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In defence of Alde boilers. Better than stoves and diesel heaters?


doratheexplorer

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The most common issue levelled at the Alde is fuel consumption and therefore cost.  I actually don't think it's that bad if you use it carefully. 

 

Compare it to coal;

 

To keep your stove in 24/7 you'll need at least to spend in region of £25 a week on coal.  For that money, you can buy a 13kg calor bottle if you shop around.  If you convert to flogas, it will be even cheaper (but harder to find when cruising).  So the question is, will that gas bottle last you a week?  The answer is:  it depends.  If it's really cold (sub zero), and you have the Alde turned up to 7 (full power) and the thermostat in the lounge turned up to 20C, you'll probably get about 4-5 days from a bottle.  So not as good as coal, but not exactly awful and you get some bonuses - controllability, no mess, heats water (I don't have a back boiler), no effort required.  But that's not using the Alde at it's best.  The way it works best is when we get weather like we've had the last few days.  Not really cold, but you'll want your heating on.  With coal, you'll still burn £20-25 worth per week if you want to keep it in.  But with the Alde, you can turn it down to 4 or 5 and keep the boat at a pleasant temp.  On that setting you'll get at least 2 weeks from a £25 bottle.  In other words, it's cheaper than coal, and you get the benefits mentioned above.  The Alde also has year round benefits in that in summer, I can easily heat a tank of water in about 45 minutes without heating the boat or running the engine.

 

In my opinion, the major drawback of the Alde is not running cost.  It's storage.  Most boats don't have the facility to store more than 2 bottles.  If you were reliant on an Alde for your sole heating source, there are times of year when that might only last you a week and a half.  That's no good for most people.  Also, it's difficult to judge when the bottle will run empty making it hard to plan for restocking.  Compare with coal or diesel where it's possible to stock up on enough fuel to last half the winter and still cruise.

 

I can't really compare the cost of running a diesel heater as I don't have one, but I've not heard it claimed that they're cheaper than coal.  And the running cost will go up when red diesel goes.  Also, they seem to be unreliable, they are damn noisy, need regular maintenance, and require a fair amount of battery power to run them.

 

Yet the Alde is out of favour, and new boats seem to be fitted with Ebers, Webastos etc almost as standard.

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2 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I can't really compare the cost of running a diesel heater as I don't have one, but I've not heard it claimed that they're cheaper than coal.  And the running cost will go up when red diesel goes.

 

Why will it ?

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Whilst I don't completely agree with you on prices for gas the Alde is certainly the quitest form of gas heating. The Eberspächer especially isn't called the "earbasher" for nothing.

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5 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Come on, you know why.  It's be discussed at length on here.

 

I know it has that's why I'm wondering why you think that it will increase.

We speculate that there may be some increase due to sellers having to improve security, but the basic fuel price will be exactly the same as it is for Red.

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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If only our old Ellis boiler could achieve the same level of gas efficiency. In the depths of winter it can consume a 13kg bottle in less than 3 days. Even with the coal stove keeping the living area warm and the thermostats turned down low for background heating only, it is difficult to make a bottle last for a week. Gas availability becomes a big problem if we are frozen in!

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22 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

I know it has that's why I'm wondering why you think that it will increase.

We speculate that there may be some increase due to sellers having to improve security, but the basic fuel price will be exactly the same as it is for Red.

I'm not going to let this thread be diverted onto a side alley which has nothing to do with the main point.  It happens far too often.  The issue of red diesel has been discussed and disagreed over ad nauseum.  It does not need raking over again here.

13 minutes ago, Keeping Up said:

If only our old Ellis boiler could achieve the same level of gas efficiency. In the depths of winter it can consume a 13kg bottle in less than 3 days. Even with the coal stove keeping the living area warm and the thermostats turned down low for background heating only, it is difficult to make a bottle last for a week. Gas availability becomes a big problem if we are frozen in!

I'm not familiar with the Ellis boiler, but interesting point.  My Alde is one of those tall thin ones which they don't make any more.  My understanding is that the new models are even more efficient.  If I were having a new boat built to my spec, I would take a long look at having one of them fitted.

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26 minutes ago, pete.i said:

Whilst I don't completely agree with you on prices for gas the Alde is certainly the quitest form of gas heating. The Eberspächer especially isn't called the "earbasher" for nothing.

