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Houseboat Heating - fireplaces or wood stoves on house boats?

by DZL
(St. Paul, MN)

Houseboat Heating - fireplaces or wood stoves on house boats?

Houseboat Heating - fireplaces or wood stoves on house boats?

I'm looking at houseboat heating options, and wonder if a wood stove, or a fireplace can be installed in house boats?

Jotul makes a small one, no a tiny wood stove, and also another company along with all the necessary pipes.

If you Google tiny wood stove, there's many of them available. But, does this affect your houseboat insurance?

Thanks, DZL from St Paul.

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Reply - Answer
Well DZL, that's a very good question, and I also wonder how a wood stove on a houseboat can affect your insurance policy.

I imagine that the stove will have to be properly installed, and possibly pass a marine inspection, in respect to getting it insured.

If any of our readers have dealt with the requirements of getting a wood stove installed, and any tips for the installation. If you had any difficulties in having it all insured from your insurance company, we would love to hear about it.

If you do decide to go through with the project, do take some pictures and do share your experience here with us, as there are others who are contemplating the wood stove issue.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their fireplace or wood stove, houseboat heating experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Houseboat Heating - fireplaces or wood stoves on house boats?

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Wood burning is O.K.
by: Narrow Boat Fan

I stumbled across "Narrow Boats" a couple of months back. They're used recreactionally and very often for full time live aboard. Look them up on You Tube.
Anyhow, these folks live in some very cold conditions in England and often are in the boat when the canals are literally iced over. These folks swear by their "Multi Fuel" stoves.

They burn wood and coal and are extremely safe. Of course like in a home you need to practice the same kind of safety procedures, but they are very safe.

Multifuel stoves have been used for hundreds of years on these narrow and larger canal boats.

It's just like anything. You have to use common sense. Unfortunately here in the states, our Nanny governments often get carried away with regulations.

I would say that something being illegal in One state does not mean that it is unsafe. Government fuel efficeiency standars have caused a need for engines to run much hotter than they used to. Because of this, it's not unusual for rear engine motor homes to catch on fire. It's much more difficult to cool an engine that's not in the front of the vehicle getting blasted with cool air.

Like life in general, it's all relative. Many thousands of boat owners around the world for hundreds of years have used wood and coal fires to heat their boats.

And for the guy that mentioned "Paddle Wheelers", well, what difference does is make if it's old or new, the wood burning stove is either set up safely or it's not.

Look up how many fires each year are caused by electric heaters. ANY heater can start a fire. Even a central forced air residential system. So for those saying "It can't be don't safely", spend some time on the net researching before you simply advise folks not to do it.

How many folks died because of improperly vented generators on houseboats? Did we stop using them, or did we change how they're set up? You all know the answer.

Pellet stove on 43ft houseboat
by: Live on board

HELP, winter is coming on strong, 43ft Nautaline houseboat, and "I want a pellet stove for summer type heat inside" when it's 5 below weather outside. Is this possible?

I currently use electric radiator type oil filled heaters, four to be exact! I would imagine this also is a fire hazard?

So, can I put a 250 lb stove on this particular boat without fear or blowing up? They say this stove is ok for mobile homes,

I'm confused. Any advice at all, would be very welcomed.


Houseboat Heaters - don't use Dickinson Diesel
by: KEN

I bought a Dickinson diesel heater as it was highly recommended. It was the worst mistake I've ever made. It didn't work well from day one.

It was filthy and carboned up all the time. Stupid method of starting. Clogged chimney. Soot ruined carpets and clothes. Outside the decks had to be repainted. It overflowed. Floors had to be redone and it still smells.

I checked with others in the Marina. They also had similar problems. I called Dickinson and they gave me an attitude....big time. They finally offered to swap me for a "used propane" stove. Phssss.

I wouldn't put another one of their products in my boat. When I called they started tell me how "I" could go about fixing "their" stove. BEWARE OF THIS STOVE. Changing to wood.

Dangerous Houseboats - wood/coal burning stoves-heaters
by: Ray

I read where one of the posters here mentioned that wood and coal burners have been on boats for over a century and are really safe. He/she has to be referring to the old steam driven paddlewheelers.

I wonder if this poster took the time to research how many of these vessels burned to the water line or just blew up, killing many people? These disasters are a real interesting read.

