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Thread: Wallas Forced Air Heater

  1. #1
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    Default Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Twenty years ago shortly after getting Snoose, I installed a Wallas forced air furnace. The model was a 40D, and one of the early iterations of that model. It worked pretty well and a couple of times I took it back to the dealer, ScanMarine in Seattle to have it cleaned and upgraded. Last year when it again needed service I took it in and convinced myself that maybe it was time to upgrade to their newer and much improved version, the Wallas Spartan.

    The Wallas Spartan is shiny red and stainless and has features that sucked me in, especially the Bluetooth that would allow me to start the heater from my iPhone without getting out of bed. And if I got WiFi on the boat, I could start it from home so the boat would be toasty when we arrived.

    So $3,000 and a lot of work later, the Shiny red Spartan is on the boat and we pretty much hate it. The controls are so automated you can’t do anything but let it do it’s thing. It has a startup sequence that last 15 minutes while it sounds like a jet fighter spooling up. By then it is blasting so much heat you can’t breath. Turning it down is done by setting a digital desired temp and then waiting another 15 or 20 minutes to start to respond. If you want the room temp to be 70F instead of 75F, you have to set it to 60F to get it to eventually respond. And then of course it swings too much. If you want it to run all night on low, at some point it decides it has reached its target temp and shuts down. Maybe an hour or two later it decides to go through its jet fighter start up again and then blasts you out so you are throwing covers off and wondering when you can sleep again when the noise settles down.

    Our old 40D simply had a nice little rheostat knob that you turned up or down and it stayed there. But you couldn’t reach it from bed. And it wasn’t shiny red. After I bought the new one, they managed to fix the old one anyway and I have it stored. It might be coming out of storage.
    Last edited by ron ll; 06-01-2022 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Bummer! Did you check with ScanMarine to see if that was the normal operating mode? Sounds to me like your unit may have a bad sensor with too much hysteresis built in?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Yeah, talked to ScanMarine a lot. In fact they swapped out the sensing unit once. This is how the “New and Improved” version is suppose to work. It’s better ‘cause it’s all automatic. I can’t believe how delayed the response is to any change. At least 15 or 20 minutes to notice any change. But maybe it’s time to call them again and see if there’s a firmware update or something.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Sorry to hear that. The furnace on my boat stopped working a few years ago. The cost of replacement was too much for my blood. The wood stove works as a substitute, but is not automatic or fast.
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Okay, my bad for not calling Scan Marine before my rant. They have been very helpful and it appears that there have been a couple of firmware updates addressing just these problems. Doug (at Scan Marine) was very patient and tried walking me through updating on WiFi through a phone hotspot, (I’m anchored in the middle of Liberty Bay). We didn’t have any luck yet but the hotspot on the same phone as the furnace app might be the problem. So I’ll try when we get home. It may be that the updates will have us liking this shiny red gadget again. (It’s actually built into a cabinet so the shiny red is kind of meaningless. )

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Excellent news
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Now that the cooler weather is back, itís time to deal with my issues with this heater again. So instead of trying to deal with no WiFi upgrade option on the boat, I pulled the unit and took it into ScanMarine. In twenty minutes Bill had upgraded the firmware, and I took it back and reinstalled it on the boat. Frankly I donít see much change. They said the new firmware was to address the issue of the very long, very loud startup procedure. But something in the design of this furnace seems to require that. It canít simply be started on low for just a little quiet heat in the morning like the old one could.

    The guys at ScanMarine are being very helpful and we have a couple more things to try, but I just think the design of this unit is intended to be way too automatic with too little direct user control. Even in manual mode, it takes way too long to respond to any changes. Iíll withhold final judgement until weíve made more adjustments, but I doubt itís going to make any major difference.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    I have a couple of old Espar D1L-C units that were prototype units we used in our tractors (I worked for Freightliner and designed our first install) that I've thought about putting in our boat. Basic, old-school units with bi-metallic thermostats and all. Haven't convinced myself that it's worth the effort yet and right now have too many projects on line.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    You know what I’ll say already, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Ditch the HAL 9000 and get an old school diesel heater. Simple, quiet, reliable, easy to fix. And I’ll bet you can unload the jet engine on Craigslist for more than enough to pay for a little Dickinson.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    P.S. if you run a diesel pot burner on kerosene (after recalibrating the meter) it will start and heat up faster and will burn clean with no soot. But I expect you know that already.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    A centralized heater doesn’t work well for Snoose due to the separate cabins. As much as I’m bitching about this Wallas, I still prefer ducted forced air heat.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    A few thoughts, for what they are worth...

