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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone every installed an automotive style heater in their boat? Like the kind one would find in their car that heats from the engine coolant?

I only need heat away from the dock a few times per year. Something like that could toast up the boat pretty quickly.
 

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Load Bearing Member
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I haven't done it, but I've seen it done in other boats.

The big issue, of course, is that we use our engines so little.

It would be good for my boat because I have an hour of motoring to get to the ocean.

Then again, if the engine is on; why not just use a 12VDC forced air heater?

Much cheaper and no install issues.

Ken
 

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Bill SV Rangatira
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Has anyone every installed an automotive style heater in their boat? Like the kind one would find in their car that heats from the engine coolant?

I only need heat away from the dock a few times per year. Something like that could toast up the boat pretty quickly.
i find it odd that a benetau 48 would not have a heater?
 

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Our boat came with one installed. No way for the hot water from the engine to be turned off, so the water hoses going to the heater in the compartment next to the engine are always hot (not a big deal). It has a 3 speed fan switch and does warm up the cabin of my 31 footer.

Pretty hefty installation for limited use throughout the year. If my boat hadn't had it, I would not have installed it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What kind of heater? 47.7. I have heat at the dock on shore power, but that is it.

An automotive heater might be around $250.00 and puts off a good deal of heat. A 12v heater could never compete with that. Yes, when the engine is running. But for those few times we need it, so what. I sometimes run the engine just to take a nice shower. A nice opportunity to charge the batteries also.

We have a ski nautique with a little dash heater that runs off the cooling system.

i find it odd that a benetau 48 would not have a heater?
 

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I have one... One of the best upgrades I've ever made, don't know why more people looking to extend their sailing season a bit aren't using them. Not expensive, easy install, the main issue on most boats will simply be finding the space in relative proximity to the engine...

The installation of a bus heater is always one of my first recommendations for anyone headed down the ICW in the late fall... A whole lot of folks could easily make do without their cockpit enclosures if they simply had such a heater running down below...

Very handy for drying bits of wet gear, as well...Got plenty of use from mine last summer up north, HIGHLY recommended...

 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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I have one... One of the best upgrades I've ever made, don't know why more people looking to extend their sailing season a bit aren't using them. Not expensive, easy install, the main issue on most boats will simply be finding the space in relative proximity to the engine...

The installation of a bus heater is always one of my first recommendations for anyone headed down the ICW in the late fall... A whole lot of folks could easily make do without their cockpit enclosures if they simply had such a heater running down below...

Very handy for drying bits of wet gear, as well...Got plenty of use from mine last summer up north, HIGHLY recommended...

Love the boat... house could use a little fixin..... :D
 
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S/V Lilo, Islander 32
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I picked up a used red-dot heater and installed it mostly for use moving the boat from the Columbia River to the Puget Sound and back. It's always cold off the coast, and we usually have to motor most of the way anyway. Picked up a used heater for about $50 and "installed" it in about 20 minutes. Ran new hoses to it, wired the fan to a 12v plug and set the heater under the cockpit stairs, there was a nice whole in the engine cover already for the hoses. Someday I will likely install it better, but it's been that way for a while now, and I've pulled it out for the summer some times. Someday I plan to install a "real" heater, I think that's why I haven't fully installed this one yet.

It works great and keeps the cabin at least comfy on the overnight ocean motors. I'm not sure I would invest in a full price ($300 - $400?) unit, but getting a used one was worth it for sure. I've considered adding a secondary water heater so I could use the same heater with or without the engine. Also, as mentioned, a way to cut off flow to the heater would be good for the hot summer days when you don't want it radiating heat into the cabin.

I'm sure you could do that same with an auto heater core from a scrap yard and a little 12v fan if you where so inclined.
 

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I drove an MG for years that you had to open the hood and turn on a gate valve (OK no gate valves on a boat!) to turn on the heat. You turned it on in fall, and off in the spring. I am sure you could set it up like that.
 

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When I'm away from the dock in cold weather, and sailing, I had a full enclosure constructed for the cockpit, and when the sun is out it's like sailing in a green house. Temperature outside was 42 one day, and 75 in the cockpit. Everyone else was sailing in parkas while I was sailing in shirt sleeves and shorts. The heat from the cockpit, however, did not get into the cabin very well, but I believe I could have directed it there with my small, box fan. That enclosure only cost me $700 and was worth every penny.

