A LOAD OF HOT AIR

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

Q

I am buy­ing a 38ft Dutch steel cruiser and look­ing ei­ther to put a diesel air blower or oil-filled ra­di­a­tor sys­tem. I am won­der­ing which would be best. JA­SON SMALL, via the CB website

A

TONY REPLIES: As­sum­ing you mean a hot air ver­sion of the typ­i­cal We­basto / Eber­spächer type heater then they seem more re­li­able that the wet ver­sions, but I would have the same reser­va­tions about run­ning them for long pe­ri­ods at low out­put. You also need to fac­tor in heat losses through the air duct­ing, but hid­ing the duct­ing will be less of a prob­lem on a wide beam boat.

If you only use it on a shore line, the eas­i­est and prob­a­bly most re­li­able will be some form of elec­tric heat­ing, but if you in­tend to leave it on when you are away from the boat check your in­sur­ance doc­u­ments very care­fully. Elec­tric heat­ing from bat­ter­ies or gen­er­a­tors be­comes very ex­pen­sive and can ruin even the best bat­ter­ies within months, but it all de­pends upon your charg­ing equip­ment, regime and bat­tery bank size.

Although gas is ex­pen­sive to run, a bulk­head­mounted, gas-fired hot air blower with ther­mo­static con­trol might be suit­able and rel­a­tively sim­ple to in­stall.

How do you in­tend to get hot wa­ter? If from the en­gine then per­haps some­thing like a wet sys­tem with ra­di­a­tors and a twin coil calori­fier fed by a Hur­ri­cane diesel boiler might do the job.

I chose a solid fuel stove and a gas-fired wet heat­ing boiler with a room ther­mo­stat. Gas is ar­guably the most ex­pen­sive boat heat­ing but it is fast and when the stove is lit it spends a lot of time not run­ning. Dur­ing re­cent freez­ing con­di­tions (-7C) we were per­fectly warm and the stove en­sured the gas boiler rarely ran once the boat was warm.

Air heaters are a good so­lu­tion

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