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Old 12-27-2012, 02:03 AM   #1
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Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning stove

I'm living in my bus this winter. I'm on the NW coast and needless to say it's a cold and wet winter. I am working towards installing a cast iron heater although cannot afford it at the moment. Currently I am leaning towards using an electric generator to power a space heater and or a heated blanket. Moisture build up is also becoming a problem due to breathing while sleeping. I'm worried that this will get me sick due to mold growth, that I tame with a spray bottle of tea tree.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Wood stoves are the greatest.

I, however, use propane catalytic heaters as well as electric oil filled radiator heaters.

An electric blanket makes it nice when you are in bed.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:21 AM   #3
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning stove?

Move the bus to a warmer location. (says the fool who is sitting in NM where it is currently 25F and it feels like 19).
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:35 AM   #4
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning stove?

Move the bus to a warmer location. (says the fool who is sitting in NM where it is currently 25F and it feels like 19).
-28c this morning -33c with the wind,
lorna is correct, bus has wheels move to warmer location

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Old 12-28-2012, 12:39 AM   #5
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

My plan includes a small electric heater for when I have shore power (like at campgrounds or home base) and propane for boon & Wally docking. As long as you have good insulation and minimal air leaks, it shouldn't take that much energy from either source. Heavy curtains on all the glass makes a big difference too. It's what I call the "Easy-Bake" oven concept. That's how you can make brownies & cupcakes using the heat from a single 60w light bulb...just keep the energy contained.

That said...a wood-burning stove sure is nice on a frosty, dreary day!
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:14 AM   #6
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

I think I like Lorna's method the best.
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:33 AM   #7
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
My plan includes a small electric heater for when I have shore power (like at campgrounds or home base) and propane for boon & Wally docking...
Don't forget winter power outages!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
...As long as you have good insulation and minimal air leaks, it shouldn't take that much energy from either source....
Don't under estimate the benefits of insulation and thermal breaks.... and an electric heat cable on the water pipes. No more frozen pipes! Unless the power goes out.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:52 PM   #8
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Thumbs up on the propane catalytic heater - no electricity needed and it's 97% fuel effecient. No worries about monoxide poisoning either but they can burn up all the oxygen in the bus if you don't crack a window. My Little Buddy heater is supposed to shut off if the O2 level gets too low but I'm not sure I'm ready to bet my life on it working.

A vented RV furnace like the Attwood models use a fair amount of electricity (mine uses 40 watts with the fan running) and aren't nearly as fuel efficient as the catalytics but there's no worries about oxygen depletion or monoxide poisoning. The vented heaters don't put out all that humidity either.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:30 AM   #9
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

vented propane cat heater is what i put in my last bus.. i think that is the best, but put in a furnace, and wood stove and electric in this one.
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:35 PM   #10
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Moved to Conversion Discussion.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:12 PM   #11
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Ok i know this does not help, but i personly think a woodburning stove is the best and easiest and not to mention the cheapst wy to heat your bus. I have lived in my bus for 2 years now and 2 winters in chicago. I bought my stove for $75 bucks, $30ish in pipeing and sealent, luckly i had the materials laying around to make the hearth. Im just saying, that it works great for me and i love it its very homey feel and plus who dosnt love the crackling sound of a fire wile there relxing. just giving you some ideas to think about. check out my thread "The Sloth" and look at my easy setup

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Old 02-18-2013, 10:25 PM   #12
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Electric heat is 100% efficient and 100% impractical unless you have cheap shorepower. It the cost to be 100% efficient exceeds the cost to be less efficient then it is a poor choice.

What kind of camping situation are you in? Is it practical to segment your bus? Heating a small area (or using an electric blanket) is a great solution depending on your means.

Just out of curiosity, what is your reasoning against a wood stove? Harbor Freight sells a Vogelzang boxwood sans UL listing relatively cheap.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:44 PM   #13
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

No matter what heat system you go with, you need to keep in mind the "fuel" needed to heat with.

Electric heaters take electricity. You won't want to be running a generator for that. So that means shore power. But they are easy to add on (plug one in where ever needed). We like those little $20 electric milkhouse style utility heaters that Patton makes. Durable little buggers and compact too.

