Aftermarket Roundup

Published in the January 2011 Issue January 2011 Ask The Expert


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.


Flagship Marine Air Co.

Phone: 772-283-1609

Fax: 772-283-4611

Geothermal Design Associates, Inc.

Phone: 800-466-8131

Fax: 260-484-5133


Market 1 Marine Distributing

Phone: 614-889-6962

Fax: 614-889-2757


Marine Air Systems

Phone: 954-973-2477

Fax: 954-979-4414


Marysville Marine South

Phone: 615-672-1142

Fax: 615-672-8084



Mermaid Marine Air

Phone: 800-330-3553

Fax: 941-418-0538




Phone: 888-826-7266

Fax: 888-826-7266



Thom Chase Marine Air

Phone: 423-344-9456

Fax: 804-746-7428


Trane Co.

Phone: 502-491-5599

Fax: 502-491-5655




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)

Phone: 229-228-7653

Fax: 229-228-1270



Coleman Powermate Inc.

Phone: 402-758-9444

Fax: 402-758-9498



Fischer Panda Generators

Phone: 954-462-2800

Fax: 954-462-2801


Kohler Generator Marine

Phone: 920-457-4441

Fax: 920-459-1646



Nixon Power Services

Phone: 615-244-0650

Fax: 615-244-0689



Onan Generators

Phone: 612-574-5000

Fax: 612-574-8289




Phone: 508-823-7677

Fax: 508-884-9688



Marysville Marine South

Phone: 615-672-1142

Fax: 615-672-8084



Onboard Electric

Phone: 800-621-4992, ext. 1

Fax: 970-884-0762



Statpower Technologies

Phone: 800-670-0707

Fax: 604-420-1591



Trace Engineering

Phone: 360-435-8826

Fax: 360-435-2229




Phone: 253-872-7225

Fax: 253-872-3412



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 (, Odorlos (, BacTank T3 ( or Healthy Boaters (

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

Fax: 337-261-2647



BacTank T3

Phone: 877-BIO-BUGS

Fax: 770-469-8678



Environmental Marine, Inc.

Phone: 866-237-5428

Fax: 606-561-6270



General Ecology

Phone: 800-441-8166

Fax: 610-363-0412



Headhunter Inc.

Phone: 800-662-8557

Fax: 954-587-0403



Hydro Agri North America

Phone: 800-869-8764

Fax: 813-875-5735



Inca Gold Products

Phone: 310-808-9359



Keco Inc.
Phone: 619-298-3800

Fax: 619-298-3300



Life Industries

Phone: 843-566-1225


NASSEF Engineering

Phone: 850-484-2700

Fax: 850-484-0706


Nature's Head

Phone: 251-295-3043

Fax: 419-299-3032



Owens Mfg. & Specialty Co. Inc.

Phone: 800-639-2744

Fax: 337-856-6332



Peal Products

Phone: 770-551-0911

Fax: 770-392-9592


Quantum Pure Aire Corporation

Phone: 800-290-9577, ext. 223

Fax: 401-732-6772



Raritan Engineering Co.

Phone: 856-825-4900

Fax: 856-825-4409



Research Products

Phone: 800-527-5551

Fax: 214-350-7919



SeaLand Technology

Phone: 800-321-9886

Fax: 330-496-3128



Survivor Associates/Continental Technologies

Phone: 888-922-1231

Fax: 515-285-9805



Thetford Corp.

Phone: 734-769-9747

Fax: 734-769-2023



Vetus-Den Ouden Inc.

Phone: 800-GO-VETUS

Fax: 410-712-0985



Walex Products Co.

Phone: 800-338-3155

Fax: 910-371-2094



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.

Phone: 800-500-2381

Fax: 843-399-5005



Twin Disc

Phone: 414-638-4000



ZF Mathers, LLC

Phone 800-546-5455 

Fax: 360-757-2500



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. 


Datron/Transco Inc.

Phone: 877-4-DATRON

Fax: 805-522-2968



DBS Systems Inc.

Phone: 800-831-9818


Follow Me Co.

Phone: 877-365-5696

Fax: 410-745-3884



King Controls

Phone: 952-922-6889

Fax: 952-922-8424


KVH Industries

Phone: 401-847-3327

Fax: 401-849-0045


Sea Sharp Products

Phone: 800-213-2211

Fax: 760-804-3820




Phone: 925-798-7979

Fax: 925-798-7986



TracStar Systems

Phone: 407-849-0050

Fax: 407-246-0024 


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

Phone: 800-535-5377

Fax: 707-586-3159



Phone: 859-885-5545

Fax: 859-885-3448



Phone: 508-995-7000

Fax: 508-998-5359




Marinetech Systems Corp., 

Navigator Division

Phone: 800-447-3161

Fax: 952-933-2722



Vetus-Den Ouden Inc.

Phone: 800-GO-VETUS

Fax: 410-712-0985




Phone: 425-481-2296

Fax: 425-486-0909




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

(Somerset, Ky.)

Phone: 606-382-9130

Fax: 864-752-1338



Henderson Boat Hauling

(Nancy, Ky.)

Phone: 606-636-6849


Lake Cumberland Boat Movers

(Lake Cumberland, Ky.)

Phone: 606-682-1223



Marine Contractors

(Maryville, Tenn.)

Phone: 423-984-1530

Fax: 423-983-8599


PT Marine Inc.

(Burnside, Ky.)

Phone: 877-MUV-BOAT

Fax: 606-561-9162


River Creek Transport

(Harrods Creek, Ky.)

Phone: 502-228-4763

Fax: 502-228-1004



Sharpe Transport

(Somerset, Ky.)

Phone: 606-676-0610

Fax: 606-676-0615



California Houseboat Services

(Burnside, Ky.)

Phone: 606-561-6657


Walker Marine

(Cincinnati, Ohio)

Phone: 513-321-6600


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