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Old 11-13-2018, 01:43 PM   #1
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Best Heater-Diesel, Propane or other?

Hi, just purchased a boat and want to cruise on our lake this winter...so I am looking at heat sources for the cabin. No genset etc.

Which do you prefer? Why?

Do the diesel ones have that diesel odor?

I read that alcohol will coat everything with condensation?

Propane sounded good till the old hand told me about an explosion that threw the lady out of the cabin top.

Pictured is the boat and a few of the models I am looking at plus a similar cabin layout. Why in the hell didn't I buy "Windows!" It was all done:
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Old 11-13-2018, 01:50 PM   #2
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Here are some of the models I've looked at:

https://www.go2marine.com/product/83...at-heater.html

https://www.go2marine.com/category/1...for-boats.html

Of course I hate to cut the top deck, always do for obvious reasons. But with these models looks like I will have to do so.
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Old 11-13-2018, 01:54 PM   #3
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Can you tap off of the engine cooling system for heat? Commonly called a "Bus Heater". I did that on my ride and it keeps the cabin and pilot house toasty. As long as engine is running, of course. I do have a gennie, though. Rarely run the gennie for heat as most times in winter cruising I am either running the main or docked with power available. Not all the time, though!! Like last Saturday night!!

The PNW guys know diesel heaters, they will chime in.
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:01 PM   #4
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Wallas Heater, hands down. Quiet, dry, efficient heat.

https://www.scanmarineusa.com/wp-con...30GB-2018s.pdf
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:52 PM   #5
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I'd avoid propane if you use it much, it will burn a lot of propane. Anything that isn't vented introduces a lot of water into the cabin. Burning a pound of propane produces something like 1.6 lbs of water. Other hydrocarbons not much different.

Properly done a diesel heater does not stink. Some of them make a fair amount of noise. For a smallish boat, the Wallas is not a bad choice: quiet, efficient, and fairly easy to install.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:18 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the replies. I know the Scout I wish I had purchased has the Wallas system. But I think a simple bulkhead mounted unit with vent would work. But man I hate to cut a hole in the cabin top. And I will only need this for a few days. We will have about 90 to 120 days of cold weather.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:47 PM   #7
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Heater.

"Wabasco Diesel Hydronic Heater" is what I have & I like it very much.

Safety of radiant heat with small radiators at the base boards in each cabin & it runs hot water through them with a small circulation pump.

Any heater that burns Hydrocarbons like a propane style that is located INSIDE the cabin, it is using your oxygen as well as you are. For Safety, I would stay away from anything like that.

So need a source of air that is NOT your air supply as well.

I could not bring myself to cut a hole in the cabin roof, so I mounted the heater in the engine room & plumbed the hot water hose to each radiator in series & that worked fine.

Good Luck.

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Old 11-13-2018, 05:32 PM   #8
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The Wallas would be good, I'd also take a look at the Webasto Air-Top. NOthing wrong with the free-standing diesel stoves but they do take up space in the salon and get hot enough that they can be a burn hazard for the unsteady or little kids.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdmiralS View Post
Wallas Heater, hands down. Quiet, dry, efficient heat.

https://www.scanmarineusa.com/wp-con...30GB-2018s.pdf
“Hands down” implies or even states “better that all others”.

Had a Wabasto (air) for 15 yrs or so and would buy another w/o shopping if needed. When I was shopping 15yrs ago I looked at the Wallas at ScanMarine and found it sugnificantly lacking for some long forgotten reason. The only objection I can imagine that you had to reject the Wabasto was perhaps noise. However that would be much like complaining about engine noise while riding in a Lexus or Avalon.

So I ask you to get specific and tell what makes the Wallas so good.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
“Hands down” implies or even states “better that all others”.

Had a Wabasto (air) for 15 yrs or so and would buy another w/o shopping if needed. When I was shopping 15yrs ago I looked at the Wallas at ScanMarine and found it sugnificantly lacking for some long forgotten reason. The only objection I can imagine that you rejected the Wabasto for any other reason but noise. However that would be much like complaining about engine noise while riding in a Lexus or Avalon.

