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Propex vs Web/Eber


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Hi All

I know this has been discussed on several different threads, but I thought I would start a new one, based on the fact I have now made the decision as to which way to jump.

I intended to investigate putitng in diesel heating, despite being very happy with the performance of the Propex's I installed on our last boat, mainly because of the restriction of the size of the gas bottles I can get into the locker on Serenity. At the moment we are limited to Camping Gaz 907's (2 off), due to the size of the hatch into the locker. The smallest propane bottle is 3.9kg which is 240mm diameter, but the opening of the locker is only 230mm! I think it would be possible to open up the hatch a little with some judicious use of a jigsaw, but then the aluminium locker itself isn't wide enough for two propane bottles.

Having looked at the situation again, the big problem with installing diesel heating will be getting to the fuel tanks. They are both amidships beneath a bunk, but are not readily accessible without dismantling the bunk completely, as the only access provided as standard is a small hatch to the top of the sender units. The take-off pipe would then have to be fed through a bulkhead into the lazarette locker, where I intend to install the heating unit. There is an argument for teeing into one of the fuel delivery pipes that supply the fuel filters, but I am very wary about this incase there becomes a problem with any fuel starvation to one of the engines when running at speed. I have no idea how you would get to the tanks if one split for example; I think you'd have to take the boat apart!

I'm therefore back to square one again, and am going to go with a Propex unit running from the Camping Gaz. This is a more expensive option from a fuel point of view, as the 907 bottles only contain 2.75kg of gas and are about £20 a refill. What I have now worked out though, is the initial expense of the units offsets this dramatically, combined with the inherant reliability problems that so many people seem to suffer with the diesel option.

Basing calculations on a diesel cost of around £0.90p per litre (not sure if this is a bit high for the 60/40 split?) the Webasto 2kw unit costs £0.22p per hour to run at maximum heat. The 2kw Propex unit will cost £1.03p per hour if running on the more expensive Camping Gaz at £20 per bottle. This sounds a huge difference until you consider that a twin outlet Webasto unit is £1150 (price from JPC direct), whereas the Propex twin outlet kit is £587 (Norfolk Marine). As there is a difference in the per hour running cost of £0.81p, this means you could run the Propex unit for 695 hours continuous operation to make up the difference in the cost of the Webasto unit.

I think my calcs are right, though the other thing I haven't factored in or course, is that the Propex units cycle (ie turn on and off) to maintain the temperature, whereas the Webastos speed up and slow down instead, and the website states a fuel consumption of 0.12l per hour when on low, whereas the Propex will be nil. Also, the diesel units require regular servicing, which the Propex's don't.

The biggest issue, as I see it, with the gas option is going to be that the bottles will only last for 19 hours continuous use. As the units cycle to maintain temperature, this will work out to 20-30 hours of actual time the unit is switched on as the burner will be off for some of the time, depending on the ambient temperature outside. The only think I have to decide now is whether the more powerful 2.8kw unit would be better in order to heat the cockpit quicker when it's cool, though this is £180 dearer :roll:

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Hi Mark,

I think in many ways you've sort of answered your own question, particularly with regard to the difficulties of getting a feed from your existing tanks to run a Webo. The only thought I had was would it be economical to get a seperate tank installed just for the Webo? Although we don't yet have blown warm air heating on Topaz.(we rely on a Thermax cat heater which is not good at all), people have suggested we get a diesel tank fitted and go Webo rather than Propex.

Okay, I know that after the initial outlay, diesel heating as opposed to gas is more economical but we simply don't have the room for an extra tank without forgoing much needed storage space. For us, it would be much cheaper and simpler to fit a Propex unit and duct straight into the heads and main cabin...job done (as Ian woud say)

The other thing that intereted me was your comment about Webo reliability. Would you say in your own experience, that Propex heaters tend to be more reliable?

I realise that you have had personal experience of Propex and I know Ian swears by them so I'd be keen to hear if there are any drawbacks before I take the plunge and fit one ;)

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I doubt you’ll have any starvation issues if you take a tap off of the pre filters / water separators Mark, not the engine ones, just take it from the filtered side of the Racor or whatever make is fitted, there’s an extra tap there that you can use.

