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Old 01-26-2015, 04:49 PM   #1
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2012 Monaco Knight Winter Procedures

Long story short, my wife and I sold our home and have not located another house yet so we are spending winter time in North Carolina in the motor home. Thought I would share some of the specific issues related to the 2012 Monaco 40DFT,including some lessons learned the hard way. Have survived temperatures down to around 10 degrees with no major damage/problems:

1). The bay heater is not reliable. It does a decent job of keeping the basement water compartments from freezing but have blown a fuse that required replacement. Also had to replace the "snap disk" thermostat that turns on and off the bay heater during freezing conditions. I learned not to completely trust this heater and have "backed it up" in the bay area with a ceramic heater kept in the low position to keep from pulling too many amps. The water filter is also not located close to the bay heater and has the potential for freezing in super cold weather. The " back up" ceramic heater is located closer to the water filter and will come on to protect the water filter if conditions get to freezing.

2). Propane regulator will freeze if conditions get below around 20 degrees.
I know, the regulator should not freeze at these temperatures but after experiencing problems with both furnaces at these temperatures, have eliminated the problem by heating the area with a low wattage bulb. Consulted with the manufacturer of the regulator who confirmed that extreme temperatures can result in freezing of the regulator. IF the regulator should freeze, it is ok to pour hot water on it to eliminate the problem.

3) There are water lines in the slide leading to the kitchen sink that will freeze if temperatures get into the 20 degree range if the full wall slide is out. Fortunately, these lines exposed to the outside are "PEX" and no damage occurred but recommend a light bulb clamped below that area to prevent freezing and functioning kitchen water and sink in really cold conditions.l

4) Water supply kept from freezing using a heated hose. No problems and this is plugged into the engine block heater outlet at the back of the coach. The lights keeping the propane regulator and wall slide water lines from freezing are also plugged into this outlet and can be turned on and off as needed with the circuit breaker located above the driver's seat.

5) Residential refrigerator water line has been tested with an external thermometer and receives enough heat from inside the motor home to prevent it from freezing.

6) The inverter is limited to 30 amps so too many ceramic heaters are not recommended. Most outlets inside the coach are run through the inverter weather on or not. The heat pumps do a decent job of keeping things comfortable as long as temperatures due not get below about 35 degrees. Below that temperature, the roof mounted heat pumps blow cold air. Two furnaces due a good job of keeping things warm at lower temperatures. They actually produce too much heat and one furnace seems to be enough to do the job. Fortunately the propane tank is large enough to prevent frequent service.

Hope these tips help anyone with the same or similar setup...

Hope these tips help anyone contemplating winter camping in this motor home.
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:00 PM   #2
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Nice write up, good info for others who haven't tried to camp in the cold.

In Mar 2011 I accepted a job in Northern Michigan and decided to take my Windsor to live in until could fine better accommodations. There was 1 campground that said they had winter hookups which amounted to a 20 amp plug, no sewer or water. I ended up running a ceramic heater in the basement with a 2nd extension cord and only ran a radiant type heater in the living quarters. I seldom ran the propane furnace. I would keep the slides in to hold in as much heat as possible. I was able to take showers in the building. Some mornings I'd wake up and it would be ~35 F in the bedroom. There was still snow on the ground when I got there and we had ~2' of snow in April. I was lucky, nothing froze (except me).
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Old 01-26-2015, 09:08 PM   #3
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Good to know. Was definitely wondering about the water filter which is located on the opposite side of the coach in a totally separate compartment from the only bay heater supplied with the coach. Also the fridge line has no insulation on it at all. Hadn't thought about the propane regulator - another "heads up" and good to know.. Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:31 PM   #4
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Excellent write-up Robert! Thanks! I have a few additional suggestions gleaned from previous posts here on this forum and from personal experience during late fall and early spring living in southern Canada or northern US.

1. A remote thermometer in the water bay is very useful to monitor the temperature down there. They are inexpensive (less than $20 at Walmart, Lowes or Home Depot) and give great peace of mind. I keep my thermometer display on my bedside shelf and sleep better for it.

2. Like Robert, I also use a small ceramic heater (like these from Lowes, Home Depot or Walmart) in the water bay and a heated hose, both of which I plug into the engine block heater outlet or directly into the pedestal if there's a 20A plug available there. My 12V water bay heater died in 2011 during our first year of full-timing and I simply replaced it with a 120V ceramic heater - hung on the same bracket as the 12V heater - and run it on low power using it's own thermostat. The remote thermometer allows me to monitor the situation and I've never had a problem with freezing or overheating in the water bay.

