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Old 11-08-2016, 07:51 AM   #1
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Still getting ready for winter! NOT READY

So I've been chipping away at all of the prep to make it through the winter in the Philadelphia area and should be wrapped up in a couple days. Thing is, it got way colder last night than was forecasted and totally blindsided me.

It was supposed to be 33 degrees and my outdoor thermometer reader (which was sitting on the porch and not in the water bay because I'm NOT READY) was reading 26 degrees. My wife woke me up at 4AM to an indoor temperature of 45 degrees, frozen pipes, and one cold little parakeet! Poor thing! Both heat sources gave up and wouldn't start back up. I ran outside and got two space heaters out of the basement and put one in the bedroom and one on the bird cage to keep the loved ones warm and then scoured the internet for ideas. Anything I found proved to not be something I wasn't willing to do at 4AM. I kept trying each heat source every few minutes and sure enough the electric heat pump eventually kicked on and got us through the night.

I've read posts from years ago regarding my exact RV doing a similar thing for other people. The difference was when one heat source went out, the other one kicked in after dropping 4 - 5 degrees. There were plenty of suggestions but no updates on what the actual issue was. I understand there could be a variety of reasons why the propane furnace went out and wouldn't start with the temperature that low, but why the heck didn't the electric kick on when the temperature dropped so significantly? Why didn't the electric kick on after I tried multiple times to get it on, and then all of the sudden it worked flawlessly?

I'm sure the pipes will be fine being it was the first cold night and it's going to 66 degrees today but you better believe that heat tape and pipe insulation is going on today!

Assuming the propane wouldn't re-light due to the temperature, would it be a good idea to put a lightbulb or some source of heat(that doesn't have an open flame) in the propane compartment area?

Also, can someone explain why the air coming out of the ceiling vents feels cold sometimes and warm other times while on electric heat? It does it's job and heats the place but it seems counter productive to blow cool air when it's 40 degrees outside. I read that it could be the AC is turning on because the fan is set to "on" position on the thermostat, but I have the fan on auto. Certain mornings I've noticed ice developing on the HVAC unit even when the exterior temperature is not below freezing which makes me think the A/C is running. For the record, I have the Winnebago basement HVAC system.

Sorry for the bombardment of questions! I'm obviously new to this and you guys are obviously not. I appreciate your grace and help!
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Old 11-08-2016, 10:32 AM   #2
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Heat pumps are very inefficient below 40* and can freeze up as well.

The furnace should work no matter what the temp outside unless you had a regulator freeze up. I would definitely get the regulator tested or just swap it out- they are not that expensive.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:19 AM   #3
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That will be the first step! Hopefully that's all it is. I'm going to do some pipe insulation on the lines as well. Fortunately it'll be above freezing the next few days.

It seems like the furnace backs up the heat pump, but not visa versa.

As far as the water goes, I got everything ready for winter.

I also figured out the heat pump is designed to put out room temperature air at certain points of the cycles which is why it feels cool. I had my suspicions about that but was hoping it wasn't the case. It sure feels terrible when your cold and room temperature air is blowing on you!

Thanks for the input nukerj.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:53 AM   #4
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Eric, are you going to live in the coach during the Philadelphia winter, or are you just winterizing the coach to get through the winter? In my way of thinking these are two very different approaches to what you need to do.

BTW my wife of 43 years is from the Northeast part of Philadelphia near the Tacony–Palmyra Bridge, so I know what winters can be like there.
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Old 11-11-2016, 06:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
Eric, are you going to live in the coach during the Philadelphia winter, or are you just winterizing the coach to get through the winter? In my way of thinking these are two very different approaches to what you need to do.

BTW my wife of 43 years is from the Northeast part of Philadelphia near the Tacony–Palmyra Bridge, so I know what winters can be like there.
Very cool! Congrats on 43 years! How is it over in Kentucky during the winter? Do you stick it out there or head south?

We will be living in the coach. Take a look at my other post for more specifics if you're interested:

Getting ready for winter! Adventurer 35U
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Old 11-11-2016, 07:51 AM   #6
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Philadelphia weather and the weather here is just about the same. We take out coach out during the winter to go snow skiing in West Virginia, but we don't full time in the coach. We do use the coach for a escape if we were to loose power here at home during a cold snap.

Looks like you are well underway for a great adventure.

As Nukerj said, the furnaces should work no matter what the temperature.

One thing I can add is always always always have an emergency place to take the parakeet and the wife of course. You never know what something like you experienced will happen again, and of course it will happen when the temperatures are in the -10 degrees!
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Old 11-14-2016, 06:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
Philadelphia weather and the weather here is just about the same. We take out coach out during the winter to go snow skiing in West Virginia, but we don't full time in the coach. We do use the coach for a escape if we were to loose power here at home during a cold snap.

