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Author Topic: Webasto air-top, propane furnaces, vent-free heaters... What to do!?  (Read 3743 times)
daveola
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« on: December 14, 2009, 05:03:42 PM »


So I need to get in heat in my bus, and I need to be able to handle colder climates.

I don't really have many thousands of dollars to spend on a new Aqua-hot or the like.

I talked to someone about the Webasto Air-Top heaters, and was told that they dry out the air too much.  But reading this board tells me that the vent-free heaters may cause too much condensation.  Since condensation is a problem on buses, wouldn't something that dries out the air be a good thing?

I'm starting to think that I should get a propane furnace for this winter and worry about plumbing a diesel solution in the future (my walls will still be accessible because of my open layout).

And as far as the vent-free heaters - people talk about them being dangerous, but has anyone here used one in their bus?  It'd be super cheap and easy to install (Harbor Freight has high BTU units for a couple hundred bucks) and might be a great quasi-temporary solution.
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luvrbus
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2009, 05:16:50 PM »

I would go with RV furnace they are about bullet proof and will keep you warm.
It would take 2 or 3 of the air top Webasto's to do the same job plus the RV type furnace can be bought at surplus or salvage for 200 bucks



good luck
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robertglines1
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2009, 05:20:40 PM »

I hate to be the first on to step out.Yes I used a ventless while I was building my bus one winter.produced moisture on windows when I went from 20 outside to 7o inside cracked the small window next to the drivers seat and this helped..need oxygen for heater to run and you not to pass out.Once coach was done it is total electric....Have 2 ventless fireplaces in house and they are great used for 12 years now..I do have carbonmonixide(spl?)alarm with memory.I check regularly and no problem..If your in rv parks mostly use their electricity and you won't have to buy propane. others will chime in listen and learn..good luck
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2009, 05:21:37 PM »

I think alot has to do with where you plan to use your bus.

I happen to have all of the above mentioned heaters.  The famous blue wall of death, The webasto 2010 as well as the airtop.  ( the Air top is not hooked up yet)  This does not include the on the road heat. The above is just used when parked.

I have used the catalytic propane heater extensively while working on the inside lots of heat and considerable moisture but easy manageable with a open vent. I'm hoping as you mentioned the airtop and the propane wall with work great together.

But last weekend we had temperatures of -46   Edmonton had -59 so at least you can pick one. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2009, 05:35:58 PM »

Because everyones needs, likes, and dislikes are different. I can only give you our preferences.
    We use 2 propane furnaces. One in the sleeping area. One in the living area. Both from parted out RV's on Craigs list. I'm cheap/thrifty.
    We also have 2 unvented cat htrs.  One in the drivers area, and one in the hallway near the bath. Both for heat on the road with windows cracked.
    Our electric heat is from two AC units with heat strips and 2 portable electric heaters.
    All this is so we can heat the different zones as needed with out having to heat unoccupied areas when not needed.
    The reason for Propane heat is price and travel distance. Propane is cheaper than diesel, and we want to put all our diesel into traveling.
     There will be disagreements, but like I said, this is our preference....Cable  
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2009, 08:17:59 PM »

First off, I'd try to get a handle on how cold a temperature you need to endure. Heating a bus when it is 35 degrees (F) is a whole lot easier than when it is 5.  It will make a difference in the equipment needed.  I think the largest Airtop model puts out about 7K BTUs, so you would need several of them to equal a large propane furnace. 

The blowers on furnaces do chew through some electrical power, so if boondocking is in your plans, you need to assure ample battery support.

Without knowing all your plans, your comment about picking up a propane furnace for this winter and laying out a diesel fired solution in the future, sounds pretty solid to me.
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cody
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2009, 08:29:57 PM »

I'm using a ventless heater, and it is doing the job for me so far but I'm not living in my bus at the moment only working in it but I'm told it's not doing the job or won't do the job, it's hard for me to tell cause I'm comfortable with it, I would think the first question you need to figure out is how well insulated your bus is, mine is very well insulated and I've got thermopane windows, the better job you do with the insulation the easier it will be to heat and we are in a somewhat cooler area, the south shore of lake superior is known for extremes, we've had below 0F temps several times already this winter. The coldest I can remember in the last few years is -54F so we can reach the cooler temps now and then.
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cody
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2009, 08:41:26 PM »

Just as a thought, the ventless heater we are using is rated for 300 sq ft, pretty much what the bus is, the type we have is the one with the pads not the 'blue flame' model.
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2009, 08:49:58 PM »

I don't know many who would be worried about drying out the coach in cold weather. The water often is running down the windows from breathing, showering, boiling the kettle, showering, melting snow tracked in...

