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Old 01-23-2014, 05:47 PM   #1
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Better heat circulation for winters?

I have a 36 footer that uses a woodstove in the mid section to heat during the winter.... We've been getting down to -11 F and so here in Upstate NY.... I noticed some problems with the woodstove approach - that at foot level it's icy cold (even with R31 insulation underneath AND carpet). It would seem that maybe with the woodstove in the center that it might actually pull in cold air from outside, which makes it miserable for barefeet.

The other issue is that the extreme ends don't get warm so fast.... One corner has my off-grid batteries and a bunk bed, and it's often in the 20's at floor level..... Not good to sleep on....

I was thinking that some sort of radiant floor design would make more sense, evenly heating the entire surface area of the floor.... Or some sort of baseboard system.... But if I leave the bus alone for a few days/weeks, the pipes will inevitably freeze and burst. I can drain them but then I have to worry about procuring fresh water, which might be an issue if it's so cold that nearby spigots are frozen (I get my drinking/sink water in 50 gallon increments, on an interior barrel, once every few weeks after it thaws).... The woodstove seems versatile (once a water-based heating system freezes, you're kinda screwed), but it would be nice to have a secondary system to resolve the extremities and flooring issues....

No matter what, the base heating would be via woodstove, not propane... I do know that water retains heat MUCH better than air, so having water barrels full of hot water would help, but so would some circulation system of hot pipes.... The three options I see so far are:

1) Baseboard copper piping, water heated by woodstove, circulated via pump
2) Radiant floor heating from woodstove (either home built under the floor, or I'd have to gut the entire interior of the original plywood and rubber flooring since I'm so tall already)
3) Forced air hooked into the woodstove

If there are projects already dealing with that, can anyone provide links? Any videos?

How do people super insulate a skoolie for winter despite that there are lots of nooks and crannies that make securing insulation less than optimal (especially under the wheel wells)?

Much appreciated!
Tomas
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:49 PM   #2
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

Why not mount a box fan in a vent, and turn it on low to push hot air down and another fan to move air into back of bus?
You can heat cold air as it moves past the stove...remember ceiling fans have 2 directions

Early in my build, before ac like first couple pages I stuck a $15 fan to force air out of the bus thru open hatch, maybe leave hatch closed and just move air down and forward to back...it should feel like that pump air/heat
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Old 01-23-2014, 06:50 PM   #3
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

Posted too quick, move the cold air to the stove and warm air will replace the "empty" spot
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Old 01-23-2014, 08:58 PM   #4
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

Obviously a fan would be much more economical than retrofitting a whole underfloor system, but it would be pretty straightforward to install heating loops under the subfloor(similar to this: ), and if you have R-31 insulation under that then it should be pretty effective at keeping the heat in. The carpet, however, might prevent a lot of heat transfer, and with a warmed floor you might prefer to get away from the carpet anyway

To heat the water with the wood, something like these guys offer ought to do it:
http://www.hilkoil.com/product.htm

Then just add fittings, a pump, valves if you want zone control, ect. If you use coolant instead of plain water, you shouldn't have any trouble.

JDecker
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:25 PM   #5
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

Just brainstorming here. Why not put a second metal plenum around the sides and back of the stove with the front open and run smallish ducts from it to the back and front of the bus. Use computer cooling fans to move the heated air around. I imagine they'd be fairly quiet and would move the heat around without drawing much current.

You could also add an outside air vent to feed combustion air to the stove. Without a dedicated vent the stove draws cold air in through gaps in the windows and doors and your heated air goes up the chimney. Naturally, the cold air falls right to the floor and frosts your tender toeses.

Or you could move south for the winter.
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:30 AM   #6
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

Biggest issue is you have to get the cold air up high enough to heat it, any leaks to the outside will have the warm "high" air pushing outside and colder air coming in and laying under the warm air again....circulation is your friend

If we filled your bus with clear glycol and put in colored oil we would:
A)be able to show how heat rises and moves
Or
B)we would have one frikin huge lava lamp
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Old 01-24-2014, 11:19 AM   #7
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

A small woodstove in the back. I really dont think you are going to get air to circulate well.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:36 PM   #8
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Re: Better heat circulation for winters?

You may want to consider an antifreeze mix in a closed-loop heat circulating water system. It would not freeze if you left the bus, and would be ready to start distributing heat as soon as you got the stove going . . . .

Now, your fresh water supply freezing is a different issue . . . . .
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