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Old 11-09-2010, 06:06 PM   #71
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Dave, I thought the idea of an extended stay room is an interesting idea. If we sell our house in the winter, I am not looking forward to trailer living and going through the hassles. We have thought of renting a house until we buy another one, but rents are high. Of course if we stay in trailer or find an extended stay room, we have to store our stuff. If we stay in an extended stay room, we have to store the trailer too, but don't have to heat it. So the cost may even out. And an extended stay room may come with an extra—bed bugs!

So now we have another option to discuss.

Gene
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:20 PM   #72
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wintering in a airstream or avion is the coldest two trailers i have ever been in in the winter. mainley because the way they are built. aluminum skin outside, aluminum skin
inside, aluminum wall studs, aluminum window frames, cold glass, aluminum door frames, very thin wall and roof insulation, when you run heater in real cold weather even the walls sweat. avions do have sprayed in foam insulation witch is some better.
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:42 PM   #73
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Yes, it seems the Airstream's insulation does not help much since the heat goes right out through the inner skin-ribs-outer skin. Some help is given by the carpeted walls, foam-backed vinyl covering on the ceiling, carpet on the floor, and many cabinates and their contents. The single pane windows are the coldest part though. I have covered a few more with bubble wrap now, and even cut a 6" circle of bubble wrap for the bathroom vent.

So far the heat pump has been able to keep it warm down to about 30 F. It only uses about 13 amps to do so, about the same electricity use as a hair dryer or electric resistance heater.

Tonight it is supposed to get down to 19 F here, with the same expected for the next few days. Hopefully the circuit that is supposed to switch from the heat pump to the furnace will do so automatically tonight. Iit didn't work a few weeks ago, so I reset the thermostat per an earlier suggestion. So far the water hose/heat tape/pipe insulaiton is working fine! I suspect the furnace can keep the inside warm enough, although it may become expensive.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:09 AM   #74
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So how did the reset work?
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:12 AM   #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Dave, I thought the idea of an extended stay room is an interesting idea. ........................ And an extended stay room may come with an extra—bed bugs!

So now we have another option to discuss.

Gene
Yeah , that thought crossed my mind also! Which is why I am really thinking hard about other options!
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:29 AM   #76
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So how did the reset work?
It did not work. Last night it only got down to about 21 F. The heat pump ran all night - no automatic switchover to the furnace. Of course, as it gets colder the heat pump puts out less heat while the need for heat increases. It can't hold 65 F when the outside temp is much below 30. This morning I manually flipped it over the furnace, which warmed up the trailer in minutes.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:33 AM   #77
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I think the heat pump switchover to furnace happens when the difference between the set temperature and the actual interior temperature reach a difference of 10 or 12 degrees. I doesn't matter what the exterior temperature is.

I set the temp to 60 at night so it doesn't switch to furnace until the inside temperature reaches about 50. I only tested that one time. Now I just switch to furnace before bed.
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Old 11-13-2010, 12:28 PM   #78
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In ours, a 2008, when the heat pump is chosen, the furnace is supposed to come on several degrees below freezing. In practice, it happens around 27 or 28˚. If the temp only goes down to those temps for several hours, things are not going to freeze hard, but if it's all day, or half a day, I think the furnace has to run when the temp gets down to around 30 or 32˚.

I don't know how the thermostat or heat pump knows the outside temp—maybe there's a sensor in the A/C. A problem is ground temps—where the tanks are—is usually colder than up on the roof. You'd think if there's a sensor, there would be a readout on the thermostat telling you the outside temp, but there isn't.

We used the heat pump for a year or two. It's noisy and as often said, less efficient as the temp drops. Then we bought a Lasko ceramic heater. There are an amazing variety of models. We bought one for around $25 on Amazon and it works very well. The A/C gets no extra wear. I usually wake up sometime during the night and check outside temps and depending what's happening, I may turn on the furnace. If the forecast is for low overnight temps, I may turn on the furnace before we go to bed. For short stays where the campground pays for electric, certainly electric appliances run cheaper.

I expect the furnace runs cheaper if you are paying for propane and electric—long term spaces at campground usually have your own electric meter. For houses, electric heat is always more expensive than propane or natural gas (except in green construction, maybe not, but Airstreams are far from green). So, if I were in dmac's situation, I'd probably use the furnace.

Dan, maybe the thermostat has failed. Or, if the switch is in the A/C, that has failed.

Gene
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:01 AM   #79
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I found the installation instructions for the thermostat and heat pump online. They describe a separate wire from the thermostat to a temp sensor in the heat pump. It is supposed to work as Gene describes... when the outside air temp gets below about 30 it will switch over to the furnace. When the outside temp rises above 40 F it will switch back to the heat pump. Mine does not work. When I have some time I'll check for that wire... perhaps it was never installed by Airstream or has worked loose.