Anything that draws in combustion air and has an exhaust to the outside may dry the air via the air exchange, not by way of its operation, if you know what I mean. An outside air source for combustion and exhaust, and the humidity level inside is not a function of the furnace.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2009, 11:30:27 PM »

I have a 40ft x 102 wide transit with single pane large windows, but with 2.25" of sprayed in insulation.  I also couldn't afford the AquaHot system and used the Atwood 35,000btu/hr propane (20 gal tank, and my stove is the only other propane operated appliance) forced air furnace with four outlets.  I installed it in 1995 and have had zero problems with it, except to just clean it once a year.  I don't think anyone with a AquaHot could say that. 
For hot water I use two 10gal electric heaters straight from Home Depot-one feeding into the next with the final water heater powered through the inverter for hot water going down the road.  For engine heat I have a 1500 watt block heater.  So for the $600.00 furnace, two $250.00 water heaters, and a $75.00 block heater for a total of $1,175.00, I have the same coverage of heating capability as the $7,000.00 AquaHot.  I like the system so much, I'm using the same equipment-sans the furnace-in my truck conversion.  I am switching to the Suburban since it only requires a small dual vent on the outside as compared to the big access door on the outside for the Atwood.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2009, 05:46:42 AM »

Cody hit it on the head.  Insulation!  I have what I call a minimal spray foam insulation job, about 2 inches thick only from the bottom of the window edge, over the roof and down.  I also have single pane windows.  I put in 2 suburban 19.5Kbtu furnaces and they work great down to around freezing.  I have not used the bus below that temp.  I paid about 200 for one on the e place and the other came from a travel trailer I gutted for parts.  I also recycled much of the LP system from that trailer and my first bus keeping my costs really low.  I also use the LP for my hot water heater,  and stove and fridge when needed.  I also have an electric hot water heater with a heat exchanger tied to my engine.  I wanted to be able to dry camp, so that's why I went with the redundancy and multiple methods of heating water.  I also have the heat strips in my roof airs, and once when I ran out of LP, they came in handy!

Glenn
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2009, 07:18:26 AM »

Oh, and by the way...

You may have noted the record low temp in Edmonton, Alberta a few days ago?

Propane won't be working properly as you drop through -30, and at -44, won't work at all.

Darn physics at it again!

Unless you have a way to get the tank warm, and keep it warm, the propane won't boil to give you the vapour you need.

So, if a trip to the real north in winter is in your dreams, you need to have a way to keep your propane system working, or have an alternative for those purposes.

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2009, 09:26:04 AM »

I've used non-vented catalytic heaters and they put out too much water for my taste.  I have a vented catalytic heater on order, that vents the combustion byproducts outside.  I think that will be my stage two heater, or stage one if no electric is available.  Stage one is normally a couple of little electric heaters, I can be quite comfortable down to just below freezing with those, with a caveat.  Stage three is a 30,000 BTU propane RV furnace, with  vent runs to several outlets up and down the bus.

Issues?  The electric cube heaters can maintain a temp not bad, but if it's cold out they struggle to raise the temp.  The vented catalytic heater is about as powerful as the two cube heaters, but is in one room only, so the bed room, in my case, would not get heat.  The only heater that heats the whole bus is the propane furnace, which can heat up the bus pretty quickly, is nice and quiet (it's installed in a bay) and uses both propane and DC like a drunken sailor...too much too fast for long term use.

So I think a combination of these lower end price point solutions is the key.  I also think that I won't be using them below say 20 degrees Fahrenheit, below that you need to do some pretty serious engineering for insulation, water systems and ventilation.  Yeah, in-floor heating with a nuclear reactor powered (or diesel powered, more realistically) water heated system would be better, but that won't fit in my bus or my budget!

Brian

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cody
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« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2009, 10:10:05 AM »

When I started my bus and it was only a tunnel, lol, it didn't even have a floor, you could look down and see the ground, no floor, not even bay floors lol, it was easy to tell if a tire looked low, you looked at it, as a matter of fact one of my bragging points is a rock chip on the windshield, above the steering wheel,,,,,,,,,, on the inside lol.  I drove it home around 300 miles or so and I remember that particular rock whistling past my ear lol.  I got a lot of static from friends about how i fitted the insulation, about all the templates I made and trimmed and then cut and pushed the insulation into place, I started with inch and a half blue foam board, I used the cans of expanding foam to fill any small gaps that were left, that was all after sanding and priming and then rustproofing the tubing that were to be inside the walls after drilling and foam filling them. Many of my friends said I was the clear picture of anal.  I followed up with felt weatherstripping on all the metal to separate it from the 3/4 inch plywood I used as the interior walls, the floors were 3/4 inch plywod with a sheet of MLV on it, then foil faced foam board between furring strips with another layer of plywood as the subfloor.  Each item was intended to work to the max in it's own way but the overall result was to create a warm bus in the winter and a cool bus in the summer, the thermopane tinted windows finished it off, I'm proud of the job I did on it and feel the comfort level is better than it would have been if i hadn't spent the extra time and effort.
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Bestekustoms
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« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2009, 03:38:40 PM »

Heating The Bus Has Always Been An Issue. ( Below Freezing). When I Was A Young Man In My Early 20s And I Lived In A Converted School Bus. Being Warm Wasnt A Big Deal Really? Hell..... Just Close The Bar Every Night And Sleep With The Dog. And If I Was Lucking 2 Dogs.(One Real Dog & One Drunk Girl).LOL Cheesy  "NO Heater Needed". On Those Lonley Dry Spells Theres Was The 3 Burner Stove. But That Only Heats From The Flame UP. Below That Is Freezing.

Now That Im Much Older ..... Its..Shade In The Summer And Heat In The Winter For Me......  Isnt That What They Say.??

Now Im In Big Trouble  !!!!!!!

Its All Codys Fault Honey.

JOHN
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