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Old 02-06-2014, 04:51 PM   #1
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To Aqua-Hot or Not

Ive had 5'ers and towables for about 15 years, and we are now stepping into our first class A. For our budget and family fit we are Looking into mid to late 90's units 40' or less. My one pondering is this- I know there are opinions back and forth on the subject, though I would like to get the opinions of those that have had standard furnaces vs. diesel fired Aqua-Hots. Please list what you like vs what you dont like about each as well as where you spend most of your time(ambient temps) as Im in the northwest and would like pertinent info to help solidify my decision. If the decision on a coach came down to only the heating system would that be enough to sway your decision. Thanks in advance to anyone that wishes to post on my quandary!

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Old 02-06-2014, 05:08 PM   #2
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Location: Roseville MN sum / La Feria Tx winter
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This has been the longest coldest winter yet in far south texas. I heat with the single 1500 watt elect element in the AH with the diesel on for If it needs it.

I have quiet heat, no where as noisy as heat pumps in the ac's , more even heat in the entire coach. If we take showers the big burner comes on and goes off when we are done using lots of hot water. I have one of the elect ceramic ir heaters and only use it if I came in from the cold and need local quick hot spot.

My elect bill is about 30.00 less than my neighbor who uses the ceramic heater and not the AH.

When we are on the road the ah is free heat from the engine and the registers keep entire coach warm.

Bad side is the smell can annoy neighbor to the driver side if they have sensitive nose. It does not bother me but I lived in fire station for 25 years and trucks start and go all day nite.

Sheri & Don 2003 Dynasty 42" regal ISL 400
2007 Goldwing Trike Gmc 4X4 w/ autoloader for trike
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:36 PM   #3
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I am not that up on the Aqua-hot systems, but when we were looking for our current MH I did not want the aqua-hot system. There are times that we camp in the cooler times of the year for several days to a couple weeks, in some places that are out of the way, so to speak. I know that with the forced air propane system I can turn the heat down when we are gone for long periods of time and it does not take long for the MH to warm up when we get back. Also with the forced air, we can put wet/cold boots in front of the vents and warm them up. Something else, we have two heaters in the MH, if one of them goes out, we still have the other to attempt to keep things comfortable. Chances of that happening are slim but......
We have not had to replace a heater in any of our MH's, but I would suspect that the propane ones would cost less and be easier to replace. I have heard several 'horror' stories on the Aqua-not systems going bad and the time/money it takes to replace them. One other thing, from what I have read, one needs to be a little more careful on winterizing a MH with Aqua-hot compared to one with out.
I am sure that there are lots of others out there that do have some sort of Aqua-hot system and they dearly love it.
That is why they makes so many different models.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:37 PM   #4
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The first thing I would check out prior to the actual heating system, is how well the coach is insulated. Our previous coach had propane heat which put out lots of heat there were 2 heaters in the coach front and back. However that coach was prooly insulated had single pane windows and in very cold weather you could not keep the coach warm. I don't think this was the heaters fault, but the result of poor insulation.
Our current coach is well insulated has dual pain windows and the Hydo hot heating system keeps the coach very warm. However I think that has a lot to do with the better construction. This system has worked well in Mammoth in the winter at below 0 temps. I like the Hydo hot system in most conditions we only use the electric side of the heater, which will keep the coach comfortable in reasonably cool weather, and provide plenty of hot water. If the diesel is used it can put out a lot of heat. The comment about smell is correct, when the heater uses diesel it smells somewhat like a jet airplane. Also the diesel heating systems usually provide for heat in the storage bays to protect against freeze up of the water and waste tanks, it also provides for engine preheat.
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Old 02-06-2014, 06:39 PM   #5
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Aqua Hot, Hydro Hot or Oasis (preferably Oasis), would NOT have a Coach without it!! Unlimited hot water, electrical/diesel supplied heat/hot water source, (can heat with electric alone or diesel alone) and a properly serviced unit will last the life of your Coach; IMHO!!
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:00 PM   #6
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We just traded a coach with standard LP furnace for one with Aqua Hot and we love the Aqua Hot. The heat is even, the exchangers are quiet and, as noted, you have unlimited hot water.