LP heaters, catalytic, Blue Flame or Radiant, require LP. some are better than others. RV furnaces tend to be LP as well. So with the LP heaters you will of course need LP. The old Suburban on our Class C was pretty frugal and we spent 2008 winter in Elizabethton TN and 2009 winter in Franklin NC. Both winters were pretty cold. Not the coldest, but not the warmest either. Perhaps slightly colder than "normal". Fair amounts of snow fall. Class C's furnace ate one 20LB BBQ tank in about 12 to 14 days. In 2008 I got the flu that was going thru Eastern TN/Western NC. Actually I got all three that winter. So we were keeping the RV pretty warm in TN. I have heard some RVs furnaces eat up a 20LB tank in one week and they are notorious for sucking house battery banks dry overnight. Your LP tank will run out either when it is snowing/sleeting or in the middle of the night. And if it can run out in the middle of the night while it is snowing/sleeting, that will be the perfect time. Using multiple tanks on manifold and/or auto changeover valves will help with the middle of the night situation.

Wood stoves are nice. We had one in one of our houses (our first one) as our primary heat source and used an old LP mobile home heater as a back up. The first winter the back up heater never kicked on. Second winter it kicked on twice for a couple of hours each time. I always stoked the fire back up when I got up at night to make my "wee trip in the wee hours" to the bathroom. By the time we got up in the AM to get ready for work, the house was toasty. Wood stoves tend to require either wood or pellets to heat with. So you need a supply of one or the other (unless your stove can use both). While you can get pellets at most any hardware/lumber store, in some places, they can be very expensive and hard to find. As for wood, you can get it free, buy it already cut & split or buy it unsplit and you get to do the work yourself. Biggest downside I have noticed about wood is you can't bring wood into a lot of public parks due to bugs that live in the wood. Check out state parks and you will often see a list of what wood you cannot bring in. If you are in a private park, they may not want stacks of wood sitting around your bus. If you stay on private land that may not be a problem.

Let's not forget about the kerosine/diesel/home heating oil heaters. And they have their own individual benefits and drawbacks as well. Part of which was the prices we were running into for marine heaters (it was for the Eagle and when you own an Eagle, you tend to get drawn into looking at some very expensive stuff because it's an Eagle).

No matter what you decide to use for heat, you need not only your primary source but you need a back up. We have two, AC & LP. We currently run two electric heaters as main heat since we are plugged into a power pole. But we also have a small wall mounted LP heater (Dynaglo Tag-a-long) in the back (bathroom/bedroom) plus we will put in another LP heater (back to LP unless we change our minds yet again) under the TV in the main "living room". This summer we will finish the plumbing for the AC/LP hydronic 12vDC fan forced ducted heater (which will end up being our main source of heat). Sometimes I bump the LP heater on to take a shower or get dressed in the AM. I deliberately chose the location of the little heater so that I can close the shower/dressing area off from the rest of the bus and heat just that small area.

I cannot stress this enough... You need to have a back up no matter what kind you will use for your primary heat.

If you use electric, what happens if you lose power during a winter storm? LP or wood would be handy.

If you use LP, electric or wood would be good if you run out of LP and you can't get a tank refilled until several hours later.

If you use wood, either electric or LP would be a good backup if you get sick or hurt and can't deal with the wood. Not to mention if the weather doesn't cooperate and you cannot get the wood when you run out.

What you want are options. Options will keep you from having to make desperate decisions at a bad time. If you never have to use the back up, that's just peachy. But it doesn't hurt to have a back up. You just need to figure out what will work for you. We have thought about it and since David CAN"T do wood and I do not intend to split anymore wood... ever (after all David did sell off the old 12 lb Monster Maul I used to use to split wood with) AC & LP works best for us. We use AC to heat water with and LP to cook with. So we already we set up for those two fuels. We can have heat if the power goes off (Albuquerque was out of power for over a week winter of 2010 although we were not.... good lesson that we did not have to suffer thru). We can have heat if we are traveling and park overnight, or a few days, in a parking lot in freezing temps.

My goal is to be able to have heat and cook if we are stuck in a situation like this when I25 was closed for two days! This was NOT supposed to have happened. We were not supposed to get anything more than a light dusting of snow.



