RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
 

Go Back   Thor Forums > Thor Motorcoach & Motorhome > Class A Motor Coach
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-01-2015, 09:26 PM   #1
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
Cheap Heat in Motorhome

I have seen threads where folks have added the RV Comfort Systems Cheap Heat to a fifth wheel or trailer but has anyone tried adding the system to a motorhome?

From what I read it seems this system could be an alternative heating source when temps are hovering around freezing without having to burn propane. Since my tank compartments are heated by the furnace it looks like this system could heat the compartments as well as the coach using campground electric instead of propane.
__________________

__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 12:45 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Chateau 35SK
State: Pennsylvania
Posts: 163
THOR #2366
Don't know of anyone personally, but the Cheap Heat system was advertised in Motorhome magazine quite a few times and there was a youtube video where someone had installed it in a Class A and they were happy with it.
Fred
__________________

__________________
Fred g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 01:05 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Brand: Still Looking
State: Texas
Posts: 4,748
THOR #2121
What's significance of "temps hovering around freezing" reference?

I also don't know anything about this system but use electric heat all the time. This system looks more convenient than either portable heaters or heat strips in roof Air Conditioners, although it appears a little more expensive. Looks good in principle so I hope it works well.
__________________
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 01:21 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
RustyJC's Avatar
 
Brand: DRV
Model: Mobile Suites 38RSSA
State: Texas
Posts: 206
THOR #2754
As far as the Cheap Heat system is concerned, at one time I was a real skeptic about it. However, our 5th wheel came equipped with it and we're very pleased with its performance. We've been out in temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s and the Cheap Heat system working in conjunction with our fireplace kept everything nice and toasty. The furnace was still cycling, so there was heating capacity in reserve even at those temperatures.

One advantage I appreciate with the Cheap Heat system is, since it piggy-backs onto the propane furnace, it keeps the basement warm just like the propane furnace would.

Switching back and forth between electric and propane heat is as simple as flipping an "Electric/Propane" toggle switch in the 5th wheel's control center.

Rusty
__________________
Rusty, Sandy, 2 Shelties (Coby & Callie) & Conner the Campground Cat
2016 Ram 3500 Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 Dually, 385/900 Cummins, Aisin AS69RC, 4.10 axle, 39,100 GCWR, 30,050 trailer tow, B&W RVK3600
Current: 2014.5 DRV Mobile Suites 38RSSA #6972 - Previous: 2004 MS 36RE3 #1291
RustyJC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 02:05 PM   #5
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
What's significance of "temps hovering around freezing" reference?

I also don't know anything about this system but use electric heat all the time. This system looks more convenient than either portable heaters or heat strips in roof Air Conditioners, although it appears a little more expensive. Looks good in principle so I hope it works well.
What's significance of "temps hovering around freezing" reference? - the need to keep water tanks, lines, filter and pump which are located in storage compartments from freezing and ruining one's day. As you can see in the photo below major water system components are located in one exterior compartment. The water pump cannot be seen because it is a black pump mounted on a on black floor.

Click image for larger version

Name:	Water Comp.jpg
Views:	321
Size:	75.3 KB
ID:	744

Since the AC and Furnace use separate ducting, heat strips in the AC will not heat the storage compartments and prevent the water system from freezing. The storage compartments on the Challenger are heated by the furnace ducts. During a 2 week trip in November we experienced multiple nights of 25 degree temps and went through 3 tanks of propane (not counting pre and post trip fills).
__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 02:07 PM   #6
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
Rusty

Thanks. It is good to hear the system actually works.
__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 03:31 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Chateau 35SK
State: Pennsylvania
Posts: 163
THOR #2366
Also, the Cheap Heat system is supposedly more economical to run. What they advertise is 100% of the energy used in the resistance coils to produce heat that is transferred to the heat ducts. With propane, as much as 40% of the energy is blown out through the exhaust duct. To me, if I were going to camp in cold weather for an extended period of time, the Cheap Heat system would be a necessity.
We were in North Carolina for Thanksgiving last year and the temps went into the single digits at night. At the time we had a 40' 5th wheel and we went thru a 30 lb tank of propane in 5 days.

Fred
__________________
Fred g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 05:06 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Brand: Still Looking
State: Texas
Posts: 4,748
THOR #2121
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
What's significance of "temps hovering around freezing" reference? - the need to keep water tanks, lines, filter and pump which are located in storage compartments from freezing and ruining one's day. As you can see in the photo below major water system components are located in one exterior compartment. The water pump cannot be seen because it is a black pump mounted on a on black floor.

