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Old 01-04-2011, 10:59 AM   #1
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1970 27' Overlander
Kingston , New York
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Need new LP heat source for short bursts of winter use

Hey there!

We are new to the group, recent owners of a 1971, 27' Overlander and we live in the Catskill Mountains of New York State where it is pretty cold indeed. Today will be a 32 high and a 20 low.

We do have electrical and outside propane tanks, but the inside propane ducts and oven don't work (previous owners warned it was too expensive to consider fixing), plus we have no plumbing/running water and this is fine with us. We bought it to be a backyard "man shack" for my husband, and a fun get away place for the whole family (daughter can wait for the bus inside of it, I can do some video editing work in it, etc.). In general it is stationary and we won't be sleeping in it during cold weather, we are close to our house for water/toilet.

But we under-estimated the insulation and heat required to make it comfortable for short visits (20 minutes to 3 hour stretches we'd like to spend inside of it) during winter.

It came with a little wood burning stove, but for our intermittent usage throughout the day, this isn't the right heat source for us.

We've been told to get a used propane heater for the inside of the unit (we get propane delivery to our house anyway). I don't really understand if I should be looking for a ventless one or use the "hole" that was created for the wood burning stove (don't know much about propane heaters yet). Also home many BTUs do I need? I've read something about BTUs per foot of space, but am still confused about BTUs seeing a recommendation of two 5,000 BTUs on one posting on this forum or 25,000 BTUs on another.

We'd love one with a remote control, so we could click it on from our house and head out there in a few minutes, but that may be a fantasy.

Also, how do I find out if the propane ducts are really impossible to repair. We don't need the little stove to work, but it sure would be great if it did. Also, can we hook up a used Propane heater if the ducts are not working, or is this two different issues (perhaps propane tank outside hooked up to heater inside is simple whereas propane tank outside hooked up to oven in kitchen is difficult)?

If you are allowed to recommend specific models of propane heaters on this forum, please do so. If not, sorry for asking.

Sorry for my ignorance.
Thanks,
Pyrenees
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:40 AM   #2
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
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Hi Pyrenees -- welcome to the forum!

You will observe LP (propane) lines with valves & tees under the trailer -- below the belly skin. Code is that no junctions can be up inside the trailer. The lines in the trailer must terminate at the using appliance. I know my '74 Argosy's propane valves were badly beat up and corroded -- never got far enough into the restoration to replace those. It's a straightforward enough job but may be more than you'd want to spend.

Routing a propane line from a tank in the yard (what's the distance?) seems like kind of a pain. Have the tanks on the A-frame been converted to the OPD valve design required for fillers? Might be easier to just use the 30# tanks that may still be on the trailer. One will last months at your rate of usage.

Others can comment on catalytic heaters. The one type of unvented fish house heater I'm familiar with actually does need air exchange -- and makes my eyes burn and gives me headaches. They're no longer available. You've got a wood stove exhaust? That sure is a step in the right direction.

For quick localized heat and effectiveness, the easiest way out would be to go to Home Depot and get an electric space heater or two. Either way, you'll find there are a lot of cold spots around unless you leave the heat running for several hours.

Catalytic folks? Step right up...

[on edit: Video editing? There are issues with flat screen TVs (monitors?) and freezing temps. Dunno if it's specifically a plasma or LCD thang. It would be easy to carry a laptop from the house though. One more never-ending point to check out, eh?]
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:48 AM   #3
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Threads on flatscreens & cold:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...ter-38053.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...eze-27782.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...ors-20680.html
.
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:51 AM   #4
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Heaters

Most electric cat. heaters have a timer and thermostat. Sal.
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:21 PM   #5
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You'll hear different views on Cat heaters. We have a Olympian Wave 8 catalytic heater in the Sovereign that we've been very pleased with. It works well for localized applications.

Here's link for some information.

uscatalytic.com

Kevin
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:49 PM   #6
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Based on the way you will be using the trailer, I would go with electric space heaters. They are safe and simple to use and can be started remotely.
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:18 PM   #7
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1973 27' Overlander
reno , NV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyrenees View Post
Hey there!

