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Old 08-21-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
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Central heating systems?

Hi all. Looking to find out what central heating systems you use and opinions on what I am thinking of doing. I currently liveaboard a C Kip 40 in the UK. Winters here can be a touch on the cool side (sometimes more than a touch!) but not as extreme as some places! My vessel came fitted with an eberspacher hydronic. I don't know if you have them in the US but it is a compact diesel fired computer controlled boiler that burns diesel. There are two problems with the Eber. The first being that they aren't really meant for 24/7 usage and need an expensive service every 6 months if you do and the other is the power consumption. With my battery bank I can only survive about 1.5 days off grid in mid winter before I need to start engines to charge the batteries. (I don't yet have a genny) While in the marina I usually use electric heating overnight and the Eber in the daytime. I'm looking for a system that is both designed for liveaboard and very low power consumption as I do like time away from the marina at all times of the year. My eye is on a Kabola E7 drip feed boiler. The drip feed is designed for 24/7 usage and uses only a tiny current for a small circ pump and even smaller fuel pump. I'm aware that there will be no computer heat regulation or programmed start timer etc but intend to keep the Eber in parallel with it for the timed start ups when I am at work for the day etc. The Eber can pre-warm the place before I light the Kabola when I get home.
So what do you all use? What do you think of drip feed systems vs power hungry compact systems? And I don't want to hear from all you smug boaters who live in places too warm to even think about heating!!!
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:50 AM   #2
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The major bands in our area Espar, Hurricane, Kubota and Wabosto. Wabasto bing the most popular. We have a 100,000 btu Wabasto boiler, which also heats the hot water, that we run 24/7 from October through April. However we have it service every September. So I would see what parts and service are available in your area when deciding with brand if its going to be you primary heating.

The hot water was the easiest to install, and keeps the entire boat at 65 to 70 degrees and its thermostat controlled and self firing. Best investment we have made in the boat and one of the major reason we been a live a board for 16 years. Sure Marine in Seattle has been very supportive with quick service and turn around time. The longest its been down is 12 hours as many diesel mechanics in the area also service. My diesel mechanic service out Wabasto and checks the boat when we are away for more than a couple of days.

However it does draw about 20 amps so with a three 8D battery bank, is about 15 hours. However we have a gen set.
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Old 08-21-2013, 05:19 PM   #3
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Check out Wallas from Finland. That’s what I will use, as I refit my boat for northern Europe this winter. Thanks to Alaskan Sea-Duction for pointing me in the right direction and my subsequent research just confirms the choice of the Wallas 40dt. It’s quiet, uses a blend of recirculated air and fresh air (to dry out boat) and uses very little diesel and 12v power, and lastly if the Finn’s can’t make a good, economical heater, no one can.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:42 PM   #4
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I love my Wallas...but not rated for liveaboard either....sounds like the fan is the weak point in them.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:27 PM   #5
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Even though it would probably not work for you since you already have hydronic...

I'll my praise for the Wallas units.
I have three of them providing zoned heating on our boat.

They did have an issue with the previous generation with the fan going bad in less hours than many expected, and they fixed that issue with the latest units.

I've had mine for two years and the only issues I've had has been that I've had to replace the igniter on two of the stoves. The first time you have to do it it's a PITA but after you learn how to get the thing apart in place it only takes a few minutes.

The VERY BEST thing about forced air over hydronic is that forced air can if installed properly bring in fresh air, serving dual functions of heat and ventilation.
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Old 08-22-2013, 05:09 AM   #6
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I believe Espar, a well known brand here in North America, distributes in the UK:
Eberspächer (UK) Ltd.
Headlands Business Park
Salisbury Road
Ringwood, Hampshire BH24 3PB
Phone: +44 1425 480-151
Fax: +44 1425 480-152
enquiries@eberspaecher.com

We have been happy with our Espar hot water system and have run it 24/7 when we were up north.

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Old 08-22-2013, 07:08 AM   #7
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I prefer the Dickinson diesel range , or one of their Antarctic furnaces.

Perhaps a pair if below 0deg F is common.

The H smoke head works in a slip where the breeze will clock 360.

16,000 BTU per unit is frequently enough.