Since I pay for electricity here, an electric resistance heater is my last choice. The heat pump is 3-4 times as efficient in terms of BTU/watt.

This morning was an "adventure" in Airstream winter living. It was cold in here! One of my 30# LP tanks was empty and the valve did not auto switch over like it should. I flipped it manually, and the indicator still did not change from red to green - even though the other tank is definately full (heavy). I switched the tanks left/right and eventually the indicator changed. Also I put one of those chemical hand warmer packets on the valve to warm it up in case it was frozen. This week I will contact AAA Propane in Wheat Ridge for a 100# tank and a new or repaired valve. I'm glad the furnace warms up the trailer quickly!

Now I'm off to get ready for work... today up in the mountains at Breckenridge and Vail. Pretty scenery!
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:37 PM   #80
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I have arranged for a 100# LP tank to be delivered soon, along with a hose to connect it and a new gas valve for the trailer (mine is no longer switching tanks automatically).

I revisited the cost of using the heat pump vs the furnace…

1. Resistance heat provides 3.414 btu/watt (100% efficiency) at my cost of $.15/kwh. The cost is then $.15 for 3414 btu, or $.044/1000 btu.

2. Heat pumps are 3-4X the efficiency of resistance heat. Assuming 3X the cost is about $.015/1000 btu.

3. It costs $80 for 100# (23.6 gal) of LP delivered. LP contains 91,547 btu/gal, so the cost of LP is $.037/1000 btu. The furnace is 77% efficient per Atwood, so the cost of usable heat is $.048/1000 btu.

I will continue to use the heat pump as much as possible, and supplement with a resistance heater. When It’s too cold for those, the furnace will be the heat of last resort.

I’m off to Wal-Mart to buy a resistance heater!
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:41 PM   #81
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I guess I won't complain when it drops to fifty here in the mornings.
How cold is it there now?

Carol
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Old 11-15-2010, 09:59 PM   #82
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Dan, that propane price is a rip off, but maybe that is the way of RV parks, or some of them. That is $3.39/gal. I paid around $1.90 in September for 200 gal. delivered to my house. Prices go up now that's it's cold, but not that much.

I'm surprised the heat pump is so much more efficient. I wish the thing was quieter.

I hope the pipes are warm.

Reading your struggles reminds me of the 22 years I spent on the Front Range. Almost of them were in the mountains west of Denver where -35˚ was very infrequent, but memorable. I don't remember exactly how cold it got in Denver, but -teens were not terribly uncommon. I believe the long range forecast for this year was for a dry, warmer winter, but that can change fast. I hope this works for you. I have lived in a cabin where on the coldest nights the water might freeze even if I kept it running, the space heater couldn't get the temp over 40˚ and never stopped running for days, and the best thing was to go to a bar, drink a lot, and hope to find a warm body to snuggle up to, preferably with a warmer cabin. That was around 30 years ago. You have to be strong to make it through some Colorado winters and you seem to be determined, so I think you can do it, but I worry about what it takes out of you.

Gene
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:51 PM   #83
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That LP gas price is from AAA Propane in Wheat Ridge. It's about 20% cheaper than I was paying before!

I don't think my wife in MN would like the bar/snuggle idea!

Temps here are running 30's-50's in the day, and 20's at night. Not too bad yet.

I really want to get the automated switching between heat pump and furnace working. It will help save some of that expensive LP. For now I do it manually.

My heat tape/pipe insulation works fine, now that the heat tape thermostat is outside of the insulation and away from the RV park pipe heater! A little thermostatic electric heater keeps the underbed compartment at 45 F, so no frozen pipes there. Most of the remaining pipes are in a compartment shared with the water heater, which leaks enough heat to protect them. So far, so good!

I'm not so worried about what wintering in an RV will take out of me, although the overall situation has not been good. I don't get to see my family very often, no social life in a dumpy RV park, and it has been disappointing to discover there is so little demand for extensive career experience and education. Yet I am glad that we are able to pay the bills, at a time when too many cannot.
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Old 11-24-2010, 08:07 PM   #84
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DEFINITELY keep water dripping at furthest point ALL night and early morning and day also if still freezing. It will keep things from freezing if the water is moving enough. Also, I camp in my trailer and use a Sun Twin electric heater, WOW, it is great, it kept my whole trailer at 64 degrees the other night, (it got down to about 28) and that was with the door inadvertantly left open. Keep in mind it takes a couple of days to get everything up to warmth. I think it will work better than anything, and of course, i still fire up my propane heater in the morning just to get the chill off quickly.
Let's face it, cold weather stinks and broke pipes stink even more, I dry camp in the winter now because of this, but we also have lived in a poorly insulated trailer at 10 degrees with broken pipes all around us, (even with heat tape) but we left our water running!
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