S/V Argo-Pacific Seacraft
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Baltimore, MD
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I just got back from the Annapolis Boat Show, and had Webasto / Espar type forced air heaters rammed down my throat by everyone I spoke with.
I'm may do a quasi-proper engineering trade study to determine what to pick, but I have 80% made up my mind to go with a Dickinson diesel heater (pot burner), for the following reasons.
Firstly, my philosophy of naval architecture (too many years designing naval vessels perhaps) and cruising is to be as low/no electrical power as possible, and maximize the number of systems that are stand-alone and redundant where possible. Everything should be able to be fixed by me in a remote corner of the world.
The Webasto type furnace uses up to 8A of power in the max condition. That's just a lot of power on a day to day basis. The Dickinson Newport draws a 1-2A for the fuel pump and if I add a day tank and manual pump, it's back to zero power. For very windy days when the 12V assist fan is required on the Newport, I'll be getting enough power from the wind generator, so it's still a break even proposition. That cannot be said for the Webasto.
The forced air types burn, on average, more fuel than pot burner type. At the low end, they burn a little less, but at the high end burns close to a gallon more per day. That is a lot of fuel.
From articles and books, the forced air types require about $200 worth of maintenance annually, some of which can only be performed in a shop by a trained technician. The pot burner can be cleaned by anyone (if messy).
Finally, an all up Webasto system is going to cost between $3200-5000, the lower being Defender's online price and the higher being Webasto's "Boat Show Special". An all up Dickinson is probably going to be $2000, I'm still waiting on their official quote.
I understand that the cons of the pot burners are soot deposition, but also understand that if they are operated and adjusted properly, this isn't a problem. Same as a diesel engine.
So, more power, more fuel, more cost, (this is for the same BTU range), more matinenance, lower reliability, pretty much makes the Webasto / Espar / Wallas system a non-starter for me.
However, I'm trying to ensure that I've exercised due diligence in this decision, so if anyone has a persuasive counter argument, I'm all ears.
S/V ARGO - Pacific Seacraft 37 Hull No. 309
Last edited by SVArgo; 10-12-2009 at 12:44 PM.