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Author Topic: heat source for boondocking?  (Read 5782 times)
white-eagle
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« on: November 06, 2011, 07:47:14 PM »

we've always used a buddy heater when boondocking. We only have 4 toe-kicks for heat, and another in the bay. Our bus A/C and heat panel went out, so now we have no heat going down the road. the panel is a membrane that someone said if they can find a rebuilt, it's $1000. Allows setting the temp so the heat or A/C kicks in. We already had planned on using roof A/C if needed, so it's just the heater i need to fix.
the heat exchanger in the back bay still works, as does the big fans, so i could just put a temp sensor or manual switch in. however, that only takes care of going down the road. For boondocking, those big fans may suck a lot of juice? Even if i put a wabasto type heater in to warm up the water.

so i'm thinking if i just take the big fans and heat exchanger out, put in and use small heat exchangers and fans in the living space and bay, i'll have more back bay space for the pro-heat/wabasto and storage.

i think i know how to heat when the bus is parked with good electric or running down the road. My concern is when i only have 20 amp service or just the genset.

suggestions? what did you do? thanks for any comments or questions.
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Tom
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 08:02:23 PM »

I have an Iota power supply that runs all the DC in the bus.  When we cant plug in I fire up the genset and plug into it, then run the Webasto, circ. pumps and fans off the power supply.
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white-eagle
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« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2011, 08:06:52 PM »

if i have to run the genset to run the wabasto, then there's no need for a wabasto becuase i can just use the electric toe kicks to heat the bus.  the genset will power all 5 with no problem.  it's just noisy.
i was hoping i wouldn't have to run the gennie.  i've got 6 golf cart batteries on the 2000 watt inverter.
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Tom
1991 Eagle 15 and proud of it.
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Fran was called to a higher duty 12/16/13. I lost my life navigator.
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« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2011, 08:09:05 PM »

  I haven't done anything yet, just thinking a lot.

  I don't know what you have when you say rear heat exchanger and fans, are you referring to the original OTR heat? Mine has all its original heat and air. No cab air, but the original cab heat is up there and functions. And I'm keeping all of it.

  Yes, the main ventilation fan is much larger than we need. They needed high air flow to force air through the inner side walls to blow air on the side glass. With all that ductwork out, the fan in mine blows like a whirlwind, it moves a lot of air. My thinking is to replace the ventilation fan with a 1/2 HP 120 volt motor and probably different blower wheels. Im thinking to redo the side ductwork that ran along the floor in wood, and have registers where it seems appropriate.

  I haven't worked out park heat yet, but im thinking of using an electric/gas water heater. Using an inverter and battery bank will null starting surge watts.
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Bill 340
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« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2011, 08:29:38 PM »

Propane  Tom Propane.................. works for us,
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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2011, 09:31:26 PM »

Although it is possible to use an all electric coach for boondocking, it is a good deal more difficult.  Propane furnaces are relatively maintenance free but do produce some noise-- not near as much as a rooftop AC though.  Olympic catalytic heaters are also an option if used carefully.  I suppose that you could even use one of those on a temporary basis by connecting it to a portable tank with the right hose and regulator.  I would prefer that the tank be outside or in a bay though.
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prevosman
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 02:11:38 AM »

The means by which coaches can be heated is usually a combination of sources so the varied uses of the coach can be enjoyed.

A Webasto if used can heat the engine as well as HW and the various heat exchangers located through the coach. It uses diesel so the fuel supply is available. It works when driving, because all the heat exchangers will work, just the burner won't fire once the coolant exceeds about 160 degrees. The downside is the fans for the heat exchangers and the system circulating pump have quite a current draw so for boondocking you need a lot of battery power or a good genset to keep them charged.

Electric toes space heaters are great for taking away the morning chill, and providing some level of heating, but it takes four or five if the coach is going to be kept warm when the temps get into the teens or 20's. They are not useful for when driving down the road, and are only used when you have a good genset or are using someone else's shore power.

Similarly heat pumps such as some Cruise Airs, or roof units will do the job of heating, but only down to about the mid thirties, and then only if the coach has a good genset or shore power.

Propane furnaces are probably the best choice for boondocking, but the coach needs to have propane. They draw the least power and with several located throughout the coach they tend to do a good job. The downside is you need propane, and that they will not heat an engine block for cold winter starts. Like Webasto they can be ducted to heat the water bay.

Most store bought conversions have multiple heat sources because nobody knows how an owner will use the coach so it is not uncommon to see a coach with a Webasto or Aquahot and toe space heaters and heat pumps. That provides the best flexibility.
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Jon Wehrenberg
Knoxville TN
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 04:34:03 AM »

Tom,

Propane is the best bang for the buck while boon docking, if you leave out the more exotic choices such as wood stoves & white gasoline burners. I have a 40,000 btu propane furnace in the MCI & a smaller battery bank than yours. I can run off the batteries 2 days before I have to fire the genny for a charge. If I have a 15 amp electrical connection, I can stay as long as I have propane. I know some folks don't like propane on a bus but it's still the best option IMHO.

