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Heating question--what would you do?

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Heating--what would you do?

I have begun living full time in my new (to me) Canyon Star 3856 Ford V10 gas. I work in the Tetons from late Apr to late Oct so the nights can get down in the low 30's during Apr and Oct. I am a little concerned about preventing my water pipes from freezing. I have 2 ac/HP and 2 propane furnaces. I am not sure if I can get propane delivered to my coach in the park.

I have been looking into several things and was hoping to hear from some people with more experience than me (I have none).

I was thinking of getting (2) of those little 200 watt heaters to put int he basement compartments near the tanks? These would be run off the site electric (something I am provided with for my employment). What do you think of this idea?

Since the HP is not very good below 40 degrees, I was thinking of using space heaters in the coach and heating electrically. My options here that I am considering are:
1) Using the Dyson oblong/circle fan/heater--it is on sale at COSTCO, is very quiet, and I think if placed at the front of the coach by the driver area facing rear ward, it would heat the entire coach. On cold nights I could open the water cabinets to aid getting heat in there.
2) Using those oil filled old fashioned radiators to provide the heat. They are also quiet, cheaper than the Dyson (even if I buy two) but they would take up a bit more room.

I was also looking at the Cheap Heat system I saw on one of the RV emails I get daily but I think I would have to install (by a professional) 2 of these since I have 2 furnaces. This would eliminate having to use propane, however, as good as this system sounds it may be way more than I can afford to spend between the cost of the parts and the extra labor charges for an RV professional to install. Anyone have this and what do you think?

So, what would you do? Long post--I am sorry, but need your expert advice...or just your honest opinion.bow.gif Thank you.

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If the temp only drops to the low 30s you wont have a problem using electric heaters. I use an electric heater in my water bay but only if it goes down below freezing. As far as the propane issue you might want to get an extended stay device that allows you to run the coach off of a portable propane bottle. That gives you more options.

Edited by Jimalberta

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In our propane pipe , just after the on board tank , I installed a T and appropriate fittings/connectors to be able to use an external propane tank . That makes refills much easier .

We use electric heater/s during the day , but unplug them at bedtime and set the furnace at about 58° . The furnace never runs during the day .

Too many bad stories of electric heaters starting fires to leave them running while we're asleep .

 

I use a heat tape with a built in auto control . It turns on and off at 37° . I wrap the feed spigot and incoming hose with the heat tape and cover both with preformed foam pipe insulation . The 30 foot heat tape is more than long enough , so I route what tape not used outside inside the water bay . We've never had a frozen issue since .

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You don't need to take the risk of using electric heaters regardless of how cold it gets. A simple mechanic's trouble light or spot light with a standard incandescent bulb will keep a compartment quite warm in very cold temps. Just make sure the bulb is not in contact with anything flammable like wood/cloth/plastic etc. If you put a spotlight bulb in the fixture it will get downright hot in a small compartmnpent. In addition to the 60w bulbs, I use a wireless thermometer with multiple remote sensors to monitor those compartments.

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If you use a light you really want a remote thermometer with an alarm. I still remember the winter we spent a bundle on a new pump when the lightbulb in the wellhouse burned out. Two smaller bulbs reduce the odds of having no heat for a minor cost increase.

 

One thing to look at is where your water lines run, some rigs are designed so that getting heat to all the plumbing without a fan to circulate the warm air can be difficult.

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Back in the day I used regular lights as well as (occasionally) heat lamps pointed directly at a device (usually the engine on fishing boats and sailboats) and that was ok mostly because I was on the boat every day to check on things.

 

Lately I've been using the 200-watt heaters connected to a plug-adapter that won't connect power until the temperature goes below 32F. That seems to work pretty well. No freeze-ups anywhere over the past 3 winters with temps down into the lower teens. This lets us go cross-country skiing on weekends without having to completely redo the winterizing process every time.

 

Inside the coach I have an oil-filled radiator type electric heater set on 1500 watts and set the propane furnace to 50F (as low as the thermostat goes) as a backup. I have had the furnace come on now and then but not often.

 

I check the rig often.

 

WDR

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First, no need to apologize as help is the purpose of these forums. Without questions this would be a pretty dead place!

 

While not in Wyoming, we spent a great deal of time in our similar gas coach in weather as cold and colder that what you are at all likely to experience. We did use two small electric heaters to supply nearly all of our heating needs in most places that we spent time and experienced temperatures down into the low 20's at times. To keep the two wet bays warm we had two of the small personal heaters that are sold by Amazon which are only 200 watts each.

