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Using furnace while driving


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#1 daywalker & crafty lady

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 06:34 PM

On an another forum this was a hot topic. The manufactures adivce is to not use while driving, however no real explianation is given . What are your thoughts
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#2 AFChap

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 07:03 PM

What mfger? ...the furnace, or an RV builder?

We have used the furnaces (we have 2) while driving in very cold weather, but most of our drivig is in temps in mid-40s or above and we use the generator and heat pump. We also use the refrigerator on LP sometimes while driving. My only concern is to turn off such appliances when in fuel stops.
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#3 richfaa

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 08:24 PM

We have never needed to use the furnace while in route but it would use up the battery quickly would it not. I would otherwise see no reason not to use it.Many leave the fridge on propane with no issue and we have unintentionally left the hot water tank on propane without issue....
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#4 AFChap

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 08:39 PM

it would use up the battery quickly would it not.

We have boondocked all night using both our furnaces w/o depleting the batteries. In our case where the house batteries are charged from the engine alternator while driving, running the furnace definately would not cause a battery issue. This is one case where the difference between a MH and a towable could be significant.
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#5 RayIN

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 10:32 PM

Operating the LP furnace while driving is just as safe as operating the water heater on LP while driving, or the refrigerator. These gas units are designed for use in windy weather/driving. My Norcold owners manual does not say not to use it while driving, nor does the furnace manual. I may have missed that warning while reading theonline RV furnaces owners/installation manuals though, please read them and correct me if I'm wrong again.

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#6 Kirk

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 01:40 PM

I'm not sure where you read not to use it, neither our furnace manuals nor our motorhome owner's manual say not to do that. Our morohome is 36' long and has heated plumbing bays and if one travels with it in very cold weather, there is no way that the engine heater will keep it all comfortable and the plumbing bays would have not heat at all without the furnace in operation. We have done that many times back when we lived where they had serious winters (Wyoming) and a few times since then when caught by cold weather.

What kind of problems do they warn of?

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#7 richfaa

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 02:27 PM

Just wondered about the furnace running down the batteries while enroute. We do not boon dock so have no idea how long our batteries would last and we have never had the need to run the furnace while enroute.
Helen and I are long timers ..08 F-350 Ford,LB,CC,6.4L,4X4, Dually,4:10 diff dragging around a 2013 Montana 3402 Big Sky
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#8 RayIN

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 07:21 PM

Just wondered about the furnace running down the batteries while enroute. We do not boon dock so have no idea how long our batteries would last and we have never had the need to run the furnace while enroute.


If your engine charging system is also wired to charge the house batteries, you should never have that problem; well, unless you turned the switch off purposely.

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#9 Kirk

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 07:36 PM

I agree with Ray, unless you happen to have too small an alternator Most motorhomes have an upgraded one with ample output. .

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#10 Dutch_12078

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:12 PM

With the largest Hydroflame 8500 series, a commonly used RV furnace model, only drawing a bit over 8 amps when running, I'd think even the smallest OEM engine alternators would have little trouble keeping up.

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#11 Randy retired

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 10:38 PM

I have driven with the furnace running at a low setting to keep things from freezing in cold weather. My alternator is not small but the wire running to the trailer is only 10 gauge. The solar (400 watts) may have helped but the batteries in the trailer have always been fully charged when we arrived. It has worked well for us.
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#12 Billieg

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 10:59 AM

On an another forum this was a hot topic. The manufactures adivce is to not use while driving, however no real explianation is given . What are your thoughts


Yep, the one with the Corporate Mods..... No reason not to use what was installed to use... Stay warm!
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#13 bryanl

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 11:42 AM

re: "Just wondered about the furnace running down the batteries while enroute. We do not boon dock so have no idea how long our batteries would last"

A typical RV furnace runs at about 100 watts electricity (plus about 8kw propane). That should be easily handled by the engine alternator through the RV house battery charging system

A 2 battery RV house bank at about 120 pounds has about 1500 watt hours of usable energy. 1500 watt hours / 100 watts suggests 15 hours of run time for the furnace on battery alone. (that's typical TT battery bank, many moho's double that or more but also have 2 furnaces).
---
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#14 DonF

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 11:47 AM

The fundamental point of not using propane devices while driving down the road is FIRE SAFETY -- you will hear this at any seminar by Mac the Fire Guy -- the most serious issue being in a collision, a gas pipe rupture would not shut off propane flow; thus, free flowing propane would only need an ignition source to quickly create disastrous results.

