A/C AND HEAT
Unlike other onboard systems, air conditioning and heat units get a bad rap simply for what they are-defenses against the elements that have conspired to spoil your time on the water. Granted, there is one thing that no amount of engineering can control: Mother Nature. Luckily, that only applies to the outside world. From the sweltering afternoons of late July to the recesses of early January you can control your indoor climate. All it takes is the right system matched to the needs of your boat.
Many modern air conditioning units designed for houseboats also double as heating units for another $200 or $300. Some are even portable, similar to a suitcase where it can moved and removed easily. The most common styles of AC and heat units are the classic rooftop setups used on RVs and smaller houseboats and the installed, central-air units common on custom and top-of-the-line houseboats.
The AC and heating industry has improved dramatically in recent years. Not only are these units more affordable, portable and compact, they are also more efficient. Years ago it would take up to 1,700 amps of power to operate a unit, but today that same unit uses only 4.4 amps of power.
Finally, before you buy, be sure to learn what the right size of unit is for your houseboat to provide the best possible coverage. When in doubt, ask a lot of questions.
A/C AND HEAT CONTACTS
Flagship Marine Air Co.
Geothermal Design Associates, Inc.
Market 1 Marine Distributing
Marine Air Systems
Marysville Marine South
Mermaid Marine Air
Thom Chase Marine Air
GENERATORS AND INVERTERS
In any industry, there are always certain segments that seem to outpace the others. One could argue that nautical navigation equipment has enjoyed that distinguished perch for the past decade or so, but in the realm of houseboats, the leader of the innovative pack is the venerable generator. It is the quintessential houseboating product-a symbol of self reliance and, more recently, of safety.
Westerbeke and Kohler have both made huge strides in low carbon dioxide-emitting technologies, and without breaking the bank. The latest generator models have also made gains in pure efficiency, packing more punch in smaller sizes.
Steadily increasing power demands have become the norm in this industry as a natural consequence of houseboats adding more size and luxury.
Companies have answered the call with houseboat-specific gensets pushing from 3.5 to 100 kW into a floating palace's electrical comforts. The average houseboat owner definitely doesn't need 100 kW coursing throughout the boat, instead going with 10 to 15 kW power plants. When it comes to sound, gensets as a whole have become quieter, but it is also wise for owners to purchase a sound shield with the unit or construct a suitable enclosure. That way, boaters can lessen the noise but also readily service the unit.
Inverters, as you may be aware, do not provide power. They convert your battery system's DC power to AC, making it possible to run AC appliances without the generator or shore power. Specifically, an inverter takes the direct current and divides it up into pulses while stepping up the voltage. The result is 12 volts of DC power transformed into 120 volts AC power.
Such a unit is a great item to have either as an inverter or as a charger to the battery-just as long as sizing and capacity requirements are met for both the appliances and the batteries. These handy items are becoming highly complicated because custom houseboats are stacked with tricky appliances that demand more sophisticated inverters.
One of the biggest problems with inverters isn't the unit itself. Rather, it is unrealistic expectations on the part of the consumer. As a buyer, you need to understand that for the high loads you're likely to encounter on a houseboat, you need an awfully large bank of energy. The word of wisdom here is that before selecting the inverter for your power system, take a moment to figure just how much power your vessel will require.
Centek Industries (Emissions Control)
Coleman Powermate Inc.
Fischer Panda Generators
Kohler Generator Marine
Nixon Power Services
Marysville Marine South
Phone: 800-621-4992, ext. 1
One topic where we at Houseboat have dedicated substantial energy and effort in educating our readers is the need for a proper sanitation system. Known as marine sanitation devices (MSDs), these under-hull systems are more than a wise investment, considering the tremendous risk involved in dumping untreated sewage overboard.
As a result of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (better known as the Clean Water Act), all states are required to enforce laws to prevent the dumping of raw sewage into United States waterways. This was particularly noteworthy just a few years back when Kentucky cracked down on violators of the federal regulation.
While it won't be discussed here, be sure to learn what type of MSD your vessel needs (Type I, II or III), as well as the latest products designed to alleviate the odors and hassles of your boat's sanitation system such as Kronen (www.kronen1.com), Odorlos (www.odorlos.com), BacTank T3 (www.bactankt3.com) or Healthy Boaters (www.myhealthyboater.com).
There are plenty of contacts to help you-anyone on the list of contacts included here will be happy to further educate you in making your houseboat experience a legal and sanitary one.
