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Old 10-15-2015, 10:22 AM   #1
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Advice wanted for hydronic heating systems

I have a friend who owns a 40' sailboat who is considering adding hydronic (hot water circulating) heat to his boat. Since the sailing community doesn't have much experience with these, I thought I would post here as you guys have more experience (and no doubt opinions) on these.

He is considering the Espar and Webasto system. He has looked at Hurricane but it is too expensive

So do you have any views on which is better (or others) and any tips on installation.

He is monitoring this thread and I will post any feedback from him.

David
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:54 AM   #2
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David

Why not a Dickenson? On a single level vessel they work very well and much less cost than any hydronic system.

I have a Hurricane BTW. Factory support from Vancouver is superb and I've only needed it once in past 8 years to replace a flame sensor. Where are Espar and Webasto made and how is their support? Are noise levels any different with Espar or Webasto as compared to Hurricane, a big concern for many.
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Old 10-15-2015, 12:01 PM   #3
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I also have a Hurricane and I completely agree with the high level of customer service. I had never seen one before I bought this boat and they spent endless hours with me teaching me the intricacies of it's build and how to troubleshoot it. I have only praise for the product and the company.
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Old 10-15-2015, 01:06 PM   #4
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I installed a Webasto hydronic unit about 8 years ago and I love it. I ran a loop all around the boat with heat exchangers on the engines and a tankless hot water heater. I can use the Webasto to preheat the engines or use the engines to heat the boat. Endless hot water is nice. Also, I put radiators in the hanging lockers to keep things dry.

Go to suremarineservices.com they have all the information you need to plan the system. You can also call them, they provide excellent tech support. They are in Seattle and I'm in San Diego but they were so responsive and quick to ship things that it felt as if they were down the street. I have no connection to the company, just a really happy customer.
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Old 10-15-2015, 01:36 PM   #5
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The Dickinson Pacific range will usually fit where a std US stove cut out is.

With zero electric requirement is is the best choice for a cruiser or liveaboard.

The Dickinson Antartic heater is great if the cabin has the space.

The H style smoke head is best power or sail including underway.

A temp gravity fuel tank, and a water deck iron and cold is no bother.

The main cabin is heated which means the bunks can get cold.

There are 12v sheets that will cure this , even at anchor.

The hassle with the Espar or other truck or bus heaters is big power draw 24/7 plus a circ pump and if run to under counter toe kick heat exchangers , even more 120v to provide.

A copper finned loop uses the least circ pump power , and is very hard to retrofit and look nice.
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Old 10-15-2015, 02:09 PM   #6
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OK, I've installed Two Espar hydronic units, one Toyotomi forced air unit, and one Wallas forced air unit over the years. I have not personally installed any Webasto units.

The Espar units are truck heaters. In the USA you can buy units set up for marine use from Boat Electric in Seattle. I found that Boat Electric's prices were exorbant and they were not so nice to deal with, but that was just me trying to save a few bucks so I might be biased there.

The Espar units I installed were purchased off the net. I did not tell them I was buying one for marine use or they would not sell them to me.

I had to go over their schematics and figure out a relay network to get all the zone thermostats to work correctly and only run the fan on the heat exchanger I wanted. This was not difficult for me, but I work with relays and electrical automation gear as part of my work so your results may differ on that. Make sure you buy the Espar 7 day timer with the unit. This is critical since when your furnas has an issue it will display the fault code. It is also critical because if the furnace has a shutdown fault and it probably will when you first start it up you will need the 7 day timer to reset the furnace. If you don't get one when you buy the furnace you will be buying one soon, so make it easy on yourself.

A big trick with any hydronic unit is to locate a radiator overflow bottle that you have modified to have a through hull in the bottom at the highest point in the system. Make sure you can add fluid to the bottle so don't place it at the top of a cabinet. Also plan on using a pump and a 5 gallon bucket to initially get fluid in your system.

Cant comment on the webasto units except I like that you don't have to lie to get one set up for marine use at a reasonable price.
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Old 10-15-2015, 02:50 PM   #7
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We installed a Webasto DBW2010 on our 42.5' sailboat when we were in the PNW. We were cruising and living on the boat full time. It was a cutter rig. The supply lines were run down the strbrd side and the return lines on the port side with the expansion tank in the port side of the lazarette. We had 4 fan heaters. We stayed nice and warm all winter and the lockers were dry with no mold or mildew.

Since we were installing the system on a boat with a 47 hp engine, we were warned not to hook the system up with a heat exchanger off the engine. The concern was that the system would remove to much heat from the engine it may not run hot enough. We did hook it to the water heater though and never ran out of hot water.
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry M View Post
Since we were installing the system on a boat with a 47 hp engine, we were warned not to hook the system up with a heat exchanger off the engine. The concern was that the system would remove to much heat from the engine it may not run hot enough. We did hook it to the water heater though and never ran out of hot water.
Installed a hydronic heat system in my boat that only runs off of engine heat. There are 3 cabin heaters with blowers in different parts of the boat. Was concerned about drawing too much heat out of the engine, so installed an immersion temp switch for the blower motors. When the engine coolant temperature in the block reaches 170 degrees, the blowers can come on. When loop temperature drops below 160 degrees it shuts off the blower. Thermostat in the engine starts to open at 180 degrees. These immersion temp switches come in increments of 10 degrees and are 1/4" MPT. May change to a 180 degree switch after running some tests.

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Old 10-15-2015, 03:48 PM   #9
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Ted: Nice! How many horses is the engine and what do you think your cruising rpms will be?
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Old 10-15-2015, 03:58 PM   #10
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Ted: Nice! How many horses is the engine and what do you think your cruising rpms will be?
Engine is 107 to 135 HP depending on which setting is used. Plan to cruise 7 knots at 1, 600 to 1, 800 rpm; should be around 30 to 40 HP. You know what they say about plans.

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Old 10-15-2015, 04:10 PM   #11
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Thanks. Keep us posted. The removal for heating comes up occasionally without much real life experience.
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