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Author Topic: Heat options  (Read 4154 times)
trucktramp
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« on: December 18, 2010, 07:16:09 AM »

Since it is a balmy 18 degrees here, I'm debating about what type of heat system to put in the bus.  I have access to an old rv type propane fired forced air furnace.  The price is right and it worked the last time it was used  but it is nearly 40 years old.  I am already going to use gas for stove and the genny so it will be available.  I will have to run the ducting and all but at this stage that won't be a big issue (I hope). 

My other thought is a Webasto type diesel fired set up.  I know that it can do most all of my heating needs (water, heat, engine pre-heat) but they are somewhat costly and can be troublesome.  I see these on auction sites at reasonable prices so this seems a likely prospect too.  Besides the cost of the unit where are the "hidden costs"?

Insulation, from what I can tell is not much more than what came from the factory so that is pretty minimal.  Sorry about being so long winded here, just wanted to include what I thought was pertinent.

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Dennis Watson
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2010, 07:30:25 AM »

heating systems are like the ice cream deal pick the flavor,propane heat is going to be the less expensive to use I have had both a diesel fired unit and propane with diesel going to 4 bucks a gal a diesel fired system will use 5 to 6 gals a day it is well documented on the Aqua Hot site fwiw where I live propane cost 2.18 a gal.
You with propane aboard I would use propane JMW 


good luck
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2010, 09:54:44 AM »

A propane furnace is likely to be the most trouble free, and catalytic propane heaters make a good backup.  Just note that you are talking about using a 40 year old furnace.  How many other options can claim that longevity? 
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2010, 10:43:10 AM »

You have to consider how much of the time you will need heat.  If you have already invested in a nice generator, it might be cheaper to use electric heat if you won't use heat much.

With propane you have to factor in the cost of the tank and the space requirements for the tank.  A frame mount tank can cost $300 and up.  30# or 40# cylinders will work too, but then folks complain about running out of propane.  Clifford has a pretty cheap price for propane.  I pay $3.51 a gallon here in Minnesota for filling cylinders and motorhome tanks.  I checked prices nationally and $2.75 seems to be about average today.  I know Clifford really likes propane boilers, but I have never even found a price for one.

I started with the idea of propane heat, but I decided I didn't have the interior space the furnace and ducts nor the space below for the propane tank.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2010, 11:28:23 AM »

Brian, propane has a large markup in some area fwiw my dealer pays 1.33 per gal for his propane told me that it just went up .02 cents a gal he was crying about that and the guy is charging me .85 cents a gal to pump it lol  


good luck
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 02:08:07 PM by luvrbus » Logged

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fe2_o3
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« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2010, 12:54:23 PM »

   We use propane. It's cheaper than diesel and the tank is already there for the stove, fridge, hot water, and genny. The furnaces are from parted out trailers from the 70s and 80s and were $25 to $35 each. We keep a spare in working order and check them out every year or so for safety. We have had no issues other than adjustments and an eye brow during the learning curve. 
   We also have 2 propane cats, 2 portable electrics, a roof AC/heat pump and roof AC/heat strip. The cats are for cold weather travel. The furnaces are for camping unless we have access to electricity...Cable
   
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Sofar Sogood
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2010, 01:31:44 PM »

I use propane and electric if I am in a campground.  If money was no object and I was starting from scratch I'd use a diesel fired hot water system.  But money is an object, and the propane furnace was free...   

Brian

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Sean
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2010, 02:14:17 PM »

With all due respect to my good friends Clifford and Cable, who have now both said that propane is cheaper than diesel, I have to say "that depends."

Clifford, certainly, is getting an excellent price on LP.  Our experience nationwide, however, is that LP is usually more expensive per gallon than disel.  For example, I literally just filled my LP bottles last week in Lakeland, FL and paid over $16 for just four gallons, for a price well north of $4 per gallon.  In contrast, I paid $3.21 per gallon for diesel, and that was with road tax; off-road diesel would have been a good $0.50 less than that.

For the record, LP contains about 90,000 BTU per gallon, whereas diesel contains 130,000 BTU per gallon.  So LP is only "cheaper than diesel" when the price of a gallon of LP is less than 69% the price of a gallon of diesel.

