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Old 12-11-2016, 06:33 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Springfield , South Carolina
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How much heater do I need

76 Sovereign may be home for a while in Virginia till a house is found. When we first got a Minnie Winnie years ago a seasoned camper suggested a 1500 watt electric heater and though we never wintered over in cold areas it was more than enough.

With the propane plumbing being 40 years old I have never been keen on lighting the water heater or the interior heater by hatch and I am wondering how cold we could camp with a 1500 watt heater?

I have one of the box roll around ones that were popular a couple years back and I learned they have shortcomings. We got one for mother in law and us and mother in law ran hers 24/7. For instance on the inside of the cabinet they have three wires coming together secured by a rinky dink wire nut and the connection got hot and wires parted and of course it quit.

I disassembled it and found the problem and skinned wires back and soldered all three together so they are sure to make a solid connection from now on. While there I also figured out the wires to the heating element were not well attached so I resoldered them with heavier wire.

On ours we used it sparingly and I plan on taking it apart as I know where it needs reinforcing so will beef it up before any sustained sessions.

From what I can determine they are supposed to heat a 150 sq ft room which I assume is calculated at 8 ft ceiling and thus I am hoping the low ceiling in the Sovereign would make it liveable?

I like this design as it can be rolled back to bath area and pointed towards wherever desired. Cabinet does not get warm.

It puts out a decent amount of heat and can actually double as a small table or TV stand.

At any rate just wanted word from someone that has been there/done that.

PS just spotted a heater on ebay I like the looks of called Dura Heat and good for 250 ft. Anybody got one?

Thanks yawl.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:07 PM   #2
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In my 25 foot trailer I've gotten by with one 1500w heater when the temps get down into the 30's. In the 30 foot trailers I owned before and the 34 foot trailer I own now one heater was/is marginal when in the 30's, so I carried two, and run them on the low heat setting at each end of the trailer.

When the temperatures get below 30 for a day or more it is necessary to run the furnace to keep the pipes below the floor from freezing. Or, winterize and do dry camping.

I like those heaters that have a real thermostat that can be set at varying temperatures, not those with low/high and on/off only.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:16 PM   #3
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If I recall, a single 1500W heater in my 26' managed to keep me 15-20 degrees above the outside temp.

That gave me the ability to keep pipes from freezing down to about 20 degrees. Me, I freeze well above 20 with a single heater.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hummer View Post

With the propane plumbing being 40 years old I have never been keen on lighting the water heater or the interior heater by hatch and I am wondering how cold we could camp with a 1500 watt heater?
Personally I would be more concerned about the 40 year old electrical system handling space heaters than the propane plumbing or heater. The plumbing is easily inspected with soapy water and the heater is simple and easily cleaned and repaired if needed unless rusted out.
Mice chew on wires, old breakers stick, the cheap outlets etc.

As mentioned 2 750w heaters would be more comfortable but I'd would consider taking the time to see if propane heater is good. One power outage may have you wishing that you did.
Good luck!
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:16 PM   #5
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I agree with Al. The electrical system is relatively simple and is well built but after 40 years it should all be checked for any breakage or shorts. AS used Romex throughout the trailers in the 1970s. Problem is the wires are run through inaccessible spaces like the celling and walls. Checking to see if any of them are grounded with a multimeter would be a good start.

When we are hooked up to shore power we use two 1500W heaters but they are never turned to high. We operate them on low or medium during the day and may use the oil/electric at night if it is below 20F. We have been doing this for the past 10 years and had no problems.

In the 1970s the electrical system was adequate for people who wanted to camp but we have way more stuff than the my grandparents could have imagined. It is relatively easy to expand the number of lines and outlets by switching several of the original breaker switches to "slims". That will allow you to run two or three new power lines (using flex conduit) through the cabinets and overheads. Just make sure that you know how much you are using at any given time. Your available power will depend on whether the HWH and fridge are on and how many other appliances are being used and at what level.
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Old 12-12-2016, 03:41 AM   #6
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the input guys. I agree the wiring condition is to be considered and so far I have not found any problem with the 120V wiring. I changed the location of the power supply and replaced it and the pump.