Good luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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One of the best upgrades you can do to your boat. You always want to have a ball valve fitted to each hose at the engine so you can shut them off if needed. We use ours year round here in the PNW, nice dry heat.
 

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Schooner Captain
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This is part of a comfort system.
We will use waste engine heat when motoring.

What will be done is a 3 hose circuit will loops around our entire boat. Each room will have its own thermostat. the heaters will be sized for the area they will heat. The water all ends up going back to a 20 gallon tank. On top of heat the water will pump thru a pair of AC units for cooling as well.
There will be a loop in the 20 gallon tank for engine heat, there will be two 10 amp electric elements inside for heating at the dock, and there will be a loop to whatever type of diesel, or wood heater we will have. this will give us even heat, and lots of options. Every boat should have this system. Smaller boat, smaller system. Same principals.
 

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One of None
Hunter 34
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This is part of a comfort system.
We will use waste engine heat when motoring.

What will be done is a 3 hose circuit will loops around our entire boat. Each room will have its own thermostat. the heaters will be sized for the area they will heat. The water all ends up going back to a 20 gallon tank. On top of heat the water will pump thru a pair of AC units for cooling as well.
There will be a loop in the 20 gallon tank for engine heat, there will be two 10 amp electric elements inside for heating at the dock, and there will be a loop to whatever type of diesel, or wood heater we will have. this will give us even heat, and lots of options. Every boat should have this system. Smaller boat, smaller system. Same principals.
Yikes! Very few homes or businesses have such systems!

10 amps elements = around 34,000 btu x 2

2 small ac units assuming they are marine type with heat exchanger condensers lets say they are 16,000 btu

The "pump" needed on closed loops is a circulator, only moves water if it's on both sides of the impeller Don't forget antifreeze! air purging. isolation valves....

The 2 ac unit's heat exchangers will heat the water in about 2 hrs in the cooling cycle then it will be too warm for the refrigerant to condense and start causing the the units to go off on "high head" (usually a red button reset control) in the heating cycle they will "chill" the water or sea water will need to bypass the loop for the heating cycle.

Closed loops work on large systems with large volumes (Hundreds or thousands of gallons flowing continuously) of water with dozes of pieces equipment giving and taking heat to and from the loop/s. a heat source and cooling source if the loop reaches high or low temps.
It gets real complicated with heating and cooling equipment on closed loops. I don't know how it would work with only 20 gallons.
Large examples;




It's not likely enough water can be stored in a loop and tank on a boat to provide for water exchanged medium on ac/heat units. To even come close to using the loop for the ac units The the water will need to bypass the tank when it reaches 100-110 degrees. That would require be a thermal modulation valve/s to let the water flow through the heat exchangers and not over heat the tank water causing "high head pressure" the ac units to if it hot in hot out doesn't work well on heat exchangers used for condensing refrigerant. :)

I can see a maze of valves, 3way modulation valves and piping all over the place. If the engine is used there can be danger of thermal "shock" to the engine block too.

We all know but don't realize the engine system is designed in much the same way. sea water in, through heat exchanger. The engine coolant has a thermostat on the engine pump (modulation)

if the ac units are left out, it can all be allot simpler!
 

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I have one of these (a bus heater that I bought off of eBay) installed on a M/V. The engine coolant cycles through. We use if off shore of Vancouver Island, even in summer. It is WONDERFUL. Great for taking the chill off on damp foggy days, and drying wet gloves/socks/etc.

Easy to hookup - just have to run two lengths of "heater hose". The fan is a little noisy, but overall, very happy with it.

Someone had mentioned concern with the extra "heat" coming out when not wanted (e.g. during hot months), and we don't have any issue with that. We don't notice any heat discharge when the fan isn't running.
 

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Old as Dirt!
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Here's one with install details:

Cabin Heater - C34
We have a similar heater aboard our boat but with a more simple plumbing arrangement. We have a two-way valve in the line leading to the hot water heater that, when opened, directs water to and through the heater. The return line from the heater reconnects to the feed line to the hot water heater, down stream of the two-way valve, via a T-fitting but includes a bronze check-valve just before the T to prevent water flowing back into the heater from the T-fitting when the two-way valve is closed. The arrangement is simple and works very nicely and the heater, that has two fan speeds, can thoroughly heat the cabin during winter months.

FWIW...
 
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