New Hot Water Heater, suggestions, actual experiences?

Discussion in 'Main Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum' started by Mitchell S Allen, Dec 31, 2018.

  1. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    It is time to replace the H20 heater on Sonata. Since acquiring acquiring her last March, the water heater has been a constant leaking corroded lump. I believe it is probably the original, still heats like crazy but needs replacement. I have found no info searching here...

    I spent most of yesterday measuring the space and researching water heaters. I would like to find the greatest capacity unit that will fit in the original location below the locker next to the sink. What is there is a 7 gallon heater. Does anyone have any suggestions? Any real world experience replacing and using a new water heater?

    Thanks,
    Mitchell
     
  2. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mitchell

    In 2001 we installed an Isotemp hot water heater to replace the original that came with the boat. It fit perfectly in the space of the old one. It has been working fine ever since. It always seems to hold the heated water longer then the old one did. Although we never In 2013 we installed an Espar Hydronic heating system that now heats the hot water through the Isotemp and provides heat to the main cabin and the V-bunk. The hot water heater no longer heated by the engine.

    Jim
     
  3. john english

    john english Member

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    Mitchell,
    Hot water depends on how you use the boat. At the dock, plugged in? Motoring? Sailing? Anchored? Do you have propane aboard?
     
  4. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    I bought an IsoTemp a year ago. Within a week of starting use, the water was yellow. Turned out one of the internal components, which were supposed to be all stainless, was completely rusted. It was mild steel, not stainless. Initially, the company refused my warranty claim, but after a few emails, and photos, which I copied to Practical Sailor, the company replaced the faulty part, and I had to pay the freight and do the repair myself. The rest of the thing seems to be proper stainless EXCEPT for the internal welds. They are also starting to rust. (Read the negative review at West Marine.). The unit heats the water well and keeps it hot for some time. I am still using it and the water is no longer yellow, but I expect at some point the rusting welds will cause problems. But, it is a bitch to take out of the boat and tear apart, so I have not looked into it for a few months. It is drained for the winter. In sum, it is a nicely designed and expensive unit with quality control problems.
     
  5. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    Thank you all for responding. And the Isotemp heaters were what looked good to me. Hmmm

    A little more info about what I expect. Right now Sonata is at the marina mostly and day sailed on San Francisco bay and spending as much time as I can even just overnight on board in the slip.

    I do hope to go further in the next year and essentially be a "liveaboard", cruising part time and hopefully sometime in the next few years nearly full time. We don't shower on the boat at this time but eventually will. As of now, it's hot water for dishes, etc. Trying to plan ahead.

    Also Sonata is used year round. We don't haul out for the winter here. ;)

    I don't have propane on board at this time. I'm considering a new stove sometime soon too. Still alcohol. Propane seems to be almost the only option anymore.

    And Jim, your Espar Hydronic heating system sounds intriguing. While we don't have cold weather like much of the country, it can be cold. I would like to know more about this.

    Mitchell
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  6. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    Terry,
    Yes that is a strange situation. I can't imagine why the welds would be such a dissimilar material. Trying to cut costs?
    I'm a fabricator/welder and it seems a false economy situation. And the customer service doesn't seem to hot either. thank you.
    Mitchell
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  7. datswite

    datswite Ken Ferrari

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    I also replaced the original Raritan with an Isotemp back in 2013. I've had excellent service from it. I've been a full-time liveaboard/cruiser for several years now, and I never take marinas or shore power. With normal handwashing and dishwashing the water stays warm for 2-3 days beyond shutting down the engine. We don't use it for bathing - that luxury belongs to our solar powered pesticide sprayer.
     
  8. john english

    john english Member

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    I removed the hot water heater 5 years ago. I plumbed in a Ecotemp L5 (about $125) that clamps on the stern rail. It disconnects in minutes, weighs about 7 pounds and stows easily for sailing. If you have a connection to city/dock water and a 5 gallon propane to tank you will have endless hot water. I use the same heater on a small rv supplied by a 10 ga)on tank. Because of the lag I plumbed a loop with a solenoid valve that sends the not yet hot water back to the tank so that no water is wasted.
    Happy wife, happy life.
     
  9. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mitchell
    With Terry's experience with a recently purchased Isotemp hot water heater, I'd do some research into the brand before making a purchase.

    I will post the info on the Espar system shortly.

    Jim
     
  10. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    Thanks Jim,
    Yes, I've been doing lots of research on this. The Tankless option was a thought initially too but seems a no go for everyday use.
    Mitchell
     
  11. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mitchell
    The tankless option, which is the instant hot water, has not been well received for use on boats. the problem seems to be that they heat up too fast to allow the draft to build up in the flue and the carbon monoxide is not drawn out of the boat. Not a good thing. They may have improved the system since then but I don't know.

    The Espar Hydronic system is a small diesel fired boiler that supply a hot water heating system throughout the boat. In 2013 when we were planning our second trip down the ICW, we (read: the Admiral) stated how nice it would be to have a good heating system for the trip. Looking at the Espar hot air system I found that running the 4" ductwork around and through the boat would be impossible. At the Annapolis Show we saw the Hydronic system. Instead of 4" ductwork, the system works on delivering hot water through 2 - 3/4" hoses through the boat. Much easier to manage. The hoses pass from the port cockpit locker, past the ice box on the port side, under the pantry to the hot water heater. It then continues into the settee where the drawer was to the main cabin radiator. From there it goes through the cubbies behind the settee cushions into and through the head into the V-bunk to a radiator down low on the port side near the cabin sole. The radiators only put out heat when small electric fans push air past the coils. Because of that the unit is used during the warmer months to heat the hot water tank. It takes about 15 minutes to have enough hot water for a shower. We usually put the system on just before we anchor so by the time the boat is settled the shower is ready. Again our hot water heater is the Isotemp which has been flawless for us.