3. I have a macerator and as long as the temperature doesn't get much below 20 deg F, I leave the 1" diameter dump hose out but insulate it with pipe insulation (looks like gray pool noodles). I use double insulation: one layer of smaller diameter (~1" ID) insulation around the hose and one layer of larger diameter insulation (~3" ID) around the first layer. I learned this through experience as my uninsulated macerator hose froze once during an unexpected overnight snap freeze in Albuquerque and it split everywhere when I tried to break up the ice (er... frozen gray water) in the morning to put it away. Luckily I found a new hose online at a clearance price because they can be pricey.

4. Many Monaco coaches have bedside outlets that are powered separately, i.e. not through the inverter. My coach is this way, so we use the closest of the bedside outlets for the ceramic heater that we use for heat in the bathroom, to save on propane when outside temperatures are too low for the heat pumps. We prefer using free-to-us electricity rather than not-free-to-us propane when we can.

5. Inspired by several write-ups here on iRV2, I installed a separate circuit with two plugs in the kitchen (one near the floor and one near the counter) and one in the bathroom. The circuit ends in the power bay with a 20A extension cord that I can plug directly into the pedestal. We use this primarily when we're running on a 30A pedestal, but it's also useful on 50A when we want to run the front ceramic heater, the kettle, the toaster or the hair dryer at the same time. More than two of those appliances through the regular 20A "RV outlet" inverter circuit will trip the breaker at the inverter, but by running one or two of the those appliances through the separate circuit, it allows us to run two others on the inverter circuit. (My coach has a 30A input circuit for the inverter, with a 20A output circuit for the microwave and a 20A output circuit for all the outlets in the coach - except the outlets for the fridge, water heater, block heater, washer/dryer and, as already mentioned, the two bedside ones).

6. I always leave the storage bay 12V lights on when it gets close to freezing or below. It's not much additional heat, but combined with the factory insulation it's enough to prevent the contents of the basement bays from freezing, especially in my (smaller) tool bay where all my expensive cleaning, caulking and lube cans/tubes live. I only added an extra 120V light bulb in that bay once, when it was to go down to 5 deg F overnight, and I've never had anything in there freeze (knock on wood).

7. Finally, if it will get much below freezing and I'm not going to run the propane heaters overnight I always leave the doors open on the bottom kitchen and bathroom cupboards so the water lines and and drain pipes at the bottom of those cabinets get heat from the room, and I leave the bedroom closet sliding doors open so the washer water lines and drain pipe at the bottom of the closet will get heat from the bedroom.

Hope this and Robert's write-up help those planning on living in the cold.

Written sitting in the Phoenix sunshine...
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Old 02-02-2015, 07:01 AM   #5
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Thanks for additional thoughts and replies. Agree with all the suggestions and wanted to include information from cold weather experience that is not in the owners manual. Can't imagine Michigan in the winter and North Carolina is about the limit for me personally. I have found that when running the ceramic heaters it is best to not use the microwave at the same time as it can overload the inverter 30 amp circuit. I only use one of the ceramic heaters that is located in the bedroom on "high" and keep the others on the low heat setting that only pull a few amps..
One other issue we have dealt with is that the furnace is almost too much heat even when the thermostat is set at 60 degrees at night. We found that it was best to keep the coach a little on the cool side at night because the furnace will raise the inside temperature about 6 to 8 degrees before shutting off even when outside temperatures are in the low teens. I suppose an aqua hot or similar device would be the ideal cold weather heater and would definitely recommend if planning long term cold weather protection but that is a different discussion.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:29 PM   #6
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I agree with Robert's point about using the microwave at the same time as ceramic heaters. I also found that the microwave drags if other high-draw appliances are used on the inverter circuit. That was the main motivation for me to install the separate 20A circuit that goes directly to the pedestal (details at para 5 of post #4), although it's also very handy when plugged into a 30A pedestal. By using the bedside outlet circuit and this separate 20A circuit for ceramic heaters and other high-draw appliances, it leaves enough amps available on the inverter circuit for the microwave without having to constantly juggle appliances.
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