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Old 01-09-2004, 11:29 PM   #1
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Electric Heaters Tripping Circuit Breakers

I've been reading many of the threads concerning the onboard furnaces. Andy of InLand RV has me pretty leary of mine considering I just recently purchased my Argosy and don't really know the history behind the furnace.

So for now I'm trying to figure out what to do about heat. I've bought two different makes and model ceramic heaters and both of them pop the circuit breakers when I let them run okver 10 minutes.

Can anyone suggest an alternative heating unit that won't trip my circuit breakers.

Take Care,
Al
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Old 01-10-2004, 06:03 AM   #2
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I would get the furnace looked at by a qualified person. Personally, I do all my own HVAC work, since my father (passed away) was in the business, and I used to tag along on service calls for upteen years. Can't do the fridge thing, but bro-in-law is in the business too.
Anyway, I digress. Depending on where you purchase it, propane can either be more economical or cost more than electricity. You will get much more heat out of the furnace, PLUS you will keep your plumbing and holding tanks from freezing, something an electric heater won't do.
If you are blowing CB's with your heaters, you simply have too much draw on your electrical system. Drop down to one heater, you may be colder, but you will be safer.
Main thing to look out for in an old Suburban furnace is a rusted through plenum, which can emit CO, or cause a fire. Or the rubber flue pipe that draws in fresh air and expells combustion product could be shot. This too can cause a CO problem.
If you are going to be using your unit in cold weather frequently, I would replace the furnace.
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Old 01-10-2004, 07:04 AM   #3
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al

what is the nameplate rating of the heaters you are attempting to use?

you may be able to split the load to two seperate breakers and have them work properly.

pick is correct, a properly serviced furnace is your best bet for heating your motor home.

john
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Old 01-10-2004, 08:07 AM   #4
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Heating

Al:

Taking Pick's and John's suggestions one step further:

By no means am I proposing operating a defective furnace, but you should be able to use the furnace without an excessive amount of concern. After having the furnace checked out, install a CO detector or two to put your mind at ease. They are cheap enough, at 20 to 40 dollars, depending on the whistles and bells. Be sure to get one that is "Battery Only" powered.

One apprehension I have with the heating system, whether camping or while the unit is in storage, is running the battery down, since the thermostats do not have an "off" position, only the minimum temp setting. A lot of times Iíll use the furnace to warm things up while I am active in the coach, and then rely on electric heaters while Iím sleeping or while the coach is in storage.

You might try an electric heater with a setting of only 600 to 800 watts is the circuit breaker continues to be a problem. With a 30 amp connection you might be pushing the upper limit if you try to run two 1500 watt heaters. One 1500 watt, and one 1000 watt should be OK if they are on two separate MH circuits.
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Old 01-10-2004, 08:29 AM   #5
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Re: Heating

Quote:
Originally posted by 87MH
Al: With a 30 amp connection you might be pushing the upper limit if you try to run two 1500 watt heaters. One 1500 watt, and one 1000 watt should be OK if they are on two separate MH circuits.
This is the crux of the issue. In the Vintage units they are set up like the vintage trailers. One breaker for the AC and one for the outlets, period. In my 78 that is all I have an we have popped a breaker more than once. You may also want to pull that breaker and take it with you to Lowe's/HD and get a new one. They do wear out if the have been tripped frequently, so the then trip before they get loaded to the stated rating.
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Old 01-10-2004, 09:20 AM   #6
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More info...

Thanks guys. I appreciate the replys.

I should have included a little more info in my original post.

I'm only running one heater at a time. I bought two of them because the first one tripped the circuit breaker so I thought I'll just try a different brand.

The ones I've been using have two settings 1000 watts and 1500 watts. They trip the circuit breakers on either settings after about 10 minutes or so.

Now the circuit breakers that are tripping are the shore power circuit breakers not the ones in the motorhome itself. I recently took a trip to Hilton Head and tried again with the electric heater and again the sites hook up circuit breaker was the first one to trip not the MH.

I think I'll take you guys advice and have the MH Suburban heater looked at. What I'm trying to do is mainly keep the MH from freezing inside and thus causing damage to the pipes and so on.

Thanks much for all the input.
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Old 01-10-2004, 09:57 AM   #7
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al

sounds interesting, since you are tripping the breakers external to your motor home at two different locations i think you may have another problem.

your heaters should draw 12 and 15 amps respectively.

what you may have is a loose/corroded connection somewhere.

you may want to pull the cover on your MH breaker box and look for green or white colored corrosion at the wire connections. (with the power disconnected of course)

also look for discolored insulation on the wires, sure sign of overheating and increased current draw.

do you have a retractible power cord reel? these have brushes in them and can cause problems as well.

as stated before, if trying to prevent freeze damage your best solution is the furnace. heat from space heaters will not reach your plumbing.

john
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Old 01-10-2004, 10:21 AM   #8
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Re: Heating

Quote:
Originally posted by 87MH
Al:

Taking Pick's and John's suggestions one step further:

One apprehension I have with the heating system, whether camping or while the unit is in storage, is running the battery down, since the thermostats do not have an "off" position, only the minimum temp setting. A lot of times Iíll use the furnace to warm things up while I am active in the coach, and then rely on electric heaters while Iím sleeping or while the coach is in storage.

Dennis, my particular thermostat DOES have an "off" position, maybe the newer ones don't. It is also separate from the A/C thermostat, on the other side of the trailer. Of course, as with all things Airstream, everything is subject to change, and maybe this is one thing that never made it from Argosy to Airstream.
Also, I have a small electric heater, with High and Low settings. I have found that the breaker will not trip on the low setting, but will on the high setting after a few minutes of operation.

Terry
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Old 01-10-2004, 11:09 AM   #9
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I cleaned out my furnace with a shop vac. Cleaned all the vents and the furnace outlet on the outside. I also checked the flame color and adjusted the air intake via a small set screw inside. Easily done. It works great. We use a co detector also, and our roof a/c has a decent heat setting which will keep the interior warm if over 40 degrees or so outside.
Lastly if you are going to use the motorhome in the winter but only once inawhile as we do, I run the pink non toxic no odor RV antifreeze throught all the pipes and keep the tanks at minimal water content. This is like winterizing but not permanently, as i don't remove the wtaer filter ,etc. It costs 2.50 a gallon for the anitfreeze, and we add as needed after a weekend trip. This has worked over the past three winters to keep the rig ready to go, and not freeze anything.
I also put gas dryer in the gas tank when it gets cold like it is now.
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Old 01-10-2004, 05:59 PM   #10
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Check to see that the blades on your 30 amp power cord plug are in good shape and are not moving around. Mine were loose which was causing a short. It was not tripping the breakers in the trailer but was tripping the GFI breakers in my garage and at the campground. I also replaced my breakers because one of them was so loose that an improper contact was made.
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Old 01-20-2004, 07:24 PM   #11
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May I suggest the use of a clamp on ammeter. I would not leave home without mine. Just one conductor under the clamp and your answer is on the meter.
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Old 01-20-2004, 10:29 PM   #12
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I have been using the Vornado with the adjustable heat setting and it has worked great!
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