How to Start a Diesel Heater

Dickinson Heaters have a bad reputation for being hard to light. If you read their instructions, you will also find them hard to light. If you don't follow their instructions, you will find them very easy to light and operate!

The instructions from Dickinson run along these lines:

Turn on the fuel metering valve
Flow 2 tablespoons of fuel into the burning chamber
Turn off the fuel metering valve
Twist a piece of paper like a wick and place it in the puddle of fuel
Light the paper
Once the oil has lighted, close the door
Set the fan to medium speed
Slow the fan down to low speed
Watch the flames rise above the burner ring
Watch the flames begin to fall below the burner ring
Turn the fuel metering valve on again
Set the metering valve to 2.5 and turn off the fan
Wait 20 min to begin adjusting the fuel metering valve

The other option is to not follow their instructions:

Turn on the fuel valve (set it to 1)
Wait a minute while fuel flows into the burner pot
Light the fuel with a BBQ lighter
Close the door and enjoy the heat


I never mess with the fan and the ash in the bottom of the burner from previous burning will act as the wick for the diesel. It's even simpler when you incorporate a fuel shut off valve. When we leave the boat for a long period of time, we shut the heat off by closing the valve. This way the perfect burning setting on the fuel metering valve is untouched.

When we come home, we simply open the valve under the unit and let the fuel start flowing back into the heater. Once the fuel begins to burn in the chamber, it will resume it's perfect burning level in a few minutes.

We find that the heater can warm the freezing boat to a wonderful 76F in about 10 minutes!