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Old 02-28-2011
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Cabin Heaters

I am considering moving up in size to a 32-34 foot boat and with the thought of living aboard year round in the Northeast. I would like some input on cabin heaters. My question is about bulkhead mounted diesel heaters vs. more costly forced hot air systems. Are the bulkhead mounted units a sufficient source of heat in this size boat. There is considerable differance in cost but I don't want to freeze my tail off either. Thanks
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Old 02-28-2011
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Hi Bump,

We have alot of good info and links in this thread: Cabin Heaters

The answer is partly dependent on your situation and preferences. For instance, when you say "live-aboard", if by that you mean you will be mostly stationary at a dock with electricity (as opposed to out cruising), you have options that a long distance cruiser might not have. You can supplement by using shore-power for electric heat, for example.

So I would say, look at those prior discussions, but consider them in the context of your specific situation.
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Old 02-28-2011
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Here is a link to the solution we chose on our Irwin Citation 34

Our Fireplace

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Old 02-28-2011
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We went with this one, have not installed it yet but it's very high quality and we believe it's going to work very well:

The Davey Hotpot Stove

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Old 02-28-2011
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We've had the Dickinson Propane fireplace on our last two boats..quite like it.

I think overall the Espars and other forced airs are a nicer, more effective heat but with double the cost and hassle of installation, and overall less reliability esp. if used infrequently.
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Old 02-28-2011
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The Dickinson propane furnaces are great for use on weekends when cruising. But for continuous use they will mean filling propane tanks quite often. The smallest uses 20 lbs of propane in 100 hours on high, 140 hours on low. The next size lasts 78 hours on high and 110 hours on low. If you will have a good supply of diesel that might be a better bet.
Of course, nothing beats the ease of use an electric heater has, either portable or built-in with a thermostat if the dock power is sufficient. I just installed an electric flush mount 1000 watt heater and thermostat on a boat and the cost was about $165 complete with thermostat. They are about 7" x 14" and will use about 3" of depth in a settee front.
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Old 02-28-2011
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On mu old boat a Bristol 32 I installed the Webasto (similiar to Espar) forced air heater. Was a live aboard for 2 years in Philly and it worked GREAT! Had it directly connected to my fuel tank and stayed warm all winter. Not hard to install as long as you have the room in your engine room.
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Old 02-28-2011
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To be truly comfortable you need to heat the air of the space. You also need to heat critical areas where unwinterized items may freeze like waterlines, etc. A bulkhead mounted heater puts out a lot of radiant heat and is great for extending your season. It will be warmer near the heater and colder away from it.

Our boat came with 2 reverse cycle AC/heaters in 2 zones. That works great in the summer and fall when at dockside but it requires 110v and a separate 30a circuit. I wanted something that could be used at the dock or while sailing.

A hydronic system, I believe, is the best solution for living aboard in the NE. I installed a Hurricane H2(35,000 btu) heater last fall with 3 zones and 4 cabin fan units. The great thing about a hydronic system is that it can also provide on demand hot water and engine pre-heating. The hoses that run through the boat also provide heat and drying to compartments. It runs off of our existing diesel tanks(210 gallons). Our heating bill this year will be about $1,200. It is a 12v system so it can be used on the hook. It can also run off one of my fuel tanks while the engine draws from the other.

Here is an article I wrote on the installation of our system. We are completely comfortable even when nighttime temps go below zero.

Diesel Hydronic Heater Installation
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Old 03-04-2011
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I agree with using an electric heater if you're at a marina with shorepower. Safer, cheaper and less maintenace and mess. However you may be interested in current March/April "Good Old Boat" magazine article "High End Heat on a Budget". The author describes putting in a forced air diesel heater that he bought at a marne consignment store. Pretty well written.
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Old 03-04-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisncate View Post
We went with this one, have not installed it yet but it's very high quality and we believe it's going to work very well:

The Davey Hotpot Stove

Well, we went down today to fit up the Davey Hot pot we bought, and it won't work for our application. Once again the Alberg 30 and it's small salon thwart our plans. I thought I could mount it on the port foward bulkhead, but I can't (without losing too much room).

So I have a new Davey for sale, never used if you, or anyone else, is interested. It's a pretty awesome little heater, it really sucks that it wont work for us. Pm me if interested in a solid fuel heater.
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