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Old 08-27-2011, 07:58 PM   #1
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Heat pump or heat strips?

Need new A/C for 29ft. Excella and need advise on going with heat pump or heat strips
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:01 PM   #2
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I have the Carrier 15k heatpump in both of my units and I am very pleased with the results.
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:01 PM   #3
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Need new A/C for 29ft. Excella and need advise on going with heat pump or heat strips
Heat pump models, usually have a shorter life, since the compressor must run for heat and cooling.

Not so, with a heat strip model.

Andy
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Old 08-27-2011, 09:28 PM   #4
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I have had both heat pump and heat strips. IMHO, neither will provide enough heat for the trailer in really cold weather. They are good for knocking the chill off when it's cool, maybe into the low 50's. These are about like heating a trailer with an electric hair dryer (the wattage is about the same)

If it's really cold I use the furnace, or if it is above freezing I might use an electric heater if I am on shore power. I hardly ever use the heat strips.
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:28 PM   #5
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These are about like heating a trailer with an electric hair dryer (the wattage is about the same)
Not really true for the heat pump. The heat pump is simply the air conditioner running in reverse and is the same BTU . The unit is actually natively a heat pump and a solenoid changes it to an air conditioner when cooling is needed. True, the heat pump becomes less efficient as outside temperature drops, but that is also true for the air conditioner as temperatures rise. We were camping at 108 degrees a couple of days ago and the AC output was not very dool.

In my 28, I find that the heat pump can keep the trailer very comfortable down to the high 30s. With the Dometic Comfort Control, there is an automatic switchover to furnace at about 36 or 37 degrees. There is a sensor on the outside unit that detects when the switchover should occur. Here is central Texas, I almost never use the furnace.

The heat pump also goes into periodic defrost cycles at colder temperatures. You will hear the inside fan stops, but the compressor keeps humming for a couple of minutes, then the inside fan starts again.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:58 PM   #6
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Heat pump or heat strips

How about a thermostat with the heat strips, is this a better way. Go to So. TX. in winter and thinking heat pump may do a better job on cool nights. Have heat pump in home for 35 yrs. and like them and know how they operate. Thanks for replies.
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Old 08-28-2011, 05:17 PM   #7
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How about a thermostat with the heat strips, is this a better way.
The heating element in ACs with heat strips is either on or off depending on switch position with no thermostatic control. A better solution is one or more portable ceramic heaters with thermostats and fans that can be moved around the trailer as heat is needed. You can generally run two ceramic heaters if both are not simultaneously on high setting or one ceramic heater at low setting plus the heat pump.

My wife often takes a ceramic heater into the bedroom while she reads in bed.

I often set a ceramic heater at low setting on the bathroom counter while I take a shower and the heat pump is heating the rest of the trailer. I just have to be sure that the electric water heater is not simultaneously on.
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Old 08-28-2011, 06:18 PM   #8
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The heat strip in our Penguin airconditioner is just about worthles. The heat strip in the old AC put out a lot more heat than the heat strip in the new one. I think they are limited by what they can put in. We carry a little electric heater for mild weather. also doubles as a fan. and much quiter than thad the fan in the AC unit. Tired of holding my hand in front of the heat strip wondering if it is on or not.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:07 PM   #9
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I agree with Pahaska, that the heat pump will warm you better than the heat strips. But, when those outside temps get down in the lower range, the air coming out of the heat pump inside the trailer feels cool blowing on me. Today, if I were starting fresh and replacing my rooftop unit, I would get the AC only unit for $400 or so less than the heat pump combo unit. Then I would spend $75 or so on a good electric/ceramic heater. That savings will buy a few years of propane for me, and I would be more comfortable in winter. If I stayed exclusively in a warm winter area I might not feel this way.

My experience using a heat pump for one winter season in central Florida was that I had to supplement the heat pump with the propane furnace and/or a 1500 watt electric heater. I still burned more that two tanks, at least 70+ lbs, of propane during Jan, Feb, and part of March. That was in a 1999 31' Excello with electric/gas hot water heat, not using propane to heat water except during demand. It might be that the newer heat pump units have been improved. I hope someone else will chime in if the heat pumps are better now.

I also have a heat pump at home, but IMHO the trailer heat pump unit is not near as good.

add edit: If you do go into freezing weather the heat pump does not put any air into the belly pan to protect the plumbing, so you have to use the furnace.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:30 PM   #10
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But, when those outside temps get down in the lower range, the air coming out of the heat pump inside the trailer feels cool blowing on me.
The same thing occurs on a home heat pump. I had a heat pump in a previous house and the air coming out never felt real warm in cold weather until it got cold enough that the auxiliary heat strips would automatically come on. Then, I could practically hear the meter spinning outside.

In milder weather, though, the heat pump was economical and kept the house quite comfortable.
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:49 PM   #11
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I had a heat pump in a previous house and the air coming out never felt real warm in cold weather until it got cold enough that the auxiliary heat strips would automatically come on.
I installed a hybrid - heat pump with natural gas backup at home, warm and economical. Love it.

Thinking about adding some solar
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #12
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The main problem with the heat pump units is that they are loud. In general they are slightly louder than when running in air conditioning mode because they have to run a periodic defrost cycle.

The heat strips are less heat and there's still all the fan noise.

See my "quiet electric heat" thread for details on the 1500 watt electric heater I installed.
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Old 08-29-2011, 03:38 PM   #13
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The main problem with the heat pump units is that they are loud. In general they are slightly louder than when running in air conditioning mode because they have to run a periodic defrost cycle.

The heat strips are less heat and there's still all the fan noise.

See my "quiet electric heat" thread for details on the 1500 watt electric heater I installed.
I agree that the fan is noisy, but based on over 7 years with Dometic heat pumps, I have to disagree with the rest.

The heat pump sound level is precisely the same as the AC sound level. It is the exact same mechanism pumping refrigerant in opposite directions up on the roof. In both cases, 95% of the noise is interior fan noise.

Rather than being noisy, the defrost cycle is much quieter than either AC or heating operation. The sudden cessation of fan noise often rouses me in the night because I think the heat pump has stopped. It is just a low hum because the noisy inside fan is turned off and only the compressor up on the roof is running. I would equate the sound of the defrost cycle to about the sound level that the dishwasher in our kitchen makes.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:58 AM   #14
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We like the heat pump better. Our first rig had heat strips and our last and current ones had the heat pumps and we think that they do a much better job of controlling temps.

As others have stated, it will not help when you get below a certain outside temp but until then you don't have to run any propane.
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