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Old 11-07-2010, 03:29 PM   #61
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Dan,

It sounds like a chilly strain of the blues in coming on...
There is no sense in whacking yourself over the head over it and making it worse. You are in a hard situation. You made a decision to try and do this and I'd say you've been doing it rather valiantly so far, I would have folded weeks ago. Nothing is written in stone though, if you come to a point where you have to make a change, then do it. Try as long as you can to outsmart each problem, look how many friends you have here to hand out advice and give encouragement. We are all looking over your shoulder and hoping things turn out all right. Hang in there...

Carol
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:59 PM   #62
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Dan, here's a hint to add to the other pile of advice you got:

Add on a makeshift exterior hallway, that points away from wherever the prevailing wind comes from. The ugliest, unpainted wood structure you can make quickly (and cheaply) the better. (We'll call it "charming", OK?)

You will be able to open your main door without blowing all the warm air out of the trailer, plus have a spot to take off the worst and wettest of your outer clothes so you don't track several pounds of cold, wet snow into your tin igloo every time you come back home. PLUS, you will be assured to be always able to open your front door, despite the worst snow storm.

There, doesn't that feel better already?
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:30 PM   #63
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Although I'm in a "trailer trash" situation, the RV park does not allow homemade skirting or entryway.

I still need to find a source for a large tank of LP gas, put bubble wrap in the windows, and try to heat the shower area to prevent freeze-up. I might also insulate the overheat vents better than just the foil bubble wrap, perhaps foam rubber might work.

The floor of the Airstream is insulated. I hear that some other brands are not, which would be bad.

I really should not complain, at least I have a job. We are able to make our house payments when many cannot.
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Old 11-08-2010, 06:40 PM   #64
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Sounds like this is not the crowded one on Colfax, but it doesn't have good "prospects" either. If I guessed right which one it is, the last review on RV Park Reviews last summer indicated some voltage problems.

Snow is coming—it should start here tonight, Denver tomorrow afternoon.

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Old 11-08-2010, 07:24 PM   #65
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Yes , you know where I am at.

Lows in the 20's and highs in the 40's this week will start to test my setup.
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:29 PM   #66
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Dan,
You are what is right with this country! I to am doing the job away from home to make ends meet. Living in my airstream as well. Granted I am in Memphis, TN a relative tropical paradise compared to Colorado! To many folks would have given up and not done the tough choice of doing what you have to do.
Anyway, I have found that I can slide the silver bubble wrap behind stuff in the bathroom and the closet water pump area. Not the best insulation but better than nothing. I also find a cheap desk top fan (small one) is perfect to direct the inside "warm" air to those hard to reach spots. On really cold nights I will be sleeping on the goucho so I can prop the bed up so air can circulate underneath to the piping. I also take a shower right before bed, so the water in the tank is still hot. So when i get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I can run the hot water in the spickets to get a little more warmth in those hard to reach nooks/pipes and the tanks. Grantednot a lot, but it may help.
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:05 PM   #67
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Thanks Dave. I lost my job nearly 2 years ago, so if I had not taken this one we would be sunk by now! Many of my colleagues lost their jobs at about the same time, and have not found work since. Age discrimination is very evident. I am determined to avoid the fate of so many people who are losing everything.

The Front Range area of CO is not as cold as the mountains. There can be several days of cold weather, but it often warms up and the snow melts quickly. Some January days can get over 60 F.

What is the layout of your trailer? Is there an outside storage compartment located under the bed? I put a small electric heater in there, which seems to be working well. Taking a shower the night before is a good idea, especially if the pipes might freeze overnight. I will try putting bubble wrap to protect pipes per your suggestion. Also, Walmart sells a cheap wireless digital thermometer called "Accu-rite" for about $10. I put the remote part in places I think may freeze and make changes as needed. I have been using the heat pump almost exclusively this fall. It is noisy, but reasonably economical and comfortable. The furnace is needed below about 30 F.
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Old 11-09-2010, 04:16 PM   #68
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Dan,
I have a rear queen with side bath. I do have an outside access/storage panel to the compartment under the bed. I also have the thermometer with the external probe, I have that mounted just below the underbelly by the rear bed. This way i know what the outside temp is. I also have a thermometer with a remote (wireless) probe that i move around as needed.
I wouldn't trust an electric heater under the bed way to many possible bad scenarios there.
I use the furnace exclusively below 50f. Primarily so the air ducting by/through the piping and tank areas stays warm. I find 50f at night is plent warm enough for me. I have tent camped in colder. I also crank the heat when i get up in the morning while i am getting ready for work, turn it back to 40-50 during the day. Than I crank it up again when i get home for a little bit, just to get some of the mass of the trailer a bit warmer.
As one of the other posters had recommended, I will be running off my tanks for water. And only dumping when full. Once the tank is empty, I will close the valve and poor a gallon of rv antifreeze in there so the valve has some protection until the tank is full enough to offer some thermal mass.
I am also prepared to get an extended stay room or some other arrangement for the colder winter months. Craigslist has a section for rooms to rent. I have checked out a few and it will need to get pretty cold before i go that direction, but it is definitely an option. Since both of my kids statrted college in august, the the wife and I may get a small apt and winterize and close our house till summer. Who knows.
My next project is to find an extent ion hose for the lp. This way I can keep my grill tank inside as an emergency (warm) spare to use with the installed system or use it with one of the ventless heaters. Which I am currently looking at. But than again, an electric heater would do good in an emergency, as long as you have the fans to move the air around.
Like you, I will be adjusting as I learn.
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Old 11-09-2010, 04:45 PM   #69
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In North Dakota, home of the Williston basin and other wonders, we don't even put on our jackets until it gets be about 10 degrees above zero. One visit to TX in February led me to believe I was in the tropics. Funny thing was everyone in TX was wearing heavy coats while I thought "Gee whiz, I should have packed my shorts!" There is something to be said for every beautiful part of the US!!
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Old 11-09-2010, 04:51 PM   #70
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I pack a coat when I go to North Dakota in summer. The coldest I've ever been was in Grand Forks in July.

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Old 11-09-2010, 05:06 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.

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Old 11-09-2010, 06:20 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, 09:42 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, 02:09 AM   #74
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So how did the reset work?
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:12 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, 07:29 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, 07:33 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, 11:28 AM   #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.

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Old 11-14-2010, 07:01 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, 08:37 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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