This was our campground during the second part of the storm. The shot of the trucks in the parking lot (above) is where my daughter works. The truck for her store barely made it to TorC (they had opened the interstate up for a few hours) where his next delivery was and where he was parked for another two days due to snow.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:52 PM   #14
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

Lorna is my idle. Seriously...were it not for this need to make a living with the skills I was granted, I would be you right now. Unfortunately, my particular skill set requires me to be pretty static in my living arrangement.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:22 PM   #15
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Re: Whats the best way to heat a bus besides a woodburning s

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...Unfortunately, my particular skill set requires me to be pretty static in my living arrangement.
We are stuck in Roswell, NM until we either win the big lottery or I have enough time in with Home Depot (minimum of 2 years) that will allow me to get rehired at another Home Depot in... Beaumont TX??? That is why I am working on getting certified to run the OP (overhead picker) and BTW.... I hate heights!!! Also we won't leave until Stacey has the $$ saved up to get her own already converted skoolie so that she can dump the Class C here in NM and leave here with a decent "house" to live in. Unfortunately, she is experiencing the same "personal recession" that we are. According to the Government, the recession is over and everyone is going just great. So we must be the exception.
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Old 05-12-2017, 09:41 PM   #16
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Wood stoves are the greatest.

I, however, use propane catalytic heaters as well as electric oil filled radiator heaters.

An electric blanket makes it nice when you are in bed.
At this precise moment, an electric oil filled radiator is exactly what I have in mind, in addition to an electric blanket, and a backup portable woodstove, and possibly a ceramic flower pot heater. (I've read about them and know the potential fire hazard. It's fire. Attend, don't neglect.)

Oh and let's not forget BADASS insulation!!!
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Old 05-12-2017, 10:23 PM   #17
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When I got badass insulation, I suddenly got lazy and completely stopped cutting firewood. My tiny electric heater handles 95% of the year, assisted by anything available during those extra cold weeks.
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Old 05-14-2017, 06:06 PM   #18
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At this precise moment, an electric oil filled radiator is exactly what I have in mind, in addition to an electric blanket, and a backup portable woodstove, and possibly a ceramic flower pot heater. (I've read about them and know the potential fire hazard. It's fire. Attend, don't neglect.)

Oh and let's not forget BADASS insulation!!!
That oil filled radiator barely made a dent in the cold weather here in Montana. But it DID cause 2d degree contact burns on my knees, resulting in some horrendous blisters and hospitalization.

I use LP catalytic heaters, a German featherbed (50/50 goose feathers and down) and long underwear with a balaclava for my coconut. I have 1" rigid insulation on the sides and am considering 1/2" for the overhead, although I don't relish the idea of stooping when I transit inside the bus.
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Old 05-14-2017, 11:15 PM   #19
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That oil filled radiator barely made a dent in the cold weather here in Montana. But it DID cause 2d degree contact burns on my knees, resulting in some horrendous blisters and hospitalization.

I use LP catalytic heaters, a German featherbed (50/50 goose feathers and down) and long underwear with a balaclava for my coconut. I have 1" rigid insulation on the sides and am considering 1/2" for the overhead, although I don't relish the idea of stooping when I transit inside the bus.
Well, I hear what you're saying, I trust your experience. But I liked them because they're somewhat low wattage... an ex had them in his garage, where his dad made him live. If the garage had been properly insulated it might have worked better. As it was, it was drafty as heck. Otherwise I was thinking radiant floor heat, which is also low wattage:
IdealHeat 7 ft. 5 in. x 20 in. 110-Volt Radiant Floor Heating Mat-RSG 20-75-110M - The Home Depot

But someone said they'll burn out in like 3 years unless they're a floor heating water pipes system. Which would just cost me more in watts for the water pump, I was thinking? And also, forgive me for my ignorance, but I don't get how water pipe floor heating wouldn't possibly cause moisture issues.

However, I also have a feather bed, memory foam mattress, and LOTS of thick fluffy blankets... lol I plan on getting an electric blanket sometime too, I don't have one because living in a house I'm never cold enough to need one!
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