Cheapest I've paid for a bottle of calor in the last couple of years was £22.  I know they're often £30ish but £25 isn't that unusual.

 

Flogas and other similar brands can be had for under £20 a bottle.

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2 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I'm not going to let this thread be diverted onto a side alley which has nothing to do with the main point.  It happens far too often.  The issue of red diesel has been discussed and disagreed over ad nauseum.  It does not need raking over again here.

 

Ok, but I think it should be made clear for any newbie reading this thread in the future that they should read other threads on the White diesel debate, and also look at the original Government documents before simply accepting that "moving from red to white will increase the cost of fuelling your diesel heaters"

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When I had an Alde on Parglena it consumed at least a 19kg bottle every week? I had a flogas account and was getting gas at 50% discount through a bulk buy scheme.

It was the first thing to go and be replaced by a Mikuni and the redundant space converted into a wine rack. 

 

Edited by Loddon
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2 minutes ago, Loddon said:

When I had an Alde on Parglena it consumed at least a 19kg bottle every week? I had a flogas account and was getting gas at 50% discount through a bulk buy scheme.

It was the first thing to go and be replaced by a Mikuni and the redundant space converted into a wine rack. 

 

I've heard this sort of consumption before, it's not my experience at all.

 

How cold did it have to be to get through 19kg in a week?  How warm were you keeping the boat?  How did you have the control on the boiler set?

 

I just checked and 19kg seems to cost in the region of £40 without discount.  So I presume you were paying £20?  In which case, it's still likely to have been cheaper than coal.

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3 minutes ago, Loddon said:

It was the first thing to go and be replaced by a Mikuni and the redundant space converted into a wine rack. 

 

Friends, a couple of boats up from us, had an Alde as their sole heating form (maybe it was an ex-hire boat - dunno) and in really cold weather they were using up to 3x 13kg cylinders per week (£360/month) so the first chance they got when the weather inproved was to have it ripped out and a Squirrel fitted instead.

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1 minute ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

Friends, a couple of boats up from us, had an Alde as their sole heating form (maybe it was an ex-hire boat - dunno) and in really cold weather they were using up to 3x 13kg cylinders per week (£360/month) so the first chance they got when the weather inproved was to have it ripped out and a Squirrel fitted instead.

I can only conclude their boiler was faulty.  A new bottle every couple of days is ridiculous. 

 

I also have a Squirrel.  The two options complement each other well.  As I originally said, the Alde works best in milder weather.  Turning to dial down from 7 to 5 doesn't extend the life of the bottle by around 20%, it actually more than doubles it, but the difference in the heat of the rads is negligable.  When running the Alde flat out, it sends most of the heat up the flue.  The sweet spot is actually around 3-4 on the dial which works really well on cool mornings in late spring and early autumn, when lighting a stove is overkill but the cabin is chilly.

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1 minute ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

Friends, a couple of boats up from us, had an Alde as their sole heating form (maybe it was an ex-hire boat - dunno) and in really cold weather they were using up to 3x 13kg cylinders per week (£360/month) so the first chance they got when the weather inproved was to have it ripped out and a Squirrel fitted instead.

A similar experience from some neighbouring boaters. Two to three bottles a week to keep the boat warm in the depths of winter. They also replaced it with a solid fuel stove.

51 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

The way it works best is when we get weather like we've had the last few days.  Not really cold, but you'll want your heating on.  With coal, you'll still burn £20-25 worth per week if you want to keep it in.  But with the Alde, you can turn it down to 4 or 5 and keep the boat at a pleasant temp. 

That isn't a like for like comparison though. In these weather conditions I'm just lighting the solid fuel stove in the evenings to take the chill off overnight and in to the early morning. Using around £12 of fuel a week, so half what you are quoting for full time lit. Having the stove lit and damped right down will lead to it clarting up with soot, so I try and avoid that.

22 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I'm not going to let this thread be diverted onto a side alley which has nothing to do with the main point. 

If you succeed it will be the first time anyone on CWDF has managed that!  ?

Jen

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1 minute ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

 

That isn't a like for like comparison though. In these weather conditions I'm just lighting the solid fuel stove in the evenings to take the chill off overnight and in to the early morning. Using around £12 of fuel a week, so half what you are quoting for full time lit. Having the stove lit and damped right down will lead to it clarting up with soot, so I try and avoid that.

