Boat Heating with diesel heater
Last April I purchased a boat built in 1986 and it has an older D 4L Ebespacher (Espar) forced air diesel heater (orange color one) which i believe has come with the boat. It works intermittently although when it works it heats the boat well. Ducting needs a little work and cleaning and I guess the entire unit should be serviced so i've taken it off the boat. In manuals i see that the heat exchanger should be replaced every 10 years (As per German rule for heaters in vehicles). In case it packs up, i will be looking to replace it. I see a lot of diesel heaters that are bulkhead mounted and have an exhaust pipe going through the deck. If it is done right i do not see problems, but how effective are these heaters Dickinson, Force 10 etc?? How does the heat radiate thru the boat? I guess these are mounted in the main cabin, buy how about fore and aft cabin heating then?
Any advice is welcome
I have a Force 10 cabin heater which is bulkhead mounted and originally set up to use diesel. The best thing that I ever did to the boat was to convert from diesel to propane plus the diesel was a hassle liting the flame. It puts out about 6000 btu/hour so is much smaller than some other brands, but I liked the small diameter flue camparred with the others. Could not bring myself to cut any larger holes in the deck. I mounted a fan over the heater so I get good distribution in the saloon, but depending on your setup something else may be better to allow using duckwork.
I have an Espar on a boat of the same vintage, 1986. Its been serviced once, the winter after I bought the boat back in 2005. Its been running fine since. Don't use it all that much but it sure is nice on a cold Maine morning.
The only issue I have is occasionaly it will shut itself down after the first start up. I usually wait a few minutes then start it up again with no problem. My guess is that the vertical flue might not start drawing until it gets a little warm.
With vents in the main cabin, head and V-berth it does a really nice job keeping the whole boat warm.
The forced air heaters like you have are more effective than any bulkhead mounted heater, in that they can be set up to duct hot air into several areas of the boat. However they are more costly, and generally use more fuel and power than the others.
The Force 10s, as far as I know, are not fully vented heaters and as such are potential sources of odor and CO buildup.
We have the Dickenson propane 'fireplace' P9000, a bulkhead mounted heater that is fully vented, clean and safe.. given time it heats things up quite nicely (but had difficulty keeping things warm last week with -5C temps overnight) and it's quite difficult to get that heat into the ends of the boat. We usually close off the V berth if we have no guests to reduce the volume needing to be heated.
Of course the cost of the bulkhead heaters is about a third of an installed forced air installation... so it's attractive from that point of view. I guess it depends on how much you're going to need the heat, and in what conditions you'll be aboard at the time.....
Given that you already have all the equipment in place (ducts, fuel lines, etc) it would not make much sense to switch to a bulkhead heater, IMO...
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