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Old 07-29-2015, 12:04 PM   #15
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Our normal routine for cool weather "generator" camping is to go into energy conservation mode from the get-go - meaning TV is hooked up to an alternate power supply with an inverter, LED lights get turned on in favour of the trailers own lights, an extra comforter gets thrown onto the beds at night, the thermostat gets set way, way down and daily showers move to a an two day cycle.

Our single battery will likely show somewhere around 12.2 volts in the morning - very rarely lower than that. Generator will get turned on for a couple of hours - and then again for the same amount of time in the evening before bed. The alternate power source for the TV is charged up at the same time. If we are away from the trailer for the day time then the furnace is turned way down again - or even off.

If needed we can and have gone two days/nights without the generator being used - but don't really like to do that - think we, with a lot of care, could go 3 nights but have never tried it.

Seems to work OK.


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Old 07-29-2015, 12:12 PM   #16
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Are the Suburban furnace motors a brushed or brushless design? Also could you put a baffle in the duct that goes down to the tanks and close it when you don't need it to supply more warm air to living areas? I think in my trailer under the fridge there is a T junction in the ducting. If you closed it off there would you feel a difference in the living area and the furnace would cycle off sooner.

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Old 07-29-2015, 12:30 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by daveswenson View Post
I'd be looking for some other drain on the battery. You shouldn't be killing the batteries overnight with the furnace.
I've been continuously dry camping without hookups for 25 days now. Problem only occurred on two days of overcast weather and very cold temps. No drains on the system, otherwise it would show up already.

I measure voltage via shunt at the batteries directly with my IPN remote and I have a second voltage meter installed at the aft of my Airstream.

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We do most of our travel in winter months and use the furnace a lot while boon docking. Our logic tells us conservation is as important as supply, in all things. So we set the thermostat at 60, sometimes lower in cold weather, and make up the difference with blankets layered as needed. Socks, long johns, and two in the same bed help when it's really cold.
We sleep under a large comforter, do the same. But with the babies, we need to keep it a certain level of reasonable. Otherwise I would go lower, I like cold pillows.

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Originally Posted by tommyp123 View Post
The other is a simple catalytic heater that is plumbed into our propane system and mounted in the front room which will fend off all but the most frigid nights in the trailer.
See this is what I'm interested in discussing in this thread. I already have LED's everywhere, everything runs on 12V but one monitor, I turn off my inverter at night. We don't use a microwave, etc. 405 Watts of solar on the roof plus a eu2000i Honda generator as backup.



Curious about these, how folks plumb them, recommendations.

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If you only need a furnace for when the overnight temps are 35-50, 9,000 BTUs is more than enough. If you want, you can add another for 18,000 BTUs at 4 amps. The fact that they are a forced air furnace that can be added on in the space below the floor and they only draw 2 amps make them appealing to me. There is no need to waste BTUs heating the holding tanks in temps above freezing. I like to boondock in the winter in Texas, so this would be an ideal furnace to replace the big, old, noisy, energy hog 30,000 BTU Suburban furnace.
This also looks interesting. This is the idea I think we are following too. I know we will head south in the winter. I think my only concern would be a night on a mountain where weather could drive it down to freezing.

Here in Montana, the other night it dumped a ton of snow up on the mountains.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:35 PM   #18
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Anyone know about the Olympian Wave 3 catalytic heater? Perhaps plumbed into the oven propane line.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:41 PM   #19
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I installed an Olympian in a '66 Trade Wind. The owner is very happy with it. It is the only heater in the trailer.

I would recommend you tap into the propane supply under the trailer.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:50 PM   #20
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Furnace murders the batteries

Our 75 Overlander was bought equipped with a catalytic heater as far as I can tell. The range top is next to the door, the furnace is below the range top, the catalytic heater covers the magazine rack facing the goucho. The gas is branched off of the furnace gas line with its own shut off valve.

One note on catalytics, you will need fresh air to breathe, leave a window open just a crack as well as a ceiling vent in another area, and always have functioning CO and propane detectors.

In many more tropical countries central heat and air is seldom found in homes. The homes are not air tight like most in the USA and catalytic heaters are used for the cold spells.

An example of USA air tight construction. Some small private retreat cabins (similar in size to those at many KOAs) had gas ranges with a pilot light for the range top and a pilot light for the oven. One winter a group wanted to use the cabins (this had never happened before). So the gas was turned on and the pilots lit. Shortly after the CO detector goes off. The range top pilot was turned off since it had a valve, but the oven pilot was left on (no valve, flame 1/4-3/8" like normal), and an electric sniffer used to check. Nope, still too high. Gas was valved off and hot plates supplied until the guests departed and the ranges replaced with electric.

In mountain communities there are many stories less successful.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:54 PM   #21
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The literature for your trailer shows it has a 25,000 BTU Atwood Hydroflame IV 8525 which is rated at 7.6 amps-91 Watts. Two group 27 batteries fully charged should give you 100a/h of use at 50% depth of discharge. If you ran the furnace for 10 hours and it was on half the time it should only take 38 a/h of battery.
How many amps does the furnace draw when operating?
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:07 PM   #22
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We always had a problem with killing the single battery using a Suburban furnace. I suspect the previous owners did too. They installed a catalytic heater on the end of counter beside the door. Because it is in the living area, it keeps things cosy but you still need the extra blankets. I also worry about being overcome by CO. Keeping the roof vents open and a window nearby in the kitchen area is adequate. The catalytic heater does have specifications for how much vent area is required. The CO monitor should sound more than early enough to keep you safe.
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Old 07-29-2015, 02:44 PM   #23
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The furnace is a big draw (mine is about 8.0 ah) and will wack the batteries. Unfortunately, when you need to run the furnace, your batteries are also in low ambient temps which drastically reduces their efficiency. You might notice your solar system seems to bring them back pretty quick but part of that is because your outside ambient temps are also increasing. If you are concerned about the safety of an additional heater inside, you might throw a blanket over the battery box (all outside the trailer) and put a heater underneath to actually keep the batteries warmer. (Obviously you don't want to have a gust of wind blow your blanket into the heater and start a fire out there. So, common sense is in order.) If you do put a heater inside to supplement or replace the furnace use, just remember that you have lost heat to the basement and if the temps are well below freezing, you might freeze pipes below.

I deal with the same problem in the mountains all summer long. Cold nights and warm days. It leads one to believe that the batteries are the problem but maybe the greatest issue is the batteries are just cold. My solution has been to add a vented tool box in which I have put a battery. (Actually I have two of these.) On the outside of the tool box, I have wired a typical tow vehicle umbilical plug receiver. I plug my trailer into one of these boxes at night and with the temps you are experiencing, My batteries (now 3 total) stay above 70% overnight. The tool boxes are recharged during the day as they travel in the back of my truck which has a separate solar system to the one on the trailer. If I am staying put, I leave the toolbox plugged in and both solar systems recharge all the batteries. One of these days, I am going to move my batteries inside the coach to avoid the problem. Tesla automotive has discovered that by heating their batteries in cold ambient conditions, the amperage they loose to the heating system, is less than the gain from the increased battery efficiency of warmer batteries.
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:08 PM   #24
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The furnace is a big draw (mine is about 8.0 ah) and will wack the batteries. Unfortunately, when you need to run the furnace, your batteries are also in low ambient temps which drastically reduces their efficiency. You might notice your solar system seems to bring them back pretty quick but part of that is because your outside ambient temps are also increasing......

....Tesla automotive has discovered that by heating their batteries in cold ambient conditions, the amperage they loose to the heating system, is less than the gain from the increased battery efficiency of warmer batteries.
Very interesting, I had thought about the temp thing. Which might be part of whats going on. The only other things I leave running at night are Wilson Booster and Mifi. We usually charge our iPhones off a portable battery at night and recharge that battery during the day.

I have some extra reflectix, I wonder if I could line the battery box with that. Just need to insure that it's not conductive.
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Old 07-29-2015, 03:32 PM   #25
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Mike,

Either I am missing something or something else is going on. If your furnace was running 100% for 8 hours that is only 64-72 Ah vs. 200Ah capacity. It's probably more like 50%. I know mine runs 50% or less at around 40 outside. Now if you got little or no solar for an entire day and actually used 64Ah two nights, that could make sense, but I'm not clear on if your problem happens after one night or two with poor sun conditions.

400W of solar with 4 equivalent solar hours should give you 130Ah or so, more than enough to run your furnace. Either your solar system isn't putting out, you have some parasitic loads, or your batteries are bad. You need to get an ammeter (if your solar system doesn't have one) and measure the current going into the batteries when you have good sun and disconnect the solar panels and measure the current coming out under the same conditions as you operate it at night. Assuming it is more than you think, start disconnecting and turning off stuff until you have found all the loads.

Here are some curves for temperature effects. It doesn't appear that 40F is much of a problem, if they are correct.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lead...9qs-UNyVhQk%3D


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Old 07-29-2015, 04:11 PM   #26
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I would concur with Al and Missy's response above. Something else is going on to either draw down the batteries, or they are not fully recharging. Of course even new batteries have been known to be defective from the get go.

Your furnace fan is not taking down those batteries that much. So, more investigation is needed, hopefully with some measured amp draw numbers.

BTW, the MiFi and the Wilson booster are quite minor loads.
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Old 07-29-2015, 04:45 PM   #27
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Batteries that have been drawn down below 11 volts are catastrophically discharged and will likely never take a full charge again. Your capacity may have been compromised by such an event. As a scouter who has slept outside in sub zero temps and been warm thanks to a decent sleeping bag, I would recommend improving your sleep system rather than wasting energy keeping the trailer comfy warm. A load test of the batteries is in order.
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Old 07-29-2015, 05:34 PM   #28
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Bold you said it kills the batteries but you did an NEI (not enough information). What does the capacity and voltage show before you go to bed and what is it in the morning. How many AH were used overnight? You didn't say which IPN but the IPN Pro has that type of information. If your batteries are the typical 105ah x 2 and you used 8ah/hr for 10 hrs then you have hit them pretty hard. And full charging usually starts about 10am to 3pm so if you start the morning with only 25ah available before the charging kicks in the yep, they are pretty well driven down to min levels. Throw in a cloudy day and out comes the Honda so that you can recover.

Maybe time for more/bigger/better batteries and/or more solar panels .
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