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Old 11-09-2019, 02:27 PM   #1
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Dickinson Newport Propane Heater Install

Although we are installing a Dwarf 4K wood stove on the bus (details here), it will be up by the front door while our bed will be almost 40 feet away in the way back.

Based on this distance combined with the wood stove having a smaller fire box and limited burn time, we decided to put an additional heat source in the bedroom area,; we chose the Dickinson Newport P9000 propane stove.

We got ours "unused open box" on eBay for ~$800.




The stove is not permanently installed but is fully functional. I was concerned about the chimney exiting horizontally and wanted to do some testing.

I took the chimney right out one of the old flashing light holes.




I am happy to report that the heater is working great. Dickinson says that as long as the arc of the chimney pipe is gradual that the heater should work fine with the horizontal exit.


Our bus will have three appliances requiring propane: this heater, the water heater, and the stove/range in the kitchen.


My plan is to carry 4 standard 20lb propane cylinders, one for each appliance, and a spare. I used this 15ft stainless steel hose with regulator. It was plug and play, no adaptors needed, and was long enough to get from the back of the bus into the cargo bay.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:44 PM   #2
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I love the repurposed flasher light hole for this.

With four separate small propane bottles like that, it seems like you'd be increasing the frequency at which you annoyingly run out of propane at inconvenient times.

I'm planning underbody storage for two small propane tanks (one hooked up to my stove and on-demand water heater together, and a backup to swap out). I've been meaning to ask a question here about how to best secure the tanks while driving (i.e. do they need to be on rubber padding, secured with bungies etc.) but I'll ask you what your plans are instead.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I love the repurposed flasher light hole for this.

With four separate small propane bottles like that, it seems like you'd be increasing the frequency at which you annoyingly run out of propane at inconvenient times.

I'm planning underbody storage for two small propane tanks (one hooked up to my stove and on-demand water heater together, and a backup to swap out). I've been meaning to ask a question here about how to best secure the tanks while driving (i.e. do they need to be on rubber padding, secured with bungies etc.) but I'll ask you what your plans are instead.

Just for some frame-of-reference, we go 6-8 weeks on two of those BBQ bottles of propane. We cook at least 2 meals a day and quite often run the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater for 30-60 minutes a few times a week. We also use the water heater a couple times a week.
We bolted a Dual RV Tank Cylinder Rack to the floor of our front luggage bay. I have no idea how crash-worthy it is, and I hope to never find out. It's against the forward wall and not near any tires....not sure if that makes much of a difference though.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:21 PM   #4
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Just for some frame-of-reference, we go 6-8 weeks on two of those BBQ bottles of propane. We cook at least 2 meals a day and quite often run the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater for 30-60 minutes a few times a week. We also use the water heater a couple times a week.
We bolted a Dual RV Tank Cylinder Rack to the floor of our front luggage bay. I have no idea how crash-worthy it is, and I hope to never find out. It's against the forward wall and not near any tires....not sure if that makes much of a difference though.
Thanks for the info. That cylinder rack looks like exactly what I need.
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Old 11-10-2019, 06:56 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I love the repurposed flasher light hole for this.

With four separate small propane bottles like that, it seems like you'd be increasing the frequency at which you annoyingly run out of propane at inconvenient times.

I'm planning underbody storage for two small propane tanks (one hooked up to my stove and on-demand water heater together, and a backup to swap out). I've been meaning to ask a question here about how to best secure the tanks while driving (i.e. do they need to be on rubber padding, secured with bungies etc.) but I'll ask you what your plans are instead.
It was cool how the light hole worked out for the chimney; it just kind of happened...

As for using four independent 20lb cylinders, I chose this route for a couple of reasons:

1) 20lb cylinders - (vice larger ones) should be easier to refill/replace. Cost-wise I am sure that those "Blue Rhino" swaps are not the lowest cost solution, but the 20lb cylinders should provide more options to get refills.