Looks like you are well underway for a great adventure.

As Nukerj said, the furnaces should work no matter what the temperature.

One thing I can add is always always always have an emergency place to take the parakeet and the wife of course. You never know what something like you experienced will happen again, and of course it will happen when the temperatures are in the -10 degrees!

Haha. Of coarse it will! Fortunately right now we have a solid back-up plan if all the other fail-safes leave us stranded. So far my favorite fail-safe is a dual zone heating blanket! That thing will cook you if you want it to!

I'm taking the furnace out today to clean and check airflow and the sail switch. Seems to be the most common culprits. Thanks!
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Old 11-14-2016, 07:07 AM   #8
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Back in 2011 I accepted a job in Northern Michigan and moved there in my motorhome in late March. I come from Northern Wisconsin so I knew I had some challenges to be able to live in the motorhome, here's what I did. The campground I was staying at still had ~2' of snow on the ground and we got another 2' of snow during the month of April with the snow finally melting mid May.

To add to the joy of winter camping the campground did not have 50 amp power available where I parked and only had 2 20 amp circuits to plug into. I didn't even try to keep water too the coach but had water in the tank to use sparingly. I took showers in the campground bath.

First, I checked the undercarriage of the motorhome, during times I had serviced it I notices some areas cold air could come in. I bought a couple cans of the foam and sealed openings between the main chassis rail front and back. This would keep the basement and floors warmer.

I bought a remote temp monitor so I could monitor the basement temps, put the sensor in the wet bay and had the display in the coach. I checked this frequently when it was cold out.

I do have a 12 volt heater that I turned on but didn't want to rely on it. I ran 1 extension cord into the basement and put a small cube heater down there. I mounted it so it couldn't move around. I used a thermostatically controlled plug that turned the heater on at 38F and back off when the compartment got warm. Also hooked up 2 heat lamps on a separate circuit as a backup.

I put pillow or insulation in the roof vent openings to prevent heat loss. I kept most of the shades drawn to help keep heat in. In the front window I draped a couple of heavy blankets across and kept the curtains closed.

I used a radiant type heater in the coach living room and only used the propane furnace as a backup, I didn't want to have to go weekly to fill up the propane. At night and during really cold weather I kept the slides in.

If it was really cold I opened the doors on the base cabinets where water lines and Pee traps were located.

Some nights the temps got in the low teens. In the AM the temp in the coach would be in the mid 30's, probably colder back in the bedroom. I slept under lots of blankest.
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Old 11-14-2016, 10:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricSirianni View Post
Haha. Of coarse it will! Fortunately right now we have a solid back-up plan if all the other fail-safes leave us stranded. So far my favorite fail-safe is a dual zone heating blanket! That thing will cook you if you want it to!

I'm taking the furnace out today to clean and check airflow and the sail switch. Seems to be the most common culprits. Thanks!
Ok that's good for your wife and the parakeet, but what about you????

OK, what would you do when the electricity goes off due to an ice storm and stays off for 3 days? What happens when the generator decides to take a vacation during that outage? Do you have enough fuel to run the generator for 3 days? (one gallon per hour for say 72 hours)? Will your electric blanket work with inverted current from the batteries? (We use a electric blanket designed for inverter use) Is there a warm house nearby, or a emergency shelter with a generator, or a warm hospital nearby? When the water freezes in the coach, do you have bottled water? and a place to keep it from freezing? Spare batteries for flashlights? Spare flashlights for when you drop one and it breaks?

Just as long as you plan for the worse, you will be just fine. It will be an adventure you will remember and talk about for the rest of your life.
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Old 11-15-2016, 06:05 AM   #10
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Hahaha! The mental image of the parakeet is so good....

Good suggestions! I can say "check" to everything but an inverter ready blanket. I'll look into that.
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Old 11-15-2016, 06:30 AM   #11
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Things we found that are "Inverter Challenged":

Most electric blankets unless they are a old type with mechanical controls only.

Some coffee makers. Our original Black & Decker coffee maker ran fine, but current Keurig does not.

Our Vornado electric heater (love this thing...it's so quiet and a great performer. Sure beats the roof heat pump for output and noise!). Made a mistake and had it plugged into a inverter outlet. We lost power and the coach automatically switched to inverter and the heater started to smoke!
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Old 11-15-2016, 06:59 AM   #12
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Am I correct that those items that are "inverter challenged" will have problems with a MSW (Modified Sine Wave) Inverter?

However, I believe they should work properly and safely with a (more expensive) PSW (Pure Sine Wave) Inverter (aka, FSW or Full Sine Wave).

Is this true?
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Old 12-19-2016, 06:26 PM   #13
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Nuker, my 2017 40g rear furnace continuously blow cold and will not heat. Any suggestion? South Louisiana hardly use the heat but this week going up north Louisiana and temps will be a little coole
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