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How much heating?

We are having an old 30ft springer narrowboat completely refitted. Space is at a premium so we're considering not having the woodburner. The hull has been well insulated with kingspan insulation normally used in house building, and the carpenter reckons it's about 10deg cooler in than out on a sunny day. Of course I'm more concerned about what it will be like in the winter and wondering what our (cheap) heating options are without the woodburner. The other half reckons just leaving the oven on for a bit would do it, but I'm not so sure. We're not going to be living aboard, just leisure boating.

Asked by: Fran  | 11.13am, Wednesday 31 August

WW says:

Dont use the oven (or hob) as a method of heating the cabin- its both inefficient and there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Ideally you need a room-sealed heating appliance.
The most effective option for a 30ft boat would probably be a gas-fired blown air heating system. A suitable system would be a Propex unit HS2000 which is a 2kW, two-outlet heater, which would give sufficient heating, is thermostatically controlled, marine-type approved (important for gas appliances for the BSS) and reasonably cheap around the £400 for the full kit (though would need the burner unit and associated pipework to be installed by a competant marine LPG gasSafe engineer- the rest of the ducting could be installed as a DIY job).
There is also a version (the HS2000E) which has an electric element in, so if you are connected to 230V shoreline, has a 500/1000/2000W electric elements option to reduce gas consumption.
Blow air heating is very effective in smaller boats, and it avoids cold spots, and helps reduce condensation. You might also be able to find a good secondhand diesel fired bow-air system- units around the 1.8 to 2.2kW size are ideal, and are made by Eberspacher, Mikuni and Webasto. These are easy to DIY fit, provided you follow the instructinos carefully. They are also far more user friendly than trying to fit a wet central heating system on a smaller boat. Many of these dealers offer reconditioned units- a single heating outlet may well be all you need, but if layout allows, a second (in the loo) can be very useful.
If you have a water cooled engine, you could always fit a heating circuit into the engine coolant (though this needs a bit of planning) to give you free heating while cruising- though this doesn't help at night! Blow air heating is probably the easiest, safest and cheapest to fit, if you don't want to replace the woodburner. It also is far less of a potential hazard than a solid fuel stove and definitely safer than using the hob/oven as a heat source.

Mark Langley  | 11.57AM, Wednesday 31 August

Readers say:

Thank you very much for the speedy answer! We'll be definitely looking into the Propex unit - that sounds ideal.

Fran  | 12.01PM, Wednesday 31 August

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