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Old 12-07-2009, 05:56 PM   #1
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Keepin' Warm While Boondockin'?

Forum - I did a search on this first and didn't really find much help...so I thought I'd ask the forum at large for their input...

Seems to me many of the systems on my 86 SOV are very manageable via the two batteries and/or the two propane tanks...my question is HEAT!

I ran the furnace blower (biaxident) on straight battery power and it sucked them down fast!!! I don't have solar, but I presume that I'd have to have a giant panel to keep up with the amp draw from the furnace fan.

Any cold weather boondockers have any advice on how to keep warm with the existing systems...or possibly easy to add accessories (outside of the obvious references to missus big_john or something to do with a now INfamouns golfing pro)...I'd really appreciate the help...it does get cold here in No GA and up into East TN (a special, beautiful place) and we'd like to be able to get "off the beaten path" per se but don't want to become AS casualties...

Thanks!!
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:48 PM   #2
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Ceramic heaters are easy to get and install. Take no 12 volt .
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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Catalytic heaters run on propane only.

(I thought "ceramic" was a type of electric heating element?)
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:56 PM   #4
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Heat

We run our Honda ei2000 generator to power the heat.Ours heater will run a good will off the batteries.We do not run it at night as we sleep in very warm sleeping bags.
We are now boondocking in Quartzsite AZ and a few nights ago it was in the upper 20's and we are doing fine.
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:58 PM   #5
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Propane catalytic heater is the way to go. I happened upon an older gentleman while fishing one cold spring day. He had a small trailer that he would heat by turning a clay flower pot upside down on a burner on his stove. Turn it on low and it heats the pot and throws off an amazing amount of heat.

Before the O2 police come running, you should take all the regular precautions. Never do this while sleeping, always keep a back window cracked and don't rely on this as your only source of heat. I have tried it in our tent trailer and it does work very well.

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Old 12-07-2009, 06:58 PM   #6
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Glad to help. I did an entire winter off the grid and here is my list. First, you can try and reduce the time the furnace is running by reducing heat loss- cover windows with the film stuff, cover the holes where the vents are, and you wont believe the amount of heat lost around the wheel wells.

If you are going to be doing a bunch of off the grid camping, consider vented heaters or catalytic heaters like Olympus. Finally, a generator can be pretty helpful for keeping the batteries charged up.

Also, there is nothing like a biscuit on a cold morning, so why not make a habit of baking them in the mornings when you wake up. The oven will heat up the camper more than you might imagine, as will cooking on the burners.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #7
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Ceramic heaters have ceramic bricks in them . I like them better than catalytic .Not so hard to keep clean.Yes they do have electric also.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:03 PM   #8
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I've done two nights on batteries and propane with no trouble. To do this your heater and batteries must be in first class shape. A really cold night can run the batteries down in one night.
First, you need to check the DC current flow to the heater. Compare this reading with the data plate on the heater or the heater manual. This will let you know if there is any problem with the heater.
Second, you need to be sure your batteries are up to the job. Make sure they are true deep cycle batteries. Starting (car) batteries will not work. Next, be sure the batteries are in good shape. Most lead-acid batteries are good for about 18 months. If you run the battery flat (less than 10VDC) it will never recover again. You must be sure to never run a lead-acid all the way down. Install a battery alarm.
You don't need a solar panel, you can recharge the batteries from your tow vehicle with the cable that works the lights. Be careful not to run your tow vehicle battery down.
Last, battery power also works the lights and other things in your trailer.
You must budget your power carefully.
For several years we boondocked at a place near by. This was a lot of fun for the grandkids. To have heat and light all night long we had to be very careful of power use. I would leave the truck hooked up in the early evening. With the truck running, we could use lights, TV and heat. This was only short term, about one hour. Then I would pull the plug, turn off the truck and settle in for the night. We kept lights off unless really needed. Use a flashlight when possible. Turn the heat on to the lowest you can live with, say 65 deg. This got us throgh the night with power to spare.
Good luck.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:18 PM   #9
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We use a Yamaha propane powered generator until we are ready to go to bed. We preheat the bed using an electric blanket, then pile into our sleeping bags and set the furnace on as low a setting as we can manage.

It is very important that your batteries are in top shape.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:20 PM   #10
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When boondocking or dry camping we use a Coleman propane canister catalytic heater so we don't have to rely entirely on the furnace ... it's a little more than the small tent heaters as it has a housing that makes it very stable-standing and it has a fan run by a couple of "D" batteries that helps push out the heat...and it's quiet. We've found it very effective in our 19'...we get all toasty in the evening with it and then turn it off when we hit the hay. (We leave a window or vent cracked when we use it.) Then back on in the AM to take the chill off. Here's a link: http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colem...ategoryid=3000 I think we paid about $75 for ours...but shop around.

To help save battery power we have converted some of our interior lights to LED, and we also have a solar panel and use a generator if we need to boost the batteries...and we picked up a few small LED lanterns, too.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:43 AM   #11
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This worked really well with our "63's"....existing systems.

Also works with Cloudsplitter...

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Old 12-08-2009, 09:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmini View Post
We run our Honda ei2000 generator to power the heat.Ours heater will run a good will off the batteries.We do not run it at night as we sleep in very warm sleeping bags.
We are now boondocking in Quartzsite AZ and a few nights ago it was in the upper 20's and we are doing fine.
This is what we do too in the same temps.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:02 AM   #13
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Another thought that struck me about winter boondocking this morning has to do with efficiency. It is my sense that you are better off keeping the trailer at the lowest temp that is comfortable to you. The reason for this is the larger the temperature gradient between the inside of the camper and outside, the more rapid the heat loss. This means you will be paying a premium in propane and 12volt for the fan to get those last few degrees. You are better off wearing a sweater and heavy socks in my opinion.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:34 PM   #14
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Look back at the 70's and late 60's tech to get some ideas. Propane is the most cost effective solution.

A permanently mounted (in side of cabinat) catalytic heater is an option that you can plumb in alongside your blower furnace. They don't look like much, but they can put out sufficient heat to cozily sit through a blizzard.

Additionally, I believe the Internationals had the option of a little propane Onan Generator that only put out 12 volts, but it's purpose was to charge your battery in about 3 hours.

Mount a propane lamp if you don't have one.

Make sure your fridge isn't running on 12 volt (if applicable)... switch to propane.

Combine the old tech with the new stuff such as the obvious LED lighting, and get a CO2/Propane leak detector to make sure you stay safe.

The downside though is the colder it is, the less pressure your tanks will have, so keep them topped off. You don't want to have 1/4 left in each tank but not enough output to heat your little house. Also, remember that if you're concerned about running out of propane you can always hook up a little 20lb BBQ tank to keep the heat on while you throw the big tanks in the truck and run to civilization for a fill up (Note: NEVER use the little single stage propane regulators you would normally use for a BBQ on anything such as RV, home water heater, etc. They can freeze up in cold weather and shoot liquefied propane straight to your pilot.. and BOOM).
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