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Old 09-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #1
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Supplementing your Motorhome with Solar heat or Beer can heat

I'm getting ready to embark on a project to suplement our Propane bill in the winter months. We full time and migrate to where the sun shines most.

I will be using the "beer can heater" or "Aluminum Downspout" designs. Throw those two searches up on Youtube and enjoy if you haven't seen this yet. There are many people doing how to video's up there and its a fun project if you have nothing going on.

I like this design and its small enough to throw up on top of the RV and tilt up manually when I stop.

My Solar Furnace using downspouts on a sunny day 2nd test results - YouTube

I haven't seen too much on Solar heating for an RV so I've come up with some things to think about. Feel free to contribute if you wish.

1. A box small enough to fit on my roof.
2. A box insulated enough to not melt my roof.
3. A box light enough to install and remove from my roof for summer months.
4. A box that is fireproof, all materials using 250degree+ material
5. A box that will tilt to the left and the right to get the right sun exposure depending if i pull in or back in.
6. Solar powered Fan (on when sun shines)
7. A baffle for the outlet
8. A cover for the box if I get too hot.

This project should be pretty cheap and won't replace my coach heater in the cold months, but it will assist with keeping the inside of my coach warm.
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Old 09-14-2011, 08:50 PM   #2
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When you migrate, do you park in spots with electricity included in the cost?

If you do, you could look into "Cheap Heat" at CheapHeat

The name IS missleading. Although it allows you to add electric heat to your existing furnace to save money, the system is expensive. I believe it would have cost me about $1000 per furnace, and I had 2 in the rv.

I looked into it a few years back for my old rv. They said I could buy it from them and install it myself, after some convincing. I got info and prices from them, but it would not fit into the space I had in my rv.

I recently began looking into electric fireplace inserts with heat for my "new" rv. If I can find one with a blower AND a duct, I could install it and hook the duct into my RV's ducted heat. Most I have seen are rated for around 400 to 600 square feet. My rv is 320 square feet, so perfect fit in my opinion.

Just a few more thoughts!
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:55 AM   #3
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I can't see any advantage to putting an $880 PLUS 5 hours of labor system into an RV and calling it cheap! I use a $25 electric Safeheat (made by Delongi) space heater when parked. THAT's cheap!

I like the idea of solar heating. Free, non-polluting and quiet. I hate the noise my furnace makes. I wish I had some ideas to add the solar idea, but I subscribed to this thread and look forward to reading future posts. I also have wondered if there was a way to heat rv water via solar?

I wonder if this thread should be moved to the "Going Green" forum in the tech section?
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okmunky View Post
...
I like the idea of solar heating. Free, non-polluting and quiet. I hate the noise my furnace makes. I wish I had some ideas to add the solar idea, but I subscribed to this thread and look forward to reading future posts. I also have wondered if there was a way to heat rv water via solar?

I wonder if this thread should be moved to the "Going Green" forum in the tech section?
There is a bunch of stuff on youtube.com for solar hot water as well. You could possibly combine a box like this with some of those ideas... or just get 100' of black garden hose and throw it up on the roof.

One Idea I can think of would be to plumb a bunch of copper pipe behind the aluminum cans and leave a gap between the cans. Run the water through that. Mid day you could get a spurt of hot water for a shower or dishes. These boxes get up to 250 degrees so the water would be real hot so additional or replumbing the coach water lines might be necessary.
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #5
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Heating the water is cheap and easy Amazon.com: Used and New: Coghlan's Camp Shower $8/ free shipping

The challenge is how to control the temp of the water in the shower. I suppose I could try running the shower bag hose down thru the bathroom vent and to a tee in the shower hose, then add cold water from the holding tanks as needed. Might need a one way valve to prevent cold water from running into shower bag if shower head shut off is used.
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Old 09-15-2011, 03:47 PM   #6
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my question
is how do you get the hot air into the coach? through sort of flexible tube through your roof a/c ?

seems odd

i can see doing this if your living off the land.......
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Old 09-15-2011, 04:50 PM   #7
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I would think it would be better to place the solar heater on the ground rather than on the roof. That way it would be easier to aim towards the sun and eliminate your issues 1-3 above and make 5 & 8 easier to deal with. Perhaps you could tie into the existing ducts from inside a bay and get help from heat rising to draw warm air into the coach?
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:09 PM   #8
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Picked up the first part

Piece of Glass that was for a storm door - Freebee


Measurments
Width: 2' 7"
Height 5' 6"

Nothing really interesting yet... stay tuned.
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:51 PM   #9
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:41 AM   #10
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Picked up another part needed last night at Midnight in Boston... LOL. These are old school 4" gutters. New purchased in 1990, but never used. Today they sell 6" gutters at any big box store that can be used. Or beer cans, but I'm too lazy to glue them all together.

These cost $40... plus mileage. (note that this is enough for 2-3 boxes)
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Old 09-19-2011, 04:27 PM   #11
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Curious as to why you boughtbthe 4" guttering? Price, or do you feel the smaller size has some advantages?
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Curious as to why you boughtbthe 4" guttering? Price, or do you feel the smaller size has some advantages?
I didn't know it was 4" till I picked them up. But they will give me a lower profile box by 2" which is a bonus. They are made better than the newer ones and are thinner as well, which leads me to believe that they will both heat up quicker and cool down quicker... a + and a -.
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:02 PM   #13
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When I first read the title "beer can solar heater" I thought that the cans might be full of water, not beer. I would think that a water filled collector tubes would hold heat, allowing a longer heating day, but it wouldn't be portable.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:22 PM   #14
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Little update, went to Home Depot and picked up a 4x8 sheet of 3/4 inch, ripped it to the window size. Also picked up some Aluminum glazed insulation board, cut to size. Now I will have to use my brain to get all this to fit in that box . Going for the Convection style. Stay tuned, should be wrapped up within a week and working.
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