What is the Right Boat Heating System for You?

There are many types of marine heaters. Some are designed to heat a boat’s cabin, keeping occupants comfortable during operation, while others are used to avoid winterizing a boat’s engine, providing necessary warmth during cold weather so that freezing temperatures don’t crack or otherwise damage the boat’s mechanics and hull. In this blog, we will discuss choosing the best boat heating system to protect your boat’s engine. Here’s what you need to consider to pick the best boat heating system for your own unique situation:

The Boat Heating System’s Purpose

As mentioned, boat heaters can be used to heat people or mechanical parts. They don’t do both. A cabin heater won’t necessarily protect a boat’s engine should the water around it freeze, and a bilge heater is not designed to keep people warm; a bilge heater’s primary purpose is to prevent freezing in the engine compartment and, thus, typically shuts off well before a comfortable interior temperature would be reached. Turning off at lower temperatures makes them more efficient for their intended purpose of preventing freeze damage rather than providing comfort.  Determine why you need or want a boat heater before you start contemplating anything else.

The Location of Your Boat 

A bilge heater is the right boat heating system for you if your boat is kept in an area known to experience freezing temperatures throughout any portion of the year. And that’s nearly everyone! Unless perhaps you live in a tropical locale (and, even then, nothing is guaranteed), there is a chance that your boat will experience freezing temperatures. Exposure to temperatures lower than 32°F increase the risk that your engine will become damaged in some way, since water trapped in the boat’s engine will freeze, expand and often crack its various parts, leaving the boat unusable. You can always winterize your boat, but that can be inconvenient, taking as long as a full day to appropriately safeguard your boat’s engine from the elements, while also leaving it inoperable until you reverse the process. A boat heating system allows you to remain on the water (or in storage) without having to worry about the security of your boat’s engine. 

The Season(s) and Duration of Your Voyages

Likewise, a bilge heater is recommended for boats traveling in cold weather and/or for long periods of time. Weather conditions are often volatile, and if there is any chance that your boat could be caught in the water during an exceptionally cold spell or that it will be traveling across the water for an extended amount of time, a bilge heater ensures that your vessel’s engine remains fully operational at all times. This is especially important for working vessels, rescue and tow boats, harbor patrols, etc. that have to be ready to go at any time.


Of course, cost is always a consideration. Boat heaters can range from a few hundred dollars for portable units to thousands of dollars for some types of integrated boat heating systems. The right boat heating system will be the one that matches your needs with the money you have on hand. 

The Xtreme Heaters Advantage

We here at Xtreme Heaters believe the right boat heating system is the one that is versatile, affordable and efficient. In other words, we believe the best boat heating system is ours! Our bilge heaters are safe and reliable, self-regulating with an automatic thermostat and true forced air circulation so that temperatures are kept constant and there is no danger of overheating. In addition, they can be permanently installed or mounted with a quick release bracket that makes removal swift and easy. And because they are small and flexible, our heaters can be combined in various configurations to create a boat heating system that protects any size engine compartment. To learn more about Xtreme Heaters and the advantages our products offer, please contact us today.

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