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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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  #21  
Old 01-02-2012
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I've never had an instant hw heater, but this ocurrs to me. Perhaps there is more to it. In order to really have instant propane fueled hot water, it seems you would need to leave the propane lines charged through your boat at all times, which is a bad idea. You should have an electric solenoid that shuts the line down at the tank, so your bilges don't fill with propane while you sleep and that first switch ignites the boat. However, you would have to cycle it on and off each time you wanted hot water. Proper protocol would also have you purge the propane line to extinguish the flame as well. That doesn't sound so instant to me.
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  #22  
Old 01-02-2012
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I had an instant water heater [ gas ] on a previous boat. It was great when we were above the latitude that the butter melts at.

No such animal now I live year round where the butter melts but I do have a solar bag water heater for the odd time that I feel the need for a hot shower.
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  #23  
Old 01-02-2012
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My boat has a factory installed on-demand heater:

Yes, it has a flue (sealing to protect from green water--you MUST remember to open it), separate combustion air supply (ABYC suggests a separate sealed compartment, which it has; this is a very difficult requirement for most boats), leak detector, and flame interlock. It works well... sort of.

a. Showers always go through a lot of water, but more so when using hot water, because of the time required to heat the pipes and adjust the temperature.

b. It really doesn't work so well for galley hot water, for the same reason; the waste each time is OK at home, but unacceptable even on a boat in a marina. I end up always using cold water for dishes. Thus, I DO NOT leave the unit on unless I am taking a shower.

c. The temperature regulation is not perfect, not quite like a tank. To get steady temperature you need to let it run wide-open, which wastes more water, even for the fastest shower taker.

d. A hot shower put TON of moisture into the boat. This is never acceptable, summer of winter. While a bathroom fan helps, not enough.

Alternatives?

a.Shower ashore.

b. When on the hook in the summer, take cold showers on-deck (we have a transom shower and use it a lot). This can be done discretely in the cockpit, wearing a bathing suit for the most part. The water is not really cold on a boat, since the pipes are not underground.

c. I don't care for solar showers; if it's warm enough to work well, I can take it cold more simply.

If I were living aboard and could manage the space, I would go for a small engine-heated electric tank heater. If it had to be propane on-demand, make sure the installation is faultless. And I would use marina facilities most of the time.

---

Before you consider going for a ventless heater--the OP did not suggest this but many have in the past--realize that a hot water heater has a HUGE firing rate compared to the stove: 199,000 btu vs. 8,000 BTU. These MUST be vented in a small place like a boat. There have been several cases reported of sailors getting knocked out while showering.Propane possible boat peril One sailor died, another sickened while in shower - Baltimore Sun
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 01-02-2012 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 01-02-2012
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Great review, thanks.
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Old 01-03-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
a. Showers always go through a lot of water, but more so when using hot water, because of the time required to heat the pipes and adjust the temperature.

I installed a Wolter flash heater on our last cat, but concerned about using too much water, I plumbed a recirculating line that fed right back to the Wolter intake connection. I would hold the hot water line at the shower, and when it became warm, I'd close the recirculating valve.

Imperative not to leave the valve open as the temp would climb and climb and damage to the heater could occur.
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In Hal Roth's book "How to Sail Around the World" he says that his wife and himself simple used a pump sprayer he modified with a nozzle from a kitchen sink. They would just boil a certain amount of water and pour it into the sprayer with some cool water. Then they would just pump up the sprayer with some pressure and shower. This way they were able to take hot showers and conserve water. I thought the book was great. It is just packed with information like that.
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Pump sprayer is possible, but clearly it is more like camping than living in a waterside condo, as you put it. Depends on your requirements. We've decided to outfit our boat like it was our second home. Because it is. Electric tank water heater is always hot at the dock (unless we are away), air conditioning and heat pump, genset for when at anchor, etc.
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Yeah, I know. Its enough to make my head hurt. It will get worked out somehow. There is lots of good feedback in this thread that is going to help. Thanks.
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Old 01-21-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackpal View Post
I see alot of boats have hot water heaters. I think the better solution would be to have the instant hot water heaters instead of the tanks. They take up less space and are more efficient. I don't see alot of them on sailboats for some reason. It seems like an obvious thing to upgrade. Any big reasons not to use it ?
We have a Raritan 6 gallon marine (120V and engine). As liveaboards we found it inadequate for more than 2 showers in a row. We just installed a Wabasto diesel hydronic heating system and looped it through the Raritan. We now have "unlimited" hot water dependent only on the water left in the holding tanks. The water maker takes care of the water issues.
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Old 02-10-2012
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Espar makes a tankless diesel fired heater that will run with your heat exchanger and service all your heat and hot water needs.Very compact and economical to run fuel wise and power drain wise. Not a cheap system but fits every requirement I would want on my sailboat.
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