Internet bargain heaters and the BSS.
Once upon a time, not so long ago if your boat had diesel central heating it was one of three or four makes.
These were known brands with networks of authorised dealers who would inspect and service them. They would also charge you a not inconsiderable sum should anything be amiss among the teeny, tiny parts. If you kept up the regular servicing and maintenance then they were always safe and fairly reliable. If you didn’t, then it was only a matter of time before they just stopped working – usually on the coldest night of the year.
These days there are countless vendors willing to sell you a ‘diesel heater’. They come complete with controller, tank, pipes and all the bits and bobs to connect it up. Instead of costing £thousands the whole kit is a shade under £200.
So I can see the attraction.
Before you rush to the nearest internet retailer to purchase one, just consider your Boat Safety Certificate for a moment. In the past, most of the kit that comes with your bargain heater would be condemned at the first inspection: Plastic pipe, spring pipe clips, plastic filters, plastic tanks (with no approved markings) are normally verboten and it would all have to come out to pass the examination. BUT, such is the popularity of these things the BSS has issued what is termed an ‘interim position’ on the matter.
In short, if you must have one…
- Make sure you fit it using all the kit that came with it. Don’t cobble bits together from other units.
- It HAS to run off its own tank and that tank must be 10 Litres or less (it will get measured).
- Put the fuel line together correctly so that there are no leaks at all. Not even little ones.
- Make sure the tank can be restrained so it stays upright. It must not be capable of falling over.
- Support and protect the fuel line and all other components from chafing and from being damaged or pulled.
- Check it all for damage and leaks on a regular basis.
- The exhaust needs to be gas tight and terminate outside the boat.
- It must not be leaving soot inside the boat and it must not be scorching any surface or leaving any heat damage at all.
If you bought one of these with an integral tank then you might already know that, as a portable appliance, it is not covered by the BSS
Except when you have connected it to the boat’s 12v system. Once you do that it is ‘installed’ and all the points above will apply, though much of it is hidden by the casing.
As this is the current interim position, it is subject to change as more becomes known about these units. They are being allowed for now subject to these provisions. The full BSS document is here.
If you are in any doubt, please consult a professional installer.
And check your carbon monoxide alarm.