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Old 08-27-2010, 01:47 PM   #1
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Newmar Owners Club
Coastal Campers
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Hydronic system question

Since I do not have one of the hydronic type heating systems in my RV, I have a question for those who do.

Do these systems heat only by diesel (or propane) or is there an electric heating element in use when you are plugged to shore power? Can the diesel heater be turned off?

I'm curious due to a situation that we have encountered at our current rv site.

We are in a campground where the sites are side by side with each unit facing the opposite direction. In other words, we are facing east and our neighbors are facing west with our utilities between us. We are probably about 12 feet apart.

Now for the problem. Our neighbor has some type of hydronic heating system and the exhaust pipe exits from under his RV right next to our living room. Usually we like to have all of our windows open to enjoy the nice air here at 7500 feet in the Colorado Rockies. With the neighbors hydronic system going on and off constantly we have had to close up our windows and switch to air conditioning.

So I'm just trying to learn how the hydronic system works.

'05 Dutch Star 4015, '16 Rubicon OlllllO, & HD Ultra ElectraGlide, NKK14278L
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:56 PM   #2
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Two comments. One, yes you can turn off the diesel burner and just use the electric, although electric only may not keep up with a couple showers taken back to back, or the clothes washer, if so equiped (don't own one yet, but have ordered one so equiped and have been reading up on them). Second, your neighbor could be using a Genturi, or some equivalent, to send the exhaust up and over the coaches. And another thought just came to me, I'm told that if properly maintained and tuned, there shouldn't be a lot of exhaust.

Again, this is not from direct experience, just from my recent research.

Jay & Peggy Monroe with Dolly
Can't take it with you - don't plan on leaving any behind
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:04 PM   #3
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If the Aqua-Hot system is maintained there will very little, if any, exhaust smell. You should service your system every year to make sure that everything is adjusted to specs.
Charles and Martha*2008 Monaco Signature
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:07 PM   #4
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We have a hydronic system that runs on propane. It provides hot water and furnace heat. When we are hooked up and don't need furnace heat, I turn off the hydronic unit and turn on the electric element for hot water. For just my wife and I, there is enough hot water for showers. And, we are using the campground power and not our propane.

Our exhaust is on the driver side near the rear tires. While not silent, it is not noisy, and it is not obnoxious smelling, but this is probably a function of propane vs. diesel.

Maybe you can sell your neighbor on using the shore power instead of his fuel, since he is paying for the power anyway.

I do the same thing for heating the coach. I will try to use park power and run our heat pump units until it gets too cold for them (about 40 degrees) and then I have to use the hydronic.

2009 Newmar 42 ft. Allstar 4188, Wheelchair Accessible, 400HP Cummins ISL, Allison 3000, Mastertow Dolly, '98 Riviera
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:57 PM   #5
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Hi Brigadoon,

We have and use a diesel powered AquaHot system (and would never have another coach without one, I might add). It has an electric burner which is good for minor use, i.e, washing dishes, a quick shower (like in the Navy) and so on. For unlimited hot water, which is one of its benefits, the diesel burner must be on. We typically have the electric burner always on until we do our showers and then turn on the diesel burner too, turning it off when the showers are done. Of course in the colder climates we might have it on for heat as well.

As good neighbors and for our own benefit too as we like our windows open too, we use a Genturi stack which channels the exhaust to the top of the coach where the winds will carry it off. It could be that your neighbor doesn't know about the Genturi, or can't afford one (they are $100+). I'm not sure how you start that conversation, but it could turn ugly if not done the right way. Good luck!!
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Old 08-28-2010, 09:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses. I now understand the workings of the AquaHot system.

As I write this, the neighbors are hooking up their toad and prepairing to move on to parts unknown, so there will be no need to bring up the topic with them.

In the past we have been parked near other units equipped with hydronic systems but this is the first time at a location where we are so close. It has not been a problem until this occasion. Most likely we will not encounter this situation often.

We will be able to open the windows in a few minutes!
'05 Dutch Star 4015, '16 Rubicon OlllllO, & HD Ultra ElectraGlide, NKK14278L
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Old 08-28-2010, 12:20 PM   #7
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Just a thought, maybe you could buy and keep a genturi system for your own use ie for generators. And when someone like your neighbor shows up, you can lend them yours.
Otherwise there is always potato that can be stuffed in an exhaust (joke)
I always ask my neighbor if the aqua hot is bothering them and if so i put up the genturi.
However due to my anal maintenance habits, no smell from my exhaust.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:53 PM   #8
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All - I am certified Aqua-Hot technician, when I took the class and passed last spring. Our coach has the unit installed. It's much quieter than a normal water heater or forced air furnace.

Yes you can use the electric element to heat the water, above 55 degrees, it works ok for everything except a long shower or two of them back to back. Below 55, it's too cold and you need to diesel/propane burner to run. Maybe even 55 might be cold. The company had a bad bunch of nozzles come through, so if you see one smoking a lot (diesel) then the nozzle needs to be changed. Annual service is a must depending on your use. Clean fuel is also a must so don’t waste your time trying to use Joe’s Corner station, stop at truck stops for the freshest fuel.

It's a mixed bag on what option we would choose if we ever changed units. I like it, the BH does not as much. Now that I have the heat fixed (duct work) it works much better in the front half. But that is not AQ's fault, it is the coach manufacturer, and the incorrect way they ducted the system based on AQ guidance. So if you are not getting the heat out of your system the way you should, make sure you don’t have more than 270 degrees of bends in any one heat supply pipe
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Old 09-02-2010, 04:18 PM   #9
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I have NEVER walked by a MH with diesel hydronic running that didn't stink up the joint.
Don't attack me, I don't smell like petroleum. Maybe if the owners had to open their windows they would understand.
No I'm not flaming out here, just my limited personal experience.
This subject is like an O'Henry candy bar floating in a punchbowl. Nobody sees it.

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Old 09-02-2010, 06:14 PM   #10
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Yes, and if it's tuned up properly the smell is not bad, but their is still a smell. If it's not tuned up, or is running too rich, it's horrible. But then I don't like the smell of a propane furnace running either, and although I like diesel for a fuel choice, the smell unburned is also bad for me. I just like the way it performs. It's got a higher BTU value than gasoline and propane so you actually get more bank for the buck.

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