And the ZERO requirement for electric means you will be very popular every time the ysrd power is out.

Service is about 10 min a year. 23 years as liveaboard aboard NYC area.
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Old 08-22-2013, 01:24 PM   #8
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I,m with FF on this one.
I have used a Dickinson for years now Here in Alaska.
Burns about a gallon a day (24 hours) of diesel nice warm dry heat.

They are available with a coil in the burn box one small pump can run hot water to anywhere on the boat.

The salon will always be toasty warm.

My boat is a work boat. I commercially fish during the season so the stove runs 24/7. A little fiddly to get her started but runs flawlessly once she is going.

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Old 08-23-2013, 10:50 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the replies so far. Espar (Eberspacher) is what I already have and would keep in parallel but the Dickinsons look good. It's the drip feed almost zero current draw units I'm looking at. The Eber and Wallas all draw a minimum of a couple of amps and, as I don't yet (although will one day) have a genset and want to spend several days on the hook at a time without having to fire the engines then the Dickinson type set up is exactly what I'm after. I've got eyes on a Kabola E7 or a Refleks both natural draught drip (or tiny pump) feed. The Kabola is looking favourite at the moment as all it's heat goes into the water for circulation around my existing radiator system. I have a location for it in a large locker but couldn't put something that relies on radiant heat in the same locker. Interested to hear any other views and thanks again so far. Iain
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:20 AM   #10
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The Cheapest probable is repairing/servicing your existing unit. Might be able to put in bigger injectors. The unit we have ranges from 90,000 btu to 110,000 btu. I installed for 110,000 btu. The title say CENTRAL Heating which to me mean one source to heat the boat. Sound like you need a gen set more than another heat source?
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:09 PM   #11
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When investigating potential heating systems for our boat I looked at forced air and hydronic systems; both have their advantages/disadvantages but hydronic certainly came out ahead on most fronts. Cost and time to get up to temperature from cold were about its only disadvantages.

It was also clear that the Kabola systems were well above the others, although admittedly I did not look at the Dickinson type that FF mentions. I don't recall the model that I was looking at but I assume all of their products are excellent as long as they are sized correctly for the application.

(We keep our boat in Campbell River which I believe has similar weather as you do in the UK.)
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Old 08-23-2013, 12:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
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When investigating potential heating systems for our boat I looked at forced air and hydronic systems; both have their advantages/disadvantages but hydronic certainly came out ahead on most fronts. Cost and time to get up to temperature from cold were about its only disadvantages.
The challenge you face with hydronic is ventilation.

Boats tend to have very poor ventilation. Thats why you see fogged up windows, and stuff never seems to dry out on a boat. Humans add to the moisture levels with every breath. Add cooking, showers, etc... and you have a recipe for high humidity levels, and stagnant air.

Hydronic systems do nothing to remove that stagnant air. They heat it up, and do a great job at that, and for a while the humidity level goes down because warm air can hold more moisture. After a short period of time, our human activities add to the humidity bringing it back to very high levels.

Forced air systems solve the ventilation challenge. They, if properly installed bring in a mixture of cabin air, and outside air as part of the return air ducting system, thus reducing humidity levels, and keeping the boat dry.

There are other ways to ventilate a boat and get the same effect. On my last boat I had a Espar two zone hydronic system. I loved it, great unit. I also had two Vetus forced air ventilators running 24X7. This reduced the humidity on that 28' boat so that when you woke up in the morning the windshield was not fogged up.

An interesting note. Here in Seward Alaska the weather is wet. We get on average twice the rain as Seattle. The temperatures are also colder, IE much closer to the dew point.
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:33 PM   #13
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The challenge you face with hydronic is ventilation.

Boats tend to have very poor ventilation. Thats why you see fogged up windows, and stuff never seems to dry out on a boat. Humans add to the moisture levels with every breath. Add cooking, showers, etc... and you have a recipe for high humidity levels, and stagnant air.

Hydronic systems do nothing to remove that stagnant air. They heat it up, and do a great job at that, and for a while the humidity level goes down because warm air can hold more moisture. After a short period of time, our human activities add to the humidity bringing it back to very high levels.