I have also found the switches in overhead lights to be questionable and I have replaced the 1156 bulbs with LED bulbs and replaced the switches with commercial 120 V ones in the shallow plastic boxes. I have also put in strip LED lighting over the counter area and another LED bulb and replaced the "porch" light with LED.

Should the 120V wall plug ins appear to get loose I will replace them as well.

Very good idea on replacing the breakers with "slims" Had not thought of that and will run a 12ga circuit with 20 Amp receptacles and flex conduit down the floor line.

I am also thinking of getting one of the wall mount two panel 10,000 BTU propane units and would only run one panel to replace the one at end of counter by hatch. In the house we are in now there is a 16,000 BTU wall unit and I rarely light off more than one panel. We keep the bedrooms on the cold side and furnace set at 65 and use that one to heat the large room we stay in most of the time.

I stopped by a yard sale once and found a nifty idea a guy had where he mounted a two panel heater on a roll around cart with a 20lb propane cylinder and he used it as a portable heater in his shop. I will try and post a pic of it. It could also double as on site heat working outside in the winter.

I am also going to run LED chain lights around the living area end and put them in the trough above the curtains as indirect lighting that pulls very few watts. They come in I believe it is 5 meter strips and can be had in blue and red as well as white and you can get them on ebay for very good prices if you look around. These are the ones you see all around the windows and gas stations and convenience stores now.

I am thinking putting in a circuit with perhaps six 40 Watt bulbs in the 6" aluminum clamp on fixtures and place them all through the plumbed area. Most camp ground boxes have additional 120V plug ins on the hook up boxes and run a separate line in to keep them on in cold weather. When they announced there would be no more 100 watt bulbs I laid in about 50 of them as I run one in well house all winter.

When I got her I had to repair four places in the copper line that had frozen and burst.

I replumbed the whole back end with PEX as well.
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:51 AM   #7
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ive been using a small CERAMIC heater I got in the 80s forever to heat all my RVs and its does a great job w little power. I see them all over thrift shops
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Old 12-12-2016, 06:50 PM   #8
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We have a 1970 25 foot AS trade winds one only use a 1500 watt cube with no problem even down in the 20's. Have set up for extra heat by plugging directly into outside 110v and a grounded cord into the
Rear hatch (dump valve area) and into rear bath area.Did not want to overload 30 amp system. Did not even need. One heater does the job. Silver Toaster
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:32 PM   #9
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I would get two of the ceramic cube heaters that are on sale at Wally World for $15! One up front and one in the back when needed. Feel the plugs and wires now and then when using the heaters. Test the gas system and use the furnace to heat up the trailer quickly or for real cold times. Airstreams are hard to heat when it's really cold out! Been there done that!
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Old 12-13-2016, 07:23 AM   #10
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We carry two ceramic heaters.
One is enough down to 10c, below that we use one heater at the front and one at the back, both set on low.
It's best to keep the trailer warm, it takes along time to warm up from cold, but once it's warm it's no trouble maintaining temp. So get a heater with a thermostat and leave it on all the time, don't let it cool down during the day while your out sightseeing and expect it to warm up fast when you get home.
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Old 12-13-2016, 04:36 PM   #11
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I've used a radiator style electric heater with excellent results. It's the typical white Honeywell, and it has two features I like.

1 High/low switch - so you can use only 750 watts and not have to worry if on a 15 amp connection. In my 20 foot camper I never have needed to use full power, but it seldom has gone much below freezing outdoors while I've used it.

2 Digital thermostat - it's accurate and reliable.

You'd have to listen very carefully to tell if the radiator is on of off, which is really good in a small space - there's no fan.

The only disadvantage is that the radiator is bigger than the box-type units, but in my opinion, it's worth using because it's so quiet and the heat is very consistent.

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Old 12-14-2016, 04:42 AM   #12
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1976 31' Sovereign
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On the radiator style, seems I remember they are filled with oil that is heated?

I noted on one ceramic heater I looked at that there is a tip over switch that shuts it down if knocked over which is a good idea.
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Old 12-14-2016, 04:58 AM   #13
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The consensus is electric is the most expensive way to heat period. I don't think they type of electric heater makes much difference. Propane is cheaper but you have to maintain the tanks, unless of course you can plug into shore power for free.
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Old 12-14-2016, 05:19 AM   #14
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Agreed, electricity is a bummer in the long run.