This same poster also commented on how "dangerous" LP can be on a boat. Ummmm. Not nearly as dangerous as the gasoline fuel used to power a vessel. I couldn't find any info about LP exploding on a boat but there is a lot on gasoline explosions and fires on boats.

Diesel is by far, the safest. It will not explode under normal circumstances. It really all boils down to one issue. "Operator Diligence". The skipper has sole responsibility on his/her vessel. All to often these people become too lax on safety. This can and often does lead to some major "accidents".

A friend of mine was in a hurry to get underway and failed to "blower vent" his engine compartment before starting his engine. The explosion blew off his engine hatch and burned him pretty bad.

Point being, if safety procedures are not followed each and every time, be it what ever you do or install, the odds of a disaster happening are multiplied a great deal.

LP fueled heaters are among the safest forms on boats if PROPERLY installed and maintained. Keep fittings to an absolute minimum and check them monthly if you run your boat very much at all.

I have never heard of NG on boats. I doubt that there are any because it is pretty cost prohibitive and the weight of the tanks needed would quickly overload the boats limitations. Boating is fun. Safe boating is more fun.

Houseboat Dangers - ventless kills
by: Anonymous

ventless will kill, you will live longer with a vented gas anything:)

Propane on Houseboats - what about propane heaters?
by: Ray

Jim, I had a RQ I lived on year 'round in Illinois for 7 years. When I bought the boat, I installed two catalytic heaters like you mentioned.

They did an excellent job and were very economical to use. Only once did I have to supplement them with two small electric heaters and that was when it was -20 degrees.

I found them to be totally odorless inside and very clean heat. If it gets very cold where you are, I would recommend a lot of good insulation in the sidewalls and ceilings of the cabin.

If you can't or don't know that much about intallation, I recommend you find a reputable firm to install it, or them if more than one, for you. Make sure you put in plenty of safety features where ever possible.

Lastly, be prepared to touch up the paint around the outside vent about every two years. It will discolor a little here over time. Stay safe.

Houseboat Heating - fuel? wood?
by: Ray

We all have different tastes and ideas about what to heat a boat with. Myself, other that catylitic propane heaters, electric is in my opinion, the safest.

Propane heaters, if PROPERLY installed, are quite safe. If not, you could find your boat and yourself scattered all over the harbor.

Wood, while it does take CO2 out of the air and convert it to O2 while it is still a tree, does not, under any circumstances, do the same when placed in a fire. It will create CO and CO2.

In addition, where would one store wood on a boat? How much to make it worth while? How about the dirty mess stored wood creates? It will be in a damp enviroment so when burned, it could give off excess smoke. Is this your desire?

Again, there is the weight factor. More weight, the more fuel consumption with the engines. Propane and electric doesn't weigh very much and does not take up much room.

Unless your water home is one of those permanatly moored, and your desire is a real wood burner, I would strongly recommend you do extensive research on safety, laws, (just cuz it is a law, doesn't make it right), harbor rules, insurance requirements, weight, (both appliance and fuel supply) storage of fuel and installation of all safety features to help ward off any possible disaster.

Lastly, which ever you chose, installation by one who is well versed in that particular applicance is a must. Shoddy work here can and will lead to a disaster for you and your boat. It could cost you your life. Stay safe.

Houseboat Heating - direct vent propane?
by: Jim Richmond

Has anyone tried the direct vent propane heaters? They don't emit CO2 or moisture since they use outside air for combustion and vent the CO2 outside.

Houseboat Propane - security and propane fire places
by: Ray

I noticed Jason mentioned he had a "vent free" propane/NG fire place. Ain't no such thing. If you read the fine print you will see that the MFG has put in the instructions to have a window cracked at least an inch.

There is a good reason for this. Carbon Monoxide. Anything that burns with a flame will give off carbon monoxide. It is a silent killer. I know this as I mentioned before, I put 25 years in as a professional firefighter and ten years as a Fire/Arson investigator.

Have seen a few dead people from CO2 poisoning. Not a pretty picture. This plus the fact that the flames are consuming copious amounts of oxygen required to sustain burning. Neither propane or NG are self oxidizing.

I would STRONLY recommend that no one put one of these on a boat unless it is vented and very securely attached to some structure member of the boat.

