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Thread: Engine compartment heaters

  1. #1

    Default Engine compartment heaters

    Anyone out there keeping their boat running all winter rather than winterizing? Thinking about setting up a bilge heater so I can take the boat out over the winter for crabbing and winter king trolling out of homer. I've got twin inboard diesels with raw water cooling, and it's getting down to decision time. Is this standard practice for anyone? Worth the risk? Looking at these two heaters:
    Last edited by beluga; 10-18-2009 at 21:18. Reason: added some stuff

  2. #2


    I've seen lots of interest in the boatsafe heaters, but don't have any personal knowledge.

    With twin diesels, I assume your boat stays in the water all winter?

  3. #3


    The previous owner hauled out every winter, but he also worked for a boat yard, the guy before that I don't know. This is my first winter with the boat, I've only had experience with outboards and keel cooled vessels.

  4. #4


    My only experience is with a trailerable boat (I/O) that I winterize each year.
    Hopefully someone with knowledge in this matter will respond, or maybe you can ask around Homer to see what others do.
    I will say that if you plan on trailering the boat and using it now and then throughout the winter, I wouldn't have much faith in using a bilge heater to keep things from freezing/breaking. If the power goes out and the boat's not winterized, then of course some really bad things can happen. Good luck.

  5. #5
    Member jrogers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    I have heard that aluminum boats do well in the water for the winter since the water temp is much higher and more stable than the air temperature. Because the aluminum and steel transmit the water temp into the engine, it does not typically freeze. I believe that the guy telling me this was in Kodiak, which is milder than what you will get (especially of the harbor freezes this year). Second hand information, but I thought I would pass it along.

    2009 Seawolf 31'
    Fully Loaded

  6. #6


    I bought my boat in Homer. It had a defunct oil heater of some sort that I don't know how it worked, if ever! The previous owner also put a drop-light in the engine box to produce heat. Basicly, if it was above freezing all the time this set-up would keep it alive. Reality; If it is cold enough to freeze water I wouldn't trust anything short of full on winterized or inside a garage.
    Power goes out for a few hours and during extreme cold and it's a manifold, other parts, or worse with cracks.

  7. #7

    Default Wow expensive

    Those units are some bucks now. Basicly what you want to do is freeze protect, and hope with something that only comes on when the tempature is at some set point, which looks like they do. Leaving on all winter is going to cost extra.
    Well what seems like a fair idea is Self Limiting Heat Trace, it would not draw current till the temp dropped below 34f for example. It's made in a couple different setting and max temp it will get to along with the max temp it withstand, not from it's self but from the external source, along with being made class 1 Div 1 explosion proof to Class 1 Div 2 which really is saying water tight, to house hold pipe stuff.
    Raychem/Tyco or Thermon are industrial types with current draws from 3 wats per foot too 15 wats per foot.
    Guess a Tempature switch set up on a block heater or inclosure heater would also be the same.
    Have to be less that the $350 to $400 range. But I'm cheap
    "hint I do this sort of thing for a living now" Heck I even have some industrial heat trace at home if you understand electrical stuff.

  8. #8


    Every have something freeze a little in the fridge, like orange juice way in the back because it was colder there? How about NOT having a completely warm engine box throughout?

  9. #9

    Default Update

    So I went with the Xtreme bilge heater. However, being as I am 1.5 hours from the harbor and can't drive in every day to check it, I decided to come up with an alarm system to warn me of freezing or power outage. I searched around and couldn't find a dedicated boat monitoring alarm, so I put the thinking cap on and came up with my own. It is made up or 4 parts; a tracphone pay as you go cell phone, a UPS battery backup, a home freeze alarm, and a bluetooth wired to wireless converter. Combining all these together I have a feeze and power alarm that calls out via cell phone to 3 programmed numbers to alert me if the temp gets too low or the power is out. The bluetooth and cell phone are on the battery backup, the freeze alarm has it's own backup 9v so when the power goes out, the phone will run off the battery and call me. I am using it in the boat engine room but this would work anywhere there isn't a wired telephone jack. I purchased everything online from except for the cell phone. Here are the links:

    Freeze alarm:

    Cell Phone land line converter:

    UPS battery backup:


    I got the freeze alarm for 157, the UPS for 57, the bluetooth for 79 and a refurbished tracphone for 20. All in all about $350 for a monitoring system. I can also call the alarm at any time and it will tell me the temperature and power status. I hope this helps anyone with the same situation I was in about not wanting to winterize the boat.
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