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gmoreno

Space Heater

21 posts in this topic

We're hoping to make a Christmas trek to DC, from Boston; roughly 500 miles. From past experience and while traveling, I know that the furnace pilot light will flame out and, as a result, not warm the rig. Needless to say, the rig will get pretty chilly. What's everyone's opinion on the use of space heaters or of the like while traveling?

One type of space heater better than another? Ceramic heaters? What precautions should we consider - besides common sense - if we decide to use space heaters?

We'll be traveling with our two kids - 7 and 4. Of course, we'll have blankets available.

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Actually, I would suggest that you get the furnace looked at. There is no pilot light on your 2010 furnace. It should work just fine while on the road.

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Hey Brett:

I trust your judgement; you are generally spot on with your comments. But, not sure I agree. First, we've traveled in the rig on cool days with the furnace running full bore prior to departure. Shortly after departure, sometimes in 1/2 hours time, other times a little longer, no heat comes out from the furnace. This is most evident on windier days. This phenom has occurred since new (we purchased the rig brand new). So, I have experienced this event first hand. Secondly, I have placed a phone call to the dealer concerning this issue; shortly after purchasing the rig and then most recently, in early spring of this year. The dealer (the head RV Tech) has assured me that it is nearly impossible to keep the furnace going while the rig is cruising down the road. Something about the "convection" winds flowing down th side of the rig and some of the wind finding its way to exhaust vents, ports, holes, etc. and in my cause, blowing out the pilot - or whatever - so that the unit can not stay lit.

Since I'm a newbie to the RV lifestyle, I'm really not too sure if I have a "pilot" light to speak of. I simply stated this because frankly, I'm not sure what I have and I can only assume that there is a pilot light or something of the sort that fires up the furnace and in turn, offers heat to the house.

I'll put another call into the dealer concerning this issue...maybe their position has changed.

In the meantime, still would like to read some comments about space or ceramic heaters.

Thanks Brett,

Rob

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Rob,

What brand furnace do you have?

Exactly what happens with the furnace when on the road: Heater fan quits? Fan stays running, but no longer hot? Other? And, where is the furnace located on the rig?

I have not researched electric heaters-- would doubt they put out many BTU's and will require the generator to be running.

Hopefully others will chime in.

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Since your generator will burn very little fuel if what you are trying to do is keep one or 2 electric heaters running I would not be terribly concerned about running the genset to stay warm. I use 2 elect. heaters when in very cold weather one pointing at me and one pointing at the DW and it works very well. Since the genset only uses about 1/2 gallon per hour, that equates to 1 gallon every 120 miles and that's an expense I am willing to absorb. Even if your furnace did work while driving, what is your fuel consumption? You will also likely be warm while it's running, cold when it cuts off and warm when it cuts back in again.

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Hey Brett:

My heater is an Atwood Hydro-flame. I haven't confirmed the model number installed in my rig, but I am looking at the product literature that came with the rig when I purchased it and in the manual, it states that there are several models available- 7900-II, 8012-II, 8500-IV, and 8900 III.

To get to your questions, the whole unit just shuts down....quits. And if I pull over after a couple hours of driving (knowing that the heater quit because it is getting cold in the rig), I attempt to re-start the heater via the remote control. I turn the unit "off" for about 30 seconds to one minute, then turn it "on" again. Sometimes it fires up, sometimes it doesn't. I know it fires up because I hear all the usual customary noises that alert me, notifying me that the furnace is back on-line.

Fan does not stay running.

Furnace located on passenger side, mid-way down the rig, about eye-level, so maybe 5' up from the ground. Ok eye- level for a short fella like me!

Bill:

Thanks...I do intend to keep the generator running while on the road. The only way to power the flat screen TVs and DVD players to provide entertainment for the kids in the bunks is to have the generator running. Not too concerned about consumed gas by the generator. More interested in learning if I can overheat electrical outlets in the rig and such if I purchase a convection or ceramic heater and keep it running for a number of hours, or at the very least, use them when I know the furnace heater shut off.

As for MPGs, we'll be towing our mini-cooper on a tow dolly, front wheels up. When doing this, we typically average about 7 MPGs

Thanks,

Rob

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Rob, This is a link to the service information on your style Atwood. It is very technical, but covers them very well. If nothing else it will help fill in some of the operation gaps that the owners manual does not cover.

http://bryantrv.com/...flamefurn04.pdf

Regarding space heaters. There are a number of them. My only thought is you should stay away from the open heater stile, just to easy to get something to close that could start a fire. Thinking a closed radiant heater stile might be safer over all. Zero clearance design.

Power requirements would need to be limited to a max of 1200 to 1500 watts and this is if you have a dedicated 15 amp. circuit you can use.

Hope this helps.

Rich.

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I have used electric heaters while traveling. I have run the inverter with 2 heaters set on low heat,1000 watts each and the cost is between 1/4 and 1/2 mpg. Be sure the heaters can't tip over and there is enough clearance around them.

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Hey Rich:

Nice manual....the Holy Grail of my unit and troubleshooting guide. Thanks!

I'll probably phone Atwood and see if they concur with the dealer and their physics theory of why the furnace shuts off while traveling. We don't do alot of winter traveling, so the furnace shutting off never really bothered me. Thanks for the advice about space heater; closed radiant style.

To desertdeals69...thanks I'll be sure to watch my thermostat settings and to not play Mario Andretti when taking sharp turns in the rig, so as to prevent the space heaters from tipping over!

