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Old 01-18-2007
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With all due respect, burning wood or coal aboard ship has been done for hundreds of years. Wood and charcoal stoves are available from reputable makers for even small vessels.

Solid fuel marine stoves and heaters that are designed to burn when the vessel is in motion have an enclosed firebox that contains the burning fuel.

Solid fuel and charcoal have a respectable heating value, and it is at least arguable that a piece of firewood that can be readily grasped and placed in a fireplace is actually less of a fire or explosion hazard than either liquid or gas fuel.

I have no opinion to offer regarding dust explosions, since I have never heard of one in this context.

BTW, most solid fuel heaters and fireplaces dissipate their heat output by natural convection and radiation and, properly located, can certainly operate without the assistance of a fan.

If you like solid fuel heat and can handle the high (?) price of the fuel, there is no rational reason that you ought not have it.
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Old 01-18-2007
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I am also an advocate for a forced air central system over any of the bulkhead ones if you are living on the boat. The system does a very nice job of heating multiple areas rather than just a lot of heat in one area. This makes for a much more liveable situation. We installed a Webasto unit that is wonderful.
Jon D
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Old 03-08-2007
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I am new to the whole thought of heat on a boat, as my old boat did not have it, but I only lived on it during the summer a spent winters at my parents house. My last house we had oil heat, but also with a wood stove. Wood if you have a source for it is actually much cheaper, normally free. Here in the North East you can get enough wood delivered, cut and split, for a whole season for around $200. I don't see doing that with diesel . Storage could be an issue for a boat but you should be able to rent a bit of space in the boat yard. I don't really plan on sailing once heating season arrives, as it will be iced up anyway. I was thinking that both an diesel and a solid fuel heater combo makes sense. You can run the wood when you are on board, and have the diesel as an option to keep the boat from freezing while at work.

To me in the day and age of uncertainty about oil prices and availability having options for heating works better for me. But I may just be a bit paranoid. Of course I am planning on making my own bio diesel for the boat in the summer.
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Old 04-04-2007
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A fireplace in the boat is a great thing. You don't get to imagine it until you see it and try it. I don't have experience of Alaska winters, but in New England autumn and New Zealand winters, it did work great on our boat. We have a Newport By Dickinson and burn mostly wood in it. Talking about the cost of the fuel, it is not an issue in our case: we burn drifting wood that we never failed to find in abundance along the shores. It is well dry, smells great and heats you for free. The only problem is that it contains salt and tends to leave rust stains in the heater...
Next boat we will stick to a solid heater fuel, but bigger, possibly in cast iron or thick aluminium with radiators for the cabins.
Anyway in case you winterize in a very cold place you will have to stick to a jetty or a marina. Except for Antarctica, but then you can bring coal!
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Old 04-04-2007
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If I was a coastal liveaboard, I would definitely have wood and hard coal in preference to diesel, but you've got to have the space and the tolerance for the inevitable cleaning up you'll have to do.

But access to the fuel is usually the deal-breaker here, and as we are heading offshore, it'll have to be diesel, I think.
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