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Old 09-04-2019, 09:30 PM   #1
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Heating and Cooling Options

I'd like to lock this down, choose something, and have the choice saved away for later. I'll just jot down what I am not looking for and if anyone knows of something that might fit for me, I'd love to hear it. Also I live in Michigan.

Heating:
So I do not want a wood stove. I know it can be nice and cool and all but it's the exact opposite of what I want. I am looking at a 8 window bus at the max and it'd be myself as well as maybe one person and my cat. It'd only be used in the winter obviously and would most likely be on a decent amount of time. I'll be using spray foam insulation on almost everything. Also looking for something that's kinda quite and can be ran while I'm not in the vehicle. Also if it had a mobile app that can be used to turn it off and on, that'd be AMAZING!!!

Cooling:
So I currently rent a house with my family and some friends. The house is OLD and any AC units need to be a window one. This entire summer I've dealt with fans only and I don't mind doing that again but I'd like a reliable AC that doesn't have a major draw requirement on power. I know it's a AC and it'll require a lot of power, but I also know that a more expensive AC will draw less power than a window AC. This would most likely only be used when it's too hot and I need something to help out for 15 minutes every 5-6 hours. Again a mobile app to turn it on or off would be nice as I have work and I have a cat. Preferably a rooftop AC as well.

Secondly is a fan of some kind that does quite good. I'm sure this one's simple but it'd need to be a rooftop one and if at all possible, one that can be open even if it's raining or windy. If it's possible for it to fit on the emergency exit, I'd love that but it's not needed.

I think that does it for heating and cooling. If anyone knows of anything please post it here and I'll look into it. I plan on doing my own research as well but it's helpful to post it here I'm sure. And if there's possibly a heating or cooling thing I might need that I missed, please let me know! Thank you!
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Old 09-04-2019, 10:52 PM   #2
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No specific models to recommend, but I'd look at direct-vented propane heaters / furnaces for heat. Seems many are nearly flush-fit from the inside, and since you're venting directly outdoors, you don't have issues with condensation or oxygen depletion that non-vented units do. No idea on which, if any, are 'smart'.

Fans... check out the Maxx Air or Fan-tastic. Both fit standard 14" RV vents. I don't think you'll find anything that will fit the emergency exits as-is.
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Old 09-05-2019, 01:36 AM   #3
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Whatís your power source? Shore power?
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Old 09-05-2019, 01:56 AM   #4
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Suburban Direct Vent

Ive been researching direct vent furnaces because I donít like the idea of huffin fumes. They are twice the price of a catalytic heater. Good news for you, they use thermostats and probably any smart thermostat will work, though youíd want to confirm.

https://www.airxcel.com/suburban/pro...ies-medium-rvs

The SEQ models are for single rooms. The SQ models are for multi-room setups with ducting. As I understand it, rule of thumb for sizing is 1000 BTU/linear foot.
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Old 09-05-2019, 06:28 AM   #5
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If you want rooftop AC you're pretty much limited to RV type units. They aren't known for being quiet or efficient. Inverter type mini splits are the most efficient. I see that LG has started offering window units that are the inverter type and have wifi. Don't know if they offer heat pumps, the quick search I did didn't come up with any. I have heard of inverter type roof AC but don't think they are available in the US.
Anything that has or uses an app is going to require a reliable data plan of some sort.
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:18 AM   #6
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I'm considering using a diesel heater, the kind meant for RVs and stationary trucks etc., plumbed into the bus' fuel tank. Seems convenient to use the same fuel as the bus, and it would at least prevent your fuel from sitting all winter. If my math is correct, though, they seem to burn a gallon a day (.14 liters/hour is a common figure) which seems a bit much - that would be around $100 a month for heating.

Maybe that's only the consumption rate when the unit is actually running, which it wouldn't be all the time?
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:21 AM   #7
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We use a simple to program Honeywell thermostat, set it and forget it. Suburban LP furnace.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
No specific models to recommend, but I'd look at direct-vented propane heaters / furnaces for heat. Seems many are nearly flush-fit from the inside, and since you're venting directly outdoors, you don't have issues with condensation or oxygen depletion that non-vented units do. No idea on which, if any, are 'smart'.

Fans... check out the Maxx Air or Fan-tastic. Both fit standard 14" RV vents. I don't think you'll find anything that will fit the emergency exits as-is.
Good advice.

I tried running catalytic heater in my 1st bus. I had significant moisture issues. I wound up giving it away.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:49 PM   #9
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I want to start a thread on this actually, the magic pak doesn’t seem to be utilized by the community. But it WILL be my hvac when I am ready to start a build.

It’s a self contained hvac unit that’s used in the apartment industry. I am from Detroit and it’s very common out there and I do apartment maintenance so I’m extremely familiar with them. Basically for $3000 you get a brand new 36,000 btu (other sizes available for not much different pricing) furnace that’s propane convertible, and a 18,000 (1.5 ton) ac. The ac’s Available range from 1 to 2.5 tons. They all fit into the same chassis so it’s easy to swap or upgrade when the time comes. I’d buy the 12,000 btu because an insulated bus shouldn’t need more and it should pull like 300w an hour. But if I’m wrong I can buy a used bigger “sled” and just pop it in.

You get dead reliably from a highly mass produced hvac unit with all the safety features you’d expect. And it fits in a utility closet.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:53 PM   #10
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I should have asked if you plan on living in it year round. If so, in a Michigan winter (or worse) really consider some kind of small house unit. Shop Craigslist if you’re on a budget. But they have the safety, reliability and parts availability that no janky product can offer.
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Iqinsanity View Post
I want to start a thread on this actually, the magic pak doesn’t seem to be utilized by the community. But it WILL be my hvac when I am ready to start a build.

It’s a self contained hvac unit that’s used in the apartment industry. I am from Detroit and it’s very common out there and I do apartment maintenance so I’m extremely familiar with them. Basically for $3000 you get a brand new 36,000 btu (other sizes available for not much different pricing) furnace that’s propane convertible, and a 18,000 (1.5 ton) ac. The ac’s Available range from 1 to 2.5 tons. They all fit into the same chassis so it’s easy to swap or upgrade when the time comes. I’d buy the 12,000 btu because an insulated bus shouldn’t need more and it should pull like 300w an hour. But if I’m wrong I can buy a used bigger “sled” and just pop it in.

You get dead reliably from a highly mass produced hvac unit with all the safety features you’d expect. And it fits in a utility closet.
I have a 12,500BTU mini-split in mine. I'm told it will be barely adequate for stationary and useless going down the road. Even though it claims to cool 600sf room and I'm half that.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:06 PM   #12
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Told by who?

How insulated is your bus? (Large factor and the op mentioned spray foam)

Are you going to be running it like a car only when youíre in it or like in a house always on at a set temp? It clearly wouldnít work well if itís 130 in the bus. Are you ok with the dash ac / heat being on as a boost while driving? How many windows are going to be uncovered?

Thereís so many factors and for me, Iím willing to try the smallest one (eventually) because I have confidence in designing an adequate insulation plan.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:08 PM   #13
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Going with the 2.5 ton model is always a choice with its very negative associated costs of more batteries, solar, generator, whatever. But a 1.5 ton might be a better initial choice for a lot of people.

Only down side, it’s a household unit so while you get a “real” hvac and thermostat it is 240v
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:48 AM   #14
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FWIW: i lived full time in my first bus. It had almost 2" of spray foam insulation, RV windows and two 12k btu roof airs.

It was comfortable except when I was driving or parked in the sun in AZ, NV