It is true that the Aqua Hot is a more complicated beast and it does require annual maintenance (new fuel nozzle, new fuel filter, clean combustion chamber). The service is just what would be done on any oil fired boiler type furnace. It is also true that to properly winterized an Aqua Hot, you must pump RV antifreeze thru the water system in the coach to make sure you get the antifreeze in the fresh water coil in the boiler. You cannot just blow the water lines out with air like you can on coaches without an Aqua Hot.

I think it depends on how you will use the coach and where. If you plan to use the rig a lot (full time or longer periods of travel/occupancy), or if you think you will use the coach in colder climates/weather I would say get the Aqua Hot. For more occasional use in mild to moderate weather, the LP furnace may be a better choice for you.
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Old 02-06-2014, 07:47 PM   #7
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Have had both furnace and Aqua hot. In really cold weather I would burn through the propane and that required lots of refills. For all the reasons already mentioned I would not buy a coach without Aqua Hot
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:24 AM   #8
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Have had two units with propane furnace, and two with hydronic (Oasis and now Aqua-Hot). For me, hydronic is the way to go, for all of the reasons cited above.

A couple of notes, though --

Not all hydronic systems have the "motor aide" feature that uses the furnace to pre-heat the engine and vice versa. My Oasis had it, my Aqua-Hot does not, and I really miss it, mostly for letting the engine heat the coach while driving.

Some hydronic systems run on propane. That would defeat part of the purpose for me, since I like running all systems off the same 150-gal. diesel tank, and enjoy being all-electric in our new coach, having dispensed with the weight and extra hassle of a propane tank. I also like not having to turn anything off to go through tunnels.
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:37 AM   #9
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My '99 American Eagle had 2 LP furnaces, kept coach plenty warm but noisy compared to my '09 with aqua hot. I also don't miss hot water heater coming on in the middle of the night. Heat with Aquahot is much more even but I also have heated tile floor which I love.

I wasn't crazy about the aquahot originally mainly from my lack of experience with it, you do lose a compartment also due to it, I still have a propane tank as the coach has gas stove, not my choice.

We frequently travel with college age kids and having unlimited supply of hot water is great.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:02 PM   #10
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The Aquahot will give you much more of a "residential" experience than the LP furnace. As already stated, it's quiet, provides unlimited hot water, and I'll add, it's very efficient. While central Florida is nothing like our family and friends are still experiencing up north, it has been a cold (and wet) winter. I recently calculated our diesel usage at less than 2.5 gallons per week. Besides being used for heat, dishes and showers, we do all of our laundry in the motor home. At this rate I've calculated I could have sat on site for 6 months and used just over 1/3 of our tank of diesel fuel (60 gallons out of a 150 gallon tank). Our friends and neighbors still using LP have had to refill a number of times already.

Our unit was faulty from the factory (it used a non-standard burner assembly) but Aquahot kept at it, finally replacing the burner with the more common one (they dropped the Beckett brand burner after just a couple of months) and so far, knock on wood, it's worked flawlessly, which is consistent with the experiences of friends over the years. The factory recommendation is for an annual service (as mentioned, replace the fuel nozzle, filter and clean the chamber), none of which is especially difficult to do. Many, however, tell us they'll typically go a couple of years (with constant use - full time), some telling me they'll wait until it starts to smoke a bit.

Complete replacement would be extremely expensive, but I've not personally heard of anyone having to do this, even on 10, 15 year old units.
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Old 02-07-2014, 12:52 PM   #11
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it would be a deal breaker for us. no aqua hot no deal ! having had both i am spoiled and would not consider a propane furnace / hot water heater again
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:34 PM   #12
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As already mentioned, the AH is clearly a better system. We drove all day yesterday with temps in the 40s...being warmed for free by the AH's water being warmed by the engine. When it is very cold, single digits, the burner must be turned on to supplement the heat the engine is supplying. The AH uses .4 GPH.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:25 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Cat320 View Post
... The AH uses .4 GPH.
...And that is only when the burner is running. Like your home furnace, it does not run constantly.
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Can't take it with you - don't plan on leaving any behind
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:38 AM   #14
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I have only one comment regarding Aqua-Hot versus having a LPG Heater and Hot Water Heater. Aqua-Hot is the ONLY unit I would want to have in my RV.

And that's even after I had to replace the AH unit in 2005/6 with a rebuilt unit due to a fresh water leak in the external coil.

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