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Old 11-01-2009, 04:43 PM   #15
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Thanks again to all who have posted with suggestions. I said I had taken the coach from the original tech, but in fact I will be picking it up Monday and bringing it home. (A Saturday fishing trip got in the way). I plan to go through the manuals which I have downloaded from AH and try and run through the system myself. We had a Hydro Hot in our previous Beaver coach so I am pretty familiar with the system as far as using it. The differences seem to be in the thermostat control on the wall with zones etc. On the Beaver system we had switches to turn it on in either electric or diesel mode with seperate fan switches for high and low fan speeds in each location and then used the wall thermostats to set the temprature. On the Alpine I am setting the diesel switch in the front drivers overhead and the burner comes on and runs. The low voltage reset is not tripped and the various lights come on showing the pumps are running. I have set the temps to 90 degrees for both zones in the furnace mode. I have also tried setting the fan speeds to auto, low and high with no results. Basically the burner and pumps seem to be running, but you can feel almost nothing at the registers around the coach and there are no fans running. I have let it run for about an hour to see if time would help as our Beaver unit normally took a few minutes to start heating. After three times of attempting to make it run is when I took it to the "TECH???" and he came up with his story. McBrides in Chino, CA is a AH service center and has done work on our last two motorhomes before this one and treated us very fairly and quickly solved problems (one of which involved the HH on the Beaver) so since we were going down to visit family for Thanksgiving within 10 miles of them we chose to use them again. I plan to print off all the comments Alpine Owners have posted and take them along for a basis. In the meantime before we leave for CA on 11/21 I will be reading up on the manuals I have downloaded and will see if I can get it to run correctly. One question I do have for Alpine Owners would be is that the fans for the AH are wired into and operate through the wall thermostat with zones 1 & 2? I am basically turning on the diesel burner with temps set at 90 degrees on the wall thermostat and setting the fan speed for each zone to high. ( I have also tried fans on low and auto settings.) My assuption is that the basement bays must have a preset thermostat located somewhere in the basement area, but I have not found it yet as I really am not sure if there is a wall type thermostat or just a preset switch somewhere. I also need to find out if the basement bays heat runs independant of the wall thermostat in the coach or if the wall thermastat starts the whole unit and the bays are just heated when the wall thermostat is on. In any case I will be picking up the coach Monday PM and when I get it home in the RV garage I will get to work trying to figure it out.
Thanks again to all who have posted with suggestions and if there is a Alpine Owner with an 08 coach that could tell me if my assumptions for settings are correct for an 08 that would be very helpful. [Moderator Edit]
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:47 PM   #16
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Hi Dale,

My contact info is Marvin (Edit: Info removed at the request of Marvin) I will look forward to hearing from you. If you want to send me a phone number I will be happy to call at your convenience.
Thanks again, Marvin

Marvin
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:47 PM   #17
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Marvin, Look at page 3 of the service manual. You should have 12volts on the leads marked fan 1 and 2 with the HH running and thermostat set to 90.
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Old 11-01-2009, 11:10 PM   #18
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Marvin,
Assuming on your coach is similar to ours, you have separate switches to turn on diesel burner, electrical element, and engine heat. These switches are not to be confused with the thermostat which controls the heat in zones 1 & 2.

The basement thermostat is separate, and as noted in a different post here on this forum, will ask for heat if the bay drops below 40 degrees F. For it to receive heat, one of three sources of heat need to be available, diesel burner, electrical element, and the engine can also be running. As noted in one post, if the inverter is running, it will provide a lot of heat which should keep the basement temps up sufficiently so nothing will freeze when the outside temperature goes down to freezing.

However, I would have the diesel burner on anyway if I'm in the coach so that basement thermostat would call for heat from the system, using stir pump #3.

