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Old 02-06-2020, 02:00 PM   #1
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Hurricane Diesel Heater Issues

Today will be the fourth time in four years I have replaced the compressor in my Hurricane II heater. We live on board so it get's lot's of use. Any other users had this much problem with their heaters?
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:59 PM   #2
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Our Hurricane has been working well for 13 years. Obviously, the install is quite important which we hired out to a proven BC Hurricane group. Never a compressor issue. Normal maintenance only for book things like flame sensor, fuel filter, exhaust pipe and burner cleaning.

We seldom use ours at dock though. Also when underway the engine heat exchanger negates need for compressor and burner. Reverse cycle used liberally at dock. Lastly, we have a really good Hurricane guy at our favorite nearby yard.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:04 PM   #3
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We have the Hurricane II heater, and have a problem with it at least once a week. The high and low temp sensors are always going out to the point we keep several spares onboard. The circulation pumps are also a weak point. We have replaced both of them this winter. They have both electrical and machinal issues. Also the 12 VDC blower fans are a problem.

I have discussed these problems with the factory tech support, and they have told me that 5 years of service is the life expectancy of the system. Funny that never came up when we bought or installed the system.

The dealer support is nonextant. I have several of the dealers the factory recommended, and they usually told me they only work on RVs.

The system is good when it works, but that is not very often. I would never recommend it to someone planning to use it as a primary heating liveaboard system.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:02 PM   #4
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The high and low temp sensors are always going out to the point we keep several spares onboard.
Where inside your Hurricane unit are these located? Or are you referring to aquastats external to the heater and located near the HXer fans?
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:09 PM   #5
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Yes the sensors are called "aquastats", and they are located on the sides if the boiler tank. There is a LOW, HIGH, and OVER TEMP . If any one of the three malfunctions it will shutdown the system.
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:36 PM   #6
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In seven years, I’ve had one compressor diaphragm tear. I got a replacement from ITR and it was a five minute fix. The pump was an off the shelf item and one might be able to source elsewhere. One aquastat in an air handler was bad and other than bleeding air from the system early on, no problems. I found customer service to be very good when I had inquiries.
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fgarriso View Post
Yes the sensors are called "aquastats", and they are located on the sides if the boiler tank. There is a LOW, HIGH, and OVER TEMP . If any one of the three malfunctions it will shutdown the system.
I'd have to think about this one a bit as I've never had a reason to deal with these aquastats. An electrical glitch is all I can visualize as they are as best I recall in a 5 to 12 V operating zone. Do you have a well experienced Hurricane guy assessing the issue?
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:10 PM   #8
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I believe they are pretty simple bi-metallic switches. As I recall, one closes at 125 deg. One opens at 147. I forget the over temp but if there is air in the tank, that aquastat can trip.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:25 PM   #9
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If you're having a lot of electrical failures, the unit may not be getting full voltage. As voltage decreases, amps raise. Higher amp flow within electrical items may cause over heat or burnout. Watts = Amps x Volts.
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Old 02-06-2020, 06:55 PM   #10
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The Hurricane II in my sailboat has over 1000 hours in 11 years use now, without a single problem or any maintenance. I installed an ITR Zephyr in the trawler last spring, other than a few leaks from hose clamps not tight enough, it has also been perfect.

With that many issues I wonder what the installation looks like. There are two sets of aquastats, one set for the diesel burner controls and another for the AC heating coil. The former have only small signal voltages and currents going through, the latter have large AC voltages and heavy currents. Which ones are failing?

If you are replacing components that often, something is fundamentally wrong with your installation.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:29 PM   #11
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Hurricane Heaters are among the more reliable and easiest heaters to work on. The most prevalent problems are clogged nozzles and worn out blower motors. Circulation pumps are a third party item, don’t know what your installer specked but I use a Grundfos circulation pump, it runs 24/7 and has been for over 10 years. I’m inclined to agree with DDW, this many issues sounds like an installation issue.
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Old 02-06-2020, 08:40 PM   #12
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I would think reliable heaters should have minimal repair issues that are logging around 1000 hrs a year.


At 500 hours a year...it is almost underused to stay reliable.


My Wallas has required about 1 hr cleaning per year and a couple inexpensive parts over a 7 year period and now has a little over 3700 hours on it.


I would hope the ITR with its reputation would be just as reliable.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:30 AM   #13
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The old reliable Way Wolf units seemed to be built with OTS common house boiler parts. Some were "marinized" to not spark for gasoline boats which is not a diesel boat requirement .

Circ pumps come in many quality levels , the Obendorfer line is hard to beat.

With a large boat (too big for gravity hydronic)I would get a quality cast iron boiler finned baseboard or cast baseboard units and heated towel racks , and just put one together.

With a good inverter maint should only require a once a year burner cleaning.

These are cheap, so an extra one is not a big deal.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:23 AM   #14
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People I know with Hurricane heaters have had mixed results. Some work fine as others here have reported. Others are total disasters as has also been reported.

Uniformly excellent reviews come from Olympia (Sure Marine) and Kabola. Both are residential boilers at their core.
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Old 02-07-2020, 10:44 AM   #15
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People I know with Hurricane heaters have had mixed results. Some work fine as others here have reported. Others are total disasters as has also been reported.

Uniformly excellent reviews come from Olympia (Sure Marine) and Kabola. Both are residential boilers at their core.
Couldn't agree more. I've found the ITR heat exchangers to be absolute junk and leak prone as compared to what Sure Marine sells.

