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Old 11-11-2015, 11:49 PM   #1
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Electric furnace ... Please educate me

I have been researching electric heat for the RV for the past few hours. Let me know if this subject is starting to annoy you. I would like as much input as possible please.

I am toying with this idea. Here it goes!
Can the following be done?

Step 1: Purchase a modular air handler (blower) size is W17.5" D21" H26" voltage 208/230--------$327

Step 2: Purchase a 5 KW heater coil (16,200BTU of heat) which is plenty for my 32 foot unit ---------$65.99

Step 3: Purchase a thermostat -----$50

Step 4: Identify which storage compartment is best for the install. Tie it in to the ducting already provided. Ensure that there is a valve at the gas furnace and the electric furnace so the ducting can be used by either system. (I hope that is clear enough)

Step 5 wire the unit to the receive the correct power (this is where you chime in if it can be done)

Step 6: For ventilation to the electric furnace (if needed) the compartment door that houses the electric furnace can be modified by cutting out large enough opening to add a vent cover on it.

You are probably shaking your head at this idea. Remember I am a newbie and I am brainstorming like crazy.

With my calculations this all can be accomplished with a budget of around $500 if you do it yourself.

I like the idea of not having to rely on propane only.

What are your thought about my plan to conquer the world?
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Old 11-11-2015, 11:50 PM   #2
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I am about to get destroyed by the members in this forum
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:24 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Dan9841 View Post

....cut....

You are probably shaking your head at this idea. Remember I am a newbie and I am brainstorming like crazy.

With my calculations this all can be accomplished with a budget of around $500 if you do it yourself.

I like the idea of not having to rely on propane only.

What are your thought about my plan to conquer the world?
My 2 cents......

If saving money by reducing propane is your primary goal, you can install electric heat a lot cheaper and a lot safer by going to Walmart or wherever and buy 3 or 4 portable 1500 watt electric heaters.

What you suggest seems dangerous to me. Too many things could go wrong.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:27 AM   #4
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My 2 cents......

If saving money by reducing propane is your primary goal, you can install electric heat a lot cheaper and a lot safer by going to Walmart or wherever and buy 3 or 4 portable 1500 watt electric heaters.

What you suggest seems dangerous to me. Too many things could go wrong.
The first one to bring me back down to earth.

Do you think it could mess with the systems already installed in the RV.
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:49 AM   #5
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We take along a little ceramic heater, and it does a nice job with an electric hookup. I added a 1000W inverter, but haven't done the math as to how long the batteries could run the heater.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:24 AM   #6
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We take along a little ceramic heater, and it does a nice job with an electric hookup. I added a 1000W inverter, but haven't done the math as to how long the batteries could run the heater.
Not very long unless you have a lot of batteries.

The typical RV battery has a capacity of roughly 1 kW-hour. If you have two of them that's roughly 2 kW-hours to empty based on 20-hour rate. Drain them faster and they provide even less energy.

If you only drain them down to around 50% to preserve battery life, then you can count on 1 kW-hour of useable energy from the 2 batteries. That suggests a 1 kW heater will deplete the two batteries in less than an hour.

I've looked at these kinds of numbers for years. My goal was to run a small Air Conditioner (that only uses 500 watts) for 6 to 8 hours. And using standard batteries it would take about 8 of them -- roughly 500+ pounds worth of lead. It's physically doable but not too practical.

With a heater that pulls twice as much juice (1000 vs 500 watts), you'd need even more battery bank capacity to heat through a single night.
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:31 AM   #7
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Chance comes through again with the technical answers!

Our inverter will run a small fan all night, with our two batteries. I'll try the heater sometime, just to see. We look for somewhere to plug the RV in, if we know we'll be running the heater. That little ceramic heater has saved a lot of LP gas, by setting the furnace at a lower temp.
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:00 PM   #8
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How about an already made inline heat system like the CheapHeat by RVComfortSystems?
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:23 PM   #9
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How about an already made inline heat system like the CheapHeat by RVComfortSystems?
The CheapHeat system works great on our rig - as long as properly wired 50 amp service is available as the strip heating elements are wired to work on 240VAC across L1 and L2 to deliver maximum output. The downside is that it doesn't work on 30 amp service or on improperly wired "in phase" 50 amp service.

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Old 11-12-2015, 01:28 PM   #10
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Dan,

Your idea is a homemade DIY version of the CheapHeat system for RVs by RV Comfort Systems.

