Which Heater Is More Efficient?

Question: Could you please address the fuel consumption of forced-air bus heaters vs. the Refleks?

Answer: An accurate comparison of fuel consumption and relative efficiency between the two technologies would require equipment and time we don’t really have at our disposal. However, since both systems burn with an essentially clear exhaust, indicating good efficiency, and diesel fuel has a fixed amount of available heat per unit of volume, I think we can assume that their base efficiency is very close to identical. But the air bus heaters lose a lot of heat through their ducting, as much as 20% in a cold bilge, I’m told, and in addition, more fuel must be burnt—unless the boat is fitted with a wind generator and the breeze is very steady—to replace the electricity used by the bus heaters. Bottom line, I would expect the Refleks to be a clear winner in overall efficiency.

See this post for a general comparison of the Refleks and Eberspacher heaters.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Paul December 15, 2013, 11:48 pm

    Having had both heaters installed on our last boat, and spending two winters in Annapolis Md (not much of a winter compared to PEI) I can say that using the espar whilst under way and the Dickinson heater at anchor, works great. However, I may remind everyone that a bulkhead heater also loses a lot of heat out of the chimney.

    I’d have to give the Espar the nod as to which was more efficient. The Dickinson Alaska was rated for 16000 btu and the espar 11000 btu, but the espar definitely “felt” warmer. We had a circulating fan for the dickinson, but it never outperformed the espar.
    We already have one espar for the new boat, and will get a second espar for the second hull too. But if we didn’t have a Cat, we’d also have a dickinson if we had room for the chimney. There’s nothing better than cruising in a cold climate, when it’s cold, as long as I’m warm while doing it.

    Paul from PEI, Canada.


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