A marine water heater is the electrical or propane powered appliance that is used in the boating industry for space and hot water heating where the shower, washing-up and personal hygiene are the main applications. A marine water heater is a small, insulated tank downstream of the pump. There must be a pressurized water system so that the marine heater can operate. The pump draws water from the storage tank and fills the water heater tank. Inside the marine water heater there is an electrical heating element and usually a coiled tube called a heat exchanger. When AC power is available, the electrical element, which is controlled by a thermostat, heats the water. Away from the dock, the hot engine coolant is routed through the coiled tube to heat the water in the tank when the engine is running. A marine water heater system generally consists of the tank, water heater unit, pump and hoses. Valves and filters provide safer use and some systems include an accumulator that reduces pump cycling. The heater consists of an electrical heating element and a coiled tube called a heat exchanger.
A marine water heater has four threaded ports. The tank inlet connects via a tee-connector to the outlet hose from the pump. It is important to have a check valve in this line or in the heater to prevent hot water from migrating back toward the pump. The outlet connection supplies heated water to the hot side of all faucets, also using tee-connectors. The other two ports are for the heat exchanger connection, which varies depending on engine installation. It is a good idea to use only metal fittings to plumb a water heater. Many professionals don’t recommend using plastic. If a pressure-release valve isn't integral, the heater will have a fifth port for this essential component.
A marine water heater can heat water quickly and it can also deliver every possible ounce of usable hot water from the tank. A marine heater sometimes is made of a zinc allow heating element that is designed to withstand accidental operation on an empty tank. Some marine water heater use double tube construction, preventing any possibility of engine coolant contaminating the fresh water system.
Many professionals recommend putting the marine heater as low as possible in the boat. A marine heater can come in a variety of sizes, including short heaters that can be put in an engine room that has a very low overhead or ceiling. It is important to always keep in mind that water is heavy, and a hot water tank will change the balance of the boat.
There are electric and manual pumps for marine water heater systems. Electric pumps operate by pressurizing the water system pushing the water upward. Manual pumps are operated by a hand or foot pump next to the spigot being used. Manual pumps hold less water, which is something to take into consideration if the boater is going to be away from shore for a long period of time.
A marine water heater is designed small, lightweight, and for restricted areas. A marine heater is a performing and economical device that works in the harsh and very humid environment, exposed to the fresh and salt aggressive water action. For this reason a marine heater has to be built with high quality materials. Most of the manufacturers are designing marine water heaters for boats and yachts with a corrosion resistant casing like stainless steel or aluminum and stainless steel or metal storage tanks, with protection, from 6 gallons as the most common size, up to 20-gallon tank.
There are also propane hot water heaters specially constructed for the marine environment, with no electricity needed and dependent on the engine's performance. With closed combustion they are reliable units with an option to mount them almost anywhere.
• It is important to buy a marine water heaterbased on the size of boat you own.
• Buying a solar power energized marine water heater could be a good idea, however take into consideration that this marine heater may be expensive and large.
• Be sure to check the insulation quality when purchasing the marine heater and to periodically check insulation to minimize heat loss and save money.
• Replace any damaged or spoiled insulation material as soon as possible.
• The thermostat in a marine water heater is calibrated at the manufacturing site and needs to be approved by the Coast Guard for ‘spark ignition’ protection.
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