As for the cycling on and off using Propex, far from being an advantage it’s exactly the reason I decided against them after living with one for six years. Whereas the diesel fired ones maintain a constant low output to maintain a steady temperature when reached, the gap between the cut out temperature and restart temperature (as there always is with a simple thermostat) on the Propex can cause annoying cabin comfort fluctuations, that really got on my wick.

A 2kw unit will not be enough to heat the cockpit, in fact I suspect a 2.8 would be borderline. Anyway which ever you go for make sure you put an outlet in the bathroom whilst you’re at it, great for drying wet weather gear and when showering, also no cold bums.

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:o I hope you're not serious Jonny! I can imagine that flying around the boat as we bounce of waves at 30kts! Plus those things give out more condensation than heat, just like the old catalytic Thermx heaters. It's hardly rated for marine use and I can imagine the field day the insurance would have if the worst should happen :norty: IMHO that sort of domestic appliance should certainly not be used on a boat of any kind.

Hi Mark,

Would you say in your own experience, that Propex heaters tend to be more reliable?

Hi Jim

I have no personal experience of the Webo/Ebers, so only go by what I hear and read. In our experience of the Propex's over 2 years though, we never had a single issue with them. They are so simple inside there is little to go wrong, and the fuel source is of a known quality, of course.

As for the cycling on and off using Propex, far from being an advantage it’s exactly the reason I decided against them after living with one for six years. Whereas the diesel fired ones maintain a constant low output to maintain a steady temperature when reached, the gap between the cut out temperature and restart temperature (as there always is with a simple thermostat) on the Propex can cause annoying cabin comfort fluctuations,

Hi David

Yes, I agree with that, in as much as we used to turn it up a bit if we got chilly and then down abit when we got warm. The stat perameters are just a little too far apart to maintain a rock steady temperature. Having said that, it never caused us much of an issue, and from what I have read here about the Ebers needing to be run either full blast or turned off, I wouldn't have thought that was much different.

I'd love to get an outlet in the heads, but I think the only route through is via the bilge. I'm pretty sure, though, there is a moulded bulkhead I would need to get the duct through, and I'm not sure I fancy taking a hole saw to a structural member :o . You never know though :naughty:

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Just the thing Jonny, a bomb in your saloon. :naughty:

BSS people would love it too. :o

nothing wrong with

it has a as sensor

every piece of equipment whether it runs on fuel gas anything has some danger to it even your engines if that was the case & you all think that way you would be sailies wouldn't you :naughty::naughty: something to think about there :grin::grin:

personaly if it was me i would just get another diesel tank made & fit it somewhere say what £20 to £30 work of fuel it could store & go with the webosorted.

Jonny ice sliceice sliceice slice

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:o I hope you're not serious Jonny! I can imagine that flying around the boat as we bounce of waves at 30kts! Plus those things give out more condensation than heat, just like the old catalytic Thermx heaters. It's hardly rated for marine use and I can imagine the field day the insurance would have if the worst should happen :norty: IMHO that sort of domestic appliance should certainly not be used on a boat of any kind

Hi Mark

i hope you dont think i am being sarki if so i dont mean to be.

but i would think some sort of clamp to hold it down or fix it somewhere that the good idea of having a metal body.

Jonny ice sliceice slice

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Don't worry Jonny, I don't think you are being sarcastic :grin: .

In all seriousness though, I wouldn't entertain anything like that on any boat, let alone a tippy sea boat. I hated the Thermx heaters we had on TB, which is why I got rid of them and put in Propex's, and at least the Thermx were fixed to the wall. I have no problem with gas on boats, as long as it is properly installed, but those things would be an accident waiting to happen. Ok in a house, but not in anything where the floor moves.

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why not ask Clive see how much he would charge as i remember he said he had a bulk load. would like one on curlew but i think there out of our range.

Jonny ice sliceice slice

sorry that should have said Clive had a bulk load of webo's or Eber's i remember him saying.

Jonny ice sliceice slice

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It's really academic what sensors or tilt protect it has Jonny, thing is it has an integral gas bottle so it’s simply not allowed, hence my comment about a bomb in your saloon and the BSS people not being happy.

