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Old 11-23-2015, 11:19 AM   #10
refugio
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City: Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Lulu (Refugio sold)
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,254
I've had several Espars (forced air), one Wallas cooktop/stove, one Webasto AirTop 2000ST, and - currently - a Hurricane hydronic. IMHO the Espars and Webastos are very comparable - German (excellent documentation, expensive spares, etc.) truck heaters with little to no marinization. Your success with these will depend largely on your installation - central location, balancing the domestic and combustion air runs (and keeping them short!), adequate voltage, correctly sized fuel supply, and so on. Sure Marine has a guide that you should buy and pay very close attention to.

I know you said you don't want hydronic, but have you carefully considered your domestic hot water situation? You get that essentially free with hydronic - every other approach has "issues".

If you are planning to cruise in winter, or want to stay warm at the dock without supplementing with electric heat, you are not looking at enough capacity. 13,600 BTUs (Wallas) and 17,000 BTUs (Webasto) aren't going to be enough when temperatures get down near freezing. If you don't need to be on the boat near freezing temperatures, then either will help extend your cruising into the fall.

Also, forced air systems are not ideal on their own. Yes, they blow warm air - but you really need thermal mass to absorb the heat and radiate it back when the blowing stops. And the warm air / no warm air cycle is not a premium experience. The folks talking about a Dickinson stove are on the right track. And I strongly suggest that you have a tested backup heating system other than dockside power. It doesn't have to heat the entire boat to 70, but if you have a fireplace - can put a clay pot upside down over your stove - whatever, you will be able to keep any hiccup in the main heater from becoming truly uncomfortable.

Finally, closely related to heating is ventilation. I know nothing about the Pacific but with a couple of living (transpiring!) people on board...cooking...taking showers...perhaps with a wet dog?...you are going want to exchange a ton of air to the outside to get rid of that moisture. You really, really need more heating capacity.
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