 

It is a like-for-like because I'm comparing both options running 24/7.  If you want to compare just heating early mornings and for a bit in the evening, the Alde does WAY better.  That's its really strong point.  Doing that, my Alde would run for over a month on a bottle.  So around £5 a week.

 

In this weather I'm still having heating on 24/7.  The twice a day thing will probably come in around April.

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It seems odd to me that boaters relying solely on an Alde would remove it for a solid fuel stove.  I said that in some situations, coal works out better, but the boiler takes up hardly any room and has some clear advantages over the stove. Why not just have both then?  Even if you don't think I'm right about the benefits, just having a redundancy option would mean I would never consider removing the Alde.  Stoves DO fail and become dangerous to use.  I would not want to go without any proper heating in that situation.

 

 

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Regardless of "this is how much running [xxx] costs me", in the end it comes down to fuel cost and heating efficiency -- heat out = fuel in x efficiency

 

Both gas (Aldi) and diesel (Webasto/Eberspacher) heaters are maybe 75% efficient. If propane gas cost is £2 a kilo, that's 25MJ/£ (50MJ/kg). Diesel energy is 37MJ/l, so at £1/l it's two-thirds the cost of gas -- in other words, the cost is the same if diesel is £1.50/l, which I don't think anyone thinks will happen even with red/white diesel changes.

 

So a gas boiler clearly costs significantly more than a diesel heater to run for the same heat output, and both can turn down (or cycle) when it's not so cold. The other difference is that a boat has a much bigger diesel tank than gas cylinders, so the gas needs replacing/refilling more often. These two reasons together are probably why most hire boats (or liveaboards) use diesel heaters not gas boilers. Of course if you don't need much heating you don't use much fuel either way, so a gas boiler is good when you only need background warmth.

 

Solid fuel stoves are less efficient and harder to turn down but the fuel is cheap, I'll let the experts on them chime in ?

Edited by IanD
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3 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

It is a like-for-like because I'm comparing both options running 24/7.  If you want to compare just heating early mornings and for a bit in the evening, the Alde does WAY better.  That's its really strong point.  Doing that, my Alde would run for over a month on a bottle.  So around £5 a week.

 

In this weather I'm still having heating on 24/7.  The twice a day thing will probably come in around April.

For background very mild heating gas does seem to be a good way to go. Some diesel heaters don't like it and coke up. Similar problem with solid fuel stoves. There is a level below which they don't like to go.  In spring and autumn, then gas might have an edge as you say. When working hard in winter, then it is expensive. You are basing costs on the deep discounts you can get from certain places. I use a couple of local roofing merchants for similar prices to the ones you are quoting. From a fuel boat, or a canal side vendor, then the cylinders are going to be a lot more. From an official Calor retailer, astronomic!

Jenny

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As I said in the other thread I'm surprised the newer compact Aldes arent fitted to more newer boats. They seem much more fuel efficient. They also store the heated water (cant recall if the older ones do) so could in theory do away with a calorifier. To heat the water when the engine is running would need the use of the electric element of course if doing that.

 

Fit a roof flue terminal if the unit is low down or fit the unit higher in the cabin and use the std. caravan/mh flue terminal with perhaps an adaptor to cope with the sloping cabin sides. 

 

They dont hold the quantities of water that a 'normal' calorifier does but millions of caravanners and motorhomers cope with the amounts produced.

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10 minutes ago, IanD said:

Regardless of "this is how much running [xxx] costs me", in the end it comes down to fuel cost and heating efficiency -- heat out = fuel in x efficiency

 

Both gas (Aldi) and diesel (Webasto/Eberspacher) heaters are maybe 75% efficient. If propane gas cost is £2 a kilo, that's 25MJ/£ (50MJ/kg). Diesel energy is 37MJ/l, so at £1/l it's two-thirds the cost of gas -- in other words, the cost is the same if diesel is £1.50/l, which I don't think anyone thinks will happen even with red/white diesel changes.

