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Isn’t Winter Over? Heating Options Re-Visited

Here it is almost mid March in southeast Texas and I thought Winter was over. Wrong! One thing about Texas is the weather is always dramatic. Yesterday we were in the high 80’s and today it is cold and damp with over an inch of rain, a cold north wind blowing and temperatures dipping into the 30’s tonight.

During my normal spring cleaning, I put away all the down vests and insulated coveralls and heavy coats.  I also put away the heaters I use in the Dolphin 32D.  How about a little insight in to just how it works with limited power capabilities since I had to drag them all back out this evening?

I have 4 heat sources in the Fish Bus:

The Suburban Propane furnace — it is noisy, draws some pretty good 12v amperage and it is inefficient. Have you ever stood outside by your heater vent when it was running?  That exhaust is hot!  That heat should be going in the Old Girl.  I have no idea how many BTUs escape out that exhaust but it has to be substantial.

I have a Little Buddy Propane heater.  It is plumbed into an external tank.  I love this heater and I am just careful to follow the safety instructions which say to leave a window cracked.   It has a Hi and Low setting and the only drawback is the burner is not thermostatically controlled.  It is either On or OFF.  It is my go to heater to take the chill off quickly on a cold morning.

I have 2 1500w electric heaters.  One is an oscillating Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote Control

Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater with neato Remote Control

Lasko Ceramic Tower Heater with neato Remote Control

(which I love) and the other is a much smaller ceramic blower.

A quick note on electric heaters.  Any electric heater which plugs into a 110v outlet has a maximum output of 1500 watts.  Doesn’t matter how big or how fancy or whether they are ceramic or radiant coils,  all they are gonna put out is 1500 watts.

Now the trick is getting all the electric heaters to work on a limited power capacity.  On my older motor coach which is 30amp,  I have one 20 amp circuit that powers all five 110 volt outlets.  You have to be real selective with what you plug into one of the 110v outlets on the motor coach.  2 electric heaters at 1500w will trip the breaker in seconds.  2 heaters at the reduced setting of 750w will eventually trip the breaker.

I installed a Xantrex 1000w inverter in the battery box but I did not tie it into the outlets in the normal fashion.   It has 2 plugs on it.  I ran 2 12ga extension cords through the wiring loom of the Old Girl that terninate in surge potected outlet strips. One runs all the way to the front of the bus and powers the front TV, DVD player and DISH receiver.  The other line rus into the bedroom closet where it powers the rear flat screen in he bedroom.

When I am camping in a location with great power capacity like this one I double up on the power.  We had the Power Company install 4 50amp service outlets and 110v 30amp service.   I run my regular dual 30amp power lines out to the 50amp pig tail so I can run both air conditioning units simultaneously.  I also run a heavy extension from the 110v outlet on the pole to the battery box and plug it into a power strip.  Then I unplug the two plugs connected to the inverter  and plug them into the 110v cord off the pole and there ya go!  Both electric heaters can now be run at 1500 watts and I can still run the coffee pot without flipping a breaker.

The ceramic tower ususally sits in the front aisle up close to the seats.  The front of  the Old Girl is pretty drafty as are most Class A’s.  I am also facing north at this location so that cold wind really seeps in.  The Little Buddy usually sits close to the dinette for those quick morning warm ups.  The little blower heater is back in the bathroom area and does a good job of  keeping the back of the motor home pleasant.   I use the furnace infrequently.  I pay for the propane, the property owner provides the electricity!

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