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Old 09-30-2010, 10:25 PM   #1
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1964 26' Overlander
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How Many BTUs to keep the trailer warm?

Okay, I have given the search feature a true workout tonight and still didn't find a good answer.

I have a 1964 26' Overlander - after reading several posts about the furnace wanting to explode. It was removed. Now I want to keep it warm for hunting season.

I have full electirc service at the camp and thought some electric heaters would help keep the camper warm. Normal lows are in the 20-30's durning the winter. Some nights are colder, but most of the time I would expect mid 20's as a low.

Most plug in heaters are in the 5000 btu range. One, Two, Three, ... how many do I need to maintain 70 degrees? How many btu's are needed to heat the space?

For reference on insulation and window treatments. I have the original Armstrong AC and it held the camper a nice 75 degrees in 100 degree days.

Thanks,
Ginder75
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:35 PM   #2
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to rephrase, as a pal in the HVAC business says...

How many BTU's does it take to keep a BUT' the size of a TUB, warm?

or back to the op's question...

I have two of the ceramic cube heaters in a 34' SOB that see's use during hunting season...several nights into the temp range of the twentys/upper teens....

ONE heater will hold a +-20 degree difference (the second one was on FAN for that particular night...getting dressed in the dark when the trailer is 37 degrees is TOUGH)

Two keep it comfortable once warm...the gas heat is really handy for knocking off the chill QUICK!

More that 2? Ya better have 50A service...I have to run my two on seperate breakers or the main feed trips...
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Old 09-30-2010, 10:47 PM   #3
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It depends on how exposed the site is, and whether it is important to you to keep your tank(s) from freezing. If you are camping dry, with bottled water and an external method of managing & disposing of urine and feces, you can get by with a couple of 5000 BTU units, provided you can be sure there will be no power failures. Being a 'belt & suspenders' kind of guy, I'd also carry a "Big Buddy" propane catalytic heater for back-up. You'll have to devise a method of providing adequate inlet and exhaust air. Just because I have never had a problem, doesn't mean it is safe for novices. As always, there'll be lots of naysayers. Your mileage may vary, but then again, variety is the spice of life, according to bachelors.
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Old 09-30-2010, 11:28 PM   #4
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Getting a 25F drop in an RV with a 1 ton AC is doing pretty good.

General rule of thumb for an RV furnace is 1k BTU/hr per foot of trailer.

Each human adds about 100 watts. A 1.5 kw heater is about 5k BTU/hr (as noted).

A 26' trailer by the rule of thumb would need 5 of those standard 110v heaters. That implies some special electrical and other issues related to that many devices in the small space.

There should be no explosion risk with a properly installed RV furnace. That sounds like some of the typical forum FUD mongering that is so popular.

For propane, you would need to parallel tanks or use a larger tank if temps get below 20F or so as a standard 30# tank will have problems boiling off enough propane gas for a 30k BTU/hr furnace at those temperatures.

The issues are how warm you want the inside to be and the problem of volume to surface area. A small RV tends to have a lot of surface area for the volume inside it and that means a disproportionate heat loss. Higher temperature differences significantly increase heat loss, too.

Other winter problems to consider in an RV are condensation and appropriate ventilation (especially if using enclosed combustion devices like catalytic heaters).
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Old 10-01-2010, 12:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ginder75 View Post
I have full electirc service at the camp and thought some electric heaters would help keep the camper warm. Normal lows are in the 20-30's durning the winter. Some nights are colder, but most of the time I would expect mid 20's as a low.
Ginder, we've spent many nights in the low 20's using only a cheap HF heater because the AC was free.

Ceramic Heater

I don't think we've ever had the thing turned up much more than half way. 70 sounds warm to me, we use a big blanket.
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:28 AM   #6
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1964 26' Overlander
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I will be totally dry. I have an exhisting bath house, so all the tanks will be empty and dry. the camper is more of a bed room / storage room for hunting season.

I have the propane buddy heaters and that was an option, but I did not know about condensation and if it would be a problem. This is my first season with the Airstream so I know I have a lot to learn and expirence.

