Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

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mike cunningham
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by mike cunningham »

Decided I was getting tired of freezing at anchor during the winter up here is the Cali Bay Area. I want to do more cruising during the winter but have to find a way to stay warm. Thought about a catalytic heater but I would not want one on while sleeping and not crazy about a hot thing sitting around the cabin floor. Considered a propane bulkhead stove but did not want to penetrate the cabin top for the vent. Also have heard propane combustion generates quite a bit of water vapor. Electric is out of course. I have used my propane cooking stove to take the chill off in the morning but this is ABSOLUTELY NOT a heater!

I was aware diesel heaters existed but also knew they were $1.5 to $2K which I could justify only if i needed heat year round. Here in the Bay Area I may need heat five months out of the year at most. Coincidentally It turns out the patents for the so called "diesel parking heaters"expired recently and Chinese manufacturers have stepped in with models that cost literally one tenth as much money. For those who wish to obtain a PhD in Cheap Chinese Dielselology, check this guy's series of videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCAzEDWwU8c

He looks at and discusses every aspect of these units.

So I decided to buy one and give it an install. I Paid $170 for the unit itself and about that much more for supplemental parts including transom through hull fitting for exhaust. Got the job essentially complete yesterday with about 20 hours of labor and I am stoked. The unit heats like crazy, is quiet, no smell and sips fuel (i decided to install a separate 10L diesel tank for the heater). I minimized the heating air duct routing but sacrificed ideal duct outlet location in the cabin. I'll have to see how this works out. I was careful to allow for reconfiguration of duct routing should i decide to go to a more complex (but also more ideal) routing in future.

Power consumption is interesting. The units contain a glow plug for ignition so they draw quite a bit of power (about 9-10 amps) at start up, but that drops way down when warm up/ ignition is achieved. After about 5 minutes the unit drops back to about .8 amps (avg) in low setting and about 3 to 4 amps in high setting. Low is more than adequate to keep my F30 warm. The power goes to the little "dosing" fuel pump and the unit fan with the vast majority going to the fan, so the lower the fan setting the lower the pwr consumption.

On the safety front I have taken care with exhaust routing, venting (through transom with appropriate through hull fixture) and insulation. Also procured a CO monitor which I have used to test interior cabin as well as exhaust run. Looks good so far. The You Tube videos noted earlier gave me confidence in general build quality, low CO emission and overall safety.

I am really impressed with the units performance. If you would like heat but couldn't stomach the cost, this may be an alternative worth considering. I would be happy to share pictures and lessons learned from my F30 install if anyone is considering one of theses.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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Camino
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:51 pm
Location: Stockton, CA

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by Camino »

Lol talking my language sir! I spend 2 days a week on Goodway usually and winter kills me. In winter I use my oven to cook meals to get heat into the boat. Last year I bought a propane portable heater (uses 1 lb propane canisters). Works ok but I have to be really careful. On your new system Mike how do you fill up the 10 liter tank? Where is the heater and where is the tank What is the noise level like when on?

I will review that website with videos!

Thanks
Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

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mike cunningham
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by mike cunningham »

Camino wrote:
Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:41 pm
Lol talking my language sir! I spend 2 days a week on Goodway usually and winter kills me. In winter I use my oven to cook meals to get heat into the boat. Last year I bought a propane portable heater (uses 1 lb propane canisters). Works ok but I have to be really careful. On your new system Mike how do you fill up the 10 liter tank? Where is the heater and where is the tank What is the noise level like when on?

I will review that website with videos!

Thanks
Hi, yea, freezin is no good.

