Anyone Used A Mr Heater Aboard?

As it gets closer to fall and upcoming winter, even in Southwest Florida, our thoughts turn to how chilly it’s been a few nights on the boat … especially late last February and early March … 32 degrees and below on a boat with no heater!  We bought a West Marine heater last winter to get us through and it’s fine, but it requires running the inverter and is not so efficient when it comes to amp usage.

We would never use a heater overnight anyway due to fire risk – we have lots of blankets … and even an electric blanket if the cold became extreme.  It works fine on our inverter … if we’re willing to give up the amps overnight.  🙂

WestMarineHeaterHere’s the West Marine heater we bought last winter anchored in Factory Bay, Marco Island, FL when we were freezing ….  it works fine, but don’t believe the amp consumption info — supposedly on a low heat setting it only draws 5-13 amps.  Our experience is that the ultra-conservative setting still draws over 10 amps an hour.   Here’s the description from West Marine:   “This ultra-quiet heater is perfect for boats, homes and offices. Versatility and simplicity with three heat settings-1500W (5200Btu), 900W (3120Btu) and “energy saver” 600W (2080Btu), which draws just 5A. Adjustable thermostat control keeps you comfortable. Antifreeze setting automatically turns on when temperature drops to 38°F. Overheat protector will not clog with dust or dirt.

The boat anchored next to us had what they claimed was a much better solution … a  Mr Heater.

Who are we to argue with folks from Minnesota!  They should know cold!  One of the advantages we see in this little heater is it uses the camping propane canisters we already have aboard.  The big disadvantage is, of course, that it burns propane.  The company claims it’s indoor safe and it includes a tip-over switch and a low oxygen sensor, both of which make sense.  The boat anchored next to us says they’ve used it for years and it’s perfect.  Hmmmmm….MrHeater

Here’s the description from the manufacturer:

“The MH9B little buddy is a 4,000-9,000-BTU portable, indoor safe radiant heater. A single 4,000 heat setting delivers sufficient radiant heat for a space up to 200-square-feet. Safety features include a tip over switch that will shut the heater off if it gets knocked over and a low oxygen sensor that shuts the heater off when oxygen levels in the room get too low. The pilot design will also shut the heater off completely if the pilot light goes out. Heater uses a knob for ignition and a separate single button acts as a kill switch. Clean burning and nearly 100-percent efficient. CSA approved and factory tested with a one year warranty. Tank not included.”

If we hadn’t already purchased the West Marine electric version, we might consider it.  The other big disadvantage, at least for us with limited storage, is size.  The Mr Heater is 9 by 14-1/5 by 14-2/5 inches, compared to the West Marine electric heater’s:  11-1/4″L x 5″H x 8″D.   The West Marine heater fits neatly into our wet locker sideways – no we DON’T ever use it as a wet locker, it’s just storage.  The Mr Heater would have to find storage under the pullman berth which is crowded already.  Maybe if we sold the Gale Sail which we’ve never used, we’d have room.

But in the meantime, I think we’ll keep Mr Heater in mind, and try our West Marine electric heater one more winter.  We obviously need to cruise somewhere WARMER than Southwest Florida… working on it, hopefully that’s what the future holds – maybe next winter, not this winter though.

Anyone with experience with a good boat heater, please leave comments and share!   Cheers & here’s to cruising where you don’t need a heater!  I can highly recommend the Western Caribbean!  Jan



  1. Martin Henry says:

    We call it Mystique’s fireplace and love it! We have been using the My Buddy for a number of years and the fall/winter season would be the same without it,

  2. Funny you should mention Mr. Heater, I just watched a video on youtube of a couple cruising alaska for 5 months and they were using one. It seemed to work fine and they were hard-core cold weather cruisers. Here’s the link:
    We cruise western Europe and our sailboat has plumbed in diesel central heating which works just fine but of course it is quite a complicated system.

  3. I have the 18,000-BTU version. It can take two propane tanks and has two of the heating plates on the front. The other big thing it has is an electric fan that is powered by D batteries. I also have a hose adapter that let’s me connect the large, refillable propane tanks. We carry two, 5 pound refillable tanks for the propane stove and grill. We can connect to either of these in less than 2 minutes of work. I use it in the garage, on the boat, even tailgating at football games.

    I have used it on the boat in the winter in Boston to do work. A couple from Seattle that we are friends with sold everything and moved onto a Freedom 30 last year. Due to a delay in boat projects, they ended up spending the winter here and were on the boat during the blizzard we had last winter. They used it for a couple of weeks when there was power issues at their marina that kept them from using electric power. It worked great. A couple of times we went and visited them and I was hot in a T-shirt and jeans while it was 10-20 outside.

    This unit is bigger than the one you are looking at but it’s a lot warmer. I work in my uninsulated garage all winter in a T-shirt and shorts using this heater. We will bring it when we head off cruising in 20 months. If I had to choose I would probably go with the smaller one due to size.

  4. We have both heaters shown above. We use “Mr Buddy” (as its known to us) and it works great to warm the salon and we use the West Marine heaters during the winter months as freeze prevention when we are away.

    Both work great!

    s/v Holiday Dreaming

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