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Old 01-31-2020, 10:24 PM   #1
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Boondocking with CheapHeat

Has anyone tried running their CheapHeat off their LiPo batteries?
If so, how long could you run it? I know it depends on the temperature, amps, and size of RV. I'm just looking for a rough estimate.
I have a 50 amp RV, 600 amp LiPo batteries and 1,080 watts of solar.
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Old 01-31-2020, 10:45 PM   #2
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Electric resistance heat is not very efficient, a small 1500 watt box heater will pull the same as a roof air conditioner. With 600 ah's would not expect more than 6 hours.
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Old 02-01-2020, 05:06 AM   #3
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Looks like the small one is 1800 watts.

1800 watts is 150 amps at 12 volts. Even in full sun, your solar will not keep up with that. And that's not including the 6 or 7 amps of the heater fan or the 10% to 15% losses thru the inverter conversion.

If it runs 1/2 the time, it will draw 85 to 90AHs from your batteries, adding in inverter losses and the fan.

It may work fine for knocking the chill off in the morning but not as a constant heat source. Propane heat is much more effecent.
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Old 02-01-2020, 10:59 AM   #4
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Just to be accurate;

Electric heat is very efficient! All the power becomes heat eventually and none goes out the exhaust with pollutants. Add to that the 'losses' from an inverter or other electronics, which also becomes heat. The whole thing works rather well.

But as twinboat noted, you can't run it a heater very long. Batteries just don't store that much energy.
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Old 02-01-2020, 11:18 AM   #5
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Just to be accurate;

Electric heat is very efficient! All the power becomes heat eventually and none goes out the exhaust with pollutants. Add to that the 'losses' from an inverter or other electronics, which also becomes heat. The whole thing works rather well.

But as twinboat noted, you can't run it a heater very long. Batteries just don't store that much energy.
In the OP's application, resistance electric heat is not very efficient. 1800 watts to produce 6100 btu's of heat? If he had heat pumps, he could produce 12000 btu's on the same 15 amps.
This is why far more homes in the US use oil or natural gas, rather than resistance type heat from electricity to heat their homes.
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Old 02-01-2020, 11:30 AM   #6
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You're talking cost effectiveness, not energy efficiency. Different terms!

Heat pumps are also large and awkward to have in an RV. The power is used to transfer heat, not make heat. They're great in their place, but one must beware of when they are limited! I see some folks are mounting mini-split units and I can see why since they also replace the AC and are rarely used in deep freeze conditions.

All energy becomes heat eventually. That's fundamental physics!
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
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You're talking cost effectiveness, not energy efficiency. Different terms!

Heat pumps are also large and awkward to have in an RV. The power is used to transfer heat, not make heat. They're great in their place, but one must beware of when they are limited! I see some folks are mounting mini-split units and I can see why since they also replace the AC and are rarely used in deep freeze conditions.

All energy becomes heat eventually. That's fundamental physics!
Have had heat pumps in my last 5 coaches. They are not large and awkward and take the same footprint as a regular roof air conditioner, because that is what a heat pump is, an air conditioner in reverse. Believe most higher end coaches have combination ac/heat pumps as standard equipment. But the heat pump will lose efficiency at lower ambient temps.

In this application, and probably any rv application, any type of resistance heat is not practical for heating the entire unit on resistance heat, especially when you consider one gallon of propane can produce 91500 btu's and 1 gal of diesel 139000 btu's.
Even on a 50 amp circuit, you would be hard pressed to supply 25000 btu's on resistance heat.
In the OP's case, resistance heat is totally impractical if dry camping in colder weather.
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Old 02-01-2020, 04:21 PM   #8
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I added an 10,000 BTU Empire vent free infrared gas heater to my RV and stopped using the wasteful RV furnace. I have it plumbed into the onboard propane tank. It’s 99.9% efficient and almost silent. It has a hydronic thermostat that requires zero electric power. Best mod I ever did.

