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Old 10-13-2015, 06:04 AM   #1
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Heat pump or furnace

Cant find much info in my books about it so I thought I'd turn to you all.
Headed out this weekend and its supposed to be in the 30's at night and I know I'll need some heat.
What is the difference between the furnace and heat pump? and when is the best time to use each one?
I have a 2014 International 23D.
Thanks
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:20 AM   #2
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Heat pump or furnace

If in the 30's, I suspect the heat pump will not be very effective. Furnace is required.

So, make certain propane is filled prior to departure. Also, make certain battery charge can be kept up if not connected to shore line.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:38 AM   #3
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Heat pumps draw air directly from outside, warm it with electric coils and send it into the area trying to be warmed. Below 50 degrees F the efficiency of heat pumps decreases and below 30 degrees F are less than ideal. Plus they dump lots of moisture into the area being warmed. The furnace will work despite the outside temperature plus it also warms the water lines in the Airstream and can keep them from freezing.

We use the Furnace to take the initial cold out of the trailer and then turn on the heat pumps if temps are above 45 degrees F.

Then what Msmoto said about propane and batteries as the furnace burns up both.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:49 AM   #4
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A heat pump is simply the air conditioner running backwards, taking the little heat from the outside and running it through a compressor to raise its temperature and then use an air to air heat exchanger to warm the inside air. There is no outside air added.

Some of our Airstream heat pumps also have a strip heater in them. This further heats the interior air with electricity.

The furnace takes outside air and burns propane to heat it , Then that combustion air is pushed through a air to air heat exchanger to heat the recirculating interior air. No outside air enters the trailer.

A catalytic heater takes air from the inside trailer and burns propane to heat it. It works by natural convection and radiation. No outside air is involved. The catalytic heater generates CO 2 and moisture which are discharged to the interior of the trailer. No battery power is used.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:54 AM   #5
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We have fairly extensive experience with Airstream heating systems. Our 2005 Safari's heat pump was effective down to the low 40's. Below that, it was furnace time.

Our 2012 Flying Cloud's heat pump with the newer defrost cycle did noticeably better. It was effective well into the 30's. Our 2015 Flying Cloud has this same system. On our recent 81 day trip out west, we used the heat pump extensively at night when the temperatures dipped well into the 30's and 40's.

We used the gas furnace a couple of times when the humidity conditions were such that the heat pump was causing interior condensation.

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Old 10-13-2015, 08:01 AM   #6
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We have successfully used our heat pump at temperatures pretty close to freezing, but agreed that it is less effective as you approach freezing.

Assuming you are on shore power however, you are using electricity you have paid for rather than burning up your propane with the furnace. (We have encountered a few campgrounds though who ask a higher fee if you plan to run an AC or electric heater!)

To my knowledge, running a heat pump would not introduce any moisture to your trailer - all it does when you turn it on is to reverse the position of a refrigerant flow control valve in the AC/Heat pump which effectively
reverses the roles of the condenser and evaporator and so pumps low grade heat into the trailer from the outside air rather than pumping heat from inside the trailer to the outside atmosphere.

As far as I know, there is no actual movement of outside air and moisture into the trailer with operation of the heat pump.

However burning your stovetop burners (certainly never recommended for general heating anyway !) will result in products of combustion accumulating in the trailer if not properly vented - one of the products of combustion of propane is water vapor which can cause condensation on windows etc inside the trailer.

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Old 10-13-2015, 08:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 51coke View Post
Cant find much info in my books about it so I thought I'd turn to you all.
Headed out this weekend and its supposed to be in the 30's at night and I know I'll need some heat.
What is the difference between the furnace and heat pump? and when is the best time to use each one?
I have a 2014 International 23D.
Thanks
paraphrasing what others have said:
above freezing use the heat pump = use free power
below freezing use the furnace = use your propane

What I do is use a small portable electric heater, not the heat pump. I set it on low heat setting with the thermostat set just below the furnace thermostat's setting. I place the heater on the floor as far as possible from the furnace thermostat and let it run.

Then I set the furnace thermostat on the temperature we feel comfortable at.