So I ask you to get specific and tell what makes the Wallas so good.
Reason #1 - The jet engine noise produced by any forced-draft diesel-fired flame would drive my ears, and neighbors bonkers.

Reason #2 - Have several members at our boat club who have experience with both webasto, espar, etc. and the wallas. They all swear by the Wallas if they had a do-over. A few have even pulled out their espar and airtops and switched to the Wallas.

Reason #3 - From reading forums, online research, and speaking with actual owners at my boat club, Seems the webasto and espar's seem to require more maintenance (i.e. - need to run every 30 days per the instructions. Seem to have component failure with long term user). Haven't really come across many threads on issues with the Wallas heaters.

The new wallas heaters have evolved (30GB, 22GB, and the new Scorpion) They share the same split hose for exhaust and combustion air simplifying the install.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:03 PM   #11
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How many days do you plan to anchor out in winter temps? You said a few days above but you also said you have 90-120 days of cold weather. If only a few days a radiant propane heater like Mr Heater can provide 10,000 btu/hr and heat up you main cabin nicely. A 10,000 btu radiant heater will run for several days on a 20# tank of propane. Yes propane produces water which will condense inside on cold surfaces. Also I wouldn't go to sleep with a non vented propane heater on.



If you stay out for more than that it would probably be worth installing a diesel heater. A bulkhead mounted diesel heater will work fine but as you note you will have to cut a hole through your roof.


The cheapest way to avoid that is with a forced air diesel heater. Espar and others make them. They exhaust through the side of the boat through as small 1" or so fitting and are usually installed below decks and ducts route the warm air above. They range is size from about 15,000 btu to 30,000 or so.



The cats meow is a hydronic diesel heater where the heater is like a home boiler that heats up hot water which is circulated to fan coil units.



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Old 11-13-2018, 06:17 PM   #12
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The Wallas would be good, I'd also take a look at the Webasto Air-Top. NOthing wrong with the free-standing diesel stoves but they do take up space in the salon and get hot enough that they can be a burn hazard for the unsteady or little kids.
Wallas devices are high quality and cleverly engineered. I have their cooktop and oven and am delighted with them, but for your use and the size of your boat i would suggest one of the diesel bulkhead "fireplaces". I have one of the floor-standing Dickenson barrel stoves. Gives good heat with economical burn and a nice fireplace ambience.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:27 PM   #13
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This summer I spent some time cruising with a former Espar/Webasto tech. He has a 42' boat, heat is from something that is definitely NOT an Espar or Webasto. His explanation started with, "they are designed to heat a Bus or transport truck, not a boat." I don't recall the specifics, but my own experience with an Espar cost me more to keep it running than 3 diesel engines on the same boat.
I also have a Diesel stove, so I had no trouble pulling out the Espar and trading it for a couple of decent bottles of Scotch.

My diesel stove will run silently, heats from the galley, so the forepeak and the saloon also get plenty of heat, and the aft cabin (master bedroom) is never too hot.

You do need to cut an opening in the deck above, and a separate day tank is a good idea. You can replace your propane stove as I did, or go with a bulkhead mount unit like you have shown, in the Newport or SigMar.

My day tank is ~ 2 gal, so needs to be refilled every couple of days. This can be done by a diversion of the engine fuel return line, or put in a little Walbro pump. I have both.
You can put the day tank behind furniture or on the roof, anywhere you can find the space, but it should be gravity feed to the stove.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:29 PM   #14
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SC - as in South Carolina? I would think AC would be a priority - with reverse cycle heat and you’re good. If you can make the power away from the dock. Anyway, something to think about.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:41 PM   #15
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"Here are some of the models I've looked at"

I'm with Prof. A free standing stove like your pictures above would be more 'in period' with your boat and they throw a lot of heat. I have an Espar hydronic that we use heavily in Alaska and it functions well, but such a system would be way overkill for you. Diesel forced air is also an option if the fan noise isn't objectionable.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad Willy View Post
“Hands down” implies or even states “better that all others”.