We are new to the group, recent owners of a 1971, 27' Overlander and we live in the Catskill Mountains of New York State where it is pretty cold indeed. Today will be a 32 high and a 20 low.

We do have electrical and outside propane tanks, but the inside propane ducts and oven don't work (previous owners warned it was too expensive to consider fixing), plus we have no plumbing/running water and this is fine with us. We bought it to be a backyard "man shack" for my husband, and a fun get away place for the whole family (daughter can wait for the bus inside of it, I can do some video editing work in it, etc.). In general it is stationary and we won't be sleeping in it during cold weather, we are close to our house for water/toilet.

But we under-estimated the insulation and heat required to make it comfortable for short visits (20 minutes to 3 hour stretches we'd like to spend inside of it) during winter.

It came with a little wood burning stove, but for our intermittent usage throughout the day, this isn't the right heat source for us.

We've been told to get a used propane heater for the inside of the unit (we get propane delivery to our house anyway). I don't really understand if I should be looking for a ventless one or use the "hole" that was created for the wood burning stove (don't know much about propane heaters yet). Also home many BTUs do I need? I've read something about BTUs per foot of space, but am still confused about BTUs seeing a recommendation of two 5,000 BTUs on one posting on this forum or 25,000 BTUs on another.

We'd love one with a remote control, so we could click it on from our house and head out there in a few minutes, but that may be a fantasy.

Also, how do I find out if the propane ducts are really impossible to repair. We don't need the little stove to work, but it sure would be great if it did. Also, can we hook up a used Propane heater if the ducts are not working, or is this two different issues (perhaps propane tank outside hooked up to heater inside is simple whereas propane tank outside hooked up to oven in kitchen is difficult)?

If you are allowed to recommend specific models of propane heaters on this forum, please do so. If not, sorry for asking.

Sorry for my ignorance.
Thanks,
Pyrenees
Welcome fellow Overlander owner!

I am confused by your comment about the (heat) ducting being damaged. That seems odd. Are you sure the PO didn't mean that the furnace didn't work (vs the ducting)? Many of the original propane furnaces from the 1970's had a safety issue that resulted in them being Recalled. A replacement furnace IS EXPENSIVE. You need to determine if your furnace is still intact and get the model and serial number from it to further determine if it was on the recall list.

Also, hoping the PO didn't mean that there was a propane line problem - which would affect both the operation of the funace and the stove. Now it's getting complicated... and dangerous. Let's not go in that direction.

If the furnace is operational, the ducting may/may not be difficult to repair - depending on what & where the damage occurred. You will need to locate the furnace & the associated ducts to determine what is actually wrong. But if the furnace is not operational - I wouldn't spend any more time inspecting the ducts...

If the furnace is not operational -i.e. it is not present, damaged or is recalled - you might as well just hang up tring to use that type of system with the ducting (unless you want to invest about $1000 into it).

The original style propane furnace is, indeed, the best way to quickly & sufficiently heat your trailer.

But, there are other ways to heat your trailer using portable catalytic or electric heaters. You do not have to use the ducting to heat your trailer. Especially for your particular situaiton!

What is the current condition/configuration of your trailer (floor plan) and does it still has most of the original furnishings (gaucho/couch, bedding, flooring, cabinetry) intact?

What areas are the most important for you to heat? Luckily, you aren't burdened by needing to keep your plumbing from freezing - which is best done via the original style propane furnace/ducting!

Also, why do you not like the wood stove heat?

Your answers should help to advise on how much heat you might need and where the heat sources can be placed.

As far as the stove goes, do you have any idea what is wrong with it? Maybe post a pic of that too!

Before operating any of the propane appliances, you should have them leak checked!!! Most of the connections are readily accessible for testing with soapy water --- and make sure you have a fire CO2 detector!

Laura
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:17 PM   #8
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I agree with Richard (AZFLYCASTER), go with a portable electric heater. They're cheap and very safe to use. I love Cat heaters for boondocking, but for your application, it's best to go with electric.
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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I agree with Richard (AZFLYCASTER), go with a portable electric heater. They're cheap and very safe to use. I love Cat heaters for boondocking, but for your application, it's best to go with electric.
Hey guys - let's not jump the gun with an agreed recommendation so quickly.... Can't you tell, I was going to turn this into a science project.