 

So a gas boiler clearly costs significantly more than a diesel heater to run for the same heat output, and both can turn down (or cycle) when it's not so cold. The other difference is that a boat has a much bigger diesel tank than gas cylinders, so the gas needs replacing/refilling more often. These two reasons together are probably why most hire boats (or liveaboards) use diesel heaters not gas boilers. Of course if you don't need much heating you don't use much fuel either way, so a gas boiler is good when you only need background warmth.

 

Solid fuel stoves are less efficient and harder to turn down but the fuel is cheap, I'll let the experts on them chime in ?

Couple of points:

 

1.  What do you base the maybe on?  Is it just a guess?

 

2.  You're not factoring in engine running to charge batteries to power the Eber.  And the general nuisance of that too.

 

I can see the point of an Eber on a hire boat when it's the only heating source.  But for a liveaboard with a solid fuel stove, I reckon the Alde is a better back up heating option than the Eber.

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25 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

I've heard this sort of consumption before, it's not my experience at all.

 

How cold did it have to be to get through 19kg in a week?  How warm were you keeping the boat?  How did you have the control on the boiler set?

 

I just checked and 19kg seems to cost in the region of £40 without discount.  So I presume you were paying £20?  In which case, it's still likely to have been cheaper than coal.

Can't remember temperatures but it was spring 2002 and the winter of 2002/3 .

I don't do cold so 21deg inside is what is required

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I suspect the op is correct but its a bit academic, spare parts for the lovely old upright models are in limited supply as Alde have declared them obsolete. The new model is somehow less desirable, despite its claimed better fuel consumption, maybe because its fussy about copper calorifiers.

 

............Dave

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10 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

For background very mild heating gas does seem to be a good way to go. Some diesel heaters don't like it and coke up. Similar problem with solid fuel stoves. There is a level below which they don't like to go.  In spring and autumn, then gas might have an edge as you say. When working hard in winter, then it is expensive. You are basing costs on the deep discounts you can get from certain places. I use a couple of local roofing merchants for similar prices to the ones you are quoting. From a fuel boat, or a canal side vendor, then the cylinders are going to be a lot more. From an official Calor retailer, astronomic!

Jenny

My £22 bottle was from a canalside vendor. It was a sort of builders merchant which was right next to the canal and they'd put a little sign on the towpath to attract boaters.

1 minute ago, Loddon said:

Can't remember temperatures but it was spring 2002 and the winter of 2002/3 .

I don't do cold so 21deg inside is what is required

So quite an old model then.  I think perhaps they've got a lot better.  Even the tall thin ones include a variety of different models.

2 minutes ago, dmr said:

I suspect the op is correct but its a bit academic, spare parts for the lovely old upright models are in limited supply as Alde have declared them obsolete. The new model is somehow less desirable, despite its claimed better fuel consumption, maybe because its fussy about copper calorifiers.

 

............Dave

Nomad reckons you don't need a calorifier with the new model.

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Just now, doratheexplorer said:

My £22 bottle was from a canalside vendor. It was a sort of builders merchant which was right next to the canal and they'd put a little sign on the towpath to attract boaters.

 

Gas is much more than £22 just about everywhere because Calor run a protection racket ?. I am only aware of two cheap places, the "gate in the fence" in Stoke on Trent and a dodgy garage in **************** who does cheap DIY refills.

 

.................Dave

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10 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Couple of points:

 

1.  What do you base the maybe on?  Is it just a guess?

 

2.  You're not factoring in engine running to charge batteries to power the Eber.  And the general nuisance of that too.

 

I can see the point of an Eber on a hire boat when it's the only heating source.  But for a liveaboard with a solid fuel stove, I reckon the Alde is a better back up heating option than the Eber.

The 75% is based on published efficiency figures, you can go and look them up too. The "maybe" is because they're not all the same, 70%-80% range is normal.

 

I didn't factor in engine running because most people have to do this anyway to charge their batteries for other purposes. Even if you add this in, diesel is still cheaper.

 

Yes there is a nuisance value to this. And with the Aldi there's a nuisance value to having to find a gas supplier regularly, especially one who doesn't rip you off -- quoting one cheap supplier is fine, but what happens when you're not near them?

 

As I said, if you use it as background heating the Aldi is a good solution, but like diesel heaters it has advantages and disadvantages. You prefer the Aldi, many others prefer diesel. YMMV ?

Edited by IanD
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