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I know it's slightly off topic but does anyone remember the old catalytic heaters that used to be fitted on hire boats, including the BIg Green Pleasure Machine James?

They worked a whole lot better that that flippin Thermix thing we currently have installed!

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Hi Mark, The feedpipe for my 5kw Webbo comes off the primary filter which obviously made it''s instalation a doddle,as the heater is located on the otherside of the bulkhead from the filter (Short run) :party:

I did look at the primary filters, but they are not a Lucas type, and I couldn't see any spare ports like I would have expected. They just seemd to have a one-in. one-out arrangement.

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I did look at the primary filters, but they are not a Lucas type, and I couldn't see any spare ports like I would have expected. They just seemd to have a one-in. one-out arrangement.

In that case Mark, it would still be easier to replace the primary for a suitable one. cheersbar

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Hi Mark

Just caught up on this thread. Personally I would go Webo every time, Generally they are extremely reliable, yes, I no there has been threads on site regarding members having issues with webo & Eba's but you must bear in mind that in most cases the units are probably well over ten years old. As you know I had problems with mine last year smoking when turned off. It was very easy to strip down and maintain and parts are easily available from other sources other than marine suppliers at a quarter of the cost.

As David has stated it would not be a problem to tap off an engine supply fuel line pre filter. With the running costs you stated for propex I would have used over two of your bottles just over the New Year week. :o

cheersbar

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Can't help but agree with Col & David.

We looked at all options when we purchased Kiki which came with no heating (Turkish built) and came to the conclusion that Diesel Heating was the most convenient and cost effective given the amount of time we spend on board which normally includes right through the winter. The choice between Webo & Eber was made through recommendation of people I trust including my rather in law who was a truck fleet manager but also because JPC are Broads based if we had any issues.

I did not have the time to fit the system myself and as it turned out the rather good price I negotiated turned out to be a bargain given the work involved some of which JPC had not anticipated, to their credit they honoured the quote.

David's recent conversation with Webo at the Boat Show was quite interesting reading the CO2 adjustment. JPC did this on ours and the unit has been faultless in almost 4 years oh apart from the time I tried to see if it would run on fresh water :oops: but that is another story.......

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Hi Mark ,having talked about this the other day with you I had you in mind when I had a chat on the Eber stand at the boat show about my heater.The chap said if he was fitting one he would have a separate tank and run on paraffin ,much more heat output and cleaner burning he reckoned .Advised always running on full power and you should not get the problems that have been mentioned.I fitted a new unit to our Princess some years ago and was advised to take the fuel direct from the tank by Bristers who used to be dealers in Wroxham And to take the air intake from the cabin ,which was warmer rather than an outside locker where the air was colder to start with .The small tank could be vented and have a seperate filler to satisfy the BSS without to much trouble .have a good day Saturday. cheersbarcheers

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On Aquaholic we had a seperate fuel tank for our Webasto heater, they are not expensive and we used ordinary heating fuel at 35p per litre when we could get it, farm diesel, parrafin, road deisel whatever was available, no risk of contaminating the engine fuel, no air locks or risks of fuel leaks or air leaks into the fuel system, a stainless steel tank is approx £65 to £75 and you can fit it in a suitable location for filling and to feed the heater unit.

I have not tried the propex heater but gas has a lot more "risk" than inert fuel

Dave

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safety should not be an issue as long as the unit is installed correctly, the Propex unit is a totaly sealed unit that works on exactly the same principle as the webo/ebo. If you are worried about gas to the extent that you are all electric then fair enough but if you cook with gas then there is no further risk than a couple of connections.

As Marks figures show the cost is offset against the initial purchase price and if you add in a seperate fuel tank at say £150 by the time you have bought a deck filler and vent with a few fittings then the payback gets even longer.

For me the quietness. Cleaness and reliability of the propex unit wins hands down but when you have to run one off Camping Gaz you have to consider the amount of times you are going to change the bottle and even the availability of Camping Gaz on the Broads.

The good news for you Mark is if you do go Propex Camping gaz is widely available in Costal Marinas.

Ian

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