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S/V Argo-Pacific Seacraft
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For some reason I've decided to winter in the Northeast (NYC) and need to get a heater installed in the next couple of months.

Does anyone have experience with what works and doesn't, especially with regard to type and mounting location on a 37'?

Cheers,
Ryan
 

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I have a 31 with a Force 10 Cozy Cabin LPG heater installed on the port side of the forward bulkhead. I didn't install it but I am very happy with it--it's simple to use, compact,sturdily built of brass and stainless steel and heats my 31 easily. Rated at 6000BTU and looks like they're selling for about $400. I realize there is a lot more volume to heat inside a 37 than a 31, but there's my $.02 anyway.
-Paul
 

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Ryan,

If you plan to be dockside for the winter, the easiest/cheapest option would be electric heaters, which have the benefit of being temporary if you won't need heat again. A downside is that they won't work during a power loss.

As far as more permanent installations, the consensus seems to be that a Webasto or Espar forced air system is among the best options for long-term live-aboard. But these are fairly pricey, require more electric power, and installation is fairly involved.

Somewhere in the spectrum between electric and forced air are the bulkhead-mounted cabin heaters (such as Okapi described) that usually run on propane or diesel/kerosene. These are nice units for weekending/vacationing. Since they are passive heaters, they have almost zero electric consumption (although it helps to run fans to circulate the heat).

We have A LOT of threads here on Sailnet that discuss diesel and propane cabin heaters -- lots of good information already there that can be found with a quick search (try search term "cabin heater"). If you decide a bulkhead mounted propane heater is what you want, be sure to understand the benefits of a sealed combustion chamber (such as those offered by Dickinson's Newport heaters). Those threads I mention discuss this issue quite a bit.

In your case, a bulkhead mounted unit might suffice for a single winter season aboard, especially if you could supplement it with an electric heater as needed.
 

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S/V Argo-Pacific Seacraft
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Okapi, Thanks for the input, I have been looking at the Force10's and SigMar's for awhile now.

John, Thanks for the info. We'll be at the dock but also need a heater for full time cruising in cold environments. From a quick look on the web, the forced air heaters are going to draw 10+ amps and I think that's going to be a non-starter for us.

I'm looking into Sig Mar and Dickinson bulkhead and floor mount heaters now. I will definitely poke around other parts of the forums and see what I can find.
 

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Ryan,

One of the issues with the Force 10/Sigma Cozy Cabin heater is that the combustion chamber is not sealed. This allows moisture (by-product of propane combustion) to escape into the cabin -- much like using your cooking stove/oven. For limited heating it's probably okay, but if you plan to operate the unit for long periods, you will begin to notice the dampness in the cabin (and condensate dripping from your cold, bronze portlight frames).

The Dickinson Newport heaters are more expensive than the Cozy Cabin units (by a factor of 2-3), but they have a sealed combustion chamber that exhausts all the moisture out of the cabin via a double-walled chimney (the interior flew exhausts the by-products of combustion, while the exterior flew brings air for combustion from outside the cabin and simultaneously cools/insulates the hot interior flew). This results in a nice drying heat.

Here is our Dickinson Newport propane cabin heater (not the greatest photo). It's the smaller of the two sizes offered (P9000). I would think on your boat the larger 12000 btu unit would be preferable, supplemented by a few electric heaters when dockside:



P.S. You may also want to consider some way of insulating your portlights if you are going to stay put in one place for the winter. I have seen various methods but one I liked was clear bubble wrap affixed to the exterior -- which still allowed light penteration.
 

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Regardless of the type of heater you decide to install, your boat should be as well insulated as you can make it. In addition to having Pacific Seacraft insulate our deck and hull (down to the water line), we added 1/4" and 3/8"
closed cell foam to the inside of hull and deck surfaces that were exposed to the outside. We also put expanding foam insulation in the cavity left by the hull deck where we couldn't reach it to push a half-cylinder of closed-cell foam up to cover the wiring and seal off the hull-deck joint cavity. We glued acoustical wall covering to the inside of the V-berth where it was exposed--it's better looking than closed-cell foam. Without the insulation condensate dripped down inside lockers.

Friends who own a PSC 37 showed us how to make a clear plexiglass "curtain" that snaps onto the side of the cabin trunk, forming a fitted cover for all of the portlights at once. You can still open the portlight and let in a bit of air, but condensation is cut to almost nothing.