Infrared Heaters | Empire Heating Systems
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Old 02-01-2020, 11:44 PM   #9
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I added an 10,000 BTU Empire vent free infrared gas heater to my RV and stopped using the wasteful RV furnace. I have it plumbed into the onboard propane tank. It’s 99.9% efficient and almost silent. It has a hydronic thermostat that requires zero electric power. Best mod I ever did.

Infrared Heaters | Empire Heating Systems
Note the usual safety related comment at the bottom of this Empire Heating web page - concerning use of their "vent free" propane powered heaters:
Vent-Free Room Heaters | Empire Heating Systems

When drycamping, we'll stick with the propane furnace in our motorhome to provide safe, relatively quiet, multi-vented even heat everywhere.

For heat when on full hookups, we use an outstanding combination radiant/convection and very quiet electric heater to keep the entire interior toasty warm.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:04 AM   #10
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Note the usual safety related comment at the bottom of this Empire Heating web page - concerning use of their "vent free" propane powered heaters:
Vent-Free Room Heaters | Empire Heating Systems

When drycamping, we'll stick with the propane furnace in our motorhome to provide safe, relatively quiet, multi-vented even heat everywhere.

For heat when on full hookups, we use an outstanding combination radiant/convection and very quiet electric heater to keep the entire interior toasty warm.
Add the moisture, unvented gas heaters create, causing problems, to the cautions not to use it in under 500 square feet living quarters, and I too will stick with the vented furnace.
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Old 02-02-2020, 04:05 PM   #11
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All products today come with pages of warnings, especially RV furnaces. https://www.scamptrailers.com/images...SE_NT-20SE.pdf

This is my 3rd winter using this heater. I crack open a ceiling vent to alleviate condensation and I paid extra for the thermostatic model that heats to a comfortable temperature and then shuts off. There is an oxygen sensor in the heater and I have a good carbon monoxide detector.

If you read all the warnings on every product you'd never buy anything or be able to go anywhere. Those are put there by the company lawyers to avoid being sued by stupid people who believe everything bad is someone else’s fault.

To each their own. This works very well for us. It is cheap heat that uses very little propane and no electricity. We boondock about 360 days each year.
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:34 PM   #12
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All products today come with pages of warnings, especially RV furnaces. https://www.scamptrailers.com/images...SE_NT-20SE.pdf

This is my 3rd winter using this heater. I crack open a ceiling vent to alleviate condensation and I paid extra for the thermostatic model that heats to a comfortable temperature and then shuts off. There is an oxygen sensor in the heater and I have a good carbon monoxide detector.

If you read all the warnings on every product you'd never buy anything or be able to go anywhere. Those are put there by the company lawyers to avoid being sued by stupid people who believe everything bad is someone else’s fault.

To each their own. This works very well for us. It is cheap heat that uses very little propane and no electricity. We boondock about 360 days each year.
I notice from your profile that your rig may be a relatively small 23-24 foot Class C?

I'd be interested in what other ways you have worked out in order to nearly full time comfortably in such a small motorhome. Good for you!

Our longest trips to date in our 24 foot Class C have only been one of 9 weeks and one of 10 weeks.

FWIW - our rig came with a somewhat generous 18 gallon propane tank and we have five different ways of recharging it's battery bank when drycamping without having to rely on solar.
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:41 PM   #13
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Only use electric heaters when plugged in, otherwise the on board Hurricane hydronic heat. My inverter could handle running a couple small electric heaters but my batteries would be sucked down in no time.

For the time when we boondock and need to conserve battery capacity, I purchased an Olympian Wave 8. Sips propane, silent, no electricity needed, and on high can cook us out of the room - 4200- 8000 BTUs. I provide the required fresh air source and keep a roof vent cracked to help vent moisture. Don't sleep with it on. 37 foot Class A.

If it's really cold and I'm not plugged, in the Hurricane has to run enough to keep the plumbing from freezing.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:45 PM   #14
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Thank you!

It sounds like when dry camping I'll stick with my propane furnace. I'm going out in the desert in a few days and I see it's suppose to get down in the high 30's or low 40's. We're also expecting high winds the next two days so that may delay my adventure. I have portable solar panels.

As you can tell, I'm a newbie. Thank you!
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