If it is substantially above freezing, the electric heater on its low setting may take care of the heating requirements. When it is colder the electric heater will not completely heat the trailer, but the furnace will kick in when needed to make it comfortable. This saves propane, keeps things in the belly pan from freezing, and I think it is quieter than the heat pump.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:56 AM   #8
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I am not a full timer. I also am sure that if I were, I would probably do differently. I agree with Alan.

Our AC/Heat Pump is extremely loud and I don't want that running at night. We use our furnace exclusively. If we did a lot of cold weather camping I might look into a small electric heater as many have said.

We do camp when temperatures get into the low 40's and I have been out on fishing trips when it gets below freezing. The furnace works great, is quiet and heats the belly area where the pipes are located. Saving a few bucks by conserving propane doesn't make much sense to me. Again, I am not full timing. Savings there would add up.
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:58 PM   #9
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I agree with others that as you near freezing the heat pump is a lot less effective. In our part of the world with generally mild springs, falls, and winters (sometimes) we use the heat pumps a great deal. But, we have issues with condensation being released side the coach so we are heading to Jackson Center in November to see what's going on. We also carry an electric heater to try to avoid using propane furnace.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:38 PM   #10
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Smile Electric Blanket?

We like to sleep cool, so as the temps drop, we get out the electric blanket. It takes very little electricity (shore current) and keeps us cozy warm. The cats like it too! In the morning, we use the furnace to knock off the chill, then a small heater or the heat-pump to sustain the warmer temp. If it looks like the cold snap (much below freezing) is going to persist, we pack up and head farther south. That's why trailers have wheels!

When we use Forest Service campgrounds in the west (summer), we use down sleeping bags. A bit of furnace heat in the morning, but the rig warms up quickly, once the sun hits it.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:44 PM   #11
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How does a heat pump cause condensation inside the RV?
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
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How does a heat pump cause condensation inside the RV?
It doesn't.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:48 PM   #13
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It doesn't.
I beg to differ. It has been our experience with the new ducted system that when the walls of the trailer are cool and we turn on the heat pump, there is significant condensation produced on the ceiling and walls of the trailer. The initial heat pump air feels and smell damp. This is why in these conditions, we have gone to starting the heat process with a cycle of gas furnace.

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Old 10-13-2015, 06:05 PM   #14
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What Brian said. Don't know why, but same in my trailer.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:45 PM   #15
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What Brian said. Don't know why, but same in my trailer.
Very odd - we have never experienced that.

Could it perhaps be because you have alum interior walls and ducted air (where the air might be closer to the metal skin) whereas ours is an older Classic without ducted air, and with "Mouse fur" on the walls that provides some insulation value.

I still don't think the fact that you run a heat pump would be somehow be bringing air and moisture in from outside - but it could be condensing moisture already in the trailer from bodies and from cooking inside the trailer the would then condense on cold surfaces I suppose.

Obviously something is different - be interesting to read what others may think.


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Old 10-13-2015, 07:38 PM   #16
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We never experienced this moisture situation in our 2005 Safari 25FB. We are assuming that this current situation may be promulgated by a combination of the aluminum interior walls and the ducted heat pump system.

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Old 10-13-2015, 08:34 PM   #17
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OK! On the preducted systems, is the chill remover a heat strip or a heat exchanger?
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:52 PM   #18
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Heat pumps bring in no outside air. Nor does the furnace. It's a push as to moisture in the air whatever is inside through respiration and showers, etc is the same. I also believe you see it more due to cold exposed aluminum and it's proximity to the duct outlet.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:53 PM   #19
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OK! On the preducted systems, is the chill remover a heat strip or a heat exchanger?
Some of both, I believe. Mine has a heat pump. 2007 classic.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:55 PM   #20
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Wonder why some do and some don't have a moisture issue. Not a problem on our 03 Classic. We use H Pump down to around freezing. Maybe it does ok because of the wall/ceiling coverings? I do usually crack a vent or two...but not much. Of course the closer it gets to 32f...the more it will work. Takes just a little longer to start putting out heat so for quick warm up use furnace then HP. A bit noisy but overall pleased. Small effecient electric heater would be good for steady heat and low noise for longer stays. I'm glad to have the heat pump. If you have shore power, try it.
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