Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] espar heater
toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
I had an Espar D5 Airtronic on my previous boat, a Gulfstar 37. I lived aboard with that heater through 7 Boston winters. It's a really great heater. I had it installed by Ocean Options in Tiverton, RI, which should be very close to you. They do excellent work, and you're going to want to get to know them even if you don't use them for the installation because they are the local repair and parts source.
These heaters can be somewhat finicky when it comes to their fuel and air supplies. The fuel pump should be calibrated with your specific heater, something that I think you'll have to get Ocean Options to do. I also had a problem with my heater coking up a lot which was eventually resolved by lengthening the air intake hose, thus providing a more stable flow of air... not something I would have thought to try, but the Ocean Options guys figured it out. Also, their usual installation draws air from inside the boat for combustion, which creates negative pressure inside the cabin and thus draws in a little fresh air from outside. I think this is significant for keeping the boat dry in the winter.
Expect a blower motor to last about 3-4 winters if you're living aboard full time and leave it running (I'd turn it down to the lowest setting when leaving for work in the morning, but leave it running so the pipes don't freeze). You'll want to get it professionally cleaned every summer. Even with the cleaning, you may find the glow plug and fuel screen coke up over the course of a winter and you need to replace it yourself -- get spares. It runs a lot cleaner with kerosene than diesel. On my old boat, I'd bring kerosene in jerry cans and dump them into the main fuel tank all winter, then in spring switch back to diesel so by the time I was ready to start the engine, there wasn't any kerosene left in the system. On an Amel, I think you might not want to do that... the tank is much larger and you may actually want to operate the generator during the winter if the power goes out. The tank might even be big enough to last you all winter long without refueling! I burned about a gallon per day averaged over the winter. The Amel, being significantly larger, may take more fuel. Really, the D5 seems like it's too small for this boat, but it's what Amel chose. Perhaps they didn't have full time New England liveaboard use in mind when they designed the system. You want the heater to be big enough that it spends most of its time on "low".
Last winter, I heated my (new to me) Amel with the built-in electric heat supplemented with two space heaters. It was quite comfortable, even on the coldest days. I did have to take care not to exceed the power rating of the shore power cord.
Ryan and Kelly
SM 233 Iteration
Boston, MA, USA