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Discussion Starter #1
I am researching heat for the big hauler and have found a few things.

Cat heaters can be dangerous(big arguments).
Furnaces work well but suck up the 12V.

So I was thinking about radiant heat. I don't know if my water heater would be up to the task but I can get a new water heater for about $300, and a used one for a bunch less. So with a decent water heater a circulation pump and a couple bit floor board radiators over the wheel wells I should get some good heating. I will need to put in some circulation fans since its so tall but I was going to do that anyway for the AC as well as the heat.

Any thoughts on this? Anyone look into this? I know a lot of the newer high end motorhomes have this and its supposed to be pretty sweet.
 

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Motorhomes use a seperate water heating source for the hydronic heat. They use an "instantaneous" water heating system like the Hydro Hot. They are a diesel or propane fired system that work like a water tube boiler, IIRC. Very temperamental system that doesn't always work like they should. Installation needs to be damned near perfect to get them to work correctly. Very pricey, and they suck up the fuel too.

When they work, they are great. Just seems like we had them coming back into the shop waaaay too often. For someone with the time, money, and patience, it could work out for the best. Check them out at www.hydro-hot.com
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good to know. I would probably build a system around a standard 6 gallon hot water heater and use a thermostat to drive the circulation pump. The hot water heater would have its own thermostat.
 

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Go with a 10 gallon. DSI and 120vac element. 120 element will keep the water hot when not in use, but propane has a faster recovery rate for when the water is flowing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I may just go ahead with a furnace. I found some mounting examples I like. What I want is to mount it up high in the back out of the way and run ducting forward and down.
 

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I hate to break this to you, but unless you have found some sort of magical pump, it's gonna run on 12v too. Plus it's probably gonna suck more than a 12v furnace fan and could possibly be noisier. I have a small Suburban gas furnace with a 12v fan in my Lance camper. I run it all night at 68 degrees usually and have no problem starting my truck the next day. If you need more 12v reserve, just add batteries, they're cheap. I have the 2 from my PSD and the one from the camper all tied together so I have 3 to draw from. I can usually run my evap cooler or furnace plus all the lights, water pump, etc.. from the time I park Friday 'til the time I leave Sunday and the truck will still start. If my battery monitor drops to yellow, I can always start the Ford for fifteen minutes to charge them back up, it's got a big alternator that charges it up fast. IMO, you're making it too hard. Just get a furnace and extra batteries if you fall short on reserve power. If you have a generator, you can alway charge the batteries off it too. I don't even have a generator on my camper, and have never really needed it. All of my appliances are gas or 12v, the microwave if I use it runs off a 12v inverter.
 

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why dont you try having a fan blown over a coil with circulated hot water from your hot water heater, i have seen a few systems like this in houses
and was told it was most economical, i had to replace a circ pump on one
once and it seamed to work really well as a heat source , at least it does,nt dry out the air as much as a forced air unit
 

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I've got to say that sounds like a major pain in the butt. I can run my forced air furnace all night in 20deg weather and still show full green on my batteries. (33' 5th wheel) That was before I upgraded to 2 6volt batteries that last much longer than the 12volt deep cycles that I had before. With a 50 watt or better solar panel you should be able to re-charge them during the day.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've got to say that sounds like a major pain in the butt. I can run my forced air furnace all night in 20deg weather and still show full green on my batteries. (33' 5th wheel) That was before I upgraded to 2 6volt batteries that last much longer than the 12volt deep cycles that I had before. With a 50 watt or better solar panel you should be able to re-charge them during the day.
I bought two 15W panels and will probably add more later. I am thinking about long term having two distinct circuits in the trailer. One will be the front with the generator, water pump, kitchen lights, and inverter. The other will be in the rear and have the winch, awning lights, ceiling fan, furnace, and upstairs lights on it. I already have a 2 battery marine switch in there so if I drain one circuit I can switch over to the other or parallel them. This would really only be necessary to start the generator to charge the batteries up if I need.

off topic: I found a really cool controller on the camping world website that will automatically start your generator if the batteries get low. With 19 gallons of fuel onboard for ONLY the generator this would be pretty cool. The solar panels should keep the batteries mostly charge and the generator would fire up in emergency situations. I think even when we buy a house I would prefer this setup. :D
 

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What flavor generator? Onan makes a controller that works with theirs.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
IIRC its a generac primepact 50G. I wish I knew how loud it was going to be I would have upgraded to a quieter one. I have some ideas on how to quiet down the enclosure it is in, but haven't had the time, plus it is open to the bottom and there really isn't anyway to insulate that since there needs to be airflow I believe.
 

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I like the idea of the auto start. Before I switched to the 6volts I had my batteries go dead a couple of times. When the low bat alarm goes off it"s too late to be able to start the generator. My buddy has an 80 watt panel on his trailer and he doesn't have to run his generator unless he's using the microwave.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I like the idea of the auto start. Before I switched to the 6volts I had my batteries go dead a couple of times. When the low bat alarm goes off it"s too late to be able to start the generator. My buddy has an 80 watt panel on his trailer and he doesn't have to run his generator unless he's using the microwave.
Thats what I am hoping. I have to do some creative wiring to isolate my battery chargers from the inverter I want to put, don't wanna pay for a xantrex with it all built in. The inverter should run everything except the microwave, AC and big flood lights. With 4 15W solar panels and 4 6V batteries I should be in good shape. If I need more panels I will add them later. They are $90 from Northern Tool.
 

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That GenerJunk is gonna be loud.... Looooong straight pipe with the Onan muffler on the end would help.
 

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I've got a hot water recirc system in two apartments and in ten years I've only had 1 pump failure (due to the tenant running it continuously for a couple monts with the heat off) using the old radiators (1927 4-plex). fwiw have you considered a loop with your engine (with isolation ball valves of course) and a propane fired heater plumbed like the camp showers? You could embed the water lines into foam insulation in the floor and if you really worked at it the thermal flow would help the recirc pump.

http://www.espar.com/
I have one of these in the Volvo and they also make diesel fired coolant heaters which would work for this kind of application I think.
 

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I've got a hot water recirc system in two apartments and in ten years I've only had 1 pump failure (due to the tenant running it continuously for a couple monts with the heat off) using the old radiators (1927 4-plex). fwiw have you considered a loop with your engine (with isolation ball valves of course) and a propane fired heater plumbed like the camp showers? You could embed the water lines into foam insulation in the floor and if you really worked at it the thermal flow would help the recirc pump.

http://www.espar.com/
I have one of these in the Volvo and they also make diesel fired coolant heaters which would work for this kind of application I think.


http://www.espar.com/htm/Specs/water/wterheat.htm
When heat is called for by the switch or timer, a control unit signals the units integrated Coolant pump to start circulating the coolant.

 

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I wired in a toggle switch at my breaker box that switches all of my outlets from shore/generator to inverter. So if I want 110 at a plug for something, or I want to watch tv I just flip the plugs to the inverter but if i've got the generator running or i'm hooked up to shore power, I put it back in the normal position.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That GenerJunk is gonna be loud.... Looooong straight pipe with the Onan muffler on the end would help.
Yeah its pretty loud, mostly mechanical noise though. The exhaust is pretty quiet.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Bringing this back from the dead. I found an example of the Hydronic setup I am looking at doing, only with a fan.

Looking back over the comments one thing comes to mind about efficiency. The biggest problem with the traditional furnace is not the fan, it is the heat transfer rate. Water to metal to air is significantly better than air to metal to air.

I have found a water to air heat exchanger for pretty cheap and the pump will be pretty straight forward. Gotta source a fan, or fans, and I am thinking about just going with brushless fans in an array. Should be pretty quiet, and while not super high on the CFM, should work OK.

On the really cold trips I am thinking I may just get a cheap, obnoxious 120V heater and run that with the generator for say 30 minutes in the evening to heat up the hauler, then use the hydronic to keep it warm. I'm really not looking to have 80 degrees when it it 20 out, just be able to keep it in the high 50's, maybe 60's.

Then I gotta make it so I don't freeze my water hoses anymore. :p
 
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