    Is the main issue the startup time, or the noise? The "startup time" on the Dickinson Adriatic that I installed in Skookum Maru is rather longer than 15 minutes before it starts heating up the cabin, but the time doesn't bother me that much. I can start it in the morning and have a cup of coffee while I'm waiting for the cabin to warm up. But I am very sensitive to noise (ask my wife). If I had to endure a loud noise during that process I would chuck the whole thing overboard in a rage.

    I was curious about the Spartan so I took a look at the user manual, and the startup sequence is supposed to take 11 minutes, or 15 minutes if the fuel line is empty. Is it possible that the fuel is draining back out of the line, causing a longer startup? Not that 11 minutes is good, but it's 26% better than 15 minutes.

    As for the amount of time it takes to make an adjustment, I'm sure you have thought of this already but could the location of the thermostat be an issue there?

    I also wonder if there is a way to operate it that would work with how the unit is designed but would give you a better result aboard Snoose. Maybe route a duct into the engine compartment so you can control the temperature in the living space by opening and closing the ducts, and dump any excess heat into the engine space? Not very efficient, but might give you more immediate temperature control?

    And if you could do that, is it possible to just leave the unit running all the time to avoid the startup sequence and noise? Or just start it up in the morning and leave it running during the day?
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Thanks Chris. No the fuel does not drain from the line. And as the thermostat sensor is wireless Bluetooth, it can and has been moved many times. And yes, the ducts are split and dampered to zone areas as desired. As to the manual…, let’s just say it’s an entertaining read.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    P. S. re Manual. It’s been updated since last I saw it, a little more useful now.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Do these modern "jet engines" burn less fuel than a Dickinson?
    I use a Hi Seas heater .Obsolete antique,but I prefer it to a Dickinson .Wick stove, not pot burner .

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Do these modern "jet engines" burn less fuel than a Dickinson?
    I use a Hi Seas heater .Obsolete antique,but I prefer it to a Dickinson .Wick stove, not pot burner .
    Dunno. I draw it from one of the main engine tanks, donít really have a way to measure it but it seems a pretty tiny amount. The diesel and amperage consumption on a powerboat arenít really the issue they might be on a sailboat.

    Found this on their spec sheet.
    Wallas 50 Spartan Air 1400-4500W 12V diesel air heater to heat boats up to 15 m (50 ft), fuel consumption 0.16-0.46 l/h, power consumption 0.7-4.5A, air flow min- max 102-227 m3/h, 424x165x307mm, 15kg.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    I'm just curious.
    My lil Hi Seas heater uses 4 or 5 quarts a day, but that is about 6 dollars a day.my lil Dickinson alaskan uses a gallon a day on low
    My house costs 50 cents a day to heat with a mini split .
    .16 to .46 litre an hour.....lets call .16 about 5 hours per litre. still about 5 litres per day at low setting .
    lectricity no big ting anymore, between solar panels and led lighting, i ain't had a dead battery since long time.
    Last edited by wizbang 13; 11-05-2022 at 11:13 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Wallas Forced Air Heater

    In rereading some of this thread, I should add that overall I really like this heater. It just has a few quirks I donít like, like the startup noise and the delayed response to temp changes. I guess there are design engineersí reasons for these that I donít pretend to understand. Some of the good things are; you can NOT hear this heater outside the boat, even in a dead quiet anchorage. And inside the boat, once it has settled down itís also very quiet. But the startup is noisy, and that happens in the quiet of the morning. Also annoying because I have it mounted in the pilothouse directly behind the seat where I like to take my coffee and study the morning. If it were mounted in the engine compartment, it would have been better, but that has other problems.

    I would also like to comment on the local distributor, ScanMarine, and their willingness to help. Some of the issues are ones they agree with and are trying to get the manufacturer to improve.

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