Cabin heater

Discussion in 'Main Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum' started by 1lostbouy, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. 1lostbouy

    1lostbouy Member

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    I'm thinking of a Dickinson p1200 Propane. To hang out a little longer in the season.( New England)
    What have others done? I like the safety features. Does not use cabin air. But will it be warm enough to make the boat comfortable. I was not sure about diesel because can't find a location to get enough stack length. I'd like to hear what ideas people have.

    Thanks john
     
  2. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Hi John- we installed a Webasto 3900 Air Top Evo Marine heater (diesel) about 2 years ago. It was a complete game changer. My wife gladly goes out cruising year round now. We don’t typically get a lot of days below freezing here but it was pretty darned cold without a heater.

    It’s forced air from outside, which apparently helps reduce moisture & mildew inside. The heater is installed under the coaming on the cockpit port side. Exhaust goes out the stern & hot air ducts go up the port side of the cabin, to the head, then the V berth.

    The ducting was a bit of a pain to install & I think I would consider the hot water tubing instead - since it’s smaller diameter. But we are very happy with our heater.
     
  3. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    I have an original propane Dickenson 9000. it will warm the boat on cool weather, but only the main cabin. i close off the forecastle in the cool weather. In the morning when the interior temp has dropped to 58 or 60, I can get up to 70 in an hour or so, but unlike Mark I don t use the boat in the winter. At anchor on cool Pacific days, it will keep the boat acceptably warm. It uses little propane and a small amount of electricity. but, to get the warmth, you have to turn the fan up, and it is sort of noisy. not deafening, but not all that pleasant. since Morgan put in unreasonably small diesel tanks, with a dickenson propane, you dont need to worry about using diesel fuel. I also think the Webasto or Espar use quite a bit of electricity (see recent discussion of DC loads at Attainable Adventure Cruising). All that being said, if you have the money, Mark is right that a nice furnace is the way to go. Given difficulties in running ducts for air, the hydronic systems look very appealling.
     
  4. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    John

    We sail out of Long Island Sound and do our summer cruises up your way and downeast. We have a Dickerson 12K btu propane unit mounted in the main cabin above the table, next to the mast. It works fine and the view of the flame in the window gives the feeling of a fireplace. The only issue we have with it is that it never put out enough heat. If the cabin was 40 degrees F, it would raise the temp to 55-60 after a length of time. It also did not spread the heat through out the cabin. Sitting at the table is comfortable but not in the galley.

    When we began taking our journeys down the ICW to the Bahamas we needed a better source of heat. We found the Espar hydronic diesel heater at the Annapolis show. It is a hot water, not hot air, system that is distributed throughout the boat with two 3/4" heater hoses which are much easier to install then 4" ductwork. There are two radiators in the boat, one in the main cabin and one in the V-bunk. The Isotemp hot water heater is also plumbed into the system so the main engine is not needed to get hot water. The system does use 12v amps and the biggest draw is the fans at the radiators. The unit does not work on a thermostat. It's run until the boat is warm enough then either slow down the fans or shut the unit off. In the winter with the boat in the yard, I crank up the Espar and in 20 minutes or so I'm working inside the boat in a T-shirt at 70-75 degrees. The exhaust from the unit goes out the stern so there is no danger of CO2 in the boat. It could be run while you sleep. I had a 6 gallon aluminum diesel tank built so the heater is not drawing fuel from the main tank. The unit does make a bit of noise, especially on startup, but most of the noise goes out the transom with the exhaust. The important thing is that the Admiral loves it.

    If you have any questions, I'd be glad to help.

    Jim
     
  5. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    There is a nice discussion of hydronic vs forced air heaters on Cruisers Forum:
    http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f74/airtronic-vs-hydronic-cabin-heat-44458.html

    Like many things, there are multiple choices and no given one is “right” or “wrong”. It’s personal priorities, preferences, and budget that dictate the “best”.

    It is super wet here in the winter (when we need the heater) so I think I’m glad we have the forced air. It helps lower the humidity and mildew/mold grows like weeds here if we don’t get rid of moisture. I also like the fact that it heats the cabin quickly and seems to be simpler - no need for radiators, etc. Someone on CF mentioned the ability of having ‘zones’ as a benefit of hydronic but we have adjustable output vents which in effect lets us control temperatures in zones.

