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Old 07-18-2011, 11:40 PM   #1
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Advice Needed: Duo Therm Air Conditioner & Heat Pump

I have a "new" 1967 Tradewind in rough shape...there was a roof mount air conditioner and a non-rv furnance however both are no longer in the trailer. I am considering a Dometic 15K BTU Duo-Therm heat pump claiming to heat and cool. I realize that it would only be running on electric which could be a negative. I live in a mild climate (Seattle) never too hot or too cold.

Does anyone have one of these units and can you tell me if you like it?
General thoughts/opinions welcome

Thanks Becky
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:54 PM   #2
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The downside to relying only on the heat pump for 100% of your heating is that a) you'll never be able to boondock when it's cold, and b) if you camp in freezing temps, you won't be supplying any heat to the tanks (the furnaces are set up with scavenging ducts bleed off some of the warm air into the belly to keep the tanks from freezing.) So, heat pumps and heat strips are fine, but they're not a good substitute for the furnace in really cold weather or when boondocking.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:36 AM   #3
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If you want the heat pump, you can get a catalytic heater and mount it near the main door. That way, you can get some heat without being plugged in. You can open the doors under the gaucho and bathroom sink to help get warmer air in thee to stave off freezing.
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Old 07-19-2011, 06:56 AM   #4
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I have the 13.5k Duo Therm Penguin unit and have been very happy with the performance. I use the heat pump to provide my heat in all but the coldest weather. It puts out an impressive amount of heat.

It's really good down to about 40 degrees. It will still put out heat below 40, but the fins outside start to ice up so the unit goes through a defrosting cycle, which I'll warn you, sounds horrifying. The first time you hear it in the middle of the night you'll think the unit is eating itself.

I like that the heat pump removes humidity from the air where the furnace doesn't and that really helps keep the windows from fogging up. With the furnace my indoor humidity in the morning will often peak over 70%. The heat pump keeps it below 50%.

The only negative not covered so far is that it's louder than the furnace, but to me that's minor.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:30 AM   #5
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I appreciate all the insights. I thought it would be more quiet than discribed (too bad) but I do need heat to the pipes, we may take it skiing. So it looks like a furnance & air conditioner is going to be the way to go. Thanks for the quick replys and the help!
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:44 AM   #6
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So it looks like a furnance & air conditioner is going to be the way to go.
I'm not sure how much extra it would cost for the Duo Therm Penguin over other a/c units, but I think it would be worth the extra money for the heat pump feature even if you have a furnace. It provides good heat for all but the coldest nights without burning your propane.

Another bonus, the low profile of the Penguins looks better on Airstreams.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BKBroiler67 View Post
I have a "new" 1967 Tradewind in rough shape...there was a roof mount air conditioner and a non-rv furnance however both are no longer in the trailer. I am considering a Dometic 15K BTU Duo-Therm heat pump claiming to heat and cool. I realize that it would only be running on electric which could be a negative. I live in a mild climate (Seattle) never too hot or too cold.

Does anyone have one of these units and can you tell me if you like it?
General thoughts/opinions welcome