I haven't looked into solar panels as yet but I suspect to run two heaters in a AS would have to be the size of a billboard! ! !!

I also hang out on a generator forum and this one guy from I think Idaho lives off the grid and has two generators, one to run his house during the day which is a 2 KW and a 5 KW when he is in his shop.

He said the first four 2KWs he got lasted 1000 to 1200 hours and run like 12 hours on a tank full. On the fifth one he added moly powder to the oil (one time) and it lasted a little over 4000 hours. He said the motors did not wear out but the plastic parts inside failed.
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Old 12-14-2016, 06:47 AM   #15
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I just remembered while making coffee that wife got a interesting facebook thing from a cousin of hers that she put together to heat a room.

She got three cement bricks.

Next she got a fairly good size clay flower pot.

A metal pie plate.

In the metal pie plate she placed three of these good sized last forever candles (in glass jars) and placed it on bricks and lit them.

Next she placed the clay pot down over the pan (bottom side up) and it rested on the three bricks and she says it keeps the room comfortable over the winter.

The idea is the candles heat the clay pot and it gives off the heat and the hole in the bottom of the clay pot allows heat to escape so it does double duty, heats the clay pot and heats the air.

From what I can find on the internet a candle gives of about 550 degrees F.

In researching how many BTUs you get from a candle I found a smaller version of what I just described.

And it also has an electric version. Check this out. It appears to be one of those simple things that is brilliant !! ! !

http://heatstick.com/_KanHeet01.htm
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Old 12-14-2016, 06:58 AM   #16
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I think you would really benefit by having both both electric heater and the propane furnace. If it is below freezing you need the propane heater to keep the plumbing from freezing. At least on our trailer the propane heat is ducted along the plumbing areas. And a little electric heater can keep the propane heat from running at the higher termperatures and make the trailer temp more uniform. 1500 watts is not much heat. But all you can get from a 110 electric.

I think you need to check the gas system and the furnace and bring them up to snuff before living in it. We live in a trailer 3 months of the year in a fairly warm climate and run the gas heat a lot during cold snaps. Va is much colder. than where we are in middle Florida.
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:21 AM   #17
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We camped in sub-freezing weather recently and used a Vornado space heater in conjunction with the propane furnace, to heat our 19' Bambi.

During overnight lows in mid-20's, we used the furnace to warm our Bambi to 68-72 degrees. Then, we used the Vornado (on low) to maintain a comfortable temperature. While sleeping, the Vornado kept our Bambi's interior at 62-65 with furnace turned off.

When lows dipped to 11-15 degrees, we used the Vornado (on low) to supplement the furnace, which drastically reduced propane usage. The Vornado reduced furnace cycle-ON frequency and duration; and one 30# tank lasted four weeks. Previous use of furnace without the Vornado emptied a 30# tank in 3-5 days.

We had no frozen interior pipes. However, the exterior waste drain pipes did freeze; and we were unable to dump. A few quarters at a self-service carwash thawed the ice clogs and cleaned up the drain pipes in valve area.
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:04 AM   #18
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We have a Vornado in the bathroom and it does a excellent job and heats quickly.

I just made little interesting discovery. I have a infrared thermometer I got for checking tire temps.

In our great room area I just took the temp on the ceiling and it was 69, I checked the rest of the house and ceiling temp is 66. The only thing putting heat in the great room is the pilot light on the three panel propane wall heater that stays on all winter.

That has given me a idea I will have to follow up on next week as we head for Alabama this AM, back tomorrow and then head for upstate for one of my best buddies funeral on Saturday.

Also I was researching last night and there is a Century Primus single mantle gas lantern that the literature says will operate up to 25 hours off one of the little green propane tanks. If it puts off heat like my Coleman single mantle lantern it would be awesome.
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:49 AM   #19
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Propane Lamps

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... there is a Century Primus single mantle gas lantern that the literature says will operate up to 25 hours off one of the little green propane tanks. If it puts off heat like my Coleman single mantle lantern it would be awesome.
There are also wall mounted propane lamps that can be hooked up to your coach propane supply. These would be useful for boon docking and for heat.
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Old 12-15-2016, 07:22 AM   #20
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On the radiator style, seems I remember they are filled with oil that is heated?
Yes, that's right. It's convection heat; there are no fans or pumps.
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