As far as wood burners, if not bolted to the boat, tip over can occur pretty easily in rough water or wakes from large boats. You can't grab the stove and upright it as it will be too hot to handle. If the door pops open, man, you got some major problems.

I had a 40' RQ that I installed 2 catylitic propane heaters. They were very secured and had not only a vent for the CO2 but also an intake like for make up air. They also were very safe. Not sure if these are allowed by either the CG or Insurance Companies any more.

If you have one now, make sure it has flare fittings and check them at least once a month with a soapy water for leaks. Boat vibrations can loosen them.

Any fire place type of appliance I would ever install on my boat would be the electric one that the Amish makes the mantles for.

Just remember, when out on the water, you will not get a 3 minute response from the Fire Dept. Think of the safety of any passengers/guests if not yourself.

Houseboat Heating - dry heat vs moisture
by: Anonymous

Bill V is wrong, boats have had wood and coal burning stoves onboard for over a century. If installed properly, they are very safe and you get the added benefit of drying out your boat, unlike propane which adds moisture. Take a look at ShipmateStove

Fireplaces on Houseboats
by: Ray

As I was reading these comments and even my own, it dawned on me that if one wanted a fireplace on their boat, the AMISH have an electric unit with wood mantle and all, (wood of your choice) that will provide both atmosphere and ecomonic heat.

They look like real wood burners but are total electric. I forget what they are called. These are much lighter in weight, MUCH safer and less space consuming. Just something else to consider if one really wants a fire place.

Houseboat Heating - wood heat is still the best
by: Anonymous

Wood is far safer than almost any other fuel. When was the last time you saw a pile of wood explode? How about leak all over the floor?

Also best of all wood is carbon neutral since it takes C02 out of the air while it is growing as a tree. Try that with propane or NG or diesel.

Lastly PROPANE on a BOAT! are you kidding me! Propane is heavier than air so it will always seek the lowest point and it a boat there is no where for propane to vent out of a vessel so K-Boom!

That won't be happening with good OLD WOOD. If you are human and you make a mistake with wood stove you might see some smoke as it burns the side of your boat hull if you have improper clearances.

BUT with propane, NG, Gasoline, or Diesel you could have a fire you cannot put out or possibly an exploding bomb on your hands. WOOD - Hands UP - TOUCH DOWN !

Heating Houseboats - wood burner stoves on HB's.
by: Ray

Read several comments about Pellet burners on houseboats. They are nice, romantic, clean and would be economical on a boat.

I have two in my land house, BUT, they are very heavy. One must remember weight when contemplating heating alternatives, unless you have an exceptionally big boat.
Then you have the concern of storing the pellets in a "dry" area. At 40#'s per bag, again, there is the weight factor.

As a retired professional FireFighter and Fire Investigator, I personally would not have one on my boat. There is a time and place for everything, and unless you have a 100'er, it is nothing I would recommend.

Imagine the motion of your boat when some fool goes past with his boat on "plow", throwing 5-6' wake rollers, and they will. Best be safe than sorry here.

Pellet stoves on houseboats?
by: Anonymous

I still don't know if pellet stoves are allowed on board a house boat. If you know about this specifically, please comment since they are both safe and clean in houses.

They are so clean burning, efficient and safe (relatively) that they don't require certification by the E.P.A. Why is propane flame allowed but not a electronically regulated pellet flame?


What about Pellet Stoves on Houseboats?
by: Laws

I read Bill V's post about no wood burning stoves of any kind on a house boat, but what about a pellet stove? Is that considered a wood burning appliance? It is very clean burning and does not fall under the same rules for installation and safety that wood burning type heaters do with respect to home installations.

Houseboat Heating
by: Ann

I just got a window air-conditioning unit that provides both a/c and heat. It's run on electricity, which is a lot cheaper than gas. Cleaner, too. It puts out plenty of heat for the whole boat. I love it!

Wood Stoves on Houseboats
by: Bill V Florida

If your St.Paul is in the US, then NO---- It is illegal to have a wood burning anything on a vessel. This is especially true if it is powered with an engine, or in a marina. Now gas or propane fire places are permitted. Hope this helps.

Vent Free Fireplace on a Houseboat
by: Jason Campo

I bought a Propane/Natural Gas Fireplace off of Ebay and I love it. It's vent-free and even turns itself on and off as per the built in thermostat. I would highly recommend it. It comes in several finishes complete with mantle.

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