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Old 02-23-2014, 10:07 AM   #1
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Why do they put heat pumps in trailers?

Seems to me a very high effeciency AC and gas heat is a much better combination in every way for a trailer.
We had a heat pump in the house for 20 years. A very good day for us when they finally ran gas to the house and we could get rid of that darn heatpump. House became more comfortable in both the winter and summer and the utilities bill went down in both winter and suimmer. What is the attraction of a heat pump in a unit that is going to have to plug into campsite utilities connections.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:15 AM   #2
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The advantage is that it minimizes propane consumption and therefore the hassle and expense of refilling propane bottles. Part of this is just externalizing the utility cost to the campground. Part of it is that propane refilling charges are always much higher than the actual value of the fuel itself, in some cases by a considerable amount. Part of it is that taking a bottle to be refilled is time consuming and requires a certain amount of logistics planning -- hours open, how to get the bottle there if the trailer is to remain parked, etc.

I don't use me heat pump, preferring to run a much quieter resistance heat unit for the same purpose.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:16 AM   #3
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I'm brand new to AS camping but I'd venture that a big difference is if the electricity comes with the camp site. If it does, you're getting free heat with the heat pump. If not you have a choice of which you'd like to pay for.

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Old 02-23-2014, 10:18 AM   #4
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AC is a heat pump, just in an opposite direction. Yes HP get inefficient approaching and operating below freezing. Many use resistive space heaters but fact is that HP's bottom out at near the same efficiency yet in more moderate temps can be up to 8X MORE efficient. For folks operating off a generator it makes sense. For long term camping many campgrounds now meter electrical usage. Gas? sure its great (wish I had it) but I doubt it is any less costly and you have to worry about refilling. What I really like are the Diesel Hydronic heater like those being offered by Advanced-RV. But that's in a B class that already has a Diesel source.

FYI, I have a heat pump for my house and my electric usage doubled YOY due to the chilly temps here in FL this year. It gets very inefficient below 32 degrees. Thats when we fire up the oven and bake lots of stuff cause its the same cost to heat the house and has the added benefit of producing good eats!
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:29 AM   #5
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Newer HPs for home use today are very effective and work well into the 20ies. We have three zones but did have to turn on the ems when it got into the low twenties and below. I thought our bill was reasonable and in fact less expensive then propane. Unfortuately the HP in our AS is not as effective and so we turn on the furnace around 45.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:41 AM   #6
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We have found in our experience that when we need heat while camped, we have used the electric heat pump about 75% of the time. We have found that it works well down into the high 30's. Below that point, we switch over to the gas furnace.

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Old 02-23-2014, 10:49 AM   #7
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We have found in our experience that when we need heat while camped, we have used the electric heat pump about 75% of the time. We have found that it works well down into the high 30's. Below that point, we switch over to the gs furnace.

Brian
This is normally the same for us.
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:00 AM   #8
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I loved the HP in my Alfa, a basement mounted Coleman AC/HP. Quieter than the furnace, worked well two years in Flagstaff, saved on Propane, and it gave me an idea on how cold it was when it switched to the furnace in the wee hours. The use of the HP also keeps the seals lubed year round, for I never used the AC in Flag.
I hate the HP in my AS, very noisy, the thaw out process sounds like it blew up, the furnace is quieter.
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
Seems to me a very high effeciency AC and gas heat is a much better combination in every way for a trailer.
We had a heat pump in the house for 20 years. A very good day for us when they finally ran gas to the house and we could get rid of that darn heatpump. House became more comfortable in both the winter and summer and the utilities bill went down in both winter and suimmer. What is the attraction of a heat pump in a unit that is going to have to plug into campsite utilities connections.
I strongly prefer gas heat in my home, I've had a heatpump and don't like the "warmish" air you get out of the vents. How the relative cost plays out in a home will depend on your local price for elctricity vs. natural gas or LP.

That said, I suspect that the savings you saw in the summer when you switched to gas heat was more about the general improvements made to AC units over 20 years than to a difference between comparable heat pumps and AC-only units. Heat pumps usually make extremely efficient AC units and decently efficient heaters.

Oh, and to weigh in, I'll be buying a new AC unit for the 28' trailer I'm renovating, and don't plan to buy a heat pump. My 40-year-old furnace is a bit noisy and it still makes less noise than a heat pump, or at least the noise seems less intrusive to me.
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:42 PM   #10
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My guess is so you have the choice to heat your trailer on the campground's dime rather than deplete your propane at your expense or maybe to keep you from being stuck somewhere with no propane...
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Old 02-23-2014, 12:57 PM   #11
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Having seen the other side of this story, I can tell you that running the heat pump is not really running it on the campground's dime. That's calculated into the daily rate that you pay. In effect, then, unless you're staying at one of the "sliding scale" campgrounds, you're just using what you already paid for.

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Old 02-23-2014, 01:10 PM   #12
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Having seen the other side of this story, I can tell you that running the heat pump is not really running it on the campground's dime. That's calculated into the daily rate that you pay. In effect, then, unless you're staying at one of the "sliding scale" campgrounds, you're just using what you already paid for.
Then again, better to use what you've already paid for than to not use what you've already paid for; you're not going to get a refund for the electricity you didn't use.
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Old 02-23-2014, 01:21 PM   #13
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I think an AC with a built in strip heater is just as effective as a heat pump. Although Dometic has been really bone headed about the strip heaters and they don't have thermostats. Mine keeps my 31 ft trailer warm down in the 30's and there is just the AC fan running on low. I added a base board heater thermostat to mine and it works fine now. Dometic gets a D- on engineering there. I have a 16 SEER heat pump at home and I think it is worth its weight in owl poop.

Perry
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Old 02-24-2014, 12:04 AM   #14
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Our motor home had an AC / heat strip. I prefer the strip to the heat pump. It's much quieter, and when I'm camping any reduction in noise level matters greatly to me. The heat pump seems to work fine, but gadzooks, it's noisy.
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