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Thread: portable propane heaters

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    portable propane heaters

    Has anyone tried using a portable propane heater for the cabin of their boat? I have checked into Practical Sailor, and they have reviewed
    the "Buddy", which is recommended for tents, rv's, but not for boats. I currently have a propane stove and oven with a propane detector
    and co detector. Just need to warm up a bit in the AM and PM for a few hours during those cold PNW winters. I'm just not sure why the
    portable heater would be so much more dangerous than the installed stove. The stove has an automatic shut off if overturned and also
    auto shut off for low oxygen--any thoughts??
    Jim
    Ericson35-3
    Olympia,Wa

  2. #2
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Don't know about portable propane, but on a previous boat we had a "heat pal" alcohol portable heater that worked very effectively and was stable and cheap to operate. I think one of the disadvantages of either the propane or alcohol heaters is that they produce moisture, which isn't a good thing in a boat in the Pacific Northwest in the winter.

    Frank

  3. #3
    Principal Partner CoryBolton's Avatar
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    Lots of condensation

    On our previous boat we had a Newport diesel bulkhead heater, and while it had its issues, it could put out more dry heat than we knew what to do with.

    Our current boat does not have a heater, and early on during a cool rainy fall day we anchored, and tried using a propane "Heater Buddy" for heat. While it could put out heat, things got very "drippy" inside the boat. We could open things up to try to get rid of the moisture, but we lost much of the heat in the process. I took it home after that and never brought it back to the boat.

    Using a little bit of common sense I think they are reasonably safe for boat use, and maybe others have had better experiences with them than we had.

    Someday I plan on adding one of those dual venting Newport propane bulkhead heaters for occasional use.
    Last edited by CoryBolton; 12-12-2012 at 05:18 PM.
    Cory
    1984 E-35III #163 "Balancing Act"
    Portland, OR

  4. #4
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    I have used one like this shown in the pic. It was a hand me down from my Father who used it when he solo sailed from Olympia to Alaska in the early 90's on his 25' Bayfield. I have only used it a handful of times on my E-27 here in So Cal. Dad and I used it a lot when I joined him in Alaska for a couple of weeks. Used it a couple of times on trips to Catalina for Thanksgiving weekends. Once I checked the outside temp and it was 46 degrees, inside the cabin with the heater set at a medium setting it was 72 degrees. I did keep the sliding hatch open a tad with concerns about CO. I also shut it down when I went to sleep (double sleeping bags) because it does involve a open flame. I have had it onboard for 10 years now but I can't say I use it often here in So Cal. Never had any issues with condensation, probably because the E-27 has a hard liner and is a very dry boat. Works very well, don't think they make them like this much anymore. Here is also a link to Coleman's newer version. Lot's of campers use them in tents.

    http://www.amazon.com/Coleman-SportC...ortable+heater
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    Jeff Asbury "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull#355

  5. #5
    Sustaining Partner
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    NewSurvivalist.com. You a Doomsday Prepper Jeff?

    Paul
    E29 "Bear"

  6. #6
    Principal Partner Jeff Asbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul culver View Post
    NewSurvivalist.com. You a Doomsday Prepper Jeff?

    Paul
    E29 "Bear"
    Nope, just a Google search, I guess I need to watch what I search for. "The End Is Near"
    Jeff Asbury "Pride of Cucamonga" 1973 E-27 Hull#355

  7. #7
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    Hi Jim,

    You should never use a stove or oven for heating. It's really dangerous because of carbon monoxide build up that is the result of open combustion. I'm not sure I'd trust the low O2 auto shut off. It most likely would work but then again... Jeff has the right idea. I've also got a Coleman SportCat which is a catalytic heater, no open flame. The manual says you still need 6 square inches of ventilation to prevent low oxygen conditions (I usually leave a bit more) but it was enough to heat my thin hulled MacGregor 25 in the winter here in Los Angeles really quickly. There may be an adapter that you can run it off a larger tank, I don't know. I refill my 1 lb. canisters with an adapter like this A good fire/CO alarm is a must.

  8. #8
    Principal Partner Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Well...

    I've always used the stove, sterno to alcohol to currently propane, to toasty up the boat. I figure if you can boil water safely with it, and bake a pie in the oven without the boat exploding, then it is not going to suddenly kill off your family in mid-conversation.