2) Dedicated lines - I like the simplicity of running dedicated SS hoses directly to each appliance; there is literally zero plumbing for me to mess up...

3) The spare or reserve cylinder - The plan is to always keep the spare cylinder full; as in, when an appliance runs dry, I plan to switch out to the spare and refill or replace the empty cylinder. So, although the frequency of refills may be more, it will be only one cylinder at a time. And with a full spare always on standby, we should never be left high and dry.

I haven't yet sourced the water heater or the stove/range yet, but as for the Dickinson heater, the spec says on low it will burn for 140 hours on 20lbs of propane. So theoretically 7 hours a night for 20 nights. With the wood stove and the mini-split (heat and AC) as additional sources of heat, the dedicated Dickinson propane cylinder should go a long way, even in colder climates.

We do not intend to spend a lot of time in the cold, but we still want the bus to be all-weather-capable (AWC) certified. Maybe we will make a trip to the Great White North someday to visit Yukon Cornelius.

Not yet sure how I will secure the cylinders. A couple of racks like Drew is using could work. I am considering designing my own, maybe with a wood base attached to the floor and some suitable tie down straps securing the cylinders to the wall of the bay?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Bru View Post
Just for some frame-of-reference, we go 6-8 weeks on two of those BBQ bottles of propane. We cook at least 2 meals a day and quite often run the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater for 30-60 minutes a few times a week. We also use the water heater a couple times a week.
We bolted a Dual RV Tank Cylinder Rack to the floor of our front luggage bay. I have no idea how crash-worthy it is, and I hope to never find out. It's against the forward wall and not near any tires....not sure if that makes much of a difference though.
Drew, thank you for chiming in with some actual real life experience and metrics; it's nice to hear from folks who are actually living on their buses. Until my bus is complete and the wife and I (and dogs) move onboard, I will always feel like a bit of a poser here on the forum...
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Old 11-10-2019, 09:59 AM   #6
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Drew, thank you for chiming in with some actual real life experience and metrics; it's nice to hear from folks who are actually living on their buses. Until my bus is complete and the wife and I (and dogs) move onboard, I will always feel like a bit of a poser here on the forum...
It's really tough to know what to expect out of propane if you've never really had experience with it. We'd never RV camped in our lives, we spent decades tent camping. I looked at some RV forums to get an idea about the metrics, but we really just winged it, hoping the capacity was enough. I'm happy that we used the 20lb tanks that are easily replaced so we don't need to drive the rig to get filled. I think that with 3 tanks and a spare, you're in really great shape. Just FYI it's just a little over half the price to get the tanks refilled vs. swapped out, and it's not really any more of a hassle if there's a place nearby that refills tanks.

And you're no poser, you're rocking this bus build. You've got one of the nicest buses on this site.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:09 PM   #7
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I saw your post on Instagram about snagging one of these and it got me thinking about heat on my own build. I'm in Chicago and it was about 30 degrees working on the bus yesterday and it sucked. Definitely putting ideas in my head to maybe bump heating up on the priority list so I can more comfortably work during these cold winter months. How did you mount the heater to your wall? Is it just a few screw into the wall? And what kind of lines did you use to connect propane to the heater? I've seen both copper and rubber lines in use, I'm not entirely too sure which would be a better route to go.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:37 PM   #8
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I saw your post on Instagram about snagging one of these and it got me thinking about heat on my own build. I'm in Chicago and it was about 30 degrees working on the bus yesterday and it sucked. Definitely putting ideas in my head to maybe bump heating up on the priority list so I can more comfortably work during these cold winter months. How did you mount the heater to your wall? Is it just a few screw into the wall? And what kind of lines did you use to connect propane to the heater? I've seen both copper and rubber lines in use, I'm not entirely too sure which would be a better route to go.
Full disclosure: my install is preliminary. I will eventually remove the heater to insulate and trim out, and then re-install in the same place. That being said, this thing was so easy to install, it was a joy.

