Boat Maintenance Hydronic Heater

Prideaux Haven Marine Park, BC

Saturday, October 06, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

The guts of the Hurricane II Hydronic Heater.

The mornings are quite cold now and the thought of plugging in and running the heater 24/7 is starting to sound more and more appealing.  The thought of being tied up to a dock and back in civilization, however, does not.  And as long as the days continue to be sunny and nice, we’ll stay.

The solar panels continue to put in 80 amps, which is excellent for this time of year when the sun is sitting so far south.  But it still doesn’t cover all of our energy needs.  We’re a high-consumption boat, using an average of 150 amps per day.  We’ve looked at our energy budget over the years and have tried to come up with ways to be more efficient.  On the list is changing out the halogen light bulbs and replacing them with LED lights, but we’ve yet to find the ones we like to replace them.  The heater consumes a lot of energy (along with diesel) but there’s nothing we can do about that other than not use it, which isn’t an option.  And then there’s the TV and DVD … I suppose we could cut down on our movie watching, but where would the fun in that be?  So we continue to be a high-consumption boat and will likely be for years to come. 

The hydronic system on the heater has been gurgling quite a bit lately which means we have air in the lines, so today’s job was to try to bleed them.  David estimated that it’d be a quick one, but it took most of the afternoon and wasn’t the easiest of tasks.  The silicone lines that run through the boat delivering hot water are filled with a 50/50 solution – water and anti-freeze.  It’s this hot water solution that activates a fan that blows hot air through each “zone”.  There are three zones in the boat – the forward cabin, salon/galley, and aft cabin.  And each zone is controlled by its own thermostat which tells the fan when to turn on and when to turn off.  The boiler, which is located behind our bed, heats the solution and a pump delivers the mixture.  Simple as that.

David put a couple of gallons of solution in a bucket with two lines.  The idea being that one line would draw mixture into the system and the other would release the air.  Sounds reasonable.  But it didn’t work.  So, after bleeding the system dry of fluid, he had to add it back, one cup at a time, while the pump was running and release the air through valves near each fan.  Though not as efficient as his first idea, this one worked. 

After helping David with the heater, I took Sally to shore and then went for a nice paddle around in the kayak.  I didn’t see the bear, or any signs of him.  In fact, I’m beginning to doubt that we will.  They tend to roam the shoreline at low tide to rummage for food and the afternoon low isn’t very significant right now.  Coupled with the fact that the berries seem to be gone, bear-viewing doesn’t look very likely.  Not this year, anyway.

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