41uxgzb8xEL._AA160_.jpg

I also kept a remote reading thermometer in our RV with a four sensor capability and one sensor outside, with one in each of the two wet bays to monitor them. One of our two wet bays also housed the back of the water heater on one side and the 120V-ac/12V-dc converter in the other. I eventually stopped using the heater in the back by which had those heat sources because it was not needed. Even when temperatures outside went to near 20 degrees that bay didn't bet below about 50 degrees.

 

As I look at the typical temperature patterns for that area, I expect that by late October I would expect that you will see at least some low temperatures into the low 20's. We stayed at an Idaho location just 30 miles from West Yellowstone through October 15 one year and we saw snow twice and our lowest temperature was very near 20°. But we still had no problems with frozen plumbing at all and we did use nearly all electric heat. What we did have a problem with was an invasion of mice when it got cold... :P

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I had the Cheap Heat system added to our coach and it is basically a strip heat system that ties in to your regular ductwork at your furnace. I will say this, I will NEVER have another coach without it. I have been in temps in the low teens and still stayed a nice comfy 70 degrees when hooked to park power. If you are on a per diem basis with power paid for, this is the only way to go. You have a switch added to your control panel with a gas/electric option. Just turn off your furnace, select the source you want to run and turn it on again.

 

Most heating systems that I know of (even dual furnaces) use common ductwork so you might be able to get by adding cheap heat to one furnace to keep the belly warm and add additional heat with space heaters but I would think that one unit would work OK if your coach is a 4 season camper unless you are in some VERY cold areas.

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To keep the two wet bays warm we had two of the small personal heaters that are sold by Amazon which are only 200 watts each.

41uxgzb8xEL._AA160_.jpg

I also kept a remote reading thermometer in our RV

 

As I look at the typical temperature patterns for that area, I expect that by late October I would expect that you will see at least some low temperatures into the low 20's. We stayed at an Idaho location just 30 miles from West Yellowstone through October 15 one year and we saw snow twice and our lowest temperature was very near 20°. But we still had no problems with frozen plumbing at all and we did use nearly all electric heat. What we did have a problem with was an invasion of mice when it got cold... :P

Thanks Kirk, those are the heaters I was thinking of getting, and yes I will get remote thermometers as well. Did you plug the heater's into a cord independent of the coach (to another supply outlet)? Yes I have seen a few days where is dipped into the 20's in late Apri/May as well as late Oct. Yes mice is are a big problem in the Teton's--one of the guys I work with made bucket traps--bucket with water and a roller with peanut butter on it. Mouse jumps on roller to get the peanut butter rolls into bucket of water and drowns. How dead mouse n woods for scavengers. (No poison allowed in GTNP).

Did you use a heated water supply hose too?

When you say you had 2 water bays--did you mean the bay on the opposite side of the water bay where the H2O goes in and the tank dump valves are? My wet bay connect to the other side and it appears the fresh water tank is on the opposite side of the wet bay. That is why I was going to use 2 heaters (with one of those thermostatically controlled plugs) one on each end of that connected compartment.

I think I will get the kit that allows me to hook up an external LP tank if the company in the Jackson area won't service me (they already service the resort I work at but don't know if they'll do small jobs--I know they sell/refill portable tanks at Colter bay but I don't want to have to close up the coach just to go get some LP but I may only have to do it once or twice in the Spring and fall depending on how much the furnace would burn through.

I am going to call Newmar to see how much the furnaces actually heat my basement being a gas MH it may not be as effecient as a DP.

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I had the Cheap Heat system added to our coach and it is basically a strip heat system that ties in to your regular ductwork at your furnace. I will say this, I will NEVER have another coach without it. I have been in temps in the low teens and still stayed a nice comfy 70 degrees when hooked to park power. If you are on a per diem basis with power paid for, this is the only way to go. You have a switch added to your control panel with a gas/electric option. Just turn off your furnace, select the source you want to run and turn it on again.

 

Most heating systems that I know of (even dual furnaces) use common ductwork so you might be able to get by adding cheap heat to one furnace to keep the belly warm and add additional heat with space heaters but I would think that one unit would work OK if your coach is a 4 season camper unless you are in some VERY cold areas.

This sounds like the hot ticket but I don't know if I can afford it and the installation after just buying the coach and getting set up to tow the Scion. While I have 2 furnaces I am not sure if the are inter-connected. They are on opposite sides of the coach--one in the drivers side slide under the TV/dining room table, and the other on the opposite side of the coach under the washer/dryer (not in the slide out). I watched the video's on the Cheap Heat and it looks fantastic--lucky you.