TOM
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 06:29:03 AM »

We just spent  a week or so at Choo Choo Garage, followed by two weeks in St. Louis in chilly (not cold) weather.  As we ripped out our propane furnace, and are planning to eventually put in a hydronics system as our main heat - we've been using an electric space heater to take the chill off.  Our goal is to be a propane-free boondocking thrivable coach.

Problem is, both places only had a 15 amp circuit for us to plug into. And at Choo Choo, we needed to share that with Sean's coach - Odyssey. 

Our new 500 aH lithium ion battery bank and Victron 3000w inverter worked wonderfully, as planned, in these situations!   

The inverter & batteries were able to boost the shore power we were getting to run the heater, and then when we weren't running it - the inverter resumed topping off the batteries to get them ready again.  We stayed way ahead this way, kept warm and managed to not trip any breakers. 

So.. that's how we're doing it, for now.   

 - Cherie
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bevans6
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2011, 07:10:28 AM »

I confess I don't really understand the aversion to propane, but I guess my very sporadic use makes it the easy choice and I can't justify some more evolved solution.  I figure it's basically an RV, use the old reliable, cheap as chips, available anywhere RV solutions.  For heat, I have a Suburban propane furnace, augmented with space heaters if I'm plugged in.

Brian
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technomadia
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2011, 07:28:35 AM »

Brian -

For us it's a few factors:

1) (and most influential) The previous owner did the propane install in an unsafe way, and it would be a considerable amount of effort to make it safe & efficient anyway.  We're at bobglines place right now, ripping out the 48G propane tank (which was installed in the electrical panel bay with no ventilation...  *scary*) and putting in a little one in a safer bay for now.

2) We prefer a single fuel source

3) We're ramping up to be self sufficient via electricity, and a huge solar install is an upcoming project.   As well as expanding the LiFePO4 battery bank, and will be making everything efficient for running off of that.

As full timers with a lot of electrons anyway, it's just simply the choice we're making for ourselves to standardize on as few energy sources as possible.  It's not necessarily an aversion to propane in general, but rather making a different choice than making our current system safe.

For a lot of folks, propane is the right choice for them.

 - Cherie
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bevans6
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2011, 07:49:52 AM »

As you say, it's different solutions to different problems.  I wouldn't touch a major solar project with a 10 foot pole, and I don't have plans for full-timing so the return on investment stretches into decades (centuries?).  And I am all over having a safe install...

Brian
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« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2011, 10:29:24 AM »

We have 4 x 12 volt radiators with fans on our hydronic system - 2 in the main living area, 1 in the head and 1 in the bedroom.  The system has relatively low 12 volt draw while running, certainly less than a comparable capacity forced air system.  It also has very simple to implement zone capabilities. We can keep the bedroom cold overnight and warm it up in the morning, shut off the living area but keep the head and bedroom warm, or whatever configuration we happen to want.  The bedroom thermostat is right over my head so all I have to do is get one arm out from under the covers to turn up the heat in the morning.  Combine that flexibility with the ability to heat the engine and the ability to use waste engine heat while going down the road and I don't understand why anyone would do it any differently.  I have no aversion to propane - we used it for cooking and I'd like to have a three way water heater plumbed into the hydronic system so I could use propane as backup heat but there's a lot of things I'd like to have.

There's some problems with the way our hydronic is plumbed, the biggest of which is that we don't have a hot water reservoir.  Our burner runs more often and for shorter periods than I'd like it to but so far it hasn't bugged me enough to make me change it.  The other problem with our system is that the various loops are plumbed in parallel which wouldn't be a problem if we had excess circulatory pump capacity.  We don't have any more than adequate circulating capacity so sometimes the extreme front radiator gets starved particularly when we're depending on engine heat.  I've put a booster in that circuit and that helps but its a bandaid rather than a solution.
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2011, 11:23:53 AM »

Tom,me I would get the schematics of a model 05 Eagle and by pass all the electronic bs on the model 15 it couldn't be that hard to do.

The boondockers around here now are using a Fafco hot water solar panel like the one used on pools tied into the Aqua Hot,Pro heat and other systems

 I was told they are not that expensive less than 300 bucks for 4ftx20ft panel,I would not waste my time with trying to make electricity from solar the costs far out way the results IMO

good luck
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« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2011, 08:37:39 PM »

I have a Dickinson diesel heater, 2 espars and a hydronic heater running through the genset and 2 exchangers in the cabin. I also have AC heat pumps that do not work quite as well as the temperature hits minus 30 c. Everything purchased for less than 3k over several years of shopping. The reasons I like the setup is I do not want any holes in the side of the bus for suburban heaters or Hotwater systems etc.

Now to highjack the thread just a wee bit. Technomedia tell  me more about these batteries of yours. Did you do 500amp hr at 24volts? where did you get them? happy? and to tie this into the current thread, how long can you run an electric heating system on those batteries?



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Ok, it's time to go on another road trip.
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