Ahead Sanitation System
Toll Free: 888-803-5428
Environmental Marine, Inc.
Hydro Agri North America
Inca Gold Products
Owens Mfg. & Specialty Co. Inc.
Quantum Pure Aire Corporation
Phone: 800-290-9577, ext. 223
Raritan Engineering Co.
Survivor Associates/Continental Technologies
Vetus-Den Ouden Inc.
Walex Products Co.
For all their high-scale luxury, large, lake-style houseboats offer plenty of exploratory opportunities-as long as you're willing to take them. It only makes sense that you have the right equipment to help run your ship with precision. That level of performance is easily possible thanks to command control manufacturers like Mathers Controls, Glendinning Marine Products and Twin Disc. These control systems companies have made hydraulic and air-assisted units obsolete when it comes to houseboats, forcing the market to be electronically operated. Here are some pitches from three top players in this market:
ZF Marine Electronics, formerly Mathers Controls, pioneered the development of single-lever marine controls and introduced the industry's first multi-station electronic control system. The product line, supported by a worldwide sales and service network, includes the 9000 Series and CruiseCommand Systems, MasterCommand, pneumatic systems and shaft brakes.
No matter what type of propulsion system your boat is equipped with-whether electronic or mechanical-Glendinning's Complete Controls System takes the guesswork out of deciding which control system is right for you, with integrated components that together provide the ultimate in propulsion control.
Twin Disc Power Commander Electronic Controls give you total propulsion control with electronic precision and literally fingertip ease. With only one lever required per engine, you can control your boat's speed and direction with one hand. You get responsive control over the entire speed range. And Twin Disc electronic controls are as reliable as they are predictable. Weatherproof housing is available for the most rigorous conditions.
Glendinning Marine Products Inc.
ZF Mathers, LLC
There was a time when in-motion satellite systems were more likely associated with the latest James Bond movie, not the houseboat in the slip next door.
These days, even the smallest houseboat marina (and the tiniest houseboats!) are often decked out with in-motion devices designed to track the television signal as your houseboat roams around the lakes and waterways. And for good reason: these ingenious devices bring TV to your boat regardless of where you are because they utilize powerful signal dishes.
If you desire television on the water, there is no better route than an in-motion system. The costs range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, so choose wisely.
DBS Systems Inc.
Follow Me Co.
Sea Sharp Products
There is a distinctive sound when a boat slams into a dock, a slip or another boat at a crowded marina. We all know that sound. We all reel from it. This horrifying auditory experience brings out every single person on the entire dock. Want to avoid this type of embarrassing calamity? We thought so.
A large houseboat needs thrusters. It's just about that simple. It's no secret that many of these gargantuan vessels just can't park like a runabout. Indeed, houseboats need a little extra help around the dock-perhaps more than any other craft.
Bow and stern thrusters can make the difference. Depending on where the hydraulically or electronically-controlled thrusters are installed, the units move the boat laterally or sideways with the bow thrusters moving houseboats much like the front-wheel steering on an automobile.
What thruster is right for you? Make your decision on which type of power source would be more suitable: electric or hydraulic. Consider the limitations of your boat's power supply. If you have a medium-sized houseboat with a proportionately small generator, electric may be the way to go, and for considerably less cost. Otherwise, the lack of available power may not allow the demands of a hydraulic system. Another consideration is whether you already have a hydraulic system onboard to run other equipment like PWC lifts and windlasses. In this case, hydraulic may be the way to go.
American Bow Thruster
Marinetech Systems Corp.,
Vetus-Den Ouden Inc.
There are just a few things houseboat owners should be concerned about when moving their prized palaces from the factory to the water or from one body of water to another. For some new houseboat owners, transportation is not a problem because the manufacturer will move the boat themselves.
Others, however, are not so lucky and much like finding the proper insurance company, finding the best way to get your new home to where you want it takes time. It also takes a good chunk of money, usually anywhere from $2,000 to even $20,000 and sometimes beyond, depending on how far you travel, how large your houseboat is, how much needs to be disassembled and reassembled, how many permits are required and how many people must assist on the trip. The best advice is to shop around, being sure to communicate any special circumstances that would affect the transporters' procedures or, more importantly, their rates.
Dreams In Motion
Henderson Boat Hauling
Lake Cumberland Boat Movers
(Lake Cumberland, Ky.)
PT Marine Inc.
River Creek Transport
(Harrods Creek, Ky.)
California Houseboat Services