Now, if I am not using the system, and it’s going to freeze for a few days, and I don’t plan on going to warmer climate, I would get all the fresh water out of the plumbing, or if you store close to the house, leave the diesel burner on, or the electrical element on to prevent system plumbing damage. That said, since we just retired, we won’t spend another winter in our home state if I have anything to say about that. So winterizing the system won’t be an issue for us I hope.
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:18 PM   #19
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Hi to all who responded to my earlier posts. I have picked up my coach from the tech, spent a lot of time with him discussing what he feels the problem is (which Aqua Hot agrees with), reading owners and installation manuals from AH and then spent a lot of time in the coach working with it and here is what it seems is the problem.
The heat exchangers seem to be located far from where they normally would be located as follows: The dash unit is located up inside and near the top of the dash, The kitchen heat exchanger is located high up and behind the kitchen drawers near the outside wall under the counter area, the bedroom heat exchanger is located in the rear closet behind and to the roadside of the drawers. Hoses then run from the heat exchangers to the register locations with the rear run from closet to register under bed with 18' of hose, also from this unit about 30-40' of hose feeds the basement and bathroom registers which basically put out no heat at all, the kitchen heat exchanger has about 8' of hose to the register and the front unit has about 12-14' looped up and around the dash area and down to the front register.
The problem seems to be two fold: one is that there are not any real return air locations that can pull enough air over the heat exchanges and the second being the two small fans at each heat exchanger are not strong enough to push what air is available to the registers.
According to AH and the service tech everything actually works, but is unable to heat effiecently with these problems present.
I have run the unit on electric and it will bring the inside to 70 degrees in 14 hours and will bring it to 70 degrees on deisel in about 7 hours.
All of this according to AH & the tech is due to the listed problems and thier fix is to tear it all out and place the heat exchangers right behind the registers at each location as they say they are supposed to be and add opening to feed return air from the same room area to each heat exchanger.
In my attemps to run it I notice that the deisel burner goes on and off about every two minutes and does not keep running until temprature in each rooms heat exchanger area is up to temprature. I think this could be a problem with the fans not keeping running, but they say they have been tested and have proper voltages etc at each heat exchanger.
I am hoping some of you may have a comment regarding how your heat exchangers may be mounted and if you have return air locations for each location. Also does your deisel burner go off and on regularly and how long will it take to bring the inside of your coach up to temprature. Our RV garage temprature is kept at 40 degrees and ittakes the above amounts of time to get to 70 degrees inside the coach. I am wondering if a puller type fan inside the register area might pull return air over the heat exchangers as well as push heated air into the inside of the coach, resulting in better airflow over the heat exchangers which might keep the burner from cycling so often.
Thanks in adavance for your input as it is extremely helpful since I can not see other coaches to see how they are setup.

Marvin C
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:16 PM   #20
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Based on what you described, you have outlined about where mine are. I have some of the airflow problems you describe, but there is no way I am going to pay someone to tear out the system, and basically rebuild it from scratch. I have purchased some foil wrapped insulating material from Home Depot, and will cut and apply this insulating material around the heat exchangers, using the correct tape to hold this stuff on, that clears up my heat loss at the registers themselves. Then I an going to make the duct runs as straight as possible, and ensure there is also no heat loss at the connection to the HE, and the register. Then, I am going to rebuild each register as best as can be accomplished to make sure there are no restrictions at each register.

That is all one can do. Short of what you are describing.

My suggestion is to get input from others who have done improvements on the system and see what they gained. Also check out the Hydro hot user’s forum on Yahoo.com. The fellow on that forum is an expert when it comes to these systems.

It should be noted, this heating system is not designed as a high pressure/air flow system. A regular propane furnace is designed that way, and the heat output from those systems is fast and quick. That being said, the HH/AH system is much quieter and that is the reason many people like it. WRV should/could have done a much better job with it installation and setup. But we are sort of stuck with what we have unless we (assuming you are) going to spend serious money to rebuild it the way it should have been done. I am not faulting your choice in this, its just money I won’t spend. I am going to try the cheaper alternatives first to see it I can find a happy medium for the way WRV installed it.

To Recap- I have heat registers in the following locations:
*Front dash - Passengers side w/1 register. I don't know how many heat duct lines out it there should be, but assuming two.

*Kitchen at the rear wall under a drawer bank - two lines of heat duct - to a wooden register cover. This is too small for the air to flow properly, and it's not fixed to the lover, the pipes just hang in the plenum box.

* One under the vanity sink, which provides delivery to the shower and across the coach to the water closet itself. Bad air flow in both locations, although I am not going to tear up the shower to improve that one, but will take the panel under the sink out to cover this HE. I have a large cold air return on the side of the vanity cabinet so that is not an issue.

*Rear of the bedroom, under and to the right of the closet, it supplies the bedroom. I don’t know how I am going to fix this one, but cold air return is one thing on the plan.

In no case do I believe I have 30' heat duct runs, the longest might be 12' max. If I can replace any of the present duct with insulated duct, that is also on the agenda.

I hope you have success with this project, please keep us informed as to your outcome and if not being to nosey, how much money it costs you.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:40 PM   #21
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RE: Alpine Aqua-Hot System Problems

Marvin

I work on these systems all of the time. There is so much reserve heating capacity that I cannot believe that the unit cannot warm up your coach, even if the registers are not located in an ideal location. Our coach is a 42-foot Foretravel. The Aqua-Hot will warm up the coach in 15 20 minutes and make it down right HOT in 30 minutes. Of course have to use the diesel portion of your Aqua-Hot to get maximum heat, as this is the primary heat source (diesel 50,000 btu vs. electric 5,000 btu).