If you live in a fixed location and have a good source for inexpensive LP, then LP might be cheaper to operate than diesel, but for those of us who have to get our fuel on the road, diesel is generally cheaper.  It has other advantages, too, such as not having to carry a whole separate fuel system -- diesel heaters can be run from the main tank if you are not concerned about the road tax, and you can get the federal road tax back every year anyway.  Diesel is also a safer fuel to carry and won't force you to take alternate routes when LP restrictions are in place.

If you already have a large LP tank aboard, for instance to run a fridge, genny, or other appliance, it becomes a matter of personal preference and local availability/price of fuels.  Pretty much every type of heater is made for both fuels; there are LP hydronic boilers just as there are diesel ones, and there are forced-air diesel furnaces just as there are LP ones.  Direct radiant heat is provided by catalytic heaters for LP, and stove-type units, such as the Dickinson, for diesel.

FWIW.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2010, 02:28:51 PM »

Some folks might find this previous thread on this topic informative:

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=11280

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2010, 02:48:55 PM »

One of the most Arbitrary topics and is to each own bus nut's useage requirements. Have used most at one time or another. The mini-split is my new adventure.With the advances in refrigerant efficiency in the heat pump application you can heat down to close to 0 F with them it use to be around 30 F. Was impressed with a fellow bus nuts application that made the decision for me. heat and air in one quiet unit at one cost.  So my choice and right or wrong. Will let you know in a few years. Very impressed with other members results.   We all do it our own way in the end.   Good luck   Use what you are comfortable with!  Bob
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2010, 03:17:10 PM »

I've watched retail propane prices over the last few as oil has become more and more expensive.  Propane prices tend to follow oil prices on a macro level.  They don't seem to fluctuate as much as gas and diesel prices.

I just checked the web and Clifford is correct on the wholesale price of propane being $1.33 a gallon on average.  Retail propane average price is $2.63, but that is probably a bulk price average.  Propane retailers make nearly twice as much per gallon on propane as fuel oil suppliers make.  The gross margin is nearly 100% if I calculated right!
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2010, 06:05:19 PM »

We have 3 catalytic heaters and 3 electric heaters. We use the electric when it's available, and the cats when it's not. If it gets really cold (and it has  Cheesy) we run them all at the same time. It's all good and I like chocolate ice cream, Will
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JimG
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« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2010, 06:08:05 PM »

The big consideration here should first be safety. A 40 year old furnace could have rust issues. Check it out first to be sure it is safe so it doesn't send you to meet your maker prematurely. Jim G.
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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2010, 12:50:29 PM »

  No one mentioned furnace efficiency. Some thoughts to ponder:

  Propane has about 90-95,000 BTU per gallon. Gasoline has about 125 BTU per gallon. Diesel/fuel oil has about 140-145,000 BTU per gallon.

  Roughly speaking, a 98% efficient Propane furnace will just barely beat an old 60% efficient fuel oil furnace, provided the cost per gallon of fuel is equal. That does not factor in electrical loads to operate them, or the efficiency of how that power is supplied. If diesel/fuel oil is cheaper per gallon, the fuel oil furnace wins easily. If the fuel oil furnace has any higher efficiency, the cost of fuel oil/diesel, can be higher and STILL beat a 98% propane furnace.

  A Diesel Generator is far more efficient than any other Generator, in terms of quantity of fuel burned per KWH's generated.

  Moving a large volume of fluid slowly, is more efficient that moving a small amount of fluid rapidly. Whether that fluid is water or air makes no difference. Small air ducts and high speed fans are far less efficient (and noisy) than large low speed fans.

  A gravity heat system that requires no fans or pumps, or low powered fans or pumps, are the most efficient in terms of power consumption, as well as the quietest.

  A fuel oil fired boiler/water heater may be far more efficient than any other fueled water heater, discounting electrical loads.

  Baseboard hot water heat, would be the quietest, and least electricaly power demanding. 

  Hot water heat would allow engine heat to be utilised more efficiently when the engine is running, as well as easily heating the engine from cold before startup by reversing flow.

  A hot water heating system would also allow for easy utilization of hot water solar collectors.

  Busses already have hot water heat, a big diesel/fuel oil tank, and a lot of roof area. Think about it. You need hot water anyway, why not use the hot water heater for heat? You can even put a heating element in the gas water heater so your not burning fuel when plugged in.

 
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2010, 01:01:32 PM »

There....Has that cleared things up for you?...Cable
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Sofar Sogood
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