Thanks Becky
We have both the reverse cycle AC unit and the propane furnace. We have found that we use the AC unit for heating down to about 50 degrees outside temperature, then switch to the furnace below 50 degrees F. We also carry an oil filled electric heater to supplement the propane heater when it is very cold. Our experience supports getting the heat pump.
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Old 07-20-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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The downside to relying only on the heat pump for 100% of your heating is that... if you camp in freezing temps, you won't be supplying any heat to the tanks (the furnaces are set up with scavenging ducts bleed off some of the warm air into the belly to keep the tanks from freezing....)
We also are considering a heat pump since all we have is a huge (very loud) ac. Our original heater is mounted in the front wall next to the stove. And works a lot like a great big Colemans lantern mantle...Light it, the fire spreads over it and soon you have radiant heat. No way this heat would ever reach our rear bath, or even the mid bedroom. Surely does not seem to have a way to heat tanks..We do hook up an electric space heater in the back. I have heard a lot about furnaces and the post about supplying heat to the tanks is interesting. So the question is... Does anyone know if this is the only heat that ever came with the 1984 27 ft Sovereign? I don't think mine was ever rigged to heat tanks, heck, it really does not look like it was designed to heat the trailer...
Sorry for the messy pic, we were installing floors and the drawers were getting emptied...
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Old 07-20-2011, 10:48 PM   #9
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I'm at an Airstream Park in MN, I've heard of 3 newer DuoTherm Penguin heat pumps failing prematurely in the past week. One was new in 2008, another 2004, and the other a 2005. The repair diagnosis was the same for all of them, no coolant, but when re-charged they only work a week or so. I would recommend NOT purchasing a Duotherm heat pump - the repair guy on at least one of them said it is the heat pump that is the problem, the A/C doesn't show the same issues.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:17 AM   #10
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We also are considering a heat pump since all we have is a huge (very loud) ac. Our original heater is mounted in the front wall next to the stove. And works a lot like a great big Colemans lantern mantle...Light it, the fire spreads over it and soon you have radiant heat. No way this heat would ever reach our rear bath, or even the mid bedroom. Surely does not seem to have a way to heat tanks..We do hook up an electric space heater in the back. I have heard a lot about furnaces and the post about supplying heat to the tanks is interesting. So the question is... Does anyone know if this is the only heat that ever came with the 1984 27 ft Sovereign? I don't think mine was ever rigged to heat tanks, heck, it really does not look like it was designed to heat the trailer...
Sorry for the messy pic, we were installing floors and the drawers were getting emptied...
Hmmm... I'm not an expert on the configuration of various years, but I think furnaces were standard since the late '60s. In the '83 and '85 specs it shows a furnace as standard for all models, but I couldn't find a mention of the furnace in the '84 specs page.
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:28 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by casa3805 View Post
We also are considering a heat pump since all we have is a huge (very loud) ac. Our original heater is mounted in the front wall next to the stove. And works a lot like a great big Colemans lantern mantle...Light it, the fire spreads over it and soon you have radiant heat. No way this heat would ever reach our rear bath, or even the mid bedroom. Surely does not seem to have a way to heat tanks..We do hook up an electric space heater in the back. I have heard a lot about furnaces and the post about supplying heat to the tanks is interesting. So the question is... Does anyone know if this is the only heat that ever came with the 1984 27 ft Sovereign? I don't think mine was ever rigged to heat tanks, heck, it really does not look like it was designed to heat the trailer...
Sorry for the messy pic, we were installing floors and the drawers were getting emptied...
A furnace was standard equipment in 1984, and a catalytic heater was not. I think the cat heater was possibly a dealer installed option, or was installed to replace a furnace that was removed. The furnace should have been a Suburban, and the usual mounting position was inside the cabinet that now has the cat heater, on the floor.
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:57 AM   #12
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I'm at an Airstream Park in MN, I've heard of 3 newer DuoTherm Penguin heat pumps failing prematurely in the past week. One was new in 2008, another 2004, and the other a 2005. The repair diagnosis was the same for all of them, no coolant, but when re-charged they only work a week or so. I would recommend NOT purchasing a Duotherm heat pump - the repair guy on at least one of them said it is the heat pump that is the problem, the A/C doesn't show the same issues.

Hmmm, interesting, since I believe the A/C and Heat pump use the same refridgerant and plumbing and compressor.
I think more info is needed here.
If a recharge is leaking out after the repairs, I'd bet the compressor/head is damaged.

Same park, 3 units, same week...in a heat wave. Sounds like low voltage and power problems to me.

Perhaps the Penguins are more suseptable to power fluctuations????
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:05 AM   #13
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Sounds like low voltage and power problems to me.
That's exactly what I was thinking. The Penguins definitely use a little more power than other units and are more likely to draw down voltage. Over the 4th of July weekend it was extremely hot and humid and I watched the campground power slowly drop from 112, 110, 108, 105, then I was forced to shut down my a/c when it dropped to 102. If you didn't have a voltage meter you would have never known you were damaging the unit.
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:22 AM   #14
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That's exactly what I was thinking. The Penguins definitely use a little more power than other units and are more likely to draw down voltage. Over the 4th of July weekend it was extremely hot and humid and I watched the campground power slowly drop from 112, 110, 108, 105, then I was forced to shut down my a/c when it dropped to 102. If you didn't have a voltage meter you would have never known you were damaging the unit.
Glad for the validation. Although I am not an A/C expert (non-automotive, anyway), they all work on the same principles.

What really makes me suspicious is, I haven't read many, if any, negatives about the Penguin, other than noise and heat pump low temp performance. Bu NO heat pumps work well below 40*F. It's just the physics of the beast.

In my work world, one failure is an anomoly, two MIGHT be a coincidence, but three, really raises my brow to something going on. In this case, with the units being spread over several production years, and the lack of complaints overall, suggest something other than a product issue. Maybe not, but it is very suspicious.

I have been very happy with my pengiun, both A/C and heat pump performance. (although, quieter would be better). It would be my first choice to the OP, along with the furnace, for all the reasons other posters have mentioned.
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