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Old 01-20-2022, 06:53 PM   #1
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Using electric fan heater, good idea?

My buddies use an electric fan heater on cold nights on the theory that the electric comes with the site so might as well use it instead of propane. In my Coachmen Freelander. however, the duct from the furnace goes along the same path as the plumbing for the kitchen, so I'm thinking I need the furnace operating to prevent plumbing freeze up. Am I being too cautious?

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Old 01-20-2022, 06:57 PM   #2
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Nope


I have a remote temp sensor in my water tank bay so I can monitor temps. Gives me a piece of mind that all is good. On really cold nights I'll wake up and check multiple times.
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Old 01-25-2022, 09:46 PM   #3
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We use electric heat while awake on cold nights. However, after bedtime we always turn off the electric and use the propane furnace for safety reasons.

I have no idea what temperatures you mean by cold nights. We've camped at 4F without problems. What you need really depends on how cold, wind chill issues, insulation used, how water tanks and lines are installed and if these spaces are even heated with the furnace.
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Old 01-26-2022, 12:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rarebear.nm View Post
We use electric heat while awake on cold nights. However, after bedtime we always turn off the electric and use the propane furnace for safety reasons.

I have no idea what temperatures you mean by cold nights. We've camped at 4F without problems. What you need really depends on how cold, wind chill issues, insulation used, how water tanks and lines are installed and if these spaces are even heated with the furnace.
Both appliances are safe but my opinion is different than yours in that if I had to choose one that I thought was more safe, it'd be the electric heater. This of course being a more modern heater with safety features (high limit and tip over protection).

For us, we find it good to run both on really cold nights. I set the electric heater to its lower 900 watt setting and set the propane furnace to come on around 60. The little electric will pretty much run continuously on a really cold night. The furnace on the other hand, will only cycle a few times, if any..

Note that our furnace does not direct heat into any of the bays. The ductwork may inadvertently have a heating effect on some of the plumbing but I doubt very much.
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Old 01-26-2022, 12:32 PM   #5
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Electric space heaters are great for warming up the immediate area you are in but not so good at warming up the entire RV (inside cabinets/rv plumbing/waste tanks etc)

That is what the RV Furnace is made for......warming up the ENTIRE RV
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Old 01-26-2022, 04:45 PM   #6
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Our 24 foot long rig HERE is small by class-C standards concerning the volume of interior air to heat by having a lower ceiling, closer side walls, no front over-head bunk, and no slide-out. It also has thermal windows so it's quite energy efficient in this regard.

I like to use a small ceramic heater during the night. After blocking off the front cab area with a comforter draped over and tucked around the two front seats, I place the electric heater forward, facing rearward. It has 500/1000/1500 watt settings. The outside temp determines which setting. For nights that dip close to freezing, after getting the cabin warmed up before bed, we can get by with the 500W setting to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature in the upper 60s. We open the bathroom door so that room's plumbing is also protected from freezing.

We have used the 1000W setting in below-freezing temperatures, but it never got below 25 degrees outside.

As a precaution, I set the RV furnace to turn on if the indoor temp drops below the maintained temperature. The RV furnace being noisy, wakes me up so I then get up and click on the electric heater to the next higher setting. If already at the 1500W setting which has not yet happened to us, and the RV furnace turns on, that would be as good as the electric heater can maintain so the two heating systems then would work together.

If camping in extreme cold, I imagine the RV furnace would cycle regularly. But it makes sense to get all I can from the ceramic electric heater and crack open the cabinet doors where the fresh water lines are....and not forgetting the bathroom door.
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Old 01-28-2022, 05:46 PM   #7
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I Recommend furnace set down low while sleeping, and electric when up for comfort
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Old 01-28-2022, 06:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnNorth View Post
My buddies use an electric fan heater on cold nights on the theory that the electric comes with the site so might as well use it instead of propane. In my Coachmen Freelander. however, the duct from the furnace goes along the same path as the plumbing for the kitchen, so I'm thinking I need the furnace operating to prevent plumbing freeze up. Am I being too cautious?

John North
Your buddy and I read the same Book!

Free is better than Paying for Propane or Diesel - JMHO.

It is important to keep an eye the actual temperatures in the places you have concern - water needs to be well below 32 to have a hard freeze. Walls are insulated and Cabinets are not

All of the non electric People do understand that most houses are now heated with ELECTRIC - Heat Pumps - many RV's also are heated with heat pumps (They are also Cooled with Electric).

While electric fan heaters are not the most efficient method to heat, unless electric is Free, or included in the price - when they cost nothing to operate and you have them really are great.