The heater itself attaches to an included heat shield/mounting panel. The mounting panel has 4 screw holes; just screw it to the wall. The only challenge was making sure that the mounting location was adequate for a proper chimney pipe install. I used the unaltered 28 inch long chimney pipe that came with the stove. Also because I was using a horizontal chimney exit (as opposed to vertical out the roof), I followed the instructions and used the entire length of the chimney pipe to create an "arc" rather than an elbow.

For the LP gas connection I used a 15ft stainless steel hose with regulator from Amazon (link here). It has the right regulator and right fittings; easy...
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Old 11-12-2019, 04:31 PM   #9
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I really like your separate tanks idea. Thanks for suggesting that. I will plan for 2 spares though, just to give a little more flexibility about refilling.
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:05 PM   #10
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An update on the heater... Upon initial installation, it fired up and was working fine, or so I thought. It did take a little time for the "thermocouple to engage", meaning I had to hold the gas knob in for longer than the ~15 seconds stated in the manual.

About a week or so ago, the heater stopped working. It would light but the the thermocouple would not engage, period. I was concerned it may be a bad thermocouple or some other internal part.

However, before having a look inside the heater I decided to try to tweak the arc of the chimney pipe. I ended up lowering the heater about an inch and reattaching it to the wall. Since doing this, the heater has worked perfectly, with the thermocouple engaging very quickly.

Not a great pic below, but if you compare to a previous pic, you can see the difference in the arc of the pipe. I had read that these heaters can be extra finicky when it comes to the chimney pipe; weird...

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Old 11-24-2019, 07:39 PM   #11
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does the front of that heater get hot? as in flame hazard hot? or burn the skin hot?
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Old 11-24-2019, 07:52 PM   #12
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does the front of that heater get hot? as in flame hazard hot? or burn the skin hot?
Yes, yes, and yes... the front of the heater gets hot.

The manual lists safety clearances as follows:
- Above- 20
- Front- 18
- Sides- 2
- Below- 2
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Old 11-24-2019, 08:46 PM   #13
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Very cool. We plan on using this heater for our build. Are you happy with the heat output? I've calculated about a 30-degree delta for our short-bus, including foam insulation but stock windows. If the numbers come out close it should work fine for us mostly, as we don't anticipate traveling much in sub-freezing temps. But from what research I've done the 5500BTUs isn't likely to go far in large spaces or very cold temps.


It was my understanding they recommend a vertical flu whenever possible. Probably finicky in other installs due to the fact it's both the intake & the exhaust.
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Old 11-25-2019, 05:03 AM   #14
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Very cool. We plan on using this heater for our build. Are you happy with the heat output? I've calculated about a 30-degree delta for our short-bus, including foam insulation but stock windows. If the numbers come out close it should work fine for us mostly, as we don't anticipate traveling much in sub-freezing temps. But from what research I've done the 5500BTUs isn't likely to go far in large spaces or very cold temps.

It was my understanding they recommend a vertical flu whenever possible. Probably finicky in other installs due to the fact it's both the intake & the exhaust.
We are installing this heater as a secondary source of heat, to keep us and our tiny dogs warm thru cold nights. Our 4K Dwarf wood stove (here) will be our primary source of heat in cold climates, but with it's smaller fire box, it won't last all night without adding wood.

So, to answer your question, as a secondary source of heat I am very happy with its output, but as a primary (or only) source of heat in cold weather, I believe you are right on. In a shorter, well insulated bus, or in milder climates, maybe it would be sufficient, but in a bigger bus, probably not. On the other hand its big brother, the P12000, may be up to the task?

You are also spot on about the chimney pipe. What the manual has to say about a horizontal exit is below (you've likely already read it, but for other readers...). When I remove the heater to do it's permanent installation i will re-look at the "spacer springs" between the inner and outer pipes to make sure they are strategically placed so as not to "...create hot spots which will impede the cooler fresh air..."

