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Old 11-13-2008, 05:34 PM   #1
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Shiver me timbers ... Fulltimers please

Hey gang. We're approaching our first winter in our "Silverstream" -- as our friends still mistakenly call it. 2007 Safari 27FB -- Granted we're in Texas, but have a few nagging questions thought you might be able to help us answer. Most of the time we're hooked to shore power -- except for weekends when we're usually in a state park somewhere. Okay, here goes in no particular order ... is the furnace enough to avoid freezing tanks on super cold nights? If we use an oil radiated heater (plugged into an outlet) rather than the furnace because it can be annoyingly loud and prone to propane intoxication, will the tanks be vulnerable? We've been told that heat tape isn't needed for anything except maybe the waterhose if we intend to stay hooked up -- which we don't. Usually in winter, we disconnect it at night and reconnect in the morning before our shower. We imagine we will also put our bubbled solar insulation in our panoramic windows on both ends as well. Finally, how does the darn heat pump work? It seems to blow cold air -- okay, maybe slightly warm. Thanks in advance. Oh, our last rig was an all season, and we can already tell it's nippier than we expected. But how fun...it's like camping! Wouldn't trade it even if our noses fell off. I digress.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:10 PM   #2
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Hi stowaways -

I don't fulltime, but I have a 2008 27FB like yours. My answers for what they are worth....

The furnace will keep the tanks from freezing down into the mid teens at least from what I understand. Rich Luhr posted blog entries from a trip up north where it was pretty cold. I have seen many many photos of folks camped in airstreams with lots of snow around them. I would think that if you have ample propane and didn't mind the noise, the tanks shouldn't be a concern.

An oil radiator won't do anything for the tanks since the heat won't get down there under the floor. The furnace has ducting that diverts some of it's warm air to the tanks.

The heat pump should provide some warmth in moderate temps at least. You're pressing the mode button on the thermostat until it says "heat pump" right? I am in TX as well and used mine a couple of weeks ago when the temps were in the low 40's or high 30's. The heat pump was putting out warm air for sure and kept the trailer very warm. In fact, I had to turn it down in the middle of the night because I was too warm.
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:23 PM   #3
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Re the heat pump...the heat output is not as warm as the air from the furnace, but will certainly take the chill off, etc...and, of course will not keep the tanks warm... Heat pumps are only efficient into the low 40s/mid-30s... We have camped in our Bambi in the high 20s without problems with freezing anything (while using the furnace). We, too, disconnect the outside water hose if we expect a freeze (to keep the hose from bursting), and use fresh water from the tank for the night. It's a hoot to watch the ice shoot out of the the hose when we put some water through it before hooking it up in the morning. We have seen outside water hoses used on other rigs in insulated foam and/or heat tape in cold areas...which makes sense if you are going to be in a cold place for very long, I suppose.
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Old 11-16-2008, 04:57 PM   #4
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The wind in North Texas is the main problem with "winter". It does not take 32F ambient temps to cause hoses to freeze, etc, and the Ft. Worth area is considerably windier than the east side of Dallas.

Drive thru a few parks with fulltimers, we have always seen them with "permanent" supply and exhaust hoses that have been heat-taped, insulated, raised from the ground, covered with wood, etc, etc, etc.

Interior condensation is the other concern. We bought a de-humidifier to help with this (out trailer had some leaks that -- I hope -- are fixed; note that some dehumidifiers are not to be used below 55F).

We used the furnace, on a low setting, with down comforters, and in the mornings (before dawn) I'd get up and turn on a catalytic heater or the heat strip or a combination of all three for a quick warmup while making coffee.

Sun on the trailer in the winter, unlike summer, is a help. A windbreak is what is needed.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:25 PM   #5
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We've found electric blankets very comfortable in our 1988 25 ft AS. We do have twin beds and can then regulate the electric blankets to our individual preference. If it gets cooler you can set a portable ceramic heater thermostat at 55-60 degrees or so and the furnace to only come on at the very lowest setting. Unless the outside thermostat gets below 20-25 and the inside temp gets below 45- 50 we mainly use the furnace to take the chill off the trailer in the morning and then go to the ceramic heater. Of course this is a shore power routine. We are beginning to wish we had a catalytic heater for boondocking to lessen the battery drain from the furnace and cut down on propane usage.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBRich View Post
Re the heat pump...the heat output is not as warm as the air from the furnace, but will certainly take the chill off, etc...and, of course will not keep the tanks warm... Heat pumps are only efficient into the low 40s/mid-30s...
Terry has this right. The heat pump seems an effective way of warming when you have electric power -- but it fails when it gets really cold. Be sure to keep an eye on your LP supply. Using your furnace for minimal Texas human comfort (as a S.A. native, don't I know! ) will keep your pipes & tanks safe down to some unknown temperature. Member Leipper has recorded unheated temps inside that stay above freezing at dawn -- I figure assuming above freezing day temps and not entirely accounting for how cold things can be down at floor level. I'd certainly never stay connected to an outside water hookup at anything down to the mid-30s -- who the heck can trust how low it might dip toward dawn.

I have towed (ie, 60mph wind chill) down to the mid-teens with the furnace running while underway. Be sure and have a thermometer inside you can stop and check while underway. My mistake was having the thermostat set above 60 degrees -- I used about 20# of LP in 350 miles.

Folks around the country don't realize many southern homes are built on a slab. Growing up we lived in Bryan, TX, and the water pipes were overhead above the ceiling. It never failed that somebody on the block would have pipes burst overhead when temps infrequently dipped down to 12 degrees or so. And you certainly could be subjected to that up in Ft. Worth.

Now -- the problem in your (and my) situation: the outside shower is particularly vulnerable IMO. I've taken panels off in my closet and not found a ready solution. I think the only way to deal with this is to talk to Airstream before ordering. I think a set of valves inboard of the outer walls would allow you to blow the outside shower dry in the fall, close the valves, then sit in security with your furnace running during winter fulltiming. But recognize very little margin for error when underway at below freezing temperatures. Vintage owners beware - copper pipes are way more prone to early and irreversible damage than PEX of the present day. But nothing will stand up to foolishness.

From Jim Croce:
And they say you don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off an 'ole Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim.

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Old 11-16-2008, 07:38 PM   #7
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From my recent stay in Wyoming, which turned very cold (10º one Saturday AM, take a look at my avatar), I can share the following experiences:

-the water supply hose will (and did) freeze completely solid
-nothing else inside the 'stream (tanks, lines, etc.) froze up at all
-we kept our furnace on 62º from 8PM to 8AM, then turned it off

A number of people in our RV park had large propane tanks hooked into their trailers, which the local propane company would come by and fill as needed. I'd look into this option if you're going to be parked for a good amount of time. It lets you keep the trailer as warm as you want without worrying about running out of LP.

--SM
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:48 PM   #8
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Still -- watch out if you have an exterior shower. I don't know anything that has been done to make these cold resistant.
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Old 11-16-2008, 07:51 PM   #9
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Interesting, Bob. I never had an issue with the shower on our CCD, which (I guess) is an exterior shower, right?
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