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Old 12-29-2007, 12:45 PM   #1
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So my gig's a little different than most. I'm considering a 34' to 40 toyhauler with a 12' LQ and separate garage area. This is for my weekend workshops that I teach around the country. I'll only be staying in the trailer for sleeping on weekends as the rest of the time I'm either loading gear or driving to the next gig. I try to go south in the winter and north in the summer, but I always have to drive to someplace each Friday and return to Maryland each Sunday. One of the reasons for buying a toyhauler would be to eliminate some or most of the 100 nights I spent in hotel rooms last year plus haul my 4,000 lbs of sound equipment (note my forum name). While at my workshop gigs I can probably get a 20 Amp 120 Volt shore power connection to keep the trailer warm and hopefully the water holding tanks from freezing. That means a nice hot shower in the morning and a warm bed at night when I'm done teaching. But what are my options for the 4 days a week that it's parked unoccupied in Maryland, which does get below freezing 3 months out of the year. I can order this trailer with a 15K BTU heatpump and run it from shore power, setting the thermostat for 40 degrees or so (if they go that low). Or I could leave the furnace on set to 40 degrees and feed it from a separate propane tank. Or perhaps putting heaters in the holding tanks and heat tape on the plumbing is the best way to go. As I'll probably build this trailer new, I can order extra options up front and save tearing everything apart later. But is there anyone else on the forum who keeps their living-quarters "hot" during the winter while not living in the trailer? It's not like I can actually "winterize" it and drain/antifreeze the tanks except perhaps for the one month a year I'm not on the road (December). Any other ideas or suggestions for me to consider?
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Old 12-29-2007, 12:45 PM   #2
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So my gig's a little different than most. I'm considering a 34' to 40 toyhauler with a 12' LQ and separate garage area. This is for my weekend workshops that I teach around the country. I'll only be staying in the trailer for sleeping on weekends as the rest of the time I'm either loading gear or driving to the next gig. I try to go south in the winter and north in the summer, but I always have to drive to someplace each Friday and return to Maryland each Sunday. One of the reasons for buying a toyhauler would be to eliminate some or most of the 100 nights I spent in hotel rooms last year plus haul my 4,000 lbs of sound equipment (note my forum name). While at my workshop gigs I can probably get a 20 Amp 120 Volt shore power connection to keep the trailer warm and hopefully the water holding tanks from freezing. That means a nice hot shower in the morning and a warm bed at night when I'm done teaching. But what are my options for the 4 days a week that it's parked unoccupied in Maryland, which does get below freezing 3 months out of the year. I can order this trailer with a 15K BTU heatpump and run it from shore power, setting the thermostat for 40 degrees or so (if they go that low). Or I could leave the furnace on set to 40 degrees and feed it from a separate propane tank. Or perhaps putting heaters in the holding tanks and heat tape on the plumbing is the best way to go. As I'll probably build this trailer new, I can order extra options up front and save tearing everything apart later. But is there anyone else on the forum who keeps their living-quarters "hot" during the winter while not living in the trailer? It's not like I can actually "winterize" it and drain/antifreeze the tanks except perhaps for the one month a year I'm not on the road (December). Any other ideas or suggestions for me to consider?
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Old 12-30-2007, 01:20 PM   #3
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So if I understand correctly, you are looking at parking for about 4 days at a time w/o hookups, and just want to keep the unit warm enough to prevent freezing?

Assuming you aren't talking about below zero, your best bet might be having lots of battery power, perhaps some solar, and let the propane furnace run at 45 degrees or so.

I assume you would be around to check on the status of the unit, and able to run a generator if battery charge level was getting low, or if it ran one of the propane tanks down?

If you will have shore power while you are parking this, the heat pump and tank heaters might be the way to go.
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Old 12-30-2007, 03:42 PM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Jeff_in_The_Dalles:
So if I understand correctly, you are looking at parking for about 4 days at a time w/o hookups, and just want to keep the unit warm enough to prevent freezing? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, most of the time those four days could be at my house, so I'll put a shore power connection out there and run the heat pump and tank heaters as needed. There could also be times where it needs to be parked remotely with shore power, but also times where it needs to be parked for a week without shore power, say at a truck stop.

