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Old 01-03-2016, 06:46 PM   #11
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Now, if only someone could figure out a way of generating liquid heat without running the big engine...
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Old 01-03-2016, 06:53 PM   #12
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Now, if only someone could figure out a way of generating liquid heat without running the big engine...
I wonder if a propane instant water heater for a house would survive continuous duty to heat the water, then a pump to keep it flowing.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:49 PM   #13
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That "instant" water heater is a demand-type heater and, unless you have a circulating pump, won't kick in.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:50 PM   #14
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then a pump to keep it flowing.
..........
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:52 PM   #15
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Don't think it would work. Check the manual for demand-type water heaters.
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:44 PM   #16
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Usually, "boiler" is the name given the appliance that does what is described. However, the Rinnai instant/demand/tankless water heater I have in my home did have some mention about using it for space heating applications. Of course they generally discouraged it, but there seemed to be some limited allowance for this..

One challenge that may be encountered is that home water heaters are often designed with the idea that cold inlet water will actually be cold, like around 40-50 F as it comes out of the ground. In a recirculating space heating setup the "cold" return would likely be at least 80 F if not higher. I get the idea that some water heaters might not like this but others are fine. Depending how the software is written, their fuel maps might not cover the case where inlet is 90 F and outlet is 120 F because it's just a 30 degree rise. (I'm making up an example based on an idea in my head, never having actually read software specs or code for a water heater.)

That said.. choose a model, read its manual, determine whether it'll work out, and repeat as necessary until you find the "right" one for you!
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:45 PM   #17
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There's no way one of those chintzy on demand heaters would be a good fit for this task.
You'd have to bypass the temp and pump controls to make it work.

If you can find an old Webasto Thermo Top C, that is probably the cheapest and most common hydronic heat source that will put out the btus and temps you need. Every school bus in CO got one in a program a few years back. They use about 50 watts when running and can put out over 17000 btus on about a gallon of diesel every 7-8 hours or run on low at 8000 btus for over 10 hours on a gallon. 8000 btus should keep a modestly insulated bus warm into temps in the 20s.

You could run the baseboard radiant heaters on a loop with the webasto. If you added a 30 gallon tank to the loop, you could run the webasto for a while to get everything up to 170* and then coast for a few hours. You would save a good deal of fuel doing a setup like this. Then, when it's time to start your engine in the cold, just open a valve that loops your bus's engine into the hot stuff and it will fire up like a dream.

That's my plan anyway. I only need around 5000 btus to keep warm on all but the nights below 0. If I heat a 30 gallon tank of water to 180* and can use heat from it all the way down to 100*, I have over 17,000 btus stored up. If I can release that over the course of 4 or 5 hours, I wont have to run the webasto at all. I think it could be worked out to run it for about 4-6 hours per day (morning, evening, and night) and save the heat to keep warm. 6 hours at .16 gallons per hour is just about a gallon per day of diesel. If you burn the off-highway stuff it's a good deal for push button heat.

Of course, you could run it on low, but where's the fun in that.....
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Old 01-04-2016, 12:25 AM   #18
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There's no way one of those chintzy on demand heaters would be a good fit for this task.
You'd have to bypass the temp and pump controls to make it work.
If "chintzy" means "Ecco-Temp L5 or similar" then I agree they're MUCH less than ideal for the job! Poor efficiency is their worst problem: a great deal of heat is lost in the exhaust gases. I did experiment with hydronic heating in a "shed" a few years ago fueled by an L5. It "worked." Technically. I had a submersible utility pump in a 5 gallon bucket as my reservoir; it pushed water from the bucket through the L5 into the floor, and water discharged out of the floor back into the bucket. It was great as a low-budget science project to dabble in hydronic radiant heat, but I wouldn't do a permanent install with any of those components!

I traded some stuff for a Webasto coolant heater this summer and I'm looking forward to testing it.. some day..
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Old 01-04-2016, 02:17 PM   #19
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Lol yeah that is exactly what i meant ;)

I wish I had done some in floor tubing in my bus !!
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