We have an Espar, but it had a hard time keeping up with the cold winters in Washington State and Canada until we installed the insulation. The Espar ran at least 50% less after we got all the insulation installed.

If you haven't read "The Warm Dry Boat" we recommend it. The most important thing we did (described in this book) was to be sure we had adequate air circulation. We used a combination of slightly open portlights, hatches, and cabin fans to keep the air moving. Even so, if you're at the dockside in a cold, wet climate you may find you need a dehumidifier to make life bearable. The majority of our condensation problems were caused by cooking--opening the hatch over the stove helps, but there is still a lot of moisture to get out of the boat.

Definitely look at electric heaters if you're at the dock and have dockside power. We used a Caframo floor model, but friends swore by one that heated oil in a radiator-like free-standing job.

Sue
 

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ARGO I pass your beautiful vessel as I travel along the west side hiway. I tried to PM you but being a newbie I was not allowed . I have a sister ship #290 up the river a few miles in Nyack. Have you found your winter berth? If I can be of any help let me know. THYRA
 

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bill norrie
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Hi gang, we have Dickinson Newport desiel heater in our PSC 37 LL ,#231 for 18 years with prior owner and it works great here in BC , but hellish messy to clean. Cheers, Bill
 

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pc237
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heater

i have a pc 37 , removed my heater , i have all the parts , would like to sell it .email me if you would likem to buy it thank pc 37 howard
 

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Wing n' Wing
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winter heat

We do a lot of winter sailing, liveaboard life in the PNW. Have found that running 2 110 volt heaters can overrun the dock power. Trips the breaker. Still, running 2 heaters on Med. is better than one on high.
We also have an Espar forced Air Diesel heater, the combo gets us thru snow on the deck weather.
Boat was in charter out of Bellingham, WA for ten years, no problems with cold.
 

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I must respectfully disagree with the performance and design of the Force 10 or Cozy Cabin heater as it is now called. It is a PITA and very poorly designed for use in small confined spaces unless you like rain from condensation in your vessel.

Mine has been disconnected for the last three years. I'd rather go without heat than sop & drench the inside of my vessel due to the non-sealed & very humid combustion of the Force 10.

LP combustion can be about 50% moisture. Not ALL this moisture vents out the arguably undersized 1" flue vent and the boat windows quickly fog and condensation begins to form rapidly.

While it looks nice it is an awfully expensive decorative fireplace...

I agree with ceramic disc heaters like the Pelonis or similar. Nice dry heat. The Dickinson's are much nicer and MUCH drier as they employ sealed combustion meaning none of the LP moisture from combustion gets expelled into the cabin. They also incorporate a fan to circulate the heat where a Force 10 does not.

If you want the ultimate system then a Wallas or Espar system would be very sweet..

With two ceramic disc heaters, 3000 watts, I can do varnish work in temps to 0 F in Maine.. Electric is the easiest and least expensive up front cost, of course the monthly electric bill may choke you but at least you won't be lugging propane or diesel down the docks and under a winter cover either..
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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I installed a Wallas 40D forced air furnace a year ago and I'm really impressed with it. Last winter we had to move the boat out of the marina because of a week of low tides so we were tied to the fuel dock with no electricity. As luck would have it we got hit with a severe blast of Arctic weather (30+kts of wind and temps in the low teens F. for 5-6 days). I ran the furnace continuously and it kept our 40' boat nice and warm, not T-shirt warm, but comfortable. Since that time we have used it extensively with no problems. Installation was not nearly as difficult as I feared.
 

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Cabin heaters

My PSC 37 has a Force 10 mounted to the bulkhead port of the V-berth doorway. I live aboard and just sold the heater. Some sailors love them but even after tweeking it by several means, I found it's much too labor intense. The pressure needed too much attention. We used a 20lb propane tank attached to a small version of Mr Heater, purchased at Tractor Supply. We also ran two very small ceramic heaters, one under our V-berth and one in our engine compartment. The propane is MOIST! Until we can afford to install a diesel fired, forced hot water system ($9000.) I'll keep hauling those 20 lb tanks. :D
 

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The propane is MOIST!
We have the Dickinson bulkhead mounted Propane heater; properly vented with the duel sleeve flue, "direct vent" as Dickinson calls it, it is both safe from oxygen depletion and it also is not moist. Its also very efficient.
 