Was the unit checked to see if that it is heating the coolant to the proper temperature? The hot coolant that is supplied to the interior heat exchangers should be in the 180-190 degree range. Could be as simple as a thermostat that is turning off too quickly. That would match the symptom of the unit short cycling.

Before you spend money modifying the system, you should have it checked out by an expert. Let me know where you are and I will try to make suggestion.

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Old 11-07-2009, 08:27 AM   #22
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Since the Aqua Hot also heats the domestic hot water, I would check if it is heating the hot water to a reasonable hot temp. If not, this would be a clue that the coolant is not getting up to the correct temp. The diesel burner only burns for about 2 minutes and then the burner fan continues until the burner cools down.

The zone wiring on my coach was also reversed and correcting this improved the operation. However, I agree that the Aqua Hot will heat the coach in 20 - 30 minutes and quitely maintain this temp.
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:43 AM   #23
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RE: Alpine Aqua-Hot System Problems

Will

The Aqua-Hot units have mixing valves on the hot water system. They are intended to limit the temperature of the hot water to 120 degrees by mixing cold water with hot water that has been heated by the Aqua-Hot boiler.

This would mask somewhat the effects of low boiler temperature.

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Old 11-09-2009, 12:01 PM   #24
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Marvin- inefficiencies acknowledged, the burner is cycling too often if I read your post correctly. That indicates the burner is shutting off too soon and not heating the coolant enough. Roger's idea that an AHot thermostat (internal) is defective and shutting off too soon sounds like a good bet. I'd bet on the "high limit switch," which is a cheap "snap switch" type thermostat that switches at a rated temp (might be another as well as the AHot contains a few snap switches, but this one would do it). I had one burn up on my 06, and it was less than $20 from AHot. Getting to it to replace it was a bear but that was the culprit. Think of the burner as a separate unit- it heats coolant to a given temp so it is available hot; there is no functional intertie to coach heating at least as far as this problem goes. Then, the coach thermostat calls for use of the hot coolant. If the tstat is working, there should be 12V on the furnace out circuit continuously when set to 90 degrees and the register heat exchangers should be running continuously. If that's the case, tstat & furnace control is working OK.

So, in short, I'd can the remodel plans till you have a full diagnosis on the burner controls as your symptoms indicate an issue there. I had a problem w/my kitchen drawer heat exchanger which cycled heat well enough, but not out the register (it melted the chocolate chips in my cookies, so we had to find that problem ASAP & fix it!!); turned out the ducts were not connected to the heat exchanger so it blew hot air into the cabinet. You may have some issues like that, but the unit should still heat the coach regardless of those type of problems if the burner is working to spec. FWIW, you can call AHot and they (if they have a tech to do this in today's economy) will walk you thru some obvious diagnostics if you have the savvy to do the tests. You asked above about the thermostat settings: the tstat is only a switch, i.e. when the heat command is recognized on the tstat, it sends 12V to wherever that wiring goes, in our case to the AHot signaling "send heat." Sounds like yours is wired sufficiently correctly to do the right job, just no heat coming in adequate amounts.

Once your burner is operating correctly you can work on efficiency tweaks as it suits you. FWIW, I have return air registers to one bedroom exchangers but not to any others. Dash takes under-dash air , under couch takes under couch air, kitchen drawers take inside cabinet air, bedroom cabinet takes in-cabinet air. Works fine that way.
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:54 PM   #25
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Mike - Were you able to get to your hoses to reconnect then to the heat exchanger by just removing the drawers???? I want Tris to do ours along with putting a fan in there and in the bathroom vent when he does the steering control box this week.. I have found that opening the drawers a bit helped let the hot air out and I don't put anything in those drawers that are subject to heat!

We also found last month that the hydrohot does not work if the fuel tank is 3/4 empty - just like the generator! We actually were down to 1/3 tank and hydrohot wasn't working. When we filled up - worked like a charm! In 12 degree weather only the hydrohot kept it warm enough - electric was not enough heat!
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Old 11-09-2009, 08:00 PM   #26
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Yes, just pull the drawer out (the little black plastic fingers that show when the drawer slide is full extended are the "keepers" and each faces up or down respectively). Push the up keeper down, and the down keeper up and pull out the drawer. You'll find the plastic duct laying in the vicinity of the register. IIRC on mine they fixed easily into place and took only a few minutes to cure.

In the mean time, you could use the drawers as bread warmers, or to keep a spare set of long underwear toasty for those chilly mornings.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:10 PM   #27
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Swans,

See here:

Aqua Hot issues

and these are from "Latest Projects"



Larger heater vent installed in kitchen.



Larger air return in bathroom cabinet.
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