    The system provides good heat inside the boat. On the trip down South we had rather cold weather until we passed St Augustine, FL. The heater would make the 40 degree cabin up to 70 degrees fairly quickly. We also put a full enclosure around the cockpit which the heater warmed nicely. We could motor (not sail) with t-shirts when it was cool out. The exhaust for the system is routed out the stern near the tank vents.

    I'm posting a couple of photos of the installed system. The first is the Espar unit in the port locker with a 1/4" plexiglass protector around it. The next is the one line diagram of the system. I hope this helps you to understand the system.

    Jim
     

    Attached Files:

  12. dave_a

    dave_a Dave Ahlers

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    Mitchell, I put in a 6 gallon Seward from Defender and it was fine. Shorepower / engine heat exchanger with the optional zinc(?) anode to prevent internal corrosion.
    I had to enlarge the wood shelf to accept new heater. Easy to hook up. I was able to simplify the plumbing to make winterization a whole lot easier as well. I luckily found a local plumbing supplier who had those grey plastic elbows, adaptors, and compression fittings. Stocked up on them for future minor projects.
     
  13. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    I admit my experience with IsoTemp seems to be a rarity. As I said, it now works well, but I am a littl3 concerned with welds.
    Jim, Iwould love to have an hydronic heater, but it sure seems to take up a lot of space in the locker with all the parts. I hung my water maker under the port cockpit coaming and I store gear in the main part of the locker. I use a propane cabin heater from Dickenson, with so-so results. Maybe I could stick it back in the skinny part of the port cockpit locker. Does the fuel need to be gravity feed?
     
  14. struell

    struell Stephen Ruell

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    Our boat has the Raritan 6 gallon water heater that works very well, heated from a loop off the engine. Located under the pots and dishes storage next to the galley sink. It was on the boat when we bought it so I don't know how old it is, but I replumbed it when doing improvements to the water system. I also had the same model for many years on the previous boat and had no issues. I just looked it up and there is also a Raritan 12 gallon model available that has the same height but larger diameter. I haven't measured but if that would still fit it would give additional water tankage.
     
  15. stnick

    stnick lee nicholas

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    I replaced my 1983 orgional with a Seaward 6 gallon all fitting on the same side. Easy hook up , compression fittings from the local plumbing store. Wow plumbing has come along way. Sure makes DIY easier . I did replace the old hoses running under the galley deck to the engine ! Wow that was a all day fish the hose under job ! .
     
  16. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    Well, I think after a lot of research and thought, I am going with the Isotemp Spa 40L/11 gal. unit.

    Several of my criteria; Larger capacity (larger than our current 7 gal.) for future cruising, fit as other square type heaters of larger capacity just won't fit through the locker to install.
    All in all the reviews and comments on quality and performance are very good.
    The "Spa" versions has a price and outside dimensions that seem reasonable to me. And the mixing valve setup on the Isotemp seems like a good idea...

    I hope they have dealt with the issues Terry has had by now. We will see, and I will post here again after it's in and functional.
    I want to thank you all for your input and advice here. As always, much appreciated and invaluable!
    Next up is a new stove perhaps. We still have the Galley Maid and have never tried it since buying Sonata.
    Thanks!
    Mitchell
     
  17. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    i bought a dickenson mediterranean 3 burner propane stove last year. used it for a 3 month cruise. I love it.
     
  18. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mitchell
    Years ago we went with a Force 10 two burner stove that has an oven and a broiler. Our original stove was kerosene. That was an accident waiting to happen (in fact that accident did happen a couple of times). When we went to propane and the Force 10, the Admiral never even questioned the cost. Except for the piezo igniter, the stove has been working perfectly. We give it a two thumbs up!

    Jim
     
  19. Mitchell S Allen

    Mitchell S Allen Member

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    Thanks! I've heard good things about the Force 10. I don't know much about the Dickenson line but I know their reputation for quality. I'll look into both.

    I've searched here regarding propane tank storage but still not clear on what you all do. It seems to me the Lazarett locker wouldn't have enough ventilation. So, where does one put the bottle(s) ?
    Mitchell
     
  20. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mitchell

    We store our 10lb propane tanks and the associated piping and controls in the lazzerette. To do that a rack was built to hold the tank. The lip of the hatch had to be cut to allow the tank to fit through. The upper part of the bulkhead was sealed from the rest of the boat. And a second drain fitting was added so that there is always an escape for the gas even when the stern is squatting while under power. The attached photos are of the original drain hole in the boot stripe. The new higher drain hole just below the turn of the transom. The system doesn't need ventilation as much as it needs a way for the heavier then air gas to leave the boat in the event of a leak.

    Jim
     

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  21. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Critical issue is dealing the bulkhead. especially close to the hill, up high where typically precious owners or you have run wires or tubes. Some hoses may go thru the bulkhead (my electric bilge pump does). I built shelves in my aft locker. They do not have the nifty rollers that Jim has. I store 3 10 lb bottles.
     
  22. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    Oops, maybe it was someone other than Jim that had a sliding rack. it was pretty cool.
     
  23. pmf44

    pmf44 Member

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    I just put in the basic cube water heater from West Marine. It has worked fine for three years.
     
  24. john Gonzalez

    john Gonzalez Member

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    Nice installation Jim!
     
  25. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Thanks John. Terry, Idaho like to see the propane rack that slides. Do you remember who has it?

    Jim
     
  26. terry_thatcher

    terry_thatcher Terence Thatcher

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    I think it might have been Jim Ball on the Mahulia. the old site had a section of photos. but at my age, I cant guarantee my memory is correct.
     

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