Forced air systems solve the ventilation challenge. They, if properly installed bring in a mixture of cabin air, and outside air as part of the return air ducting system, thus reducing humidity levels, and keeping the boat dry.

There are other ways to ventilate a boat and get the same effect. On my last boat I had a Espar two zone hydronic system. I loved it, great unit. I also had two Vetus forced air ventilators running 24X7. This reduced the humidity on that 28' boat so that when you woke up in the morning the windshield was not fogged up.

An interesting note. Here in Seward Alaska the weather is wet. We get on average twice the rain as Seattle. The temperatures are also colder, IE much closer to the dew point.
Good point(s) Kevin. Although I guess the last two boats we owned didn't have properly installed forced air furnaces (Espar) as they had no outside air supply. Which makes me wonder how often they are set up for that.

Of course other hydronic benefits can be (if set up for them) heated domestic water, preheated engine, and in the case of our current boat, heated windshield defrost air.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:55 PM   #14
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Good point(s) Kevin. Although I guess the last two boats we owned didn't have properly installed forced air furnaces (Espar) as they had no outside air supply. Which makes me wonder how often they are set up for that.

Of course other hydronic benefits can be (if set up for them) heated domestic water, preheated engine, and in the case of our current boat, heated windshield defrost air.
It's all in how you design the system.

We have fresh air defrost, three zones, etc... But we thought it out.

Often times people choose forced air because it can be DIY easily and is a bit cheaper, but only if you have a basic system.

We're running three separate furnaces, so it's a bit more complicated, and the cost was about the same as hydronic, maybe a tad more.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:20 AM   #15
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IF a gravity tank fuel feed can be done there is NO electric requirement for a Dickinson.

There is a tiny fan to aid starting in the summer ,
but when the unit is lit in Oct and secured in April is is not used.

Our fuel burn was from 1/2G per day , April hatches open in day and closed at night due to water temp, to 4 GPD at about 0F and below.

200gal per winter was normal , about the same as would be used heading south and returning. 75F+ interior , I like it warm.
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Old 08-24-2013, 01:54 PM   #16
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It's all in how you design the system.

We have fresh air defrost, three zones, etc... But we thought it out.

Often times people choose forced air because it can be DIY easily and is a bit cheaper, but only if you have a basic system.

We're running three separate furnaces, so it's a bit more complicated, and the cost was about the same as hydronic, maybe a tad more.
Had thought about the humidity issue. I've used the hydronic system for 3 years already and I've not had any major mould issues but do get very wet windows in the cold months. I am considering sacrificing a bit of efficiency and piping some external air ( possibly pre-heated by piping it onto a radiator) into the mix. The air hers changed often enough with me coming and going but window condensation is the main issue so will be experimenting with that this winter. If/ when I get a Kabola/Dikinson I might use a small computer fan to force some external air around the exhaust pipe to use that spare heat to pre-heat the incoming air. Watch this space!
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Old 08-24-2013, 02:20 PM   #17
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Humidity control is tricky...

A tent will get condensate on it even with a flap open....it is all about total exchange.

Houses use a fresh air exchanges with very little heat lost...of course it adds complexity and electric draw for the fan...and about $700-$1000 on average.

Not sure what the exact balance is or can be obtained...the smaller the interior spaces for the greater the moisture added...is just something that has to be dealt with in terms of overall efficiency.
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Old 08-25-2013, 06:28 AM   #18
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A boat is so small that it will go from very dry , normal all winter long ,
to dripping window glass , by simply dumping boiling water in the sink.

No big deal .
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:08 AM   #19
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The Scandinavian fishermen use the Refleks oil oven - dries out the cabins, drip fed, 24/7, looks good, no electricity required, multiple radiators can be connected (might possible need a circulation pump). Copper, brass or stainless finish.
Oil Stove - Marine stoves
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Old 09-23-2013, 01:28 AM   #20
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We had a Webasto fitted by Toby Hague of Keto which is based in Poole.

www.keto.co.uk

t 01202 690900
m 07976 925 166

Toby did a great job and I wouldn't change it. Good guy, good advice, good installation.

We've been living aboard since March 2013 and the heating has been an essential item.

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