Attachment 744

Since the AC and Furnace use separate ducting, heat strips in the AC will not heat the storage compartments and prevent the water system from freezing. The storage compartments on the Challenger are heated by the furnace ducts. During a 2 week trip in November we experienced multiple nights of 25 degree temps and went through 3 tanks of propane (not counting pre and post trip fills).
Thanks for clarification Dave -- I was confused by wording thinking you meant down to temperatures just around freezing. Obviously with electric heat it doesn't matter what the temperature is. It works just as well at 30 degrees as at 0 degrees as far as delivering the design heat rate. Whether that's enough to elevate tank and pump temperatures above freezing is another issue.

The largest unit at 5000 watts delivers a bunch of heat compared to the 1500 watts maximum I've used in portable heaters. And I usually run it on low at night. Granted your motorhome is much larger but also much better insulated. If the 120-Volt smaller heater was an option on an Axis I think I would order it. Although more expensive it should beat portable heaters any day.

I'm curious, can furnace fans be run without the propane heat on in modern furnaces? Like running AC with just fan? Just wondering if it's possible to circulate warm coach air through furnace ducts to keep the tanks above 32 F. I'm asking as it affects heated-tank option.
__________________
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:01 PM   #9
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
I'm curious, can furnace fans be run without the propane heat on in modern furnaces? Like running AC with just fan? Just wondering if it's possible to circulate warm coach air through furnace ducts to keep the tanks above 32 F. I'm asking as it affects heated-tank option.
Good question. I know I can run the fans without AC or heat, however, if I switch the fan to 'on' using the dual thermostat (AC and Heat) I'm not sure which fan runs, the one for the furnace (floor ducts) or the one for the front AC (ceiling ducts). Tonight when I go out to the coach for some maintenance time I'll check and answer the question. For clarification, in my coach with dual AC the thermostat for the front unit is the one that controls heat as well as AC. The thermostat for the rear unit controls AC only.

The way I understand it the Cheap Heat system uses the existing furnace fan (required to be operational for installation) and includes a switch for selecting electric or propane heat. One thing I just noticed on their FAQ is that if wired for 50 AMP service the system will not run if you are adapted and connected to campground 30 amp.
__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:07 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
RustyJC's Avatar
 
Brand: DRV
Model: Mobile Suites 38RSSA
State: Texas
Posts: 206
THOR #2754
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
Good question. I know I can run the fans without AC or heat, however, if I switch the fan to 'on' using the dual thermostat (AC and Heat) I'm not sure which fan runs, the one for the furnace (floor ducts) or the one for the front AC (ceiling ducts). Tonight when I go out to the coach for some maintenance time I'll check and answer the question. For clarification, in my coach with dual AC the thermostat for the front unit is the one that controls heat as well as AC. The thermostat for the rear unit controls AC only.

The way I understand it the Cheap Heat system uses the existing furnace fan (required to be operational for installation) and includes a switch for selecting electric or propane heat. One thing I just noticed on their FAQ is that if wired for 50 AMP service the system will not run if you are adapted and connected to campground 30 amp.
If I set my Zone 1 Mode to Furnace and Zone 2 Mode to Off, I still have the "low/high/auto' fan speed options. Now, do any of them work besides auto when in the Furnace mode? Good question. If I can remember to do so, I'll try it this weekend when we have the RV out.

That is correct. If wired for 120/240VAC 50 amp service, the heating elements will not energize on 30 amp service since 240VAC is not present across L1 to L2 on 30 amp service. Ours is wired for 50 amp and we have 30 amp service in our covered storage bay, so I can't use the Cheap Heat system to keep the 5th wheel above freezing in the winter - I have to use space heaters.

Rusty
__________________
Rusty, Sandy, 2 Shelties (Coby & Callie) & Conner the Campground Cat
2016 Ram 3500 Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 Dually, 385/900 Cummins, Aisin AS69RC, 4.10 axle, 39,100 GCWR, 30,050 trailer tow, B&W RVK3600
Current: 2014.5 DRV Mobile Suites 38RSSA #6972 - Previous: 2004 MS 36RE3 #1291
RustyJC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:14 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Hurricane 34E
State: California
Posts: 524
THOR #937
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
....
The largest unit at 5000 watts delivers a bunch of heat compared to the 1500 watts maximum I've used in portable heaters.....
The Cheap Heat system is only actually "cheap" or inexpensive to use if you do not have to pay separately for electricity where you are setup.

If you are staying overnight at a campground or RVPark, electricity hookup is normally included in your fee, and then this source of heating is indeed "cheap", because you are not using propane.

