Top Boat Heaters For BC
1. WHY A WARM BOAT KEEPS YOU COMING BACK
There are many reasons boaters consider installation of a diesel heating system. Maybe you want to extend your boating season with a warmer experience in cooler months or maybe you need some extra warmth for cool summer evenings. A warm boat is generally a dry boat and this can help prevent mildew, corrosion, or mold. Modern diesel heaters come in a variety of sizes and heating powers and can be installed on most boats operating in BC waters. They offer the ability to heat your vessel without the noise and cost required to power up the main engines on your boat. They can be installed on gas or diesel powered vessels either by tapping into the main fuel tank or through the installation of a dedicated lightweight plastic tank for diesel. With a low draw on batteries and very low fuel consumption many boaters prefer the cost effectiveness and independence of a diesel boat heater whether it’s underway, at anchor, or in a marina.
2. HOW DOES A MARINE DIESEL HEATER WORK?
Marine diesel heaters are a relatively small device starting at about the size of a loaf of bread. They get larger if more heat is required but are surprisingly compact for the amount of heat generated. They include a control panel which can be installed anywhere on the boat but often near the heater itself. The heaters are available as a forced air design (sometimes called airtronic) that can be installed with or without ducting to different boat areas or as a hydronic heater which heats up fluid and circulates it throughout the boat to operate like a home radiator system. They have an enclosed combustion chamber which transfers heat through conduction or convection to air or water which moves into vessel spaces to create warmth. A dedicated and sealed exhaust system is installed to carry exhaust completely off the boat. They are not completely silent but are quiet enough for most vessel owners.
3. WHAT’S THE BEST BRAND?
There are 3 main brands of diesel heaters we recommend for the BC boater. A number of new contenders are emerging from Vancouver area suppliers but these 3 represent 99% of the volume installed by Bluewater and have substantial track records.
Planar heaters are the lowest price option. They have been in the BC market for about 10 years and are installed on hundreds of local vessels. Planar heaters were designed for the Russian transportation truck market and have developed a loyal following in Canada in a short time simply because they generate a lot of heat, are reliable and relatively low cost. The original LED 3 button controller wasn’t the most user friendly interface, but Planar released an easy to use rotary controller that has gotten good reviews from our clients. In addition, there is an app for the Planar line-up that will allow you to control some functions from a smartphone.
Espar is the most established and popular choice for boat heating in BC waters. Espar heaters are higher priced than Planar and less than Webasto. They have been in the BC market for at least 2 decades and probably have the most operating heaters in BC. They have a well developed line of hydronic heaters which are popular with larger boats and multiple zones to heat. Hydronic systems have a lower diameter hose that make installation.
Webasto heaters are a high end German engineered product. They often appeal to boaters looking for premium finished product or who have a long time horizon planned for their boat. The system includes a self-diagnosis feature where it takes some time upon start up to verify system performance and safety. The system checks fuel type, air filter cleanliness, vent obstruction, battery level, and more. Webasto systems are very popular around the world with thousands of installations.
4. WHAT IS THE COST OF A MARINE DIESEL HEATER INSTALLATION?
Although a couple of our handiest clients have tackled installation of a diesel heater themselves, most boaters should consider professional installation for safety and effectiveness. The process includes running exhaust, fuel and electrical lines along with ducting, fitting and often through-hull work. Although all-in cost varies according to amount of heat required, heater brand, number of cabins, and vessel design/layout, a budget of $2,500 to $10,000 covers the cost of most boat diesel heater installations. Consider adding the project to other boatyard work you may be planning (e.g., bottom paint, sonar transducer installation, mechanical servicing) so installation logistics are simpler and lower cost. Bluewater is standing by to help make your boat life warmer. Contact us for a free estimate.