Another consideration is the design of the control circuitry to the unit. I've found 12V much more failure prone than 24V or 110V. It also seems that owner installed units of any make are more troublesome. I've assisted trouble shooting on several hydronic units that were installed by previous owners with some interesting things done to take shortcuts, or ignoring install directions.
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Old 02-07-2020, 11:46 AM   #16
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Olympia and Kabola are great, but both require 110V power and a lot of it, as well as a lot of space as they are not highly integrated. The ITR heaters do not come in 24V or 110V versions as far as I am aware. I had to install the Hurricane II with a DC-DC converter in my 24V sailboat.

I actually prefer the ITR heat exchangers to the Suremarine. I've not had one leak other than at the hose connection (this bit is better on the Suremarine). Be aware that the Suremarine units will not come even close to their stated heat output, you will get maybe 1/3 of the rating.

I've seen some very dodgy installs of the ITR, and those were "professionally" done.
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Old 02-07-2020, 03:22 PM   #17
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Out of curiosity, what are the electrical power requirements for a Kabola, Olympia or similar?
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Old 02-07-2020, 04:21 PM   #18
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Olympia and Kabola are great, but both require 110V power and a lot of it, as well as a lot of space as they are not highly integrated. The ITR heaters do not come in 24V or 110V versions as far as I am aware. I had to install the Hurricane II with a DC-DC converter in my 24V sailboat.

I actually prefer the ITR heat exchangers to the Suremarine. I've not had one leak other than at the hose connection (this bit is better on the Suremarine). Be aware that the Suremarine units will not come even close to their stated heat output, you will get maybe 1/3 of the rating.

I've seen some very dodgy installs of the ITR, and those were "professionally" done.



The Kabola and Olympia probably do use more power, but I don't think it's a huge difference. Regardless of the system, the power used by the air handlers and circulator pump would be the same for a comparable sized system. And all the systems need to pressurize the fuel to atomize the spray, and need a blower to fan the flame. I doubt any one has much magic vs any other.


And why do you say the Olympia produces less than rated output? If someone is only getting 1/3 of rated output, my guess is that it's a problem delivering the heat out through the air handlers rather than a boiler problem. Unless of course someone decided to use a smaller nozzle, in which case output will be reduced correspondingly. It's actually a handy way to tune the boiler output to the boat.
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Old 02-07-2020, 06:42 PM   #19
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The smallest (23Kbtu) Kabola uses 350W. The next larger 240W. That's just the boiler, got to add the circ pump and air fans to that. My ITR uses about 100W full tilt, every fan running. Whether that is significant depends on - whether than is significant. If you are running a genset 24/7 then not. On a small boat on batteries, yes, that is significant.

I didn't say anything about Olympia. What I said was the Suremarine heat exchangers do not produce the rated output. 1st, they rate them at a very high water temp, not the more typical temp that the exchanger will see. Second, the rating is the max rating that raw heat exchanger will do under lab conditions (that info from Suremarine). Mainly the fans are too small to produce anything like the airflow required. In contrast the ITR units are rated at a realistic water temp (130 deg) and have much higher air flow. I have 4 Suremarine heat exchangers and 4 ITR heat exchangers and can tell you that without equivocation. The Suremarine are nicely built but need bigger fans, especially if ducted at all, and if you can't maintain 170 deg water throughout the system, derate them by a proportional amount.
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Old 02-08-2020, 12:35 PM   #20
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I didn't say anything about Olympia. What I said was the Suremarine heat exchangers do not produce the rated output. 1st, they rate them at a very high water temp, not the more typical temp that the exchanger will see. Second, the rating is the max rating that raw heat exchanger will do under lab conditions (that info from Suremarine). Mainly the fans are too small to produce anything like the airflow required. In contrast the ITR units are rated at a realistic water temp (130 deg) and have much higher air flow. I have 4 Suremarine heat exchangers and 4 ITR heat exchangers and can tell you that without equivocation. The Suremarine are nicely built but need bigger fans, especially if ducted at all, and if you can't maintain 170 deg water throughout the system, derate them by a proportional amount.

I see, you are talking about the air handlers. My misunderstanding.


But I remain confused by your statements. Looking at the ITR air handler catalog, they specify output at 170F water temp, not 130F as you say. In contrast, the Sure Marine air handler catalog has graphs showing output at 5 different water temperatures, across an 8 gpm range of flow rates. So you can figure out output for you system's parameters.



And picking air handlers at comparable rated outputs, the ITR unit is 250 cfm and consumes 19W, where the Sure Marine is 203 cfm and consumes 5 watts. So yes, less cfm, but much less power.


Then ITR says the boiler itself consumes 78W, which is pretty good, I agree. But a circulator pump will be about 100W to 150W, depending on size and capacity. So a system with even just one air handler is over 200W.


I don't have any particular gripe with ITR, but want to see a realistic comparison.


On my last boat I did quite a bit of power consumption measuring, but of all the things I measured, the heat wasn't one of them. But the nameplate rating on the burner was 5.8A @ 120V, so 700W. Now that would be with the igniter on, and that shuts off after the few seconds to a minute.



But I think in practice, the boat size tends to drive the selection. The ITR systems tend to be on the smaller side, and the Olympia and Kabola on the larger side. And on a larger boat, even on batteries, a few hundred watts to get good reliable heat is a tradeoff many people have made, and seem happy with. Space too. If I were heating a 40' boat, I'd be giving ITR more consideration.
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