However, for a fulltimer it's not actually inexpensive or "cheap" at all to operate a 5000 Watt, (or even a 1000 Watt portable), heater for any length of time. If you pay for electricity, especially on a tiered bill, it will quickly add up to about $100 month if used just about 8 hours a day.
__________________
Beacher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:26 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
RustyJC's Avatar
 
Brand: DRV
Model: Mobile Suites 38RSSA
State: Texas
Posts: 206
THOR #2754
Yes, it depends on what you're paying for electricity versus propane, corrected for the difference in furnace efficiency between the two and factored for the value of the convenience of not having to fill propane tanks. Once all the number crunching is done and you reach a decision, flip the switch to either Electric or Propane and have at it.

Rusty
__________________
Rusty, Sandy, 2 Shelties (Coby & Callie) & Conner the Campground Cat
2016 Ram 3500 Longhorn Crew Cab 4x4 Dually, 385/900 Cummins, Aisin AS69RC, 4.10 axle, 39,100 GCWR, 30,050 trailer tow, B&W RVK3600
Current: 2014.5 DRV Mobile Suites 38RSSA #6972 - Previous: 2004 MS 36RE3 #1291
RustyJC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:28 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Brand: Still Looking
State: Texas
Posts: 4,748
THOR #2121
Quote:
Originally Posted by dstankov View Post
....cut....

The way I understand it the Cheap Heat system uses the existing furnace fan (required to be operational for installation) and includes a switch for selecting electric or propane heat. One thing I just noticed on their FAQ is that if wired for 50 AMP service the system will not run if you are adapted and connected to campground 30 amp.
From the write up it appears to me that if wired for the low power setting like on a 30-Amp RV that it will work on a 50-Amp service with 30-Amp adaptor. I think that's because the heating element would then be working on 120-Volt from one of the two hot legs of your 50-Amp service. But you would be limited to 1800 watts of heat.
__________________
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 06:43 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Brand: Still Looking
State: Texas
Posts: 4,748
THOR #2121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beacher View Post
The Cheap Heat system is only actually "cheap" or inexpensive to use if you do not have to pay separately for electricity where you are setup.

If you are staying overnight at a campground or RVPark, electricity hookup is normally included in your fee, and then this source of heating is indeed "cheap", because you are not using propane.

However, for a fulltimer it's not actually inexpensive or "cheap" at all to operate a 5000 Watt, (or even a 1000 Watt portable), heater for any length of time. If you pay for electricity, especially on a tiered bill, it will quickly add up to about $100 month if used just about 8 hours a day.
I agree -- electric heating is expensive to someone. If not to RVer then campground operator.

I was referring to Cheap Heat being expensive as it compares to purchase cost of heating element in air conditioner or separate portable units.

I have been using a portable that cost less than $50 for many years in my van, and take it with us when I rent larger Class Cs for longer trips or to travel with family members. In a 30-ft Class C my portable kept the propane from running much of the time in temperatures down in the 30s.

I prefer the portable electric because it's quieter and keeps me from having to fill the propane tank as often.
__________________
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 10:44 PM   #15
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
I'm curious, can furnace fans be run without the propane heat on in modern furnaces? Like running AC with just fan? Just wondering if it's possible to circulate warm coach air through furnace ducts to keep the tanks above 32 F. I'm asking as it affects heated-tank option.
I went out to the coach and checked and if I turn on fan only the AC fans and not the furnace fan runs. The interesting thing I found is that unlike I initially though the system in my coach is not 2 zone rather it is 2 AC units tied into one ducting system. If I run one AC unit only the cold air flows through all vents not just those in the general area of the individual AC unit.
__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2015, 10:56 PM   #16
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
I pulled an access panel and looked in the area where the furnace is located and immediately decided that this project, should I elect to go this route, will be turned over to the pros. My furnace ducting is right up against the back of the fireplace and it looks like the hoses will have to be rerouted to attach to the top of the air plenum rather than the current configuration coming out the back of the plenum. That however, depends on whether or not a new plenum must be installed.

I did, however, find a duct hose that is torn and that would explain the low airflow to the bedroom this past spring. As this to my list of things to do because I don't want anyone's "technicians" messing around in that maze of wires, water lines, AV cabling and heater ducts. Who knows what they'd break in the process of repairing the hose.
__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2015, 12:01 AM   #17
Senior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Chateau 35SK
State: Pennsylvania
Posts: 163
THOR #2366
The advantage of the Cheap Heat system is that it ties into your duct work which is frequently used to heat basement compartments with plumbing and tanks. Some manufacturers also run water lines near the flexible heat carrying hoses. This is what keeps everything from freezing. Using supplemental heaters, may make it warm inside the coach, but they do not keep the tanks or plumbing in compartments from freezing.