Had a Wabasto (air) for 15 yrs or so and would buy another w/o shopping if needed. When I was shopping 15yrs ago I looked at the Wallas at ScanMarine and found it sugnificantly lacking for some long forgotten reason. The only objection I can imagine that you rejected the Wabasto for any other reason but noise. However that would be much like complaining about engine noise while riding in a Lexus or Avalon.

I went with the Webasto Air-Top on my last boat instead of the Wallas simply due to the experience and recommendations of other boat owners that I trusted. They had some reports of maintenance "issues" with the Wallas and better reliability with the Webasto.



Now, I'm not saying the Wallas isn't great only that I chose the Webasto based on some others anecdotal experiences. The Webasto is loud. That would be a big plus for the Wallas. The Webasto gave me years of great performance in my 40' sailboat.


On a prior sailboat, I had a diesel stove. It gave great radiant heat, was quiet and since there was no fan, used no electricity. The heat was fine in the 36' sailboat but it meant that it took up space in the salon and had the chimney on deck. I eventually removed it.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:52 PM   #17
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Another plus for Wallas, they run with as little as 1 amp of 12V, substantially less than the others.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:52 PM   #18
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OK good,
Few specifics but the last poster DDW has a good one. Twice as much power draw .. maybe. Whatever the draw we’ve never run the batteries low. We are usually underway every day so the batts get charged. But the heaters don’t draw the same all the time. My Waby pulls much more on startup for example. What does the Wallas draw normally while running? We have the Airtop 2000. That’s the smallest Wabasto made and it needs to be running almost constantly in the low 30’s on our boat w no insulation.

The rest of the comments are mostly “I love mine and most of the guys on our dock have them”

Re the noise issue the majority here think nothing of running a generator. The Wabasto/Espar make way way less noise than that. The noise dosn’t bother me a bit but at night my wife is slightly bothered by it. Hasn’t said anything for years though.

For the OP the Wabasto would work really well installed in the laz w exhaust through the transom which would be way far away from the fwd berth .. assumed fwd position of berth.

Re the maintenance Ive had two problems .
1. The Wabasto has starting problems if not run regularly. Now we don’t have a problem w it but in years gone by we have.
2. Dirty burning. We ran ours for years before we took it in to Sure Marine saying it wouldn’t start. Plugged w after-burn deposits and required much cleaning. They suggested we burn kerosene. We now do. Had to install a 2.5 gal tank and have on hand several gallons of kerosene in plastic jugs. The tank is on the outside of the cabin and once I left the fill cap off .. in the rain. THAT DID cause problems but in retrospect not much trouble. I wonder occasionally if we had continued to run diesel the sooting ect could be controled by removing the furnace and taking it to Sure Marine every year. For now I’m good w the kerosene.

Most of the Waby problems are related to the fuel supply.
On our Willard the Waby was installed by a boatyard and they plumbed it directly to a small port on the bottom of the fuel tank. Worked fine and never got any water in the system but I didn’t like the possibility of draining 40 gallons of diesel fuel into the bilge .. if something should happen. So I plumbed it into the engine fuel manifold. It even says not to do that in the installation instructions. The reason is that the Waby fuel pump is then competing w the main engine fuel pump. Quick sumary is that it dosn’t work well. But it can work perfectly .. for awhile.

Now that I’m burning kerosene from a dedecated source I seem to have no problems at all. I could mention however that kerosene costs about $5.50 a gallon or more.
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Old 11-13-2018, 08:10 PM   #19
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Don't wish to start a flame war (har!) but I'd say that the Webasto exhaust noise has more effect on the guy on the other side of the dock..
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Old 11-13-2018, 09:09 PM   #20
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Installed a ITR Hurricane H2L 9 years ago...am very happy. Lived aboard in Baltimore for six winters. No diesel smell as it is vented/exhausted outside.
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