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Old 12-16-2010, 02:28 PM   #1
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best gas furnace for 24' Tradewind?

Hello experts - it's winter and I need a heater. My "As-Is" 24' Tradewind didn't come with a furnace.

My preference is to use propane - I'll be boondocking in temps down to 20F. (think West Coast ski-lodge parking lot - any colder and I'll drive down the mountain and keep heading south until warmer!)

I'd like to stay away from pilot light furnaces if possible (prefer a catalytic converter, which I guess technically has a pilot light, but seems safer) since I have a drafty old trailer and would hate to off myself in sleep or by lighting a match in the morning.

I have a furnace opening that's approx 12"x40"(ish). I'll also need to put the fridge next to it (when I get one) so a taller heater is preferred.

There is so much info to sift through on these forums, I'm getting lost in the details. Can someone please point me towards the simple basics of installing a furnace and maybe recommend a solid, economical, and safe furnace for this purpose?

Many thanks.
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Old 12-16-2010, 03:21 PM   #2
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Current production furnaces do not use a pilot light.

Look at furnaces rated for approximately 30,000 BTU from Atwood or Suburban.

RV Furnaces, Heaters and Parts

There are other suppliers; shop around.

You'll need ductwork, and chances are that you'll have to make some adjustments to the wall and floor because the sizes have changed over the years.

Catalytic heaters are not believed to be as safe as furnaces.
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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This propane heater is also an alternative Newport Propane Fireplace Heater
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:17 PM   #4
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If you call the customer service department at the Suburban factory in Tennessee ( you can google the number), they will be able to tell you which model will fit your application. The service tech I spoke with on a couple of occasions was extremely helpful. I decided to go with a catalytic in my Trade Wind to save space under the cabinet and because in Mississippi we don't get that much really cold weather.
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Old 12-16-2010, 04:35 PM   #5
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I installed a Suburban NT30 in my 22' Safari and I'm very glad I did. When it is really cold it is so nice to have a powerful furnace that will warm up the trailer in a hurry.
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Old 12-16-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Current production furnaces do not use a pilot light.

Look at furnaces rated for approximately 30,000 BTU from Atwood or Suburban.

Catalytic heaters are not believed to be as safe as furnaces.
Thanks for the link. Why are catalytic heaters not believed to be as safe as furnaces?
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Thanks for the link. Why are catalytic heaters not believed to be as safe as furnaces?
Catalytic heaters are not vented and give off some combustion gases. You have to use at least a slightly opened window to keep them safe.
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Old 12-16-2010, 08:01 PM   #8
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If there is a choice between 2 sizes chose the smaller one. That way the heater will stay only for a longer duty cycle. Heater blow cold air at the beginning and end of each cycle and this can be a pain. By having a smaller heater you will cut down on the number of cycles and thus the cold air
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Old 12-16-2010, 08:31 PM   #9
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I use a SF-20 Suburban furnace in my '59 TW. Works great, but I don't know if it is the right form factor for your needs. Fits where the original International was located.
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:53 AM   #10
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I hear there are "vented" cat heaters. I read about one here on the airforums but I can't seem to locate it for you!
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Old 12-17-2010, 06:49 AM   #11
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There are pros and cons associated with both the forced air furnace and cat heater. The main benefit of forced air heaters and the associated ducting is that they blow the warm air throughout the trailer including the holding tanks underneath the floor. This prevents the tanks from freezing. But since your tanks are above the floor this isn't an issue. You can go either way for your application but know that the cat heater radiates the heat in one direction only. If you want to move the heat you'll need to get yourself a small 12v or 110v fan, depending on your situation.

Since you're dealing with sub 32 degree temps it would probably be better to get a forced air furnace. Does your Trade Wind have any ducting? The big negative with forced air furnaces is that they use lots of propane and will drain your batteries. Will you have access to 110v service to keep your batteries charged?

Safety is paramount when using either heater, so ensure you have a working propane leak detector and CO detector.

Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:57 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SpaceEgg View Post
Thanks for the link. Why are catalytic heaters not believed to be as safe as furnaces?
Furnaces have a heat exchanger. Essentially, it's a metal wall -- the fire is on one side, with a fresh air vent and exhaust vent both leading outside the trailer. A fan blows interior trailer air across the other side of the wall.

Catalytic heaters don't have a heat exchanger. Instead, they have a catalytic pad that is designed to be sure the gas burns completely. There is no fresh air vent, and no exhaust vent. The exhaust goes right into the living area inside the trailer. All combustion processes produce some carbon monoxide, which is toxic. New catalytic heaters don't produce much. Over the course of years, the catalyst degrades so the amount of carbon monoxide produced goes up.

Also, they reduce the amount of oxygen in the air in the trailer. You're supposed to leave a window open.

Now, I don't know about you, but I camp in my trailer. A lot. Under all kinds of circumstances. And because of that, there are going to be days when I am in my trailer on a cold day when I am really, really, sick, and not in possession of my usual mental faculties. And there are going to be days when someone besides me is in the trailer by themselves. Parents, kids, friends, who knows. So I don't want a trailer that is safe only when proper procedures are followed. I don't want safety to depend on someone opening a window. And I don't want to have so little heat that someone, stuck in the trailer on a cold windy day, decides that well maybe the best choice is to leave a couple of stove burners on all night.

We have a thread on alternatives to catalytic heaters that focuses on heaters suitable for boondocking, that is, that require no electricity or very little electricity.

And we have a thread on permanently installed electric heat which is alternative to catalytic heaters for people who mostly stay in campgrounds or other sites with electricity. With 30 amp service you can run up to 3000 watts of electric heat and still have power for the fridge and converter. That's just over 10,000 BTU/h, slightly larger than most catalytic heaters.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:52 AM   #13
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If catalytic heaters were as unsafe as Jammer makes them sound, they wouldn't be on the market and this in a legal climate where lawyers circle like hawks over any sign of liability.

But Jammer does bring up a good point. If you have access to 110v, electric heaters are an excellent option. We store 2 portable electric heaters in our ottoman. We use these if we are camping where 110v service is available. They work great and throw off lots of heat.
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceEgg View Post
Hello experts - it's winter and I need a heater. My "As-Is" 24' Tradewind didn't come with a furnace.

My preference is to use propane - I'll be boondocking in temps down to 20F. (think West Coast ski-lodge parking lot - any colder and I'll drive down the mountain and keep heading south until warmer!)

I'd like to stay away from pilot light furnaces if possible (prefer a catalytic converter, which I guess technically has a pilot light, but seems safer) since I have a drafty old trailer and would hate to off myself in sleep or by lighting a match in the morning.

I have a furnace opening that's approx 12"x40"(ish). I'll also need to put the fridge next to it (when I get one) so a taller heater is preferred.

There is so much info to sift through on these forums, I'm getting lost in the details. Can someone please point me towards the simple basics of installing a furnace and maybe recommend a solid, economical, and safe furnace for this purpose?

Many thanks.
The replacement heater for my Olympian Wave 6 has worked. I lived in my airstream in the Colorado mountains during September. I always had heat. I also purchased the dust cover for it. The heat pad is sensitive to dust and can fail. Hopefully the heater will continue to work. Make sure you have a window & vent cracked. The heater takes oxygen. Also, Make sure you have a CO2 detector and propane detector.

The advantage to catalyc is that it has no fan and doesn't drain the battery. Good for Boondocking.
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