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goodall_m1

Running boat heating for extended periods

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Having just returned from a week out on a cruiser when the overnight temperatures hit -3C...

How long would you expect a diesel powered heater to function after 3 - 4 hours of engine running?

Why was it that every other boat around us seemed to have heating running whenever I woke up but ours needed to be re-triggered every hour, due to a 60 minute countdown timer, and then failed completely after 3 hours (when it worked at all)?

I have just survived nine days in a cruiser with 5 kids who didn't expect to be camping in sub-zero temperatures on a boat with next to no insulation, and two parents who as a result were about to throw the skipper overboard!

If the boat heating isn't up to the job am I wrong to I expect the yard to tell me in advance so that I can bring Arctic level sleeping bags for the entire crew?

I don't want to post a "Broads Holiday from Hell" blog in Holiday Tales without making sure that my facts are right, but then I would still technically be wrong as isn't Hell supposed to have at least some heating!

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I guess a lot comes down to how good the batteries are, what type and how many.

The hire boat in question might have enough big domestic batteries but if they've been run down low time after time by previous hirers, the hire yard probably don't know the condition or state of said batteries. Let's say there's two domestic batteries and one is pretty good, the other's toast. Then you're relying on one battery and the yard will probably only replace them both when the good one fails completely and there's no power to the domestic circuits wahtsoever. Could also be that the batteries aren't being charged correctly by the engine, again something the yard may need to check out.

A bit different with a starter battery as it's easy for the yard to sort out - engine won't start after several hours of running, so they simply drop another one in, new or used, who knows.

So maybe you should raise your concerns with the yard in question. If they're not aware of a "problem", it'll simply continue, with future hirers also just accepting the fact that the heating's useless.

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I guess a lot comes down to how good the batteries are, what type and how many.

So maybe you should raise your concerns with the yard in question.

If they're not aware of a "problem", it'll simply continue, with future hirers also just accepting the fact that the heating's useless.

The yard were aware of the problems as they changed both the domestic batteries (both 110AmpH) with "fully charged" ones 4 times in 9 days...

They also changed the entire heater during the time we had the boat.

My real concern is not so much with what happened on this trip but to work out if cold weather cruising with the family is really possible.

If you have to turn off the heating ovenight when the air temperature is below zero then a hire boat gets very cold,

especially for youngsters who are not used to, or really equipped for, freezing temperatures.

Given fully charged batteries at the start of a trip how much of a power drain would running the heating cause?

After all the heating energy is coming from the fuel oil burned, not from the batteries.

Also, assuming that the charging circuits are working correctly, would 3-4 hours of engine running normally recharge them?

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According to the tech info for my D4 Ebersplutter, power consumption is 40w at full power, reducing to only 7w at low power. Assuming you would only need it on low power overnight to keep the chill off, then thats only a current draw of less than 0.6A. You would have thought a couple of 110Ah batteries would be able to keep up with that no problem!

However, the low voltage cut-out on my unit is 10.5V. You said in your other thread you were only seeing 10-11V on the voltmeter with the engine running, so low voltage was probably the issue.

I have 3x110Ah batteries for the domestice, but I suspected them to be a bit iffy. When I had them tested, the worst one only had a capacity of 48Ah, so was completely crackered. Needless to say, we replaced all three!

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My real concern is not so much with what happened on this trip but to work out if cold weather cruising with the family is really possible.

If you have to turn off the heating ovenight when the air temperature is below zero then a hire boat gets very cold,

especially for youngsters who are not used to, or really equipped for, freezing temperatures?

We found the night of the 31st of March very cold. Fortunately we were on shore power and had a 2kw + 800w electric radiators running in the evening. It was just enough to keep Thunders saloon warm enough. Any colder and we would have had to put the onboard heater on.

We left the 800watt rad going over night to keep the boys cabin warm and set the 2kw radiator to come on at 6am. However I had managed to set it to also switch of at 6am! When we woke up about 7am it was freezing! I could see my breath in the cabin! Did not take long to warm up with the diesel heater running as well.

My own personal opinion is that cold weather cruising is possible but shore power is a must.

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Since we moved to the Broads and purchased a cruiser we have done no real cold weather cruising, always packing the boat up by end of November/early December. When on the canals though we cruised a lot in the winter (ice permitting) and found the narrowboats really comfortable. Our own was well insulated and with a stove and radiators it was as warm as toast. It does seem to me that the cruisers on the Broads (ours included) do not retain heat very well. No doubt due to the amount of glass and the lack of real insulation. What do you think?

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