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Old 07-29-2015, 10:36 AM   #1
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Furnace murders the batteries

Holy Moly does it ever. One night of use and I wake up to 11.9 volts! Does anyone have any recommendations for alternative systems? I think I have seen pictures of propane heaters, but not sure how that works/how that vents without murdering me.

We boondock/dry camp a lot. The past two days in Montana have been particularly chilly, and we've been running the furnace at 66 and even still it's draining the batteries faster than my solar can keep up. Especially at night. I keep waking up to depleted batteries.

I guess that fan motor uses a lot of power blowing.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:41 AM   #2
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What kind of furnace do you have? I have a 2 year-old Suburban, and we ran it all night at roughly 50 outside and 70 inside, plus (2) CPAP machines, with plenty of juice left in two group 27 marine deep cycle batteries in the morning. I did run the generator for a couple hours in the afternoon, as we were parked in a shady spot where the solar panels weren't getting much sun.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:47 AM   #3
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Subscribing. I have the same issue as Bold.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:48 AM   #4
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Looks like the Suburbans usually run about 9 amps when the blower is on. At 100% duty cycle, 9 x 12 = 84 amp-hours, which would take my batteries down to about 50%.

Now, the furnace doesn't run at 100% unless the front door is open (and maybe not even then); my rule of thumb is to start at a 50% duty cycle estimate (since that way I can't be off by more than 50%) and work up or down from there.

I would think you should be fine overnight, with juice left in the morning. With a couple hundred Watts of solar and full sun, you should be good again for the next night, too.
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:48 AM   #5
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We use a portable catalytic heater when boondocking.

Some here will pile on about how dangerous these heaters are and how they would never use one, but the truth is with some common sense and proper use these heaters are safe, efficient and simple.

And, one doesn't have to listen to the furnace cycle all night.


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Old 07-29-2015, 10:56 AM   #6
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I have a fire and carbon monoxide detector, plus I leave at least one roof vent about halfway open using the furnace. I don't trust gas. I use it, but I don't trust it.

"There's a big hole in the theory that gas is as safe as electricity"
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Old 07-29-2015, 10:59 AM   #7
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I've been looking at these Propex heaters from the UK. They only consume about 2amps max.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:09 AM   #8
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How old are your batteries? It's probably time for new ones. They shouldn't be discharging that quickly.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:22 AM   #9
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Ok, I have a 2007 International, so whatever furnace comes in the new ones, my batteries are brand new, group 27 deep cycle, they are fine, and I have 405 watts of solar to recharge during the day.

The furnace comes on about once every hour throughout the night. We use reflectix to seal up the windows.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:30 AM   #10
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I'd be looking for some other drain on the battery. You shouldn't be killing the batteries overnight with the furnace.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I've been looking at these Propex heaters from the UK. They only consume about 2amps max.
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They only go up to about 9k BTU. Our AS furnaces are all above 20k BTU.

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Old 07-29-2015, 11:38 AM   #12
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Batteries vs. Furnace: Batteries Lose

We have two separate modes when we travel with our AS ( 31' 1976 Sovereign) Primary is the Suburban furnace with blowers that treats us like we were home, but we only use when we have shore power.

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. In addition, our trailer came with a propane lantern that we used to use as well when boondocking to reduce our electric needs. Now that LEDs are in place over 90% of the trailer, I have reduced my dual batteries back to one and can go three days powering refrigerator circuit board, lights, and water pump without a problem. ( I have an old-school pilot light on the water heater)

Our family of four treats it like an adventure, and they alter their clothing and sleeping habits to stay cozy or cool as amenities allow. Full hookups are a true luxury, and when we have them we always take full advantage!

After 20 years on the road in our trailer, this system works very well. It truly can add another dimension to any trip! Our kids say it is more "Campy" when we are off grid that way. I agree.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:47 AM   #13
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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.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
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They only go up to about 9k BTU. Our AS furnaces are all above 20k BTU.

Kelvin
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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.
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