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Winter Travel - Driving with Furnace Running

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Would it be better to use the generator or propane for the water heater and refrigerator while driving? Right now the advanced weather forecast seems to be in our favor from Memphis on to Phoenix. As we get closer to leaving I will study the radar intently.

Thanks for all he help and advice.


I would use propane for water heater, refrigerator and furnace.


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I think people seem to forget that there are thousands of vehicles running up and down the highway powered by propane.

I wouldn't worry about propane during a accident if you are carrying 80 to 250 gallons of fuel underneath you.

I was a crew member on C-5 cargo aircraft for 30 years and it always tickled me when someone would worry about a vehicle in the cargo compartment with 1/2 a tank of fuel when the aircraft had over 200,000 pounds of fuel in the wings.

George, I was thinking the same. I drove a CNG powered road tractor a few weeks back, I had two large tanks under me right out along both sides of the tractor and a back pack behind the cab with 5 large tanks with a total of 180 ish gallons of CNG right out in the open. Don't over shoot the fifth wheel when connecting and punch the back pack, LOL. I felt like if I got hit by a guy on a bicycle I was going to level a small town :blink: . That 55 gallon tank buried up under my coach is the last thing on my mind.

I only ever shut the propane off is when I am fueling up the diesel or propane and prior to entering a tunnel on a highway (the toll booth person is always kind enough to remind you just in case you forget like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge toll takers (even with EZ pass you are still greeted by them).

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In November of 2014 we drove our "new to us" 1997 35' gas Winnebago Adventurer from Florida to Michigan in November and stayed in it for a month. It was one of the coldest Novembers on record and was below freezing most of the time. It got down to 11 degrees one night. We ran the furnace the whole time and had to get it filled every 5 days. Other than a short weekend trip prior, this was our first trip in a motorhome! The furnace quit working week two and we had to take it in to get it fixed. It was something minor since it cost only $140 and they finished it in a couple of hours. RV General over by Detroit took us in the same day we called as an emergency repair since we were living in it. The only other problem we had was finding a way to get water into the tanks because up there, no place leaves the water on because of freezing. I ended up hand filling a few times with a bucket and funnel and we used the shower and restroom inside my daughters house as much as possible.

On the way home at a Flying J one night the carbon monoxide alarm went off at about 2 am. After an hour or so we decided there were no fumes. Since we were wide awake, we ended up getting up and back on the road until we found a super Walmart that was open in Ohio. There we purchased a new one. There were no fumes, it was a malfunctioning alarm!

I guess ignorance was bliss for us, but this year when I mentioned going up for Thanksgiving in our "new to us" 2015 Fleetwood 40' Expedition, my husband said no. A month of Michigan in November was not something he wanted to repeat. Turned out they had temps WAY above freezing this year!

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Since we live in paradise (AKA Alaska) it is below freezing about half the year or more. In some instances we have had to run three furnaces, the vehicle heater and some electric space heaters to keep the cabin warm (like when it was 30 below). Life is risky. There are many risks traveling in an RV, most greater than the slight increase in risk associated with running a furnace while driving.

When we bought our 1999 Bounder the factory rep told us they had been tested to 8 above. This is a flat out lie. The supply line from the water tank is in the coldest location possible and without heat it freezes at +25f. For winter travel and camping we do several things:

1. Fill the water tank with hot or very warm water.

2. We put a piece of insulation foam inside the bay doors to hold heat and delay cooing and freezing.

3. We have extension cords running from the 120 bay outlet with drop-lights placed beside water pump, under the water tank by the shut off- drain valves, and wherever water lines are exposed to cold in compartments.

4. Traveling in temperature at or below 0f in many RV's will require that the generator and the furnaces are run continuously (which is probably good for the generator since most fail from lack of use). We put more hours on the generator than on the engine. Of course this is largely due to the fact that the last time we camped in a campground with hookups was three years ago.

5. In cold weather (below freezing all day) it is a good idea to fill the water tank with warm water and run the warm water through all the lines (turn on each faucet until it comes out warm - both hot and cold). It is also a good idea to use the water from time to time in case there is a cold spot in the system.

6. Because we use the RV year round we do not put anti-freeze in the water lines. After every trip we blow the lines out (and keep the lights on until we do if we get home late).

If the bay doors have 1 1/2 to 2" foam behind them and foam, newspapers, cardboard, etc., on the floor one or two 40 - 100 watt light bulbs (incandescent, not LED's or CFL's) keep the compartments pretty warm. To start out you can monitor compartment temperature wit a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer - just put the outside sensor in the compartment. You may only be able to monitor one compartment at a time because many different thermometers seem to use the same frequency to send the readings.

7. I am going to test battery warmers to see if they can be placed on the water tank to keep it warm. They might be an alternative to light bulbs.

8. Many problems are caused by unused space between the ears. Always have a backup plan and (backup systems). I carry electric heaters in case the furnace quits or it is too cold for the furnace or light bulbs alone. I carry indoor safe catalytic propane heaters in case the generator quits. If something happens and the water system can't be kept warm, drain it. If you can't blow it out open the drain valves (all of them) and drive around for a while. If you are not in Kansas (or someplace similar) go up and down some hills and do a few stops and starts to get the water out of the system. If all else fails having a kit installed on the water system that can be used to put anti-freeze in the lines is preferable to freezing up. If you don't like the taste of RV anti-freeze (propylene glycol is not supposed to be poisonous) you can always pump in Everclear or your choice of 100 - 150 proof beverage. Come to think of it...maybe the best thing is to do that in the first place and forget everything else I have written.

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Very seldom that I run in below 32 degree weather, but when I do, I have Aqua Hot on, set at a comfortable 70! I can't relate to "0" degrees!

My generator is also on...all electric coach.

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