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Old 04-14-2010, 09:27 PM   #1
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1970 31' Sovereign
Lombard , Illinois
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Duo-Therm Heat Pump

Hello All,

I was outside today de-winterizing and the old Armstrong A/C unit is dead again. It is time to shove the old Armstrong A/C unit off the roof. It is tired, and unreliable. I was looking at the 15,000 BTU Dometic Duo-Therm Heat Pump. I like the idea of electric heat above freezing. Anyone install one of these or own one and want to share their opinion. If someone has an idea of where to buy one of these, for a reasonable price (A.K.A. cheap) please advise.

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Old 04-15-2010, 10:56 AM   #2
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Milford , Ohio
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I installed a Carrier AirV heat pump, which as I understand are no longer made, but you can find them still if you look. Regardless of what brand you go with, I think a heat pump is the way to go.

FYI, the Carrier will heat even when temps are below freezing. It switches automatically to electric heat around 40 degrees. Other units run a defrost cycle, rather frequently.

To keep tanks from freezing, I have the gas shut off to my old Suburban furnace, but turning up the thermostat will keep the furnace blower constantly running to circulate room temperature air to the tank enclosures.

I shopped around for my Carrier unit to get the best price. The best "deal" I could work was with my local RV parts supplier that gives me a 10% discount on anything I buy there.

One tip I'll give you is that when you remove the Armstrong unit, do some disassembly up on the roof and lighten it up as much as possible. Don't hurt yourself trying to take that beast off in one piece.

Christopher
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:08 PM   #3
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I have maybe 300 hours on my Dometic 15K heat pump/ac unit for the last 3 years. Zero problems or complaints. Its on an 89 29ft excella and does a great job here in NW Georgia. Have run it for many hours using my Honda 3K genset with NO problems or complaints. Here at home I use it for my refuge when the housekeeper comes a couple times per week. Winter or summer it gets me comfy within a few minutes......Good Luck......Dennis
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:06 PM   #4
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Thanks to both of you. I never even thought of looking at a local dealer. I figured the best deal would be over the internet. Great idea about taking the old unit apart then removing! Thank you for sharing your opinions.

Regards,
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:21 PM   #5
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Heat Pump

I can only agree with the earlier post that the heat pump is the way to go. Our Dometic was original equipment on our Classic and has been working fine for the past 6 years. While others were running to fill their propane tanks this winter in Florida I was sipping my second cup of coffee. Our heat pump will continue to supply heat with outside temps around 29 degrees.
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Old 04-17-2010, 10:06 AM   #6
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Scott,

Just to give you some other unsolicited advice, here is some stuff you should be prepared for:

The Armstrong unit is held onto the roof with many screws around the edge of the base flange. Once removed these holes will need to be drilled out slightly larger and plugged with Olympic rivets or by some other means.

New RV units are held on by four long threaded bolts that, installed from the inside, sandwiching the roof between the unit on the roof and interior section. A perimeter gasket around the 14x14 roof opening gets smashed into place and seals that up. Only one problem with that on an Airstream.

My 14x14 opening for the old Armstrong was just aft of a frame bow, and channel frames along the length of the roof also provided enough "beef" between roof and ceiling skins for that gasket to compress. The problem was in the back the opening was not framed at all. Rain would have poured in there.

What I did was cut some scraps wood and slipped it in between the the skins at the back of the opening. With roof insulation and the mounting bolts for your unit, and the clamping effect, the wood only needs to be pressed into place. I also put some wood up front just for good measure. I've attached a few photos to illustrate.

Christopher
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:35 PM   #7
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Thanks Christopher for the heads up on the modifications needed for the new A/C install. Was the existing hole size adequate, r did you need to add or trim any aluminum before the installation? How about the drain tube? Where was it located?

Thanks for the photos!

Best Regards,
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Old 04-17-2010, 07:09 PM   #8
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The existing hole was 14"x14" nearly a perfect square and didn't require any trimming at all. The drain tube is in the forward section of the hole and I just left it in place. Here are some more pics that will explain.

First photo is on the roof looking forward, Armstrong removed. Second photo is from inside, a close-up of the drain tube and some scraps of wood lath I used as spacers between skins at the front of the opening. The black plastic drain tube just has a barbed connection to the drain pan on the Armstrong.

Clarification on the second photo, that is the drain sticking straight up and to the right. The black thing dangling down and to the left is the control wiring from the roof unit.

Christopher
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:32 PM   #9
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Hi, Scott.
Right now, I have one A/S with 2 15,000 Duo Therms on it. They work well to around 30 degrees, at which time, the noise made by the defrosting cycle os too much. Please be reminded, A/S's were made to be used on COLD weather, and provisions were made to protect water, black and wash water tanks. It is accomplished using the furnace, and ducting that goes underneath.
When purchasing the heat pumps, you are accomplishing two or more things. Efficient and almost trouble free heat as well as cheaper than LP. You also are making yourself (meaning to or not) much more prone to use established campgrounds to be able to use your heat pumps, therefore creating more expense as well as limiting your options on where you choose to stay.
I would suggest while doing this, take the time to inspect, repair or improve insulation and weather proofing of gaskets, etc.
As for purchasing units, many outlets. Remember to check for several of the insurance style sales or wrecking yards. a 1 YEAR OLD TRAILER IS GONNA HAVE A VERY GOOD oops.... unit if it wasn't impacted. Look around- don't buy the first thing you find. MAKE SURE YOUR INSTALLATION IS QUALITY WORK!!!!!
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