Rob

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I e-mailed a very knowledgeable member of the FMCA Technical Advisory Committee with your question and got this reply:

Brett, as previously stated, the problem is the draft of the airflow down the side of the coach, probably preventing the burner chamber from properly exhausting thus shutting down on high temperature. A small airfoil just in front of the furnace exhaust might deflect the air enough to prevent shut down.

On electric heaters, there is no preference - look at the wattage and that is what you get, regardless of style.

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Hey Brett:

You da' man!

So, looks like I need to have someone create an airfoil.

Any aerodynamic engineers out there that can create the needed airfoil...at least pencil a drawing or sketch so that I can something fabricated and my local repair guy install it? Maybe something removable?

OK, maybe I don't need an engineer, just someone that can quickly draw up something for me so I have a better idea of what it is I need to do to try and fix my furnace problem. As mentioned, we don't do alot of winter driving, but up in the Boston area, and in the NE, it can still be quite cool in the month of May and when we do get away for an extended weekend during this month, we still need the heat on in the rig. So, I don't need anything fancy. Just something to deflect the wind.

Thanks everyone....including Brett's contact at the FMCA tech board.

Rob

p.s. Brett; I'm originally from El Paso, went to college in Denton, and lived in Dallas (actually, Lewisville) after college. You originally from Texas? Just noticed League City on your Avatar. Miss the warm weather down there, that's for sure!

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Hi gmoreno, my wife and I head down to Indio Ca. in Feb. When we leave Winnipeg its around -25 , I drive down to Lincoln Nebraska approximately 650 mi. I have my generator running and I have to portable furnaces which are infrared heaters that draw about 13 amps each. I have had a couple of trips where the temp was -34 with a wind chill of -48, on those occasions I had both of my gas furnaces running for the first 500 miles. The wind was gusting to 50 mph and I had no trouble with the gas furnaces, they will run in extreme conditions as long as they are properly maintained and installed correctly. Hope this helps and good luck, smokeater75

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Bob, The trick is to keep the eddy created by a deflector, from concentrating the heat to a point that will not cause damage to the side of the coach and furnace area.

One would need all the dimensions of the exhaust port and find a way to connect a deflector.

Stainless Steel would make a nice looking addition, but think I would have a (tin knocker) duct work shop make one up an see if just a simple cone shape would work or if one needs a vent made up like the ones used for boats, a Bilge Vent. They might even have a size that would work it if can be attached to the furnace area.

Rich.

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Your engine won't heat the coach while traveling? Mine does. If you choose to use a plug-in 110v portable heater, then you might call your insurance company to ask if your loss coverage will cover a partial or complete loss due to such a heater. I was told recently about a fellow who left one plugged in and running while the coach was parked. He suffered a complete loss of his coach and his insurance denied his claim.

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The engine will heat only the front occupants of the rig. There simply isn't enough "umph" from the engine blower fan to throw the heat to the back of the rig where the kids will rest. And even of there was enough umph, the noise would be God awful loud and by the time the hot air made its way toward the back of the rig - say even 15 feet - that once scolding hot air would soon cool down. Not to mention, the front passenger (my wife) may suffer a heat stroke from all the hot air! Anyway, I think you get the idea.

Don't know exactly about the hot air stuff...she says I blow hot air all the time! And she is still around to tell about it!

Maybe Brett can use his FMCA tech contacts to have this quandry printed in the next issue of the FMCA magazine and have an FMCA tech draw a picture about this phenom. What say Brett?

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That looks like a class A coach in your associated picture. Most class A coaches have heating systems with vent points located in every room. Could it be you need a "New Owner's School" on your coach? I have two coaches - the old one is a 1976 Bluebird Wanderlodge. It has six heater vent points - with at least one vent in each room and all use engine heat for their heat source.

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Rob,

Many thousands of us with Class A motorhomes have the same Atwood Furnaces and have no problem with them functioning properly driving down the road.

Before deciding that you need a "one of a kind" solution, I would suggest that you/a qualified RV tech do the basic troubleshooting that Rich posted as a link above.

After all, that is why they fit a 25,000+ BTU furnace in the first place.

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My wife really likes Big Buddy. Takes 2 small canisters of fuel and puts out amazing heat. Crack a window for ventilation and don't use while sleeping. Here's a link:

http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-MH18B-Portable-Propane/dp/B0002WRHE8/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1354828566&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=big+buddy+heater

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Years ago I had installed an automotive type heater, plumbed into the engine coolent line and it had its own blower. It was placed in a cabinet and wasn't too big. Heated up the whole rear of the coach.

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A comment on the airfoil, a company makes a product called airtab that creates a vortex when air passes over it. Normally these tab, which are white, clear, and can be painted, are attached to the rear of the sides and roof of you coach.

See youtube here http://www.google.co...ajeVoSS0z3pN-fg

Or visit airtab.com

They are sticky tape mounted, but I am not sure what the minimum order is. You would think they would sell two or three in case you damaged one on the road.

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Thanks everyone for your input for both topics of discussion; furnace and space heaters. I am intrigued about the airtabs and will look into them.

So I'll purchase a couple of space heaters and make sure that they don't exceed 1000 watts and, I'll have my service guy look at my furnace. I'll still phone Atwood to see if they can zone in as to why my furnace shuts down when traveling at a high rate of speed. Hopefully their answer will guide my tech in what to look for.

Happy trails!

Rob

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