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Old 10-13-2015, 01:52 PM   #1
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1970 31' Sovereign
Greenbrier , Arkansas
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Best Heat Options?

Hi!

I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to stay warm in my airstream. I eventually want to be a full timer, but being warm is probably going to be my biggest challenge. I live in Arkansas, and standard winter temps are upper 30s-40s, but there are a couple spells each winter of below freezing. I hate being cold! Maybe I'll be traveling to warm places then, but maybe not!

Right now, my dometic a/c unit also has a heat option, which I understand will warm when outdoor temp is down to around 40. Is that right?

Also, I see a wall mounted thermix heater that I'm not even sure what it is...is this infrared? Is this sucker safe? I don't even know how to turn it on and I get nervous about this stuff. I understand that I need to have a carbon monoxide monitor when I run this thing?

There is a Suburban furnace system in there, but one of the fellas who helped me fix my water system said that it was dangerous. Maybe it doesn't even work since the thermix is installed.

Questions: What do I need to have the best heat at any expense? What do I need to have for the best heat at the best value? If this furnace doesn't work or is unsafe, can I pull it out? Do I need to have a specialist do it? Am I even asking the right questions?????? Agh!
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:13 PM   #2
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There are 2 different ways the heat a trailer.

The furnace, is a convective heater, and heats the air in the trailer and thus heat the objects in the trailer. This requires a lot of gas and almost always requires shore power if used over night. The shore power is because the fan will kill a set of batteries in short order.

The Thermix or catalytic heater, is a radiant heater, and heat what is in front of it, YOU. Now that said over time it will bring the ambient temperature of the trailer up. We use a catalytic while sitting on the sofa and want instant heat. No electric required and far less gas used.

If one wanted to design the worst possible container from a thermal standpoint they would look to an Airstream for a starting point.
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Old 10-13-2015, 04:09 PM   #3
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Best Heat Options?

The forced air furnace is your best bet. If you are not a HVAC person, have it inspected by a certified RV tech. If it is junk, replace it.
The heat pump or heat strip on the AC is okay up to a point.
If using the catalytic, you need to open windows and vents or die from carbon monoxide.
Wintering in the Colorado Rockies, coldest week was -20F nights and 0F days, I was toasty warm keeping the gas tanks full and the forced air on.
A small dehumidifier helps keep the inside dry if you don't want to crack open a vent or window.
A skirt on the rig to prevent airflow below will reduce heating costs.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:18 PM   #4
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A furnace is your best bet, but a new one not one that is 45 years old.
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:04 AM   #5
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Thank you for the info and entertainment!

Thanks for making it clear! You folk are informative and funny at the same time. Appreciate it and I will be looking for an RV HVAC specialist for some furnace recommendations.
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Old 10-14-2015, 11:16 AM   #6
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You want a working furnace to heat the belly when temps are below freezing.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:22 PM   #7
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A furnace is your best bet, but a new one not one that is 45 years old.

Inspecting our 40 year old furnace found it like new - depends on prior usage and maintenance. I've seen 10 year old furnaces that were junk.
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:03 AM   #8
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Inspecting our 40 year old furnace found it like new - depends on prior usage and maintenance. I've seen 10 year old furnaces that were junk.
Did you disassemble the furnace and check it internally? Did you know there is a safety recall on 70s Suburban furnaces because a defective crossover tube can allow carbon monoxide to be blown in the cabin. Also, you will be hard pressed to find any RV tech, who knows what they are doing, to work on it because of insurance and liability concerns. Lastly, parts are just not available for older furnaces and new one are just so much easier to use. Suburban would much rather sell you a new furnace for $500 than a $5 part.
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Old 10-15-2015, 10:38 AM   #9
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if you full time, you are going to need shore power and run your furnace. Furnace heat is necessary to heat the belly pan and tanks and keep them from freezing. You also need a place to dump close by, so the output tanks will not freeze during transport. If you have shore power, you likely have prepaid electric (free). Lots of power to run a couple electric heaters. You could also run the heat pump, if you want. The catalytic is cheap and better on the batteries, if you are without shore power. Your big problem will be the poor insulation in the trailer and the metal interior walls that will sweat due to humidity from breath of occupants. This requires adding some outside air or running a dehumidifier, which uses a lot of electricity. Full timing in the cold in an Airstream is a challenge. The best suggestion is to follow the sun and go south in the winter.
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
Did you disassemble the furnace and check it internally? Did you know there is a safety recall on 70s Suburban furnaces because a defective crossover tube can allow carbon monoxide to be blown in the cabin. Also, you will be hard pressed to find any RV tech, who knows what they are doing, to work on it because of insurance and liability concerns. Lastly, parts are just not available for older furnaces and new one are just so much easier to use. Suburban would much rather sell you a new furnace for $500 than a $5 part.
Thanks ... good info ...
I'm a stationary engineer. The inside was clean - no overheating, cracks or rust. PO receipt checks indicate a repair to the Suburban furnace 3 years ago - combustion fan and a tube. Digital CO sniffer says it doesn't leak.
If you don't hear from us next spring, the cabin CO sniffer was faulty.
Heating belly tanks to keep them from freezing is easier with 110vac heat pads applied to the underside of the tank then Reflectix on the bottom and sides of the tank.
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:23 AM   #11
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The temps that you’re talking about (30s-40s)really aren’t all that cold for you AS. If we are camping where we have electric hookup and the temps are above freezing we just use a good quality electric space heater and it keeps the AS nice and warm. If the temps drop much below freezing we will run the gas furnace that came with our AS along with the electric space heater. You need to run your gas furnace if the temps get below freezing to keep your tanks from freezing. By running the electric space heater with the gas furnace we find that we burn a lot less gas. You want to make sure that your electric heater it turned down low enough to allow your gas furnace to come on. We have done this with temps down in the teens with no problem.
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Old 10-15-2015, 01:59 PM   #12
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Just FYI: as someone else mentioned, there was a recall on 60's-70's furnaces - which has since, long expired.

Here's a post that describes the recall:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...call-2889.html
I just read in an old (92) AS Caravanner magazine a recall for all Furnaces made from 66 to 77.
Campaign : 77E-012 initiated summer of 77
Campaign : 81E-015 initiated winter 81-82
The furnaces were models NT-17, NT-20, NT-22 and NT-30 manufactured between 66 & 70 The serial numbers were 0064881 and lower.
Also Furnaces made between 1970 & 1977 except those with an "M" suffix, The serial numbers are: 0064881 through 0715865
The recall specifies:" if the model and serial number of yr furnace falls within those noted, have it inspected unless you are VERY SURE the Suburban recall has already been completed on your unit"
The furnaces in question have a rubber-like crossover tube that could crack . Extremely dangerous carbon monoxide would then be expelled into the interior.
Also, this post will show you how to find your furnace s/n (with photos):
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...del-46260.html
...found my model number. There's an access door on the interior side of the furnace, I took that off, and read the numbers off a plate inside.

Mine was a recall. Thankfully I'm (again) in a warm climate.

Laura
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Old 10-15-2015, 04:20 PM   #13
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Thanks! Ours wasn't a recall.
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:50 PM   #14
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I'll double check mine, but I'm just almost sure it was one of the recalled ones. I'm looking for a new, but these things are pricey!
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