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Old 12-12-2013, 10:37 AM   #1
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Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

My bus has a large open area under the floor just forward of the rear wheels. It's a R/E bus so no drive train there. I could probably fit three large tanks there: 200 gallon FW, 200 gallon GW and 50 gallon BW, plus build an insulated box around them all and duct some heat into the space.

Question: is there any reason I would not want all three tanks in the same space, such as the possibility of BW odors migrating into the FW? Or are holding tanks sufficiently odor-proof?
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Old 12-12-2013, 03:25 PM   #2
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

put together is fine, most folks with coaches put them in one bay
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:43 PM   #3
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

What is your heating source? Also what Region do you live in?

Using hot water lines run under, and around the tanks, with the Styrofoam sheets snug against the side, bottom, and top is best. Remember, full tanks have thermal mass. They don't need to be super warm, just above freezing. Water from the ground in large quantity's takes a long time to cool if insulated. Waste tanks get hot fluids added. Grey tank gets dish washing, and showers. Black gets urine from the toilet. That all adds up and helps.

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Old 12-13-2013, 11:47 AM   #4
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster
What is your heating source? Also what Region do you live in?

Using hot water lines run under, and around the tanks, with the Styrofoam sheets snug against the side, bottom, and top is best. Remember, full tanks have thermal mass. They don't need to be super warm, just above freezing. Water from the ground in large quantity's takes a long time to cool if insulated. Waste tanks get hot fluids added. Grey tank gets dish washing, and showers. Black gets urine from the toilet. That all adds up and helps.

Nat
I haven't chosen a heat source yet, but how I heat the basement may depend on whether I choose forced air or hydronic heating. Probably I'll just zigzag some flexible aluminum dryer duct underneath the suspended (hung) tanks, on the floor of the basement. This closed loop of uninsulated duct work will radiate heat into the basement as the warm air moves through it. The basement itself will be insulated. I was thinking of rigging up a thermostat with a 12V computer cooling fan and set a temperature range of about 40 to 50 *F. This way I'll only use fan electricity when the basement temps are close to freezing. I won't have to have the basement duct work connected directly to the heating system either, whether it's forced air or hydronic. This way I'll be able to keep the basement from freezing even if I use a wood burning stove as a supplemental heat source.

Good points on the thermal mass and warm waste water. I did think of this. But I was more concerned about odors and contamination.

I live in the Northwest, and winter temperatures are relatively mild. But I'm planning to use the bus for winter ski trips also, which means winter mountain temperatures. So for this I'll need a pretty robust freeze prevention system.
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:54 PM   #5
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

My intention when I started my build, I was going to heat my tanks also. My thought was to do the foam insulation around the tanks, but use a water bed heater in between the foam and tanks. Never got around to doing it, but I've always thought it would be easier to heat the tank then just trying to keep the air temp warm. I mentioned this to a few friends, and one even gave me a heater that he had laying around still.
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Old 12-20-2013, 08:48 PM   #6
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

One of the problems with blowing heated air into a confined space is you must have a air inlet, and a air outlet that feeds the cool air back to the heating device.

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Old 12-20-2013, 09:57 PM   #7
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

I'd go with an electric blanket around the sides of the tank covered with a layer of foam board (supported foam beneith of course). Simply setting the tank on an electric blanket will probably lead to a short circuit in the blanket as the insulation is squashed through by the weight of the water. The specific heat of water is very high. All this means is that it takes a lot of heat to boil water and a lot of cold to freeze it. A small electric (pet size?) blanket should be enough for all but the coldest climes.
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Old 12-21-2013, 03:39 PM   #8
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
I'd go with an electric blanket around the sides of the tank covered with a layer of foam board (supported foam beneith of course). Simply setting the tank on an electric blanket will probably lead to a short circuit in the blanket as the insulation is squashed through by the weight of the water. The specific heat of water is very high. All this means is that it takes a lot of heat to boil water and a lot of cold to freeze it. A small electric (pet size?) blanket should be enough for all but the coldest climes.
This would be a good, easy short term solution.

If you do choose electric blankets of any kind, keep in mind they only last so long. Don't build it into something that you can't get to and change later. Anything that uses resistance heating (electric) burns out. Short circuiting a wire till it heats up makes it have a life span of only so many hours.

That's why long term, hot water heating loops are better. The system is completely modular, and your not forced to use electricity. You could use a propane hot water heater, and a circulating pump if you are in a location where electricity is not available.

The average forced air furnace blower uses 10 amps. A hot water heat circulating pump uses 0.5 amp. Far more efficient way of moving the heat.

Nat
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:33 PM   #9
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster
One of the problems with blowing heated air into a confined space is you must have a air inlet, and a air outlet that feeds the cool air back to the heating device.

Nat
...Exactly why I was concerned about contamination and odors.
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:39 PM   #10
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Re: Holding tanks in heated "basement" question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
I'd go with an electric blanket around the sides of the tank covered with a layer of foam board (supported foam beneith of course). Simply setting the tank on an electric blanket will probably lead to a short circuit in the blanket as the insulation is squashed through by the weight of the water. The specific heat of water is very high. All this means is that it takes a lot of heat to boil water and a lot of cold to freeze it. A small electric (pet size?) blanket should be enough for all but the coldest climes.
That's a great idea but I'm also trying to reduce my electrical usage, since one of my goals is to be able to do extended boondocking. Don't want to have to run the generator just to keep the tanks from freezing.

I've also been doing some research on batteries. Turns out the manufacturers warn against allowing batteries to freeze. Something I hadn't thought of before. Since flooded batteries can't be kept in the cabin and also must be vented, I wonder what the best way would be to keep them warm on a winter ski trip. Any method that risks a spark is out, due to discharge of explosive gas (hydrogen).
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