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. Did you plug the heater's into a cord independent of the coach (to another supply outlet)?

When I first used them that is exactly what I did, but since our coach was a 50A unit I later installed a separate 120V circuit with an outlet in each wet bay for those heaters, although as I mentioned, we never used the one in the rear bay after the first couple of years because it was not needed.

 

Did you use a heated water supply hose too?

In all of our winters on the road, I never needed to do that. I did get some of that foam pipe insulation from Lowe's and applied that to our fresh water hose and I modified a foam ice-chest to put our water filter assembly & pressure regulator into to prevent freezing. When it went below about 20° I would also leave one faucet drip just a very little amount, making sure that the gray tank was empty before evening.

 

When you say you had 2 water bays--did you mean the bay on the opposite side of the water bay where the H2O goes in and the tank dump valves are? My wet bay connect to the other side and it appears the fresh water tank is on the opposite side of the wet bay.

We had two bays with water lines in them, each of which had an outlet from the nearest furnace to keep them warm, if using the propane heat. About midway back on our coach was the bay which had both the fresh water and the sewer connections, with doors out the bottom for those lines. That bay had only one bay door on the driver's side and both waste tanks were located above the frame rails, centered in the RV. The heat duct emptied from the front furnace into the area between the two tanks. There were also water lines that passed between the two tanks for both hot and cold water to cross from the shut-off valves and low point drain valves to the sinks, toilet, and shower.

 

The second wet bay was just behind the rear wheels. It had the water heater located on the passenger side, while the electrical distribution for both 120V-ac and 12V-dc as well as the shore power cord were all on the driver's side of that pass through bay. The water lines there ran to and from the water heater, entering the bay through the floor where the bathroom was located on the driver's side.This bay had a heat duct from the rear furnace. The front wet bay didn't have access from the passenger side because it was filled by the waste tanks and the lower portion was occupied by the propane tank which was below the bay floor. The rear wet bay was a pass through with doors on both sides. But with the opening as large as it was there was ample room for heat to spread through the bay. I always placed the heater on the driver's side and the temperature monitor to the passenger side to read the coolest point.

 

I am going to call Newmar to see how much the furnaces actually heat my basement being a gas MH it may not be as effecient as a DP.

I am not quite sure what you mean? The furnaces in a gas coach are exactly the same as are found in most diesels, except for those which have the hydronic heat and that is an entirely different set up. I have no doubt that your furnaces are very similar to what we had as I have seen several Newmar products that used pretty much the same design as ours was. They run a duct from each furnace into the nearest wet bay that is about 1/2 the diameter of the ducts used to supply the coach interior. Since the outlet is usually pretty close to the location of the furnace, it supplies ample amounts of heat since you only need to keep the temperature above freezing. I don't remember ever seeing our wet bays go below about 45°.

 

While I have 2 furnaces I am not sure if the are inter-connected.

I too looked into the "Cheap Heat" devices and you would need one for each furnace. There is no connection between the two and each one operates independently of the other. As volunteers we had our electricity supplied and so used it almost exclusively for heat and so the payback from getting even one of the cheap heat devices was just not cost effective, even though they do work very well. I have seen them in operation and they do work as promised. In the two places we were that got coldest, the volunteers were supplied with propane.

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This sounds like the hot ticket but I don't know if I can afford it and the installation after just buying the coach and getting set up to tow the Scion. While I have 2 furnaces I am not sure if the are inter-connected. They are on opposite sides of the coach--one in the drivers side slide under the TV/dining room table, and the other on the opposite side of the coach under the washer/dryer (not in the slide out). I watched the video's on the Cheap Heat and it looks fantastic--lucky you.

 

Including the unit, and all wiring harnesses, breaker boxes and labor, you should be in for somewhere between $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the dealer markup and labor rate. You can only have one system per coach as they do take a bunch of juice to run and I don't think a 50 amp service can handle two units and still run everything else you will have on. It took our dealer about 6 hours to do everything and I couldn't believe how quiet and efficient it is. If you can swing the cash, it is a great addition. So far in 3 weeks of temps running from 14 degrees to 45 degrees, we haven't really used any propane other than the grill and the gas fire pit....

 

We will be in the low single digits later this week and will probably fire up the propane furnace for a few minutes if it does start to get cold but then go right back to electric mode.

Edited by GeorgiaHybrid

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I might have to check out the cheap heat system - what does the cost run on that and how challenging a DIY is it?

