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Old 09-20-2006, 12:55 PM   #11
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When I was working in the service dept at a local RV dealership, a technician who really knew his s**t suggested at least 30,000 btu's. This was for an insulated converion. We were talking about my bus which has about 27' inside. I currently have a "vintage but safe" hydrotherm gravity feed (no fan, no power needed) direct vent 13,000 btu furnace. The coldest it got for us so far camping was 4 degrees celcius. That's pretty cold. The furnace on it's lowest setting still cooked us out. I had to turn it off in the middle of the night.

I would recomend trying to find one of these. Mine came out of a 1972 steury tent trailer. However factory converted vans often have very small and simple furnaces that can be had for very little. The nice thing about a couple of small units is the ability to customize what they are used for or what area's of your bus need more/less heat. They require NO POWER. So if you batteries die, or you have a power problem and it is cold you still have heat. This is a big concern for sub zero camping. If you have no heat, you have frozen pipes . No good. Even still you should have a backup. A stand alone unit like what was discussed earlier seems like a good idea. I would be concerned about CO2 though. I know it has an emergency shutoff, but sometimes backups don't work. Use caution with these things, people die every year because of portable propane heaters.

-Richard
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Old 09-20-2006, 05:06 PM   #12
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Here's my current setup, works well, better with a fan in the corner above it. I have the original roof vent that is always open (yes, I lose heat, but it makes me feel better) I also have a CO detector. This is an old photo, the wheelwell is now covered/insulated. The heater was also free.
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:32 PM   #13
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We're using a Fatsco "Tiny Tot" solid fuel marine stove.



Shielding details here.
Stove and chimney pipe installation details here and here.

Our coldest overnight temp so far has been just below freezing, and the stove heats the bus just fine. We started burning wood, but it burns very quickly so it's impossible to keep it going overnight. We've experimented with charcoal and it works great. Not the cheapest fuel available, but burns long, predictably, and with very little smoke. (Yes, we have a CO/smoke detector/alarm installed.) The stove was originally made for burning coal & charcoal, so the bottom grate and other parts are built to withstand the higher & prolonged temps of burning those fuels.

Tiny Tot website

We are losing a lot of heat through the front glass and driver's area (flat nose, front-engine). In the next few days we'll make an insulated curtain to hang behind the driver's seat across the width of the interior.

Sean
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Old 09-21-2006, 02:45 PM   #14
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Re: Wood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by convertabus
Anybody know anything about possibly using a wood stove to heat a bus? I've seen it in pictures, but know nothing about the effectiveness, efficiency, or safety.
Safe as using one in a house...if installed & used correctly. Wood is plentiful and can be had for free or nearly so in most parts of the country. If you plan on long-term, remote camping I'd say it's the choice. For shorter-term or occasional use, a propane heater might be the trick.

One distinct advantage to propane is being able to control the amount of heat put out by the appliance. A drawback is that the propane combustion process produces quite a bit of moisture.

Solid-fuel stoves require some practice and definitely more attention. Zero moisture.

Everything has trade-offs - you just have to figure out which ones you're willing to deal with.

Good luck & be safe
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Old 09-21-2006, 03:41 PM   #15
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Re: Wood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanF
A drawback is that the propane combustion process produces quite a bit of moisture.
Doesn't take but a few minutes to fog up my entire bus if I use the stove.
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Old 09-23-2006, 06:06 PM   #16
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I've never had moisture issue with my furnace, only my stove.

-Richard
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Old 09-24-2006, 01:46 AM   #17
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I like the ease of a vent free propane furnace but the CO issue worries me. I also would not like to wake up to a dripping ceiling from all the moisture.

I plan to use a very small wood stove. I can get pallats for free. I plan to put a storage box underr the bus to store the wood in. Another option would be to use coal. Yeah yeah I know it is messy and dirty. It sure does burn good and long.
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Old 09-24-2006, 08:32 PM   #18
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I have 2 systems: a propane space heater (vented outside) which should heat the whole bus pretty well (the driver's area is closed off & I did insulate) if needed. It has a thermostat & needs no electricity, so it's good for boondocking. I'll probably use a small fan to circulate the air when/if I use it. For the road, I have the stock rear heater, which will turn the whole bus into a sauna on high.

I also have my friend's contraption. That's what he calls it, anyway: he built it for me (he said he was bored one weekend ), and it consists of a 1.5 litre VW diesel spinning a big 300A truck altrernator and 2 car A/C compressors. With it running, I can turn a valve to divert the coolant from the small heat exchangers it uses in warm weather to the bus's rear heater, and several baseboards. It uses electricity for the fan & the auxiliary pump, but that's no problem.

I prefer to use the Contraption...propane is bleeping expensive, and red diesel is, well, less expensive.
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Old 09-19-2007, 01:55 PM   #19
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Re: HEAT

Well I returned that Mr Heater to the store because I was not happy with it. I had to wait until this month to return it because it is a seasonal item and they didn't carry them over the summer. I ended buying one of those wall mounted ventless heaters off Craigs list for $40... a lot better than the $160 they cost new.



I rigged up a real cool mounting bracket that can be easily removed when I don't need the heater.



It's pritty simple, the wood is cut to fit in front of the window, and rests on the bottom of the window sill. It's held in place with a piece of scrap metal stair trim, screwed to 2 of the window screws.



when in place the heater hangs from the bracket it came with - which is screwed into the wood.



the whole thing can be removed in seconds. I like that it's easily removable since most of the time I don't need heat in the bus anyway. Plus I can move the whole setup into the garage in the winter or wherever I may need heat.

------------------------------------

My next problem was finding the proper hose to hook to my 20lb propane tank from my grill. I finally found the right fittings and hoses yesterday and hooked it all up. I was a little worried because the hose has a much smaller inside diameter than the fittings do.



I tested it out and it seems to work fine though... I only ran the heater for about 30 sec, since it was about 80 in the bus anyway, but it really kicks out some heat. I think I'll use a fan on the counter top next to it to blow the air around more, the ceiling was real warm right above it.

--------------------------------------

Next issue I need to figure out is where to store the propane tank when I'm using the heater. I was thinking about putting it under the counter but then I remembered that the fridge is in there. Is it dangerous to have the tank sitting in there next to the fridge? I mean the tank/hose shouldn't leak any propane when connected properly.

Should I put forth the effort to fab. a propane tank holder under the bus accessible from outside? I think I probably should but it sounds like such a pain in the ass.

Also I have a CO detector in my house that's removable that I plan to use when using the heater overnight. The heater also has a low O2 shut off, and I plan on cracking a few windows for ventilation.
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Old 09-19-2007, 02:12 PM   #20
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Re: HEAT

you know me, I am Mr Safety! Here's my thoughts on a simple way to haul the propane cylinder. Making a holder for the tank under the bus is a good idea, but takes a lot of work, crawling on the ground, and makes the tank not accessable while you're inside the bus.

how about a cabinet that is sealed off from the interior of the bus, but has a door on it so you can change the cylinder/turn the gas on or off. If the cabinet was sealed off from the interior living compartment, and had holes drilled in the floor for ventilation it seems like this may be a perfect option. This is what ambulances do with large 0xygen cylinders.
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