I have a Benco charcoal buring stove in my 25ft motor sailor for the past three years. I am very happy with it and use it a lot all year around.
It is easy to control the temperature and I do not necessarly always burn charcoal - which can be a bit dirty to handle (I always use plastic trow away gloves to load the hooper) -I use a lot of briquettes (compressed charcoal -much cleaner and gives more heat). I also use driftwood and sometimes turf. I will light the fire on going on board on the Friday evening (The heater takes about half an hour to start getting warm) and the fire will burn all weekend till departure Sunday evening. It is important that the ash box is emptied approx avery 12 hours or the fire will be deprieved of air and will go out. Another important task to do is to sweep the chimney each 24 hours (I use an 18 cm bit on an electric drill - or a metal pipe with a sharp end to it) or the pipe can choke up and the fire goes out (especiall using oily fuels such as turf and some hard woods). Having other friends with heaters using fuel oil/electricity, with the Benco, no electricity needed and there is plenty of drift wood on the shore- so you will never go short of fuel! All my friends have great fun playing with it and most have burnt their fingers one way or another- but who cares-its cute and fun! Warm boating to you!
Watch out for oxygen depletion. All hydro carbon fuels need lots of air to burn efficently and not give out carbon monoxide, which will kill you as sure as god made little apples.
As a heating engineer, the standard boat solid fuel heaters give me nightmares. without a balanced flue all the air for combustion is drawn from within the cabin. which isn't very large. Natural gas needs 10 parts air to 1 part gas to burn cleanly. God knows what proportions are required for turf, driftwood, camelshit etc.
If you do fit one, please also fit a carbon monoxide sensor and don't leave the thing burning whilst you are asleep. Or, you might never get up.
Many thanks Pelican - I have decided to join the charcoal club - I'm not sure about the turf though! Also many thanks for your advice mike_W I will have a look at monoxide alarms - I really don't want to wake up dead!
You won't regret it! You are buying a quality heater which is efficient/trouble free as long as u install and maintain it properly.
It you have any problems on installation - please feel free to contact me. My 30 year old boat's hull and deck is fibreglass, inside is hard and plywood and a vinyl head lining -I never suffer from condensation - unlike other boats heated by other means such as gas/hot air. When cutting the chimney lenght it is important to allow a few mm more of free play for expansion purposes. We did not allow for this in our calculations when installing and the heater started to move on its mountings! The instructions that come with the stove are quite clear and it is important to stick to them, particularly as regards starting up the heater.
As Mike mentioned good ventilation is important - the doors in my companionway are louvered and on the fore hatch there is a large ventilator -so there is a small draft. My boat is on a swinging moorings so am always head to wind.
This weekend I came on board on Saturday morning and left Sunday night around 5pm. On arrival on board the outside temperature was minus 5 (I live in Geneva, Switzerland) - below decks temperatue was +2 - after 45 minutes of having lite the stove, inside was 15C and 20 minutes later it was reading 22 degrees Celsius. This temperature was maintained until Sunday evening give or take a few degrees and during this period I consumed 12 kgs of compressed charcoal -emptyed the ash tray once and gave the chimney a poke once or twice - for you can get a build up of a mixture of soot and nicotine which can become very hard over time and needs a bit mounted on a powerful drill to remove it for good drawing of the fire from time to time. I also have a sharpened alu tube for scratching out the chimney.