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Old 10-31-2002, 08:30 PM   #1
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Question Forced Air furnace

Hi. I have a '78 Sovereign. The Forced Air Furnace works fine. It also has a Catalytic heater the former owner swears by. He said the furnace used too much propane and suggested I use the catalytic heater. I tried it and darned near froze do death when the temperature dropped to 20 degrees. What's too much? Does anyone out there know whether the furnace rips through propane or is just a moderately heavier user than the catalytic? When it is really cold and you have to have the windows open for the catalytic heater all night it seems to about balance out. Any advice? JLD
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Old 10-31-2002, 09:51 PM   #2
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The forced air furnaces do use more propane than the catalytic heaters do. But the forced air furnaces are also keeping you and the the holding tanks warm as well as the furniture. The catalytic heaters are best used in cool weather 35-50 degrees to take the chill off, or if you are boondocking. The forced air furnace will be necessary if the temps drop much bleow that to keep you warm and cozy. propane usage is an isue, but that is why you have 2 tanks. If you run out in the middle of the night the auto switch does it's thing and in the next day or two you can pull the empty and get it refilled.

I just figure that propane is a cost of having my "house" with me wherever I go. You need to decide for yourself if the usage is high or not.
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Old 10-31-2002, 10:18 PM   #3
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BTU's

There are 91,504 BTU's in a gallon of propane. If you have a 30 Lb tank, thats around 7 gallons or 640,528 BTU of heat per bottle. Now if you have a 35,000 BTU furnace, (Typical) you can run it about 18.3 hours, continously. If you have a 6000 BTU Cat heater, you can run it 106 hours per bottle. Your mileage may vary, for obvious reasons.
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Old 11-01-2002, 06:25 AM   #4
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Pick,

Great point. Running hours can be an issue and thanks to your math I took it one step further. Using 2.00 per gallon as the propane cost (Prices vary) the Forced Air furnace costs $.76 per hour to run vs. the cat heater at $.13 per hour. Personally I want to sleep warm and cozy, and I bet the forced air furnace will run for fewer hours per night than the cat heater to keep the same temps. Just my $.02 worth. Joan, now you have more info than you may have wanted but an informed desicion is always best.
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Old 11-01-2002, 09:40 AM   #5
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I run the catalytic when the temps are in the high 40's, 50's and just into the 60's. When temps start dropping into the lower 40's and 30's, I also turn my 30,000 BTU furnace on to help circulate heat. In real cold weather when boondocking without 110 v. shorepower, the furnace can run the batteries low. I have not experienced a battery problem over a weekend of 30's weather while running just the furnace.
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Old 11-01-2002, 10:43 AM   #6
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circulating warm air

Folks, does it make any sense when hooked to shore power to use the catalytic heater and just run the fan from the furnace to circulate the heat through the trailer? It seems to me that it could be done, although I'm no heating engineer.
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Old 11-01-2002, 11:46 AM   #7
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Brouck

If it was winterized and there was no problem with tanks and lines freezing. Catalytic heaters usually don't get much over 6000 BTU which is not much when it starts getting below freezing. With 2 aluminum skins connected by aluminum ribs and only 1 1/2" between for insulation you can't expect a very high R factor, it is going to take a fair amount of propane to heat in cold temps.

John
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Old 11-01-2002, 12:54 PM   #8
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John, I yield to your expertise. I guess what I was getting at was whether or not one could increase the efficacy of the catalytic heater by distributing the heat that it does produce throughout the trailer. I agree that it cannot be a substitute for the furnace nor will it keep the pipes and tanks sufficiently warm. Actually, my next project is to put in a fireplace!
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Old 11-01-2002, 01:18 PM   #9
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My motorhome is stripped inside. Last winter i worked in it with a 12,000 BTU heater on a propane tank. It helped to use a fan on low to move the air, but on really cold days it didn't do much good, more like blowing cold air around.

John
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Old 11-01-2002, 01:25 PM   #10
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John, I keep trying to figure out ways in which I might do some camping during the winter. It is difficult for me to get away and out of my office for more than a couple days at a time, therefore I can't really go South. It feels like I have spring fever already and it's only November 1.
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Old 11-01-2002, 03:29 PM   #11
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If you have some extra $$$$$'s go buy the Honda 2000 portable generator. Put it 50 feet away from your trailer and run an extension cord to it.....you'll never hear the generator and batteries will never be an issue. I can run it on a tank of gas for 6 hours.

Just my thoughts on this one,
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Old 11-01-2002, 07:19 PM   #12
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generator

It is very high on my wish list.Most everyone speaks highly of it.
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Old 11-02-2002, 09:19 AM   #13
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One EU2000i will let you run a 1000W microwave, which takes about 1500 watts when the magnetron is on. Two EU2000's will let you run an air-conditioner.

But even the smaller EU1000i puts out all the 120VAC current a 55A 12VDC converter needs to provide its rated DC output. That'll charge the batteries while running the 7.5A furnace and a bunch of lights.
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Old 11-02-2002, 11:03 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the replies to my original question. I have a 6000 btu Cat. heater. It's about as warmth providing as the little electrical heater I have. I have actually been using the electrical heater to take the chill off, then the Cat. to warm the living room when watching tv at night or reading and finally the forced air furnace to heat the whole place before bed time. But recently, as the temps have dropped here on the Washington coast, I find myself with a drippy nose and swaddled in blankets from head to toe. When I go to bed I have been turning off everything but the forced air, which I set on a low setting, ie 50 degrees or less. It is really nice to reach up in the morning while still in my beddy by and jog up the heat for a half hour or so before rising. It just isn't worth keeping the Cat. heater on with the windows open in 30 degree at night and besides, it scares me silly. In the lower weather temps the electric heater draws too much current to make it economical and the Cat heater runs constantly. Even on it's highest setting I am fareeeezing when anywhere away from directly in front of it and then if I get too close, I feel like a weenie on a stick. The electric heater I have cuts off after a short while. I can only guess why, but I am speculating that because it has an heavy case the case heats up to the temp and that signals the heater to cut off. That's nice in a way, but it turns the little guy into a toe warmer only. The Furnace doesn't seem to come on very often. I can tell, because I'm just getting used to it and it wakes me every time. YOW, my fight or flight still leaps into action with every new sound as I grow accustomed to the face of this new abode.

I have been wondering if it is possible and economical to have insulation blown into the space betweens the skins of the AS. Has anyone who uses their As in a really cold climate tried this? How do the folks who make the Alaskan and the Artic Fox rigs insulate them? I am also really interested in hearing about this fireplace idea. That would be spectacular. I am assuming this will be a gas powered fireplace. I have this great idea for making a loop for the tape player that plays the sound of a crackling fire. :0) Where do you intend to put it? JLD

PS. One last thing. I have mounted a small fan on the rail above the slider to the bedroom and wired it to the power to the light for one of the beds (I have a '78 Sovereign with twins in the back. Each bed has it's own reading light) The fan has it's own toggle switch and is about 5" by 5". It fits snugly between the cieling and the rail. Because it is up near the ceiling it grabs any heat that is there and propels it into the bedroom. It also helps with the air Conditioning in the summer. Plan to put in a small temp guage in the backand do some "scientific", tee hee, measurments of temps to see just what the difference it makes. Right now I am so looking for a little warmth back there that I may be fantasizing warmth.
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