So just how much battery power is needed to run a propane furnace for a week? I don't see how the thermostat would draw much amperage, but guessing that the 12-volt fan could take a bit of current. How long would a pair of 20 lb. propane tanks keep a 12 ft LQ area in a trailer heated to 40 degrees in 0 degree weather? Would a reasonable size solar panel keep the batteries charged enough to run the propane furnace for an extended time?
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Old 12-30-2007, 04:10 PM   #5
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From what I am reading I dont think your sure how the heat works. When the main heat is on in your trailer some of the heat is blown under the floor to keep your tanks warm. If all your using is the heat strip on your AC, its on the roof so no heat will get under the floor.

As far as the garage goes 8' and 12' are the 2 main sizes if you have the door and wall between the 2 areas. You can special order your trailer for the right price through most dealers if you really want to.

With that in mind, keeping the rig plugged in at home is no problem. When we have been in ours in the colder weather the 40lb tanks last a long time since you said the inside temp is 40 but you need to worry about the basement. You also said you go south in the winter and then back home towing the trailer way down and back would be costly. Maybe a well secured storage in a good central spot for those occasions would be a better thought if its possible.

Yea I know more thoughts

but it looks like your getting all the questions asked, when your ready you wont have too many left.
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Old 12-30-2007, 04:32 PM   #6
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Exactly right, I know nothing about actual RV plumbing or heating, so I'll take any intel you can provide.

So what you're suggesting is that a roof heat pump won't blow any heat under the floor and the plumbing could freeze. So perhaps tank heaters and heat-tape on the pipes in addition to the roof heat pump at 40 degrees would be the solution while on shore power. While running on propane it sounds like the furnace would push air under the floor and keep the pipes from freezing. Most of the RV tank heaters I've seen are dual-voltage, but of course a battery won't run one very long without charging. That might be good enough to keep the plumbing hot while driving.

And yes, I'll drop my trailer at a central location and fly back and forth. I do that right now in my Sprinter. But while I "try" to go south in the winter and north in the winter, for example I'll be in "south" Washington DC mid January, then driving to Florida to teach four weekends in February. I'll fly back and forth each Friday and Sunday while parking the Sprinter in a secured lot in Florida, so no freezing problems there. Yes, lot's to think about and at least I know some of the questions to ask the trailer builders.
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Old 12-31-2007, 07:57 PM   #7
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A heat pump will not function normally below 32*F, nor will it adequately heat the plumbing. The propane furnace must be used below 32*F. If you run the furnace without shore power (strictly battery reserve), about two full days is the most you can hope for in freezing weather unless you have multiple batteries. You can only use 50% of a deep-cycle batteries amp/hr rating without greatly shortening its lifecycle.
One option to heat the tanks and plumbing, without heating the RV, is Ultraheat products. You might consider protecting(do not wrap) every water line with a heat tape for PVC, covered with pipe insulation, but that requires continous 120VAC shore power too. You can clear the water lines with air pressure, to empty faucets and toilet water lines, drain water heater. Pour RV anti-freeze into every drain-trap and toilet seal.
This method will protect your RV, yet allow a quick water tank fill so you can just turn on the water pump and re-pressurize the system. That is my brainstorm for today, hope it makes sense.
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Old 01-01-2008, 10:06 AM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Ray,IN:
The propane furnace must be used below 32*F. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
So, assume I but in a pair of deep-cycle 6-volt batteries with enough amp-hour capacity to run the furnance at perhaps 20 percent duty-cycle for a week. Would a pair of 20 lb. propane tanks keep a furnace running at 40 degrees under worse-case (sub-zero) conditions. I know that's dependent on the delta-T as well as the insulation quality and total wall area, wind conditions, etc... But in general, will a pair of 20 lb. tanks keep an RV warmed to at least 40 degrees for a week?

Also, the Ultraheat products look like they would be the solution to keep the plumbing warm while towing or parked at a gig, since I should be able to get shore power while parked. I plan on putting an APU on the truck which would draw from the diesel tanks, so that would keep me juiced up no matter what my situaiton while in my trailer. Of course, while the tow vechicle's running I would have plenty of 12-volt amperage to supply the DC side of the dual-element tank heaters. Looks like these tank heaters draw around 120 watts per unit, so with all three heaters running and some pipe tape it's probably going to be a 500 watt draw when everything's cooking. At perhaps a 50 percent duty-cycle, that's an average of 6 kilowatt-hours per day. If my electrcity costs around 10 cents per KWH, then I'll be paying perhaps 60 cents per day or $18 per cold month to keep the plumbing warm while parked at my house in winter. Pretty good deal to to keep my trailer plumbing warm and ready to roll.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content"> You can clear the water lines with air pressure, to empty faucets and toilet water lines, drain water heater. Pour RV anti-freeze into every drain-trap and toilet seal. This method will protect your RV, yet allow a quick water tank fill so you can just turn on the water pump and re-pressurize the system. That is my brainstorm for today, hope it makes sense. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yeah....