When we had our Coach built - I had four 20 amp circuits added so I could use the FREE (Included) electric when we camped - one in the Bedroom - One in the Bathroom - one in the Kitchen - and one in the front of the Coach, and we have used them in extreme cold - Golden Colorado - They work - when it would get down to say 20-15 we would supplement with the Aqua Hot - Toasty.

While it is smart to be informed - remote temperature readings - it really takes very little to keep the interior of a Coach above freezing generally a single 1500 watt heater will manage to keep a coach above freezing while temperatures are above 10-15 - remembering the Basement is separated by an insulated floor so it needs special attention.

This is from a guy who spent three Winters in Golden using Mainly electric (Yes sometimes all 4) and Living very comfortably with the low temps -15 for ten nights in a row (supplemented with the Aqua Hot) During this time there were only two coaches that did not freeze. we were one

Just be smart with what you do and how you do it - Electric works.

JMHO,



So do what works for you, that's it.
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Old 01-28-2022, 06:37 PM   #9
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Of course the OP's introduction issue and resulting above comments assume hookup camping.

When drycamping in the cold, keeping warm enough usually requires different considerations and methods.

I watch a lot of Youtube Class C videos on how their users deal with cold weather drycamping ... mostly so I have ideas and knowledge, just in case. I consider the use of our RV to include all reasonable weather we might expect here in the U.S., whether drycamping or hookup camping - but as we all know things are changing in the weather department.

Regarding use of electric heaters when drycamping, we have run our built-in generator in extreme heat/humidity for air conditioning while we slept in order to get any sleep. I suppose the same could be done in the extreme cold so as to use electric heaters to stay warm. When using our built-in generator for any length of time to keep cool (or if it should be necessary to keep warm), we keep the interior pressurized to ensure that no generator fumes can enter the interior.
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Old 01-28-2022, 07:15 PM   #10
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When boon-docking, the beauty of a motorhome over a travel trailer is that if anything goes wrong with the furnace, you run out of propane, or your battery goes dead, you can always start up the main chassis engine to heat the house and charge your house battery.
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Old 01-28-2022, 08:45 PM   #11
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Electric heat is good, when you are plugged in. Add one in the wet bay for those cold nights !

We have done lots of different ways over the last 8 years, since we went full time. 42 Class A diesel.

Electric space heaters when on shore power, including in the wet bay.
Propane furnace when boon docking. Propane catalytic heater and furnace when boon docking.
All of the above when on shore power!

Did the last full winter, in MO, using a diesel heater. Small, mounted under the fridge, beside the propane furnace.
It pulls in combustion air from outside and discharges the exhaust outside. Inside air is heated and forced out through duct hoses. Mine has 4. 1 hose is connected to the flex duct that runs to the wet bay, near the piping/pump. 1 runs back towards the bedroom and aims slightly upwards. The other 2 point towards the front of the coach.
Has its own fuel tank. Pumps to the heater. You can get diesel about anywhere.

Used this exclusively for that winter. Was near 0 degrees for a week at one point. Stayed nice and warm in the coach, with no frozen piping.

About 8amps for 10 minutes to get it started. 1-2amps an hour after that, depending on whether it is idling or running full tilt. About 48 hours of heat out of 3.5 gallons of diesel, on a cold week it also produces dry heat.

Not for everyone, but another option.

Diesel RV, diesel Jeep Wrangler, diesel heater.
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Old 01-28-2022, 09:58 PM   #12
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I been through several iterations of heating campers. In the early 90's using wave catalytic so I did not have to hear the propane furnace and could dry camp for 5 days. Throughout the years different heaters both electric space heaters and portable propane.

Now if Im on an electric site. I use the camper propane furnace set at 66
degrees. I have 3 small 500 watts personal work space portable elec heaters. They hang on the outlet with digital stats set to 69 (1 - BR, 1 - kit, 1 - LR). Also 1-50 watt 12v heater in the insulated water bay if it gets below 32 degrees. This seems to work good for us.
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Old 01-29-2022, 05:49 AM   #13
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Last winter, I was in the 5th wheel for three months at a campground while looking for a house. I used a 1000 watt electric bathroom heater and kept my propane furnace turned down pretty low.
The furnace would kick on occasionally, but the electric did most of the heating. Keep in mind that I was in NW Florida, so seldom (if ever) did I have any freezing temps.
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Old 01-29-2022, 10:54 AM   #14
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I really cold weather we run a 1500 Watt in the living area and a 700 Watt in the bedroom area and set the furnace to come on if the electric heat is not keeping up. This puts some heat in the basement. The basement down not have to kept at 68 or 70 degF....only above 32. We have a remote temperature sensor/ alarm in the basement set at 40 to 45 degF. If the basement starts to get too cold, we cut back on the electric heat which makes the furnace run more.

If above 40 degF, we will run the two heat pumps.

Ken
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