If I were to spend a season where the temps went below freezing for a majority of the nights, I would definitely invest in the Cheap Heat system. Either way propane or electric, I would have a backup. If the propane ran out, the electric is always there. In emergency, the on board generator would provide enough power for the Cheap Heat system to keep the coach from freezing.

Fred
__________________
Fred g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2015, 03:18 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Brand: Still Looking
State: Texas
Posts: 4,748
THOR #2121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred g View Post
The advantage of the Cheap Heat system is that it ties into your duct work which is frequently used to heat basement compartments with plumbing and tanks. Some manufacturers also run water lines near the flexible heat carrying hoses. This is what keeps everything from freezing. Using supplemental heaters, may make it warm inside the coach, but they do not keep the tanks or plumbing in compartments from freezing.

If I were to spend a season where the temps went below freezing for a majority of the nights, I would definitely invest in the Cheap Heat system. Either way propane or electric, I would have a backup. If the propane ran out, the electric is always there. In emergency, the on board generator would provide enough power for the Cheap Heat system to keep the coach from freezing.

Fred
Fred, if the compartments are insulated (and I'm assuming they are) it shouldn't take much heat to keep them from freezing. That's why I asked whether it's possible to run the blower without the propane heat -- although I expected it would not be possible from factory. Normally HVAC heaters turn on first to preheat equipment before blower comes on. That prevents a few seconds of cold air being blown on occupants. Anyway, if blower could have circulated warm coach air through compartments it may have been enough to keep tanks and plumbing from freezing in mild winter weather (I live on Gulf Coast and it doesn't go much under freezing).

Using the generator as a second backup is a good idea in case of no shore power and out of propane, but voltage could be an issue. For 30-Amp RVs which use the 1800 watt 110/120 Volt heater it shouldn't be an issue, but for 50-Amp service motorhomes with higher-capacity 220/240 Volt heaters, they would need to confirm whether their generator runs at higher voltage.

There is also the option to have both the smaller 1800 watt 110/120 Volt Cheap Heat system to insure tanks and plumbing don't freeze and then supplement with portable heater as needed. I'd personally have to inspect how my motorhome was built regarding insulation, tanks, plumbing, and ducts before deciding what to buy and install.
__________________
Chance is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2015, 03:41 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Chateau 35SK
State: Pennsylvania
Posts: 163
THOR #2366
Actually, I believe the furnace fan might come on before the propane ignites as a safety to remove any gas/combustion gases. So technically, it does blow some cold air into the system. Once the propane burner ignites, that cold air is quickly replaced. I have camped in temps down to -5 degrees with 30 mph winds. I saw a few rv's freeze in those conditions. We had our furnace turned up so that it was comfortable in the RV with a short sleeve T shirt. We also opened the cabinet doors under the kitchen and bathroom sink. On that unit, the water pump and dump valves were in the same outside storage compartment so I rigged up a 60 watt light bulb for added protection.

My concern with only blowing air into the storage compartments is that the doors of most compartments aren't the best with regards to insulation and sealing. It is not like an entrance door and some of the people in gas Class A's found out the first night just how poorly insulated those doors are. I am not sure if there is insulation on the bottom of the storage cabinets, particularly the Rotocast ones.

With regards to the generator, I would think that if it is possible to run 2 A/C's it would power the Cheap Heat. If it were an issue, I would have the smaller 1800 watt unit installed so I would have that option.

The other option not mentioned so far, is, if you are staying in one place for the season and you pay for electric, why not contact a propane supplier and have a large tank delivered that hooks right into your system. We have a number of people working in the natural gas industry in our area that stay in 5th wheels and MH's. They are usually here for 1 to 2 years and many of them have the large propane tanks delivered and are on an automatic refill program. I live just south of the NY state border in PA and our winters are brutal.

Fred
__________________
Fred g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2015, 04:19 PM   #20
Site Team
 
EA37TS's Avatar
 
Brand: Entegra
Model: Accolade 37TS
State: Virginia
Posts: 4,739
THOR #1469
The compartments in my Challenger are not insulated in any way that I can determine so in temps below freezing they need to be heated to prevent water lines etc... from freezing. That is the reason for my interest in Cheap Heat.

The large external tank is an option for those that are long term at a site and I have also talked to sites that have a service bring in a truck to fill tanks, going site to site weekly, for long term residents.
__________________

__________________
Dave
US Army (Ret)
2020 Entegra Accolade 37TS
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk (Toad)
FMCA - F432054
EA37TS is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Thor Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.




All times are GMT. The time now is 06:10 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
×