    For us Morganeers, running the 3-4” duct from the stern up into the cabin is a challenge - mostly at the cross section where the ice box is located. We had to sacrifice the furthest port (triangular) small corner of the icebox, and then run the duct thru the funky little (triangular) storage compartment immediately behind the stove. The duct gets quite hot so we had to insulate it very well in those areas.

    But overall, I think it was the best choice for us. If humidity/moisture was less of a concern I would probably choose hydronic next time.

    Our heater fully heats the entire cabin when it is below freezing. So plenty of heat, which (like Jim above) also pleases my Admiral. Pleased Admirals = more boating time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  6. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Jim, how much fuel does the heater use?
     
  7. bluesbyrd

    bluesbyrd Chris Langton

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    I have a pair of “Aladdin” mantle-style lamps, as shown here:

    upload_2019-1-25_10-28-45.jpeg

    These guys produce both light and a lot of heat, and are aesthetically very pleasing.

    They generate both radiant heat and hot air, which circulates in the cabin.

    The one pictured is locked into a mounting ring attached to the bulkhead. It has a fixed smoke “bell” mounted above it to break and diffuse up the column of extremely hot air rising from the chimney, otherwise it would melt and/or burn the headliner.

    The other is “free floating” and can be placed where needed, with a smoke shield that clips atop the chimney.

    I only use these at anchor or in the Marina. One could conceivably use them underway, but it would take additional safety measures.

    They are finicky, a little tricky to use, and you must *never* leave them burning if you are away from the boat.

    But they provide a surprising amount of heat and are a beautiful addition to the “atmosphere” of the cabin.

    C
     
  8. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry
    The Espar unit uses .06 gallons of diesel per hour. The fuel is fed to the unit with a 1/8" tubing.

    Jim
     
  9. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Our Webasto uses from .04-.08 GPH so it sounds comparable to Jim’s Espar. I’d say it runs less than 1/4 of the time when we are aboard. Less when we are not staying on the boat and it’s turned down to 45 degrees. In the last 3 months it’s used about 10 gallons, which is cheaper than the little electric heater we used to use.
     
  10. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    JIM, looks like there are several different sizes of espars. which did you install? you got me thinking about this improvement after a pretty cool trip down the Outside of Vancouver Island last year.
     
  11. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Terry

    I had to go back to the receipt for the info on the Espar unit. It is listed as: D5 SC 12V HYD Truck Heater assembly. It was purchased from:
    Lubrication Specialists LLC, 5231 Sugar Hills Dr, Greenfield, IN, 46140. The guy I dealt with was Greg Landuyt. His number is 1-888-306-4255. The two radiators were purchased separately.

    Jim
     
  12. 1lostbouy

    1lostbouy Member

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    Thank you all for the information. Lots of good stuff. I'm going to look closely to see what space and routes I can use. Both Mark and Jim's systems seem to be the warmer way to go. I have to look in to the power consumption like terry mentioned. At this point I have two 12v batteries one starter one deep cycle 100ah. And a lot of power hungry things I'm installing (windless,radar, ice box,cpt auto pilot) I'm definitely going to have a lot more questions!
    Thanks guys
     
  13. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    John

    By the looks of your list of power consumers, it might do to open a thread related to battery banks.

    Jim
     
  14. dave_a

    dave_a Dave Ahlers

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    If you find yourself motoring and cold, you can plumb a school bus heater using engine coolant lines already under the sink. Under $100 on ebay.
    Running the diesel while at anchor obviously would call for a more subtle heating strategy!
     
  15. 1lostbouy

    1lostbouy Member

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    Dave I have a bus heater I took out of my last boat and have not installed it thinking a Dickinson p1200 would be all I needed. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe diesel drip heater with more btu's
     
  16. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    John - I agree with Jim in that you might want to do some thinking, searching and/or open a thread about batteries. As I recall most Morganeers have 3-4 batteries (or equivalent 6V batteries). We have 4: 3 house, 1 starter.

    It looks like our Webasto draws 1 to 3 amps which is pretty small compared to the other big consumers on our boat. I’m guessing the Espar would be similar.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
  17. john english

    john english Member

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    I installed a Propex HS2000 propane heater in the space behind the helmans seat. A single 3" duct extends from the heater to the upper bulkhead just above the nav station. it is rated at 6.5k btu. The exhaust exits through the aft lazarette to the transom.
     

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