Re the tank. It was supplied as part of the kit. If you go for one and you decide to use the tank, evaluate your tank location carefully to determine if you want the center neck or corner neck tank. This is really important from a re-fueling standpoint. I have a corner neck tank mounted to the fwd bulkhead in my lazarette (tanks are built such that they can easily be affixed to a bulkhead with screws), This places the corner neck fill point right below the fwd end of the lazarette door. On my boat there is about 14 inches of solid cockpit seat just forward of the laz door, so a perfect perch for a 5 gal diesel jug. I use one of those glass bead siphons to get fuel into the heater tank, I can observe filling in this way and it works very well. No mess. To refuel the main tank I just swing the siphon over to the fuel fill on the weather deck without moving the jug, sweet. Of course you can also plumb the dosing pump to the main tank if you wish. Some units ship with a pick up designed for install in the vessel's main tank. I decided I did not want to tap into the main tank because I had an ideal place to locate the aux tank and I kinda liked the idea of having a little extra store of fuel on board, you never know. Ten liters of diesel will run my Yanmar at cruise for around five hours.

I fit the heater unit in the hollow created by the cockpit seat backs/coaming. The heater is tucked in above the aft galley area headliner and accessible via the lazarette. Fits nicely in there with an air gap all around the unit. The fuel tank is about 24 inches below. The exhaust run turns outboard then follows the hull (just below the weather deck) back to the transom mounted exhaust fitting. I have allowed for air gap the full length of the exhaust and it is fully insulated with aftermarket fiberglass insulation tape.

I was a bit worried about noise but all good on that front. The dosing pump has a reputation for banging away and driving you nuts but I mounted it in the supplied rubber standoff on the same bulkhead as the tank and can't even hear it in the cabin. The fan is kinda loud on high setting but I would broil inside the boat if I ran on high, I can not hear it on low, it is super quiet and plenty warm. In addition to being noisy on high, the power consumption goes way up so I would not use in this mode unless the engine was charging, in which case noise is not an issue.

I read through the Webasco manual to get smart on safety considerations, the Chinese manual sucks with a capital S. These units are essentially an exact copy of the Webasco with exception of the controller. The Chinese controller manual is also garbage. Fortunately there are ample explanatory resources on You Tube.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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Camino
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:51 pm
Location: Stockton, CA

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by Camino »

Mike - I believe your boat layout is better than mine for the heater I’ll check more tomorrow. Where does your heater outlet placed in the cabin and does your heater exhaust exit the stern at deck level? Thanks

Ok, I think it would fit - heating unit and 10L tank - in my aft cabin next to the companionway steps. I could make a box and place there I think. Exhaust would run under aft cabin and up to rear lazarette and out near top of transom. I’ll work on the details. My little portable propane heats well but really puts out too much water vapor.... got pics Mike? Did you add a fuel filter? YouTube guy makes good use of his red pencil :D lol.

Also in one video he insists that the fuel tank be located below the heater so the fuel goes upward at an angle, but the all in one units have the fuel tank mounted on top- what do you think..
Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

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mike cunningham
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by mike cunningham »

had to compromise on the heated air outlet location. It exits from the headliner behind my galley. Hard to explain exactly but the simplest install forced me to be creative with flow of air into the cabin. I did it this way to vastly reduce the length and complication of the ducting run. I also installed the unit such that I could go to the more complex ducting if I found it necessary. So far it seems fine. It helps that I have a relatively small space to heat. These things really put out hot air!

I have the tank mounted below the unit. This simplifies the dosing pump install because you have to ensure the pump output is facing up. This is due to air bubbles which will be a constant and must be allowed to exit the pump else you risk loosing pump plunger lubrication. This is weird given we have spent our lives keeping air OUT of our diesel fuel systems but these diesel heaters don't care about air bubbles. The Aussie video guy explains all of this in detail in one of his videos.

If you are buying an "all in one" I assume the mfg. has worked out any issues related to fuel supply although there will still be some orientation constraints. The heater must be installed longitudinally not transversely. the heater will take some rolling but does not like pitching for any period of time - like on a tack - according to the literature.
.
My exhaust exits from the transom just below the weather deck and about six inches inboard from the port side deck in order to minimize water ingress. Some folks have penetrated the hull side just below the weather deck . This would really have simplified my install but I have had that rail under water a lot so did not seem like the best location on my boat. Also bear in mind the exhaust length is not supposed to exceed two meters. You could probably fudge on that but I would do a research on this if you have to go longer . Mine was about 5 feet. BTW, the sellers give you a pretty short exhaust tube so be prepared to buy a longer one. They are readily available on amz or ebay.

