Daily Life Travel Talk

How to Install a Boat Heater in 5 Simple Steps

Some boats come with heaters. However, some don’t have them. You can add a heater to a boat relatively easily if that’s something that interests you.

Before you go looking for an appropriate heater core for your boat, though, you should know the steps that go into installing one. Let’s talk about them now.

Installing the Unit

First, you’ll buy your heater. You’ll then need to look at where on the boat it would be appropriate to position it. Underneath the dash or in the observer’s compartment beneath the passenger’s seat both work well.

Then, you’ll use the screws and mounting bracket that should come with the heater. You might also have to buy them separately in some instances. Make sure the hoses are facing the back of the boat, or the stern, as it’s known in nautical terms.

Plumb the Heater

Next, you must plumb the heater. Plumbing it to the boat’s engine will give it a source of hot water.

Most heaters will have a pair of heater hoses. One will take hot water from your boat’s engine to the heater core. You can use the other hose as a return line.

Route and Connect Your Hoses

Next up, you will route and connect the hoses of your new heater unit. The hose lines should go with the heating unit, and connecting them should be fairly intuitive.

The return and intake lines can be attached to either port since both of them are identical. You’ll connect the supply line to your engine by using the intake manifold.

Then, plumb your return line. You can usually use an NPT brass fitting to plumb the return heater line on your engine. You can also use plumber’s tape and a hose clamp to make sure there are no leaks.

Install Vents

Installing vents must happen next. You will need different-sized hose saws depending on what kind of heater you’re installing.

You might use a four-inch hole saw if you have a Louver vent. If you have a Hot Tubes style of vent, you will use a four-inch hose saw as well. Other options might require different size hole saws, but you can purchase those easily enough at a hardware store or boating supply store.

Wire and Mount Your Electrical Switches

Mounting and wiring the electrical switches will be your final step. You should see an indicator assembly and one high/low switch with most of the boat heaters you buy.

The switch, once you’ve assembled it correctly, will control the speed of the heater and the fan inside it. Make sure that you install the switch near where the captain sits, at the boat’s helm. You ought to set it up so that you can reach it with no issues when you’re steering the boat.

You and your passengers might enjoy your boat a lot more once you have installed a heater. You will often find that installing one is not as complicated of a job as you might have anticipated. 

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