    It may be that judicious application of the stove burners is a better idea than jury-rigging heat from an adapted source. It's a known device, it's got safety features, and everybody knows it's not a real heater--it's the stove.
    cw@christianwilliams.com
    "Thelonious" E32-3 Hull 604 (1985)
    Marina del Rey

  9. #9
    Contributing Member I
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    "Buddy" heater didn't work for me

    I tried the Mr. Heater Buddy on our E27 and ran into problems with combustion byproducts building up. It did a great job of heating up the boat but even with it running under a partially open hatch, you could really feel the exhaust building up in the cabin. I used it while working on the boat during cold days and it worked for that but I would never use it to heat for long periods or for heat overnight with folks sleeping. I know it has an O2 sensor and is rated super efficient, but I could feel the exhaust affecting my lungs.

    It is a well built unit and burns efficiently (though you go thru a small tank in 4 to 6 hours) but not being able to vent it outside the boat is a real issue. I got the hose to hook it up to a big propane tank and use it for warming up around the table when camping and I would highly recommend it for that.

    I am going to get a heater for the boat eventually but will get a unit with an external vent. Anybody use the Sig Marine Cozy Cabin propane heater on an E27?

    Thanks,
    Andy

  10. #10
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    Andy,

    I've used both the Sig Marine and the Force 10 bulkhead mount propane heaters on previous boats. They are compact and easy to vent with the one inch flue pipe. Just make sure you have relatively straight flue pipe run from the heater to the deck vent of at least 24 inches. Natural draft heaters need convection to effectively exhaust fumes. Also, keep an inch of clearance around the flue pipe when you penetrate the cabin top. I line the perimeter of the deck hole with a piece of fabric exhaust pipe wrap just to be safe.

    I'll be adding one to my E35 soon. For my last installation I bought a used Force 10 with a diesel burner for next to nothing since burner parts for it were no longer available. You can by a $20 Coleman one burner camp stove that uses a 1lb propane bottle, take out the diesel burner and install the coleman burner on the Force 10 (or Cozy). With a short Coleman hose extension I set a bottle on a shelf near the heater. On low it lasts 4 to 5 hours. This eliminates the need to run another propane hose throught the boat. This worked great for warming up my Cal 39 on cold mornings and evenings, but I would not leave it on overnight or if you're not aboard, as there is no safety shut off in case the burner goes out.

    Bill Ferguson
    '86 E35 'Tenacious'

  11. #11
    Principal Partner Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Speaking of ventilation--here's the Charlie Noble on Tina, our Herreschoff Design No. 31 ketch, which had a wood-burning stove

    . Click image for larger version. 

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    cw@christianwilliams.com
    "Thelonious" E32-3 Hull 604 (1985)
    Marina del Rey

  12. #12
    Contributing Member III Fparry's Avatar
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    Not sure what your power situation is but I have used an inexpensive 110v electric ceramic cube heater for years. As a Great Lakes sailor in up state New York the need to heat up the boat while at the dock is a regular occurrence this time of year and also in the spring. I purchased mine from Wallmart and paid less than $15 for it 4 years ago. In most conditions it will warm up the cabin on my 32-200 in a few minutes. It is silent, odorless, safe, and the only time it has ever caused a circuit breaker to trip is when it kicks on while the coffee maker is also being used. http://www.amazon.com/Sunbeam-Cerami...+cube++heaters
    "If you don't know where your going any road will take you there." Fred Parry s/v LUNA 1988 E32-200

  13. #13
    Principal Partner Rick R.'s Avatar
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    You guys could....

    Always come to Pensacola for a visit this winter! We Ericson owners need to stick together. Of course that means I get to sail on your boat too...lol!
    1989 32-200
    S/V "Easy"
    (hull #844)
    Pensacola, Florida

    " Only a sailor knows why a dog sticks his head out the window of a moving car."

  14. #14
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    Skabeeb,

    I live in Florida, about as far south as you can get but- still gets chilly in January. Gotta be prepared in case of global cooling!

  15. #15
    Principal Partner Rick R.'s Avatar
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    You are indeed further south than me.......WAY SOUTH.
    1989 32-200
    S/V "Easy"
    (hull #844)
    Pensacola, Florida

    " Only a sailor knows why a dog sticks his head out the window of a moving car."

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