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Diesel stove v solid fuel stove

I can't decide between the two. We were set on diesel stove but reading some information of maintenance they appear to be more onerous to keep clean and in full working order. Also, other reports I've read, they appear to be somewhat temperamental to light and the regulator and fuel jets can become blocked quite easily. There is also the problem of another tank of fuel to have problems with contamination etc. I have not had first hand experience of diesel stoves and I've never seen one working, or speak directly with an owner of one. Am I imagining these potential problems or are they really okay?

Asked by: Raymond Fowler  | 9.39am, Tuesday 29 November

WW says:

Drip feed diesel stoves are usually quite trouble free- as long as you follow the instructions for installation and use.
Most specify a minimum length of flue- try to ensure that this is met (even if it means a longer external chimney) as this will enable them to draw well and ensure complete combustion.
The fuel supply, if modern diesel is used, should be contamination free- although some diesel heaters only have a very basic filter (if one at all) in the supply line to the stove. Ideally, you would push polished fuel from a secondary tank (such as the propulsion tank) through filters to top-up a heating tank. Alternatively, good quality fuel additives that precipitate out moisture (and particles) such as Marine 16 and regularly checking the tank for water accumulation can help. Avoid additives that emulsify any water contamination into the fuel- this doesn't work well with most drip-feed diesel heaters. A good additive will also prevent any microbial growth (diesel bug). Keep the supply tank a reasonable size- not too large, so that you have a good turnover of fuel.
Poor quality fuel has been an issue in the past, with some heavier fuel oils/heating oils giving poor performance.
Generally, diesel stoves are very reliable, though it does seem that different makes and models have their own peculiarities with lighting and running, which owners soon get used to.
They do have the advantage of making far less mess internally and externally than solid fuel stoves, are potentially safer (as they have a degree of thermostatic control and so less likely to run too hot); however they are less environmentally friendly, as they burn fossil fuels, rather than the potential of biomass burning (wood, paper blocks, etc.) that solid fuel stoves can.
So, the installation and supply of clean fuel is key; worth downloading the instruction manuals before buying, if possible, to ensure they can be fitted well to boats (the flue height is usually the limiting factor). Also, ensure that anyone installing it does do what is in the manual- and follow recommendations for cleaning/maintenance schedules. If you follow this, they should give sterling service.

Mark Langley  | 11.44AM, Tuesday 29 November

A solid fuel stove is much easier to fit than a diesel one as there is no fuel supply to arrange and pipe work. Sometimes getting the diesel to flow well from a bow tank by gravity can be troublesome as there is not much level difference. This becomes worse in cold conditions as the diesel viscosity increases, just when you need the heat most. Cleaning a diesel stove can be a very messy business as it involves a lot of black oily soot.
Many modern solid fuel stoves has a single door for the firebox and ash pan, so they are impossible to over-fire by leaving the ash pan door open; this makes them safer but slightly harder to light. By having a mixture of fuels available a stove can give a long slow burn overnight with solid fuel, or give quick heat with dry wood. There is also the option of carbon neutral Eco logs made from recycled wood.
With any stove it is as well to fit a CO alarm as this is a risk whatever fuel is used.

Rupert Smedley  | 2.07PM, Tuesday 29 November

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