So that sounds like a quick way to weather-proof my plumbing without going to a waste-dump site. If I have suffcient anti-freeze with me, I could just dump enough down the sink and toilet to protect the gray and black water tanks and traps, drain the clean water tank and water heater into a ditch, and blow out the feed lines with air. How long should that take to accomplish, assuming I have an air-compressor on board (I'll have air-ride compressor on the truck...)? Then when I come back after a week or two of temporary storage I could just refill the clean-water tank and dump the gray/black tanks whenever possible. Does that make sense to you guys?

Again, assume that I know nothing about RV maintenance or storage prep. I know about brakes and bearings and tires and such since I'm a sound guy with lots of road miles. But I have limited RV camping experiance, so I'll take any info you can provide.
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Old 01-01-2008, 12:00 PM   #9
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Any battery system will be fully dead in a matter of hours when it comes to the furnace. While at home You could run a small electric heater to keep the trailer from freezing. When at your "gig" I personally would locate an RV park close by and park there. IF you are going to leave it for 4 days at a time, you could make arangments with the RV park to store it with hookups, or simply pay for the time and leave it parked in a spot during the week. I guess you could consider solar panels, but again during periods of really cold weather they probably would not provide enough juice to keep the batteries up.
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Old 01-01-2008, 12:19 PM   #10
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So just how much 12-volt current is drawn by a propane furnace? The control circuits can't take much amperage. Perhaps there's a hungry fan for cirulating the hot air...

Is there s central network or other list of RV sites near major cities that could provide shore-power only storage for a week at a time?

Also, since there are truck stops such as Pilot and TA everywhere, are there any shore-power parking spots at these or other truck stops?
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Old 01-02-2008, 11:39 AM   #11
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You're right, the control circuitry only uses milli-amps, the circulation fan draws about 8ADC.
The percentage of RV storage facilities offering 120VAC is very low. I suspect indoor storage percentage is somewhat larger than outdoor, but they usually park RV's very close together, making frequent moving impractical or impossible.
Some major truck stops offer electrical outlets for truckers. This is because of environmental laws limiting engine idling for extended periods in certian states/cities. I suspect they would limit usage to 8-10 hours though. You would need to inquire at each place.
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Old 01-02-2008, 02:33 PM   #12
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Since you are having it built, why not have all liquids in one small enclosed area. Galley, shower,toilet, etc? This could be a room in a room so to speak and heat with a catalytic heater. Battery not required to operate. There should be nothing to stop you from installing the toilet up a step or two thereby keeping the black tank inside.
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Old 01-02-2008, 03:05 PM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Rvpapa:
Since you are having it built, why not have all liquids in one small enclosed area. Galley, shower,toilet, etc? This could be a room in a room so to speak and heat with a catalytic heater. </div></BLOCKQUOTE> If I was around to tend it this could make sense. However, I could have the situation down in Florida this week, where I would park it for the week in Orlando and fly back to Maryland, only to find the temps in Florida drop below freezing during the week. I suppose my options are to either have a quick way to drain the fresh holding tank and hot water heater, blow the lines out with air, and dump enough antifreeze in the toilet and sinks to protect the traps and gray/black tanks. Then I can refill the fresh water tank the following week.

Either that, or I'll carry enough deep-cycle batteries with perhaps a supplimental solar cell array on the roof to keep the propane furnace running at 40 degrees for a week in bad weather.

I'll certainly bring up these possible solutions with the trailer builders and see what other solutions they have to offer. Soon the real fun will begin.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:15 PM   #14
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The pair of T125 trojan's in my 30' 5er with seperate garage will run the furnace at 45 for a week or so with temps down in the 20's at night.

Ducting from the furnace runs past the tanks in the enclosed, insulated underbelly.

If it were below zero, though, it would kill the batteries much quicker.

Your results might vary, but maybe that would give you an idea...
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