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Old 01-01-2016, 10:25 AM   #1
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Furnace vs heat pump

We're heading out for our first weekend of Winter camping. I've been reading comments about how motorhomes will automatically switch to the gas furnace if the thermostat is set to a temp higher than the heat pump can efficiently handle in a timely manner.

Is this true of our 36LA?

My concern is, I just noticed our propane is about 1/3 of a tank and I'm not sure how long that gas will last if the furnace is having to work a lot.

I guess worst case scenario is we run out of propane and get cold.

note: we've already winterized it and don't plan on using the plumbing system this weekend. We're just wanting to get out of the house for a couple nights. So, not worried about heating the storage tanks or bays.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:41 AM   #2
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So, if you're using the heat pumps, you got 110, likely 30-50A shore power. My heat pumps provide dry heat to the top of the coach, so I run an ocillating table fan to stir it up a bit. My heat pumps, and I assume all heat pumps, will switch to furnace, labled as AUX HEAT, if the outside temp is too cold to do the heat exchange, like below 30F. And they will stay on AUX HEAT until the outside temp goes above 42F, or so the manual says. If you got shore power, maybe augment your heat with a electric heater.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:42 AM   #3
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The automatic switch over of Heat Pump to Furnace is usually not predicated on temperature but upon the ability of the Heat Pump to still extract heat from the outside air.

I always thought 40 degrees was the cutoff but one day sy the Heat Pumps still on and the outside temperature was 28 degrees. I contacted Dometic because I thought the control was not working properly. That answer from them was above.

In 10 years, we have used the Furnaces only twice just to check them out. I don't like the couple of minutes of cold air being pushed by the furnace blowers before the heat comes on.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:46 AM   #4
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Heat pumps also take a while to get up to temperature. You are either going to feel cold air from the floor or cold air from the ceiling depending upon which mode you are in during the initial startup
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:55 AM   #5
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From my 06 Monaco Safari Owners' Manual:
If the Heat Pump mode is selected at or below 30 F., or if operating in Heat Pump mode and temperature drops to 30 F., the air conditioner will stop Heat Pump operation and AUX HEAT will be displayed. The furnace will be selected as the auxiliary heat source and will begin operation. The furnace will remain the primary heat source until ambient temperature rises above 42 F. When ambient temperature is between 30 to 42 F., a defrost cycle is initiated approximately every 40 minutes of compressor operation. The blower motor will stop for five minutes and DEFROST will be displayed. After the defrost cycle the Heat Pump operation will resume.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:33 AM   #6
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Heat pumps are great when the temps. are above 50 deg. Below that they become progressively less efficient in extracting heat, and the duct temperature goes down. The efficiency of an LP gas furnace is basically constant, and the duct temperatures are always hotter than a heat pump, so it always feels warmer.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:37 AM   #7
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Forty degrees is typically the cut off point at which the HP is efficient. It can handle lower temp depending on humidity and dew point. However I would not count on it. In freezing temps it simply will not work nor will it keep the basement warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
My advice is to get the propane topped off.
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Old 01-01-2016, 04:40 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone. That makes sense.

Happy new year!
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Old 01-03-2016, 08:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tholtman View Post
We're heading out for our first weekend of Winter camping. I've been reading comments about how motorhomes will automatically switch to the gas furnace if the thermostat is set to a temp higher than the heat pump can efficiently handle in a timely manner.

Is this true of our 36LA?

My concern is, I just noticed our propane is about 1/3 of a tank and I'm not sure how long that gas will last if the furnace is having to work a lot.

I guess worst case scenario is we run out of propane and get cold.

note: we've already winterized it and don't plan on using the plumbing system this weekend. We're just wanting to get out of the house for a couple nights. So, not worried about heating the storage tanks or bays.
BRRR. Winter camping no longer appeals to me even in a motorhome. I guess I was cured while earning that merit badge in Boy Scouts.
I'm spending the winter in south Florida.
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Old 01-03-2016, 08:54 AM   #10
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Heat pumps will extract warm air at lower temps like 40 or so if the sun is shining on the air conditioner if cloudy then the ambient temps need to be higher to get any heat. Just my experience..... i dont know the exact science.........
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:23 AM   #11
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This season in AZ has provided some low 30s at night, but that point is not reached until near daylight, so "inefficiency" is over too short of a time frame to matter. Heat pumps have been great and all we have needed.
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