it does not give heat from the stack. Not true; the combustion air is pre-heated and no cold air is pulled in under the door. All good, because propane is ~ $12/20 pounds for me.

Fire place look.
Nice. My daughter has used it for marshmallows!
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 02-19-2010 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyt View Post
i wonder if someone lived on the boat and used a lot of heat, ie not electric heaters what it would cost to heat a 30ish foot boat for a normal east coast winter ( say new york to va area ). i dont mean heating for a weekend i mean for a winter.
Scott,

Here is some data from experience to help with your question: over to you to "do the math". One gallon of diesel will run a Webasto 3500, 12,000 BTU (furnace type) heater for about 10-11 hours. This is from personal experience that also happens to match the manufacturer's claim.

That furnace is perhaps a bit larger than a 30-ft boat might need - a Webasto 2000, 7,000 BTU heater has a manufacturer's claim of 20 Hr per gallon. Based on experience with the 3500 - I have no reason to doubt the latter claim. The forced air nature of these heaters of course also requires a fan and the attendant electrical draw. There is nothing "cozy" about these things. They mount in the engine space and are designed to get as much heat from fuel as physics (and technology) will allow. No marshmallows!

In really cold Wx, I would expect a duty cycle of 75%, maybe more unless you have a well insulated boat.

s/v Auspicious - if you are out there - weigh in please. Dave has "wintered" in Annapolis harbor using (I presume) one of these.

Wayne

Last edited by wwilson; 02-19-2010 at 12:12 PM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRPollard View Post
Windy,

There's some merit to what you say. We used these methods for years to take the chill off during the shoulder seasons, and got along alright.

That said, now having sailed for a few years with the real cabin heater -- I would NEVER go back. The difference in comfort level so is so stark that it's really beyond comparison. It's almost like the difference between sleeping in a tent and staying in a hotel (slight exaggeration). Our early and late season forays are much more enjoyable now. Of all the "comfort" investments we've made, that cabin heater was some of the best spent money.

Fuel choice is always debatable. As I've said in other threads, if we were long-term voyagers/live-aboards, I'd certainly give serious thought to the Webasto/Espar forced hot air diesel heaters. I've experienced those and they are wonderful units. But for our kind of sailing it's more difficult to justify that expense -- something like 10-15 times as costly.

Wood is tricky for a lot of reasons, but if that's what you prefer so be it. However, I would not recommend the Dickinson Newport wood heater for serious cabin heating, based on my conversation with them. Instead, if I was going with wood, I'd look at something more along these lines:

Navigator Stoves

Wouldn't it be cool to have one of those in an old wooden schooner?
I agree with you, I think wood is probably too much trouble for most people, and I have no doubt at all that a forced air diesel would make a world of difference in comfort. In that way it is kind of like the difference between wood heat in a home and central heating, the wood heat is more trouble there too, most of the same issues. The biggest issue, in my opinion, with wood heat, is simply that you can't set it and forget it, that means you are essentially tied to the stove from December through February if you want to keep the place from freezing, and that is a real concern if you have a lot of canned goods or other things that you can't let freeze. On land not so much of a problem - make a root cellar. But, on a boat, different story. I think on a boat it could be a very long winter if the longest you can be away from the boat is half a day or a day at a time, you just can't load that much wood into a wood stove, it is going to burn out and eventually the stove is going to cool, then everything on the boat is going to freeze up, and that is going to happen no matter what kind of wood stove you have.

All that said, I still like my wood stove.

No reason a boat can't have both too, I suppose. Use the wood stove when you are on the boat for long periods of time, then flip a switch and use the forced air diesel for times when you are away. Mo money.
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Old 02-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wwilson View Post
Here is some data from experience to help with your question: over to you to "do the math". One gallon of diesel will run a Webasto 3500, 12,000 BTU (furnace type) heater for about 10-11 hours. This is from personal experience that also happens to match the manufacturer's claim.

*snip*

s/v Auspicious - if you are out there - weigh in please. Dave has "wintered" in Annapolis harbor using (I presume) one of these.
Hi Wayne!

We ought to ping Cracker Jack, who has more experience than I do.

I spent one Spring in Sweden, one Winter in Washington DC, and two Winters in Annapolis using a Webasto 3500. I have one winter in Annapolis using an Espar D5. Fuel consumption definitely depends on how cold it is and I expect on how well insulated your boat is.

I run between 1/2 and 1 gallon diesel per day during the cold months. I spend at least a couple of hours a day with the heater cranked up and some hatches cracked open for ventilation.

I carry 120 gallons of fuel and try to stay topped up through the winter. At the moment I'm down to about 20 gallons and waiting for ice to clear off Back Creek so I can get to the fuel dock. If that doesn't happen in the next week or so I'll start jugging fuel.

I'll try to check in regularly in case you have specific questions.

I will say that based on hanging with other liveaboards, forced air diesel heat would be my choice again, followed by diesel hydronic, then electric (which means being plugged in somewhere and subject to utility failures, followed by propane (wet) or wood (messy). YMMV.

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Old 02-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
I will say that based on hanging with other liveaboards, forced air diesel heat would be my choice again, followed by diesel hydronic, then electric (which means being plugged in somewhere and subject to utility failures, followed by propane (wet) or wood (messy). YMMV.
Just to avoid any misperceptions, I wanted to clarify that while moisture is a by-product of propane combustion, the Dickinson Newport propane heaters have eliminated this as an issue.

These use a sealed combustion chamber with double-walled chimneys to expel all moisture from the cabin space. Air for combustion is drawn from outside the cabin, down the outer flue of the chimney, into the sealed combustion chamber, and then the by-products of combustion are expelled above decks via convection and the inner flue.

The net effect is dry, radiant heat, and the double walled chimney is essentially "self-cooled", so there is not a scorching hot chimney in the cabin space rising up to the overhead. It's a pretty neat set-up. But like I said, probably not the best answer for long-term live-aboard.
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