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S/V Argo-Pacific Seacraft
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
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.

Ryan
 

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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)....

Ryan
Dear Ryan, if you are looking that seriously at a pot burner (for all the right reasons, I think), I suggest you also look at the Refleks heaters available through Hamilton Marine (I have no affiliation with either). I was leaning towards the Dickinson because it has a more finished look. After watching their videos I have decided on the Refleks. The Dickinson needs a 12V stack fan when lighting, when running on high temperatures, and in any high winds. The Refleks does not. This indicates to me that the Dickinson may be a marginally engineered burner which works OK with a bit of "help" from a 12V fan.

I had a Refleks for two years on my previous boat and loved it. When starting up there was some smell of diesel -- like being behind a city bus. Once going you could stick your nose right at the stovepipe and smell only warm metal. The Refleks does NOT like sailing along at a constant angle of heel but in more common (hoped for) downwind sailing it is fine. I used a 5 gallon gravity feed tank and so eliminated all electrical needs except for the fan which was nice to move the warm air around.

Let us know what you eventually decide,

Jay

PSC 37 Kenlanu
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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Hi Ryan- I don't have the figures at hand but the reason I went with the Wallas vs. the Espar or Webasto was for the reasons you cited. Wallas uses considerably less amperage on start up and maintenance can be done quite easily it seems to me. My cost with me doing the entire install was around $2500. Granted, any diesel furnace is going to be considerably more complicated than a stove so if the main priority is simplicity you are heading in the right direction. I probably would have gone with the Dickinson if I had a good place to put it. Fuel usage seems to be very low, the thermostat usually is set fairly low or else it cooks us out of the cabin.
 

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Ryan,

I'm not sure what the limitations are with the diesel variant, but one nice aspect of the Dickinson Newport propane heaters -- they work at all normal angles of heel and can be left on continuously while sailing. Plus, the stack cap and optional guard are low profile, so there is virtually no risk of interference with running rigging. (And of course, no soot on deck).

The other big advantage is the near complete absence of power draw. No pumps, fan optional. In a real pinch, the remote propane solenoid shut-off can be by-passed, resulting in ZERO power draw.

Whatever you end up with, you'll be thrilled to have heat aboard. We just returned from a chillier-than-usual fall trip, and having a warm cabin "on-demand" makes such a huge difference in comfort level. It really extends the sailing season.

Also, there is just something primordially gratifying about a visible flame. Hopefully the diesel unit you're considering has this feature.
 

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S/V Argo-Pacific Seacraft
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Refleks, Wallas, & Propane

Jay,

Thanks for the suggestions. I took a look at the Refleks, and I agree that it is a pretty good looking heater. The issue I'm struggling with is space. The Dickinson Newport is smaller than the Refleks and I'm having some difficulty determining where to locate it. I've heard good things about the Dickinson heaters, so think it will be up to the task.

Where are you planning on installing your heater?

John D,


It does look like the Wallas is less expensive. I got a bad vibe from the Webasto folks. They quoted me a "boat show special" that was about $1500 more than what Defender is offering it for. The Wallas is tempting, especially since I can mount it somewhere out of the way. As you mentioned, finding space for the bulkhead mount is a challenge. So, I'm stuck between space and current considerations, if I can make space I'll go with the Dickinson.

John P,


The diesel unit does have a flame window, and it should run on reasonable angles of heel. I picked up The Warm Dry Boat and one of the technical arguments therein was that diesel is more efficient than propane in terms of space and weight for a given amount of heat. Of course, that cuts into the PSC's 45 gals of fuel (I'm considering adding some more tankage). And, I think that diesel is going to be more available generally around the world. A broker at the show who was trying to talk me into a propane bulkhead heater, insisted that propane is available anywhere. I have to take issue with that, as even in the Bahamas it was only available in certain places, on certain days, and that isn't remote by any stretch. I should be able to find diesel, fuel oil, heating oil, kerosene, or biodiesel in nearly any port.


Cheers,
Ryan
 

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Splashed
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Ryan, I like your thinking re the pot burners (and diesel vs propane). I have a Refleks for the very same reasons, as it was way cheaper than the Dickinson (Refleks is made in Denmark). Those ovens are used in many fishing vessels too, and provide great service for them (and us). The Dickinson is better looking, though..
 
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