Laura - who uses a small electric space heater in her Overlander. - though I am thinking about an oil filled one - hummmm
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Old 01-04-2011, 04:47 PM   #10
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For me it would be worth it to repair the furnance in the trailer. One of the best features of a trailer. You still need to be hooked to the electricity, but that little furnace makes a lot of heat fast and spreads it well in the trailer. The 110 electric heaters do not make much heat fast compared to the loss in an airstream. However they are cheap and you could use several.
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:35 PM   #11
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Hi Pyreens

Welcome to the forum.

Several questions so let's take them one at a time.

1) BTUs and watts.

With a 30,000 BTU heater it will take about two minutes per degree to heat up the trailer. So if it's 20 degrees out and you want it 70 degrees it will take almost two hours. Smaller heaters will take, more or less, proportionally longer.

With a 5000 BTU heater you'll be able to maintain a maximum 20 degree temperature differential, so if it's 25 degrees outside you won't be able to get it above 45 degrees inside, for example. With a 10,000 BTU heater you can, as you might imagine, get a 40 degree differential, so again as an example if it's 25 our you'll be able to get it up to 65 degrees although it may take overnight to do so.

2) electic heaters.

A 1500 watt portable heater will produce around 5000 BTUs. The amount of heat they give off is the same regardless of whether they're a cheap fan-forced heater, a radiant heater, an oil filled heater, or any other kind.

If the electric supply to your trailer comes through a regular household electrical outlet, you can only run one electric heater. If you have a special 30 amp trailer outlet that you use, you can run two.

3) propane furnaces and ductwork.

It is rare for there to be anything substantial wrong with the ductwork although if someone tore it out completely it may take as much as $50 of materials and a few hours of labor to replace it.

On the other hand, if the furnace is shot, it will cost around $700 to replace it plus around 4 hours of labor. The labor cost is due to the fact that the original heaters are no longer made and the new ones are a slightly different size. You may also need repairs to the propane system.

Atwood and Suburban are the two major manufacturers of RV furnaces. Both make good products, and both have been used by Airstream at various times.

4) propane hookup

If you're not going to move the trailer at all it's easy to have a propane tech run a line to it. This will involve running a copper line from your tank and putting in a regulator to drop the 10 PSI line pressure to the low pressure used by the furnace and any other appliances you may have in the trailer. Costs are low, probably $100-$200 unless the distance to the tank is considerable.

If you put in a setup with hoses and disconnects so that you can safely disconnect the trailer for travel this would roughly double the cost of such a setup.

5) recommendations

I have both the furnace, and two electric heaters in my trailer (one permanently installed, one portable), and I use whatever is appropriate for the situation, since I travel.

I would suggest that you'll be happiest getting a new propane furnace installed because that's the only way you'll get quick enough heat to be able to warm up the trailer in the space of a couple hours.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:08 PM   #12
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My experience mirrors Jammers comments regarding single electric: the overnight temps this weekend were 24F-36F. Running the 1500 W heater, I could not get the inside temp above 65F until the daytime temp increased substantially. But because the temps in FL don't reach these lows often, the cost of my obtaining/installing a new furnace is prohibitive. I considered it for 24 hrs because my concerns about keeping my pipes from freezing - but Pyreens trailer is devoid of plumbing I see....

Laura - waiting to hear if anyone recommends portable gas heaters.
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:41 PM   #13
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Go electric

I think the oil filled electric heaters might be a little safer than some other
electic heaters. The element doesn't get glowing hot. Just my thought.

The other point for electric is that you won't be sending expensive heat outside through the vent, or sucking cold air in.

You most likely won't want to be snow shoeing out there in real cold weather anyway, unless it's going to be a cigar bar. That raises other issues.

I am afraid of cat heaters ( a scaredy cat ? ), because I read that 12 people die each year because they didn't crack a window.

Anyway, common consensus is ( I think ) that an Airstream is a very expensive shed. They are designed to travel and be light. You can insulated a shed much easier and better than an Airstream. But it is a cool idea, and I think most of us use our trailer to some extent, in the driveway
when we are not on the road.
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