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Propane Furnace for Houseboat, How Big?

by Dan
(St Paul, MN)

We're new liveaboards as of spring in St Paul, Minnesota. As many are aware it gets cold up here, and we're going to brave the winter and continue to live full time on the boat. We have a 1995 52' Harbor Master Wide Body. For the winter we will wrap the boat in clear wrap, along with have all individual windows heat wrapped(the 3M things) from the outside. No other 'extra' insulation planned at this point.

There are a fair number of boats that live year round in our marina/marina's next door. However it sure is difficult to get an straight answers as everyone's boat, as expected, is very custom for how they heat it(not everyone is on propane).

We plan to use propane heat. We can keep a large tank on shore, run lines to the dock, we have 'relatively' large spaces that we can put a propane furnace in, but may have to get creative depending on how large it is. We can get someone to help with installation in order to properly vent as required.

My question: Does anyone have experience for how many BTU's is required/you have had in your boat/etc... For example: There are 40,000 RV furnaces that seem like a great option on the surface. They're SMALL!! And 40,000 BTU's is a fair amount of output, even at 80% efficiency depending on what rating you get. Is this enough for -10 F weather? My point: 1000 square feet of normal house, a 40,000 BTU furnace would be great, but an 'un-insulated' ~600-700 sq foot boat?

And even better, any suggestions for an actual brand of propane furnace that is 'small' that you have used.

Long topic, but want to get all my details in here, but I'm sure I forgot some :) Thanks all!!


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