I considered installing the heater in the transom in the vicinity of the rudder quadrant but decided against because it would have complicated physical access to the quadrant, rudder post and AP drive. I did not want that, but in your boat you will have more room back there, is that a possible location? This would really reduce the exhaust run length.
Last edited by mike cunningham on Mon Dec 21, 2020 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

User avatar
mike cunningham
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by mike cunningham »

Also, the nomenclature for intake/exhaust can be confusing...which exhaust, which intake?

As you read about these things it's obvious some folks confuse the combustion air exhaust with the heated (cabin)air exhaust and similar with combustion air intake and heated (cabin) air intake. It wouldn't do to get these mixed up.
Last edited by mike cunningham on Mon Dec 21, 2020 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

User avatar
Camino
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:51 pm
Location: Stockton, CA

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by Camino »

One more time :D

Due to the limitations of exhaust length to no more than 2 meters, I’d have to mount the heater and fuel tank in the transom lazarette. That would give me opportunity to clean that whole area out (I have enough spar line in there to rig a barque). I’d have a short exhaust run but a long cabin heater hose run of something like 7-8’—— (did you insulate the cabin heater line?). would that hurt do you think
Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

User avatar
mike cunningham
Posts: 368
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by mike cunningham »

That would be the way for you to go if possible. No issue with the extended duct as long as it will fit. The heated cabin air is HOT and 8 feet isn't going to cool it down much.

Where would you pick up your air to be heated? Directly from the transom area (which is fine) or from the cabin?

The final decision is going to be where to pick up the combustion air. This is a little murky. Webasco says no problem picking up combustion air from inside the hull somewhere but it must be a ventilated space. I have my combustion air pickup in the in the Lazarette. I feel comfortable with this for a couple of reasons, I plan to prop the Laz open slightly while at anchor using a wedge I built for this purpose. I also do not "seal" the cabin at anchor, I have a fabric companionway cover which I deploy at night. I holds in heat fairly well but definitely is not sealed. It allows quite a bit of fresh air in. I am not worried about it under way. Finally, I have a CO alarm and am going to purchase a CO monitoring instrument (about $100) so I can routinely check my system.

My understanding is it is possible for a "puff" of CO to make it out of the intake port under certain (abnormal) circumstances. Sustained emission is extremely unlikely. Bigger CO risk is failure of combustion chamber gasket combined with one of the external chamber seals (fuel intake seal or glow plug seal). The Aussie vlogger does an excellent job of explaining whys and wherefores of all of this in his videos.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

User avatar
Camino
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:51 pm
Location: Stockton, CA

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by Camino »

O bloody downer - possibly :twisted: Ok it’s been a while since I’ve been inside the aft lazarette - the f 35 p has one aft lazarette with 2 hatch access lids. Smaller than I remembered from AP and radar days. Port side of quadrant forward bulkhead is way overcrowded. Stbd side is better. Both quite cramped. Either calls for a steep bend in the 3” heating ducking downward and then 8-9’ straight run IF I could fit it in the space where the motor exhaust hose runs. See below. I know I should have carefully measured that. Exhaust is no problem Fuel can placement is a concern so I’m working that out!
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Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

User avatar
Camino
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 4:51 pm
Location: Stockton, CA

Re: Cheap Chinese Diesel Heater

Post by Camino »

Follow up - thanks to Mike C, I completed the installation on my F35 P. Took a month time line wise, 15 hrs approx, $500 approx. the heater kit was $160 but I purchased 6’ exhaust hose, 5 meters ducting, air filter, 20 amp breaker, 50’ power wire x2 14 awg , 25’ x 3 20 awg controller wire, exhaust heat shielding and ducting shielding. I used their hz settings for heat control instead of temp. Unit worked fine running on high 5.5 hz, then to about 2.0 hz for stable quiet heat (low setting appeared to be 1.5 hz. Pic doesn’t show heat shielding tied off with ss ties. A shorter run would have been preferred if possible but I couldn’t Still some minor work to do. Happy. Just added a pic of the completed fuel tank and heat unit
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Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

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