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Old 06-03-2009, 01:19 PM   #1
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Anyone Seen Or Tried A Heat Pump That Actually Works?

Over the last few months I have learned more than I ever thought I would about heat pumps. Long story short, the salesman exaggerated the effectiveness of our heat pump as a heat source in any weather under 45 degrees farenheit. And it seems that propane is not getting any cheaper .

Anyone seen or heard of cold weather heat pumps working with an Airstream?
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:49 PM   #2
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I only know about the heat pump in a 2008. It will not heat the water tanks. When it is running, it is supposed to switch over automatically to furnace around 28˚. Below 40˚ it isn't all that efficient and never quite gets the cabin up to the temp set. It has to cycle through a phase to defrost the coils, then cycle into the next phase to send warm air to the cabin. The result is the colder it gets, the more it runs and the weirder the noises. But propane is expensive and I run it in the evening and when we go to bed, but if I wake up in the middle of the night and it's in the mid-30's outside, I turn on the furnace.

I don't know if this is any help unless you have a new A/C and the digital thermostat with the auto switch over in your Excella.

Gene
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthews View Post
Over the last few months I have learned more than I ever thought I would about heat pumps. Long story short, the salesman exaggerated the effectiveness of our heat pump as a heat source in any weather under 45 degrees farenheit. And it seems that propane is not getting any cheaper .

Anyone seen or heard of cold weather heat pumps working with an Airstream?
Not an answer to your question, but just a comment on heat pumps in the AS.

When we bought our AS last fall, I was impressed to learn that it had a heat pump. We have used it and it seemed to work ok in temperatures in teh forties last winter.

But then I thought - why run the AC compressor and put added wear and tear on it, when I can just use one of those very inexpensive 1500 watt ceramic cube heaters instead - so that its what I do. It gives plenty enough heat and can be easily moved around in the trailer to where we need it most.

We already had the heater anyway and had used it in our last trailer that had no heat pump.

Brian.
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:09 PM   #4
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Heat pumps are getting their heat from the air, the colder the air the less available heat. Simple fact of thermodyanmics. Also heat pumps do not put out as warm a temperature air as a furnace. Want heat? Go electric resistance heat, LP or move further south.

I use the ceramic heaters, oil filled radiators, LP furnace and the LP catalytic heaters. I am toying of the idea of using a small coal/wood fired heat stove...wonder if you can tow with it lit

Aaron
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:32 PM   #5
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Of course we don't have the temperatures down here that you Northern folks have, but ours worked fine last winter. We rarely get to freezing, however.
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:35 PM   #6
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Not sure about older models, but our 2005 has a resistance heating coil in the air conditioner. I read about this as an option in the Airstream literature, then went to an RV parts store and bought the coil, thinking I would install it myself.

After removing the cover, I found that Airstream already put it in even though it shows as an option (that we didn't knowingly buy).

In any case, we used this in Denver, over the holidays last year; and while it won't make you break a sweat, it kept the interior at around 65 degrees while it was in the 20's outside. Note: It was running continuously, 24 hours a day, while we were there.

As an aside, I would guess that running a heat pump would have the same limitations (current-wise) as the air conditioner; and that you would need at least a 20 amp circuit to run it. The heating coil uses less current than the compressor, so the combined current using the heating coil and air conditioner blower motor are low enough that we ran this off of the 15 amp plug on the side of our relatives' house.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:58 PM   #7
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As an aside, when we ran the park mid-winter, we always had to warn people about heat pump use in subfreezing weather. While the (good) heat pumps would keep the cabin warm, they did nothing to keep the black/gray tanks and plumbing from freezing, not even on so-called four-season rigs. (Only the propane furnace system includes warm-air ducting to tanks and plumbing.)

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Old 06-03-2009, 08:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthews View Post
Over the last few months I have learned more than I ever thought I would about heat pumps. Long story short, the salesman exaggerated the effectiveness of our heat pump as a heat source in any weather under 45 degrees farenheit. And it seems that propane is not getting any cheaper .

Anyone seen or heard of cold weather heat pumps working with an Airstream?
Nope. They "pull heat" from the outside air. Residential heat pumps have an electric heat strip as a backup. Some of the AS's can be ordered with a heat strip. My thermostat automaticly switches over from Heat pump to Furnace around 45.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:19 PM   #9
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RANT - Comment

It has always bugged me that I can run my water heater for MONTHS - always on, without running out of propane, but 2 30 gallon tanks can be sucked dry in less than 3-4 days running the furnace. Now let's think about that.

Forced air furnaces for homes are not quite as inefficient.

Why has no commercial vendor in the RV community ever built a radient heat system? Because we keep buying them.

I am somewhat "search impaired", but there was a thread here in the 2006 timeframe which included a story of an owner who built a hot water system for his RV from assembled junk - a water heater, pex tubing, a water pump, a couple of small radiators and some 12 volt computer fans.
It even seems logical that under the floor heating radiant heating with PEX could work very well.

If one of our Rivet Masters like Terry can find it, it's well worth a bump.

Paula
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:21 PM   #10
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Paula,
Twin temp does both.
PrecisionTemp.com: For Recreational Vehicles and Boats
When My water heater dies one of these goes in. Safari-tim of the VAP has one.
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Old 06-04-2009, 07:43 PM   #11
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The European Airstreams have hot water heat. I don't know how efficient they are as to fuel, but it sure would be quieter than that furnace fan. By fuel, I mean propane and the electric fuel in the batteries while boondocking. It's unclear to me why Airstream uses different heating system in the US and Canada vs. Europe.

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Old 06-04-2009, 08:15 PM   #12
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The European Airstreams have hot water heat. I don't know how efficient they are as to fuel, but it sure would be quieter than that furnace fan. By fuel, I mean propane and the electric fuel in the batteries while boondocking. It's unclear to me why Airstream uses different heating system in the US and Canada vs. Europe.

Gene
One possibility is re-design cost for the US models.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:24 PM   #13
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Anyone know the cost of propane in Europe? I know they pipeline in all of their natural gas from Russia, so that might be it. Propane is extracted from natural gas.
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