From the manual:
"Horizontal Flue Exit - We recommend the flue be as straight as possible but also we recognize that in some installations it may be necessary to vent out of a wall. In these cases you would need to follow a specific method to ensure the draft does not slow down to the point it affects the heater.

To exit out of a wall you would need to ensure the bend is made with the entire 28" length of pipe as this will ensure a gradual slope rather than a severe bend. The bend must start at the top of the heater and end where the pipe exits the wall.

It will be necessary to place the spacer springs - located on the inner pipe - accordingly so that the inner and outer pipes do not touch at any point. This could create hot spots which will impede the cooler fresh air that is coming back down the outer pipe to supply the flame."
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Old 11-25-2019, 02:24 PM   #15
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I guess maybe I've missed something, but I'm confused. I wonder what's the point of running the vent through a wall. Why not just run it straight up? That would be much simpler, probably safer too.

Thanks for the information on Dickinson heaters. I've decided to pass on Dickinson. That part about the spacer springs has put diesel heaters solidly into first place on my list.

But I am prejudiced about propane. I've never been around it much, and just don't like it. I've even been looking at diesel hotplates for cooking on instead of propane.
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Old 11-25-2019, 03:10 PM   #16
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I guess maybe I've missed something, but I'm confused. I wonder what's the point of running the vent through a wall. Why not just run it straight up? That would be much simpler, probably safer too
I did the horizontal exit for four reasons:
1) The manual says it is acceptable and safe to do so.
2) There is limited real estate on my roof for vents/chimneys/etc. See below pic.
3) My preferred mounting location for the stove on the bus was/is well matched to a horizontal exit of the standard 28" chimney pipe included with the stove.
4) The horizontal chimney exit matched perfectly with a now vacant flashing light hole.



Quote:
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...I've decided to pass on Dickinson. That part about the spacer springs has put diesel heaters solidly into first place on my list.
I'm sorry to have turned you off on the Dickinson propane heater. It is pretty nice piece of gear (they do make diesel heaters too). And the spacer springs are easily moved; this is not like solving a Rubiks Cube...
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Old 11-25-2019, 06:01 PM   #17
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OK, now I understand. That picture makes perfect sense. Thanks for the info. I was already prejudiced against propane. The Dickinson looks well made from what I can see, but I would like it much better it it burned oil. I grew up with oil heat. I realize that makes me a fossil. There's a duel-fuel generator in my future that will be run mostly on propane, but if I can avoid installing any propane appliances in the bus, I probably will. And I will definitely look into Dickinson's oil burners.
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:40 PM   #18
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Dickinson has quite a few varieties of heaters that use different fuel sources. You may just find one youre comfortable with.
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:05 PM   #19
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Yeah, I know they have some diesel heaters and stoves. And I am pretty sure I saw a coal stove too, although they called it solid fuel.

And there is a Scandanvian company called Wallas that also has heaters and stoves. They are at least as expensive as Dickinson, but almost everything I want is expensive. Now I think I want an externally vented diesel cooktop from Wallas.

Wallas has a US distributor that sells online and there are dealers in port cities around the US. There is a dealership about 20 miles from me that is run by someone I knew in high school, or probably a son by now.

https://www.scanmarineusa.com/online-store/

https://www.scanmarineusa.com/dealers/


[edit]

And there's also the Webasto Cooktop, but that is just a cooktop, not a heater too, like the Wallas, so the Webasto is quite a bit cheaper.
https://www.heatso.com/webasto-diese...tallation-kit/
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Old 12-14-2019, 12:32 AM   #20
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Eventually I ended up back on Dickinson's site and realized I hadn't looked at all their diesel stoves. I like the one in the link below. It would be great in the winter, but would need an alternative in the summer. At different times I rented a couple of cabins with oil cookstoves, and no other source of heat. Worked fine in the winter, but in the summer I put a chunk of plywood and a Coleman camp stove on top of the oil cookstove.


http://dickinsonmarine.com/product/b...el-cook-stove/
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