 

My current solution is a 135W heat mat that I goes on the floor of the camper.

 

Depending on what you need, a coupe hundred to about 400 each but they only sell to authorized RV ac/heat technicians to insure proper installation. So add to that the dealer markup and then the labor costs.

Edited by Scion Gypsy

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Happy to be of help! Most of what we know has been taught to us by others who went before us so just pass it on to the next group who follow you! I am sure that if you look around for opportunities to meet the other RV folk around you, it won't take long to find others who have experience that they are happy to share. It is a rather common trait among RV folks.

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Thanks for this thread. I just bought the 200W heater. Had been using a 750, but reduced risk by moving down to the 200 in my fifth wheel basement. I screwed the pooch this winter by runnig my electic heat inside the living area thinking I'd save LP, only to find out my black/grey and compartments were heated by the LP furnace; who'd ah thunk it? What a genious? Froze some stuff; $750 later, I'm good again. Been in 0 to 25 degrees F this winter; first time in an RV: been interesting. Thanks to this forum, got it figure out I hope.

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Thanks Kirk--wish you were my neighbor. I'm a real greenhorn.

Be careful what you wish for, a little Kirk can go a long way. :D

 

Outwestbound, where were you when you had the freeze up?

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Be careful what you wish for, a little Kirk can go a long way. :D

 

Outwestbound, where were you when you had the freeze up?

 

Asheville NC; got some crazy cold weather for this area.

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The weather here near Memphis has been pretty cold and flaky. I have what would be called a less than 4 season trailer but so far have been able to avoid a freeze up so I must be doing something right. Several others here have not been so fortunate including my next door trailer. I probably should have filled fresh tank and disconnected hose but I haven't.. I use heat tape on the hose covered with the foam. My big worry is a power outage that lasts very long. I think we hit 7 degrees last night and it has been near that several times recently.

 

BTW I don't have heated or enclosed tanks. I had one dump valve freeze "lightly" and had to wait for late evening that day before was able to pull it. It was the grey tank and I should not have had it closed. I don't totally winterize but I do put a couple of cupfulls of RV antifreeze in the black tank after closing the valve from dumping.

Edited by bigjim

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I did the same heat tape wrap around my water line coming in; that's fine. Out of ignorance, I ran my electric heat thinking I'd save LP, which meant the furnace wasn't heating my tanks. My sewer hose froze solid - a poopsicle. Evidently, the hose didn't have adequate positive flow, which I've corrected by getting the tray style holder. So I go down and get two more heat wire things like on the water line, then wrap those around the entire sewer line, including the PVS 4" coming out of the trailer. My black tank was 100% full. The heat tape destroyed the sewer hose and the PVC trailer outflow, but it did thaw and the black tank emptied at some point. The PVC melted so as to restrict flow about 30% at the elbow, so it still works, marginally. My valves are electric and the black one burned up struggling with the ice. It's stuck open. My outside shower also had to be replaced because it froze.

 

Expensive teaching moments for sure, but I'll live.

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In freezing weather I try not to let the black tank get more than about 3/4 full if that. It gives some leaway on when to dump and I guess there is less likelyhood to split if frozen solid from expansion. I had a close call on the grey because of a sag in the dump hose that had an ice build up. That's one reason I don't usually let a faucet "drip". A good straight slope well supported and not too quick a drop but not too little either is pretty important. At some point you do your best and have high hopes. I had a tank split last year due to a road alitgator but was able to get it repaired by a trained plastic tank welder for $80. in place on the RV (Whew!)

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We (unfortunately) are in the Texas Panhandle due to family problems. The first night we were here it was 12 degrees. We filled our water tank, disconnected and drained our hose and sewer to keep them from freezing, we put one small electric heater in our water compartment running on medium, another 200 watt on our HW tank to keep the lines from freezing, then we had two 1500 watt heaters in our 38' rig to stay warm. We also put 2" painters tape around the seam of our slide-out since the wind was blowing strongly against our slide-out. We also turned our furnace on 65 just in case it got too cold in our rig, but it was unnecessary. We made it fine. A couple of years ago we made it down to 5 degrees and I thought the wind was going to blow us over!

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My rule-of-thumb for cool weather is; if daytime highs reach the 50' and nighttime lows stay above 27, the RV water lines are safe from freezing. Daytime residual heat in the RV will keep anything not exposed to the outside from freezing overnight.

That is for an unheated RV, when you are heating the interior, that improves the situation.

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