ALL that being said, we've used our LP generator to jump-start cooling down the rig, once we arrive at our destination in 100º heat -- and, certainly understand the desire to heat a poorly insulated motor home when traveling on extremely cold days... it's not a big issue for our 5'er, which heats up quickly with combination propane furnace, a portable, ceramic (electric) heater (plus, a built-in electric fire place/1500w heater).

We shut off our LP while traveling, just for the safety factor.

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#15 Barbaraok

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 03:14 PM

Guess we must be different, never, ever felt we didn't get enough heat from the dash heaters - - in fact we constantly dial it down. Using the dash fans moves the air towards the back of the coach, and we really don't worry about it staying warm what with that engine underneath warming the basement areas. Even in 15° weather, we've never been cold in the coach. Of course we try to make sure we aren't anywhere that that occurs.Posted Image

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#16 Kirk

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 04:20 PM

-- the most serious issue being in a collision, a gas pipe rupture would not shut off propane flow; thus, free flowing propane would only need an ignition source to quickly create disastrous results.


This simply is not true. The propane tanks in motorized vehicles have been required to have a "stop flow" device in them since the early 1960's and portable bottles have been required to have them since April of 2002. There is some degree of risk in using propane while driving but far more dangerous is the use of gasoline as it is more combustible and while propane is heavier than air and sinks to the ground, gasoline fumes have a natural tendency to mix with air and to be very highly flammable.

The device is a flow limiter and it does not totally stop the propane but it limits it to a very small supply. Many an RVer who has allowed all propane to bleed from the lines in the RV by months passing with the propane turned off has experienced this effect by opening the supply valve too rapidly. When that happens the flow is so small that it will take hours to build to a point where it can be used. In such case, the owner simply closes the supply valve for 5 minutes or so, then opens it once more as slowly as possible to the very least amount that it can be, pause a few seconds then do this again until the valve is 1/4 open, then open fully. You can also see if your RV has this valve by turning off the supply at the tank with the stove top burning. Allow this to burn out and leave the valve open for a few minutes to vent out all remaining gas. Then close the stove valve and very rapidly open the supply as though a line were to burst. If you do this, then check the stove and it still will not light because the safety valve has closed!

The law requires that tanks have these valves. In addition, there are safety valves in the bottles used in trailers as well. The following quote comes from"Propane Safety and Use."

Since April 2002 all cylinders have been required to have an overfill prevention device (OPD). When this safety device is operating properly it is impossible to overfill the cylinder. It is possible to install an OPD in an older cylinder. However the bottle must be recertified. All propane cylinders must be recertified by law after 12 years and each 5 years thereafter. It is illegal to fill a cylinder that does not have current certification and an OPD fill valve. A horizontal cylinder is not required to have an OPD valve. Record your required recertification date and have it recertified as required by law. This can also be a safety issue. The date of certification will be stamped on the collar of the cylinder when it is made and when it is recertified. The empty cylinder weight (Tare Weight) and water capacity in pounds is also stamped (WC) on the collar. The old left-handed, wrench type, connections have been replaced with a very user friendly, hand tightened, right-handed, big green plastic nut that threads right on to the end of the new valves. The big green nut is on the end of a flexible hose called a “pigtail.” The pigtail connects to the RV’s propane regulator.

Let’s talk about a couple of safety features on these new pigtails. Both features are parts of the big green nut.

The first is a black thermal-sensitive bushing found just behind the green nut. If this bushing is ever in a fire with temperatures between 240°F and 300°F, it melts and allows the brass nipple inside the nut to move back about ¼ inch, which closes a small piston inside the cylinder valve totally shutting off the flow of propane. This innovative feature will help prevent fires or explosions.

The second new safety feature is called a “flow-limiting-device.” Its purpose is to restrict the flow of escaping gas if there is an excessive leak in the RV propane system. This second “flow-limiting-device” feature and how it works forms the core of the secret! Almost every time the cylinder valve is opened, a small ball in the center of the brass nipple (inside the green nut) is pushed forward into a brass seat. This seat doesn’t totally shut off the gas. By design, it allows a small amount of gas (by-pass flow) to go into the RV propane system. If everything in the propane system is closed and in the off position and there are no leaks, the by-pass flow builds up a back pressure. This equalizes the pressure in the ball back of the seat and allows unrestricted flow through the system. All this happens in about five seconds and the user doesn’t know it’s happening, appliances light, furnaces and water heaters run as normal.


It would be foolish to ignore that there is some risk, but there is much greater risk in many other things that most of us do on a daily basis.



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#17 SuperHauler2000

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:29 PM

Go on You Tube and see RV fires and imagine the wind turbulence disrupting the air and gas mixture as you drive, and the same goes for the refrigerator and the water heater on gas as you drive.
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#18 RV

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 07:46 PM

Wow, if it isn't posted for awhile the made up stuff comes back. First off regardless of who say otherwise, the Propane appliances are designed to be used while on the road. This comes up all the time and back in the early part of 2002 I started a research project to discover the facts. I went to Marshall Gas controls who make most of our RV propane system hardware, as a leader in that field and Mr. Ed Lee Senior helped me by teaching me all about the systems and the safety devices in the valves and the low flow devices, as well as the fire devices that melt in a fire so the valve cannot open unless it cooks for a good while. He checked all my articles on this and proofed them for accuracy several times. You can read all of them here: http://home.earthlin...ylike/id42.html
The one about running your propane on the road was the first of the articles, and some of the4 links may be bad as the articles are ten years old. Fortunately none of the laws of physics have been changed since! :lol: :lol:

You can turn the valve off and then get struck right in the propane tank in an accident just as easily as anywhere else and rupture the tanks. The only real danger in running a good well maintained RV and propane system on the road is when refueling. Then it is best to turn them off so they won't spark to light when gasoline vapors may be swirling on a breeze, as they are heavier than air, but not by much. Gasoline fumes swirl with any breeze however light. Propane on the other hand is much heavier than air and settles back down faster.

There have been many spectacular RV fires, and when the fire investigators get done it has rarely if ever to my knowledge been the propane system at fault while on the road. The overwhelming majority of RV fires are caused by the electrical systems, and those mostly in Motorhomes. While parked is another story, and not what we are discussing here.

Would anybody that disagrees please post links to the actual source of your information as I did in the articles and in this post? "They" and "someone," and a "friend of a friend" and anecdotal misinformation helps no one, least of all the poster who gets embarrassed with the real facts. Of course they are not my responsibility. I am responsible only for the facts I post. I can't edit the posts of another. B) ;)

Edited by RV, 09 March 2012 - 09:17 AM.

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#19 Kirk

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:38 AM

Would anybody that disagrees please post links to the actual source of your information as I did in the articles and in this post? They and someone, and a friend of a friend and anecdotal misinformation helps no one, and least of all the poster who gets embarrassed with the real facts.


See there RV, there are times that we do agree! My research shows the very same thing that Derek's does. The fact is that "Mac the Fire Guy" sells fire equipment to RV folks so................................ To minimize the fire risk would not be good for his business. In all of my years of RV travels, I have seen a number of burned out RVs, but I have only known two RV owners who experienced fires and only one of those lost the RV.

It is true that an RV fire can be ugly and is usually a very fast moving fire and you should get out. It is also very true that a refrigerator fire is usually a disaster, but the cause is not related to propane in any way, but to the refrigerant used and the process that makes it work. In the event of an RV fire one should just get out, but propane has nothing to do with that. Gasoline is far more dangerous than propane in your vehicles.

Fire is dangerous and only a fool fails to realize that, but it is not nearly as great a risk as is driving down our highways. :)

Edited by Kirk, 09 March 2012 - 08:47 AM.

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#20 Jack Mayer

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:30 AM

Not sure what the relevence of Mac the Fire Guy is to this. He provides education on the topic of fire. Very valuable education. (OK, I get it now...and I disagree with Mac's advice that the refrigerator or other propane appliances should not be run. There is simply no evidence to support this.)

What Kirk and Derek said is accurate as far as I can determine. Years ago when Derek posted his original propane articles I cross checked the facts and they were accurate. There simply is no PROPANE danger from running (lets say) a refrigerator while in motion. And try as I might, I can find not a SINGLE reported incidence of the RV refrigerator being on propane during motion that caused a fire. Not a single one. Now, RV refrigerators do fail and cause fires. But it is not because they are on while in motion. It is other causes. I researched this (again) very carefully before I did the Fire presentation at last years HDT Rally, and I can find nothing that discredits what Derek has reported. I do like having an automatic extinguisher in my RV refrigerator compartment. There ARE a number of RV refrigerator fires....quite a few, actually, but no one knows how many.

Edited by Jack Mayer, 09 March 2012 - 09:35 AM.

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