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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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Old 12-28-2011
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Hot water

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 ?
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Old 12-28-2011
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There are two types:

Electrical
Gas

Electricity is scarce on a boat. You can use it when you have connection to land and will not have hot water while cruising. Running a generator might be an option.

Gas is dangerious and will require a flue.

You can have hot water if you have tank heater. this will keep the water hot even after you use land power. Another opportunity is to heat water when your engine is running.
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Old 12-28-2011
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"Tank" style hot water heaters will often use engine coolant to heat the water. In the hot weather the water will stay warm in the tank for hours. So, it's "free" if you time it right.

If one does not shower often on board or sail in cold climates, then a water heater of any type is a waste of space.

I will admit they are nice to have. My last boat had one till it died, then it didn't. I missed washing dishes in warm water, but, I liked the extra space for batteries better
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Old 12-28-2011
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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 ?
Because most of them do not meet ABYC safety standards.
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Because most of them do not meet ABYC safety standards.
They all seem like good reasons. The not meeting ABYC standards probably means getting insured might be a problem. Still it seem doable if researched and installed correctly. We just recently installed one and we love it however it is not on a boat.
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Old 12-28-2011
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Depends also on your sailing area, and what you want the hot water for. I use a solar shower for bathing, and then just heat water for washing up. (I have a water heater, but it's shot, so it's basically just 6 more gallons of storage)
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Well we are in Central Florida. It does get chilly here in the winter but it does not last long if it does. We are planning for the boat being a sort of waterfront condo at first. Depending on how comfortable we can make it we are considering moving aboard. Right now I am just doing research and I do not see anything so far that would prevent what we want to do. Luckily the wife and I are both pretty handy.
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Old 12-28-2011
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I think that you need to think about where and when you are going to use hotwater. If you are tied up in a marina with power, as is the case for most liveaboards then a tank heater makes most sense and is easiet and cheapest to install. If you are on the hook or rarely use your engine then the tank ones are not very useful. So if your cruising is ICW you are fine; if you are sailing long distances offshore you are out of luck unless you have a genset or need to run the engine to charge batteries (which you probably don't with solar/wind).

I have had a couple of boats with tankless, gas-powered heaters and quite like them. Caveats though, you need a marine unit not a domestic one (they exist, and are quite common in Europe, but not cheap, you need a suitable spot to install one - Hinterhoeller boast typically used them and they built the galleys so the unit was at eye level and handy ( you lose some good cabinet space here but it was easy to then build in the flue. I guess what I am saying is that they work better when they are designed into the boat not added on. BTW, I don't see a particular advantage to the electric, flash heaters - if you have 110v go with a tank. Final comment about gas heaters, ours had a pilot light (Paloma, no longer recommended for marine) but we never left the unit going between uses since it was very easy to start the pilot each time.
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Just a note, electrical fires are the number one cause of boat fires. Not fuel, not propane, not the galley...... electrical.

If you are going to live aboard for any length of time, but do have frequent access to a marina, then I would use an electric tank heater that also heated off the engine coolant. You either run a genset when at anchor or the engine to top the batts anyway, so it will make hot water then.
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Old 12-28-2011
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water heaters are tough on insurance premiums. if you must have one try the solar alternative. of course sailing on a cloudy day will be tough.
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