It can be done, (especially if you are electrically inclined).

However, having fulltimed myself for over two years now, I can say that electricity is not the cheap way to go if your site is metered, and you need to pay for electricity separately.

It only makes sense if electricity is included in your site fee already, (usual short term RVPark or campsites).
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Old 11-12-2015, 01:43 PM   #11
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However, having fulltimed myself for over two years now, I can say that electricity is not the cheap way to go if your site is metered, and you need to pay for electricity separately.

It only makes sense if electricity is included in your site fee already, (usual short term RVPark or campsites).
Normally, we don't stay in one place long enough to run into the metered electricity problem (monthly or longer, generally). However, there's the convenience factor to be considered as well. With the CheapHeat system, we still haven't had to refill the propane bottles from the time that we took delivery of our 5th wheel in May 2014. That's worth quite a bit to us - YMMV.

Rusty
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Old 11-12-2015, 02:25 PM   #12
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The CheapHeat system works great on our rig - as long as properly wired 50 amp service is available as the strip heating elements are wired to work on 240VAC across L1 and L2 to deliver maximum output. The downside is that it doesn't work on 30 amp service or on improperly wired "in phase" 50 amp service.

Rusty
Rusty, you must have one of the larger units. Of the three models offered, only the smallest 1800 watt unit appears to be designed to work on 30-Amp 120-Volt power. As you mentioned, the two higher-capacity models need the 240-Volt power only available from properly wired 50-Amp service.

For smaller RVs the lower-capacity model may do OK.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:47 PM   #13
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FWIW,

Attached is a notice posted on Attwood's website. I do not recall seeing this notice a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for the specs for my furnace

11-11CheapHeatInfoNotice.pdf

Since the warranty on my Attwood furnace is 2 years it may be another year before I do the cheap heat installation which will allow additional time for research.

Again, FWIW
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:37 PM   #14
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Thank you all for your response. I have been thinking about adding cheap heat to my system as well but as Dave said it will void the warranty for the Atwood furnace. This is definitely a kick in the south region

If I would add my "own" version of the cheap heat to my RV as described in my first post I would probably have to purchase another inverted to get the correct voltage right?

Beacher,

What do you use during the winter months to keep warm? Space heater and furnace set low?

Thanks
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:55 PM   #15
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If you're boondocking and depending on battery power only, I really wouldn't consider electric heat.

Rusty
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mr Sunshine View Post
Our inverter will run a small fan all night, with our two batteries. I'll try the heater sometime, just to see. We look for somewhere to plug the RV in, if we know we'll be running the heater. That little ceramic heater has saved a lot of LP gas, by setting the furnace at a lower temp.
We have a small fan also to help the AC out on hot days, so I was curious how much power it draws by comparison.

Turns out our fan is rated 0.6 Amps, or +/- 70 watts. Our portable heater, on the other hand, uses 1,000 watts on low and 1,500 watts on high. The difference is extreme.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:02 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RustyJC View Post
If you're boondocking and depending on battery power only, I really wouldn't consider electric heat.

Rusty
I am mostly going to be at RV parks. Boondooking will be later in life.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:10 PM   #18
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...cut....

If I would add my "own" version of the cheap heat to my RV as described in my first post I would probably have to purchase another inverted to get the correct voltage right?

.....cut....
Not really. If you build your own you can buy 120 Volt heater elements if that keeps it simpler. The beauty of custom making anything is that you control what to use.

By the way, another option is the possibility of adding electric heat at the Air Conditioner (not all are set up for it). Like a portable heater, you could base load the electric to keep it running full time, and then let the propane furnace kick in only if it gets much colder.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:21 PM   #19
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Not really. If you build your own you can buy 120 Volt heater elements if that keeps it simpler. The beauty of custom making anything is that you control what to use.

By the way, another option is the possibility of adding electric heat at the Air Conditioner (not all are set up for it). Like a portable heater, you could base load the electric to keep it running full time, and then let the propane furnace kick in only if it gets much colder.
I believe you are taking about adding a heat pump to the AC unit. Yesterday I did some research on that and I can add it to my unit. However the heat pump does not function properly below 40 degrees. Again that was very disappointing to hear that.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:27 PM   #20
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Nope. An electric strip heat option for the A/Cs is totally different than a heat pump, which basically reverses the evaporator and condenser coils of the A/C to heat the RV by drawing heat from the outdoor air and transferring it indoors using the A/C compressor.

Rusty
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