There are some small ulitity heaters that include thermostats and built in fans that have caught my eye. Might try two of those and use the lights on battery to help lessen the peak demand.

thanks for the help,
Ginder75
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:31 AM   #7
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We camp in Colorado in the fall during hunting season.
We sleep in light weight sleeping bags and maintain night time trailer temps in the high 50's low 60's. 70 degrees is uncomfortably hot.
One 5000 watt btu space heater will maintain temps in those ranges down to 25 degrees in our 25 foot Safari.
Below 25, I think two heaters would be needed. It is common knowledge that Airstreams are not the best insulated travel trailers. An alternative would be one electric space heater and a catalytic type propane heater. Mr. Heater's have oxygen sensors that shut off the heater if there is a depletion. I would not run one of those heaters overnight but only to bring the trailer up to comfortable temperatures during waking hours.
Without a furnace, you have a freezing issue with your water system, particularly if it stays below freezing for 24 hours or more. The only solution I can think of for that is to heat your water tank and make sure all your pipes are open to the heated interior of your trailer.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:40 AM   #8
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I have a 30' and it is my experience that a 1500 W heater will keep the interior of an already warm trailer at 70 degrees, at night, with no wind, down to around 50 degrees outside. At lower temperatures it will tend to lose ground by morning.

On an exposed site wind can make a huge difference.

My electric heater is a permanently installed pic-a-watt heater. It is quiet and safe and I recommend them.

With two 1500 watt heaters you would probably be ok down to 20-30 degrees as long as there was no wind. That's the most you can run with a 30 amp electrical hookup. Heating up a cold trailer would still be frustrating.

The new propane furnaces are safe and effective, and I'd encourage you to get one if you're going to be camping in cold weather.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:47 PM   #9
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1964 26' Overlander
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The original 1964 furnance was pulled, pryed, ripped, scrapped from its original home, and there is no going back. Ducts are gone, vent in wall is gone, electrical was rerouted and a microwave is there now.

I have a semi protected site, so the wind will be kept to a minimum. The biggest challenge will be Friday nights. The camp is 2 hours from home, and I do not plan on keeping the heater on all week. So, I need a high output heater to get the camper in line, or a timer that can be set to start the electric heaters on Friday morning, so come that evening the camper is ready.

Thanks for all the help, it has opened my eyes to how limiting 30 amp service can be. i think it will work, but if it doesn't I will work on plan B. If I bring my bedding in the truck it would be warm before I get in bed, and that may help on Friday night.

Ginder75
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:50 PM   #10
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If you buy a couple of those solar reflectors for car windshields and put them in the windows when you leave, you'll be amazed at how much difference it makes in quickly heating up the trailer on your return. I tried this and found it was as good at keeping heat in as keeping heat out on the south-facing side in summer.

As they were an ongoing fixture, I ended up cutting them perfectly, and trimming the edges, then putting tiny velcro spots to quick-fasten them.

It also keeps out prying eyes during your absence.
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:58 PM   #11
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1964 26' Overlander
Bentonville , Arkansas
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I have done this with extra Reflextix(sp) - silver bubble insulation) that I had left over from a seperate project. it really helped the AC, and I hope it would help the heater. but not having had the camper in the cold, I was uncertain.

Looks like we get a test night this weekend. Lows in the low 40 to 30's, might need to camp in the driveway. I can always come in if it gets cold.

Ginder75
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:40 PM   #12
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Auxilary Furnace 50,000 BTU

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ginder75 View Post
Okay, I have given the search feature a true workout tonight and still didn't find a good answer.
I have a 1964 26' Overlander - after reading several posts about the furnace wanting to explode. It was removed. Now I want to keep it warm for hunting season.
I have full electirc service at the camp and thought some electric heaters would help keep the camper warm. Normal lows are in the 20-30's durning the winter. Some nights are colder, but most of the time I would expect mid 20's as a low.
Most plug in heaters are in the 5000 btu range. One, Two, Three, ... how many do I need to maintain 70 degrees? How many btu's are needed to heat the space?
For reference on insulation and window treatments. I have the original Armstrong AC and it held the camper a nice 75 degrees in 100 degree days.
Thanks,
Ginder75
Add one HOT BABE and you won't care how cold the stream is, never bothered me.

(you need 3 - 5000 btu but with 30 amp service you're maxed at 2 X 1500 watt ceramic heaters, point them towards what you want the warmest, with 20amp only 1 heater will work brrrrrrr Use a propane heater and make prior arrangements for your funeral after the oxygen depletes )
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Old 10-01-2010, 07:18 PM   #13
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If you look at a lot of camper brochures it looks like they put in 1000btu's per foot of trailer not counting the tongue or bumper.
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Old 10-02-2010, 09:49 AM   #14
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The Reflectix or Prodex for windows and some other cold spots is a good idea. Getting some kind of skirting on the trailer can help a lot, too.
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