ESSENTIAL KIT - Cabin Heating

ESSENTIAL KIT - Cabin Heating

Even if you are cruising in warm climes it is still nice to have some heating available at times.

In early and late seasons, the mornings and nights can get quite chilly and if you are just sitting reading or watching TV a little heat can be very welcome.

There are several options available depending upon whether you are hooked up to shore power or out at anchor.

Drip feed diesel oil cabin heater.  

These are similar to log cabin heaters they provide good heat for very little fuel usage.  Most of the heat is actually radiated from the chimney although the heater body gets hot too. 

We find they need a small 12v fan mounted next to the chimney to circulate the hot air and prevent thermal layering in the cabin with the top 3 feet stiflingly warm and the bottom 3 feet freezing cold.  However with a circulation fan it all gets toastie.

Some of these heaters can be difficult and messy to light.  They produce quite a lot of lamp black, carbon soot, which gets on your hands so wear latex gloves.

They take about 30 minutes to start to produce any real heat.   They are a "cabin" heater so very little heat will permeate through the rest of the boat.


Blown Hot Air.

A small diesel fired heater, usually mounted in a cockpit locker or lazarette, that blows hot air around the boat through 100mm ducting.  Ideal for small boats.  Larger units can support several outlets but unless the delivery duct is well insulated the blown air cools quickly so the further away the less warm it is.

There are several suppliers, Eberspacher is probably the best known.

Wet Central Heating.  

A small diesel fired heater, usually mounted in a cockpit locker or lazarette, that heats an enclosed water circuit (flow and return) piped around the boat with either standard radiators or fan blowers in each cabin bridging the flow and return pipes. The hot water can also be piped through the calorifier, provided it has a 2nd coil, to give hot washing & showering water.  

Larger units can support several cabin outlets, ideal for larger boats.  The water pipes are usually 13-16mm and ideally should be insulated to maintain their heat all the way around the circuit.  The system needs to be balanced to ensure all radiators get good supply.   The wet system is far more efficient than the blown air variety.

Programmable timers can be added to create a true central heating system much like that found in houses.

Wherever possible, fit radiators towards the ends of the boat so their heat will gradually come together in the middle.

There are several suppliers, Eberspacher is probably the best known.

I have a programmable 5Kw Eberspacher Hydronic unit in the lazarette.  It easily supports 3 fan assisted radiators plus a 35L calorifier.

Installation Issues for diesel fired heaters.

The diesel fired units require quite a lot of battery power to get going as they have an internal heater in the compression chamber that draws a lot of current.  A common installation error is to use too small a feed wire.  Be generous with the cable size and you will have much less trouble.

Diesel Cookers

Cooking with diesel is a much safer option that bottled gas and has the side effect of acting as a heater as well.  The draw back is the cooker takes longer to come up to heat and longer to cool afterward so it is not an instant heat solution although, much like an oil fired AGA cooker they are great if sailing in cold climates.

Electric Convection Panel Heaters.

Normal 220vAC convection heater powered either from shore power or a Genset are a great way to get instant heat especially during the winter months.

Clothing - do you really need any?

Clothing - do you really need any?

ESSENTIAL KIT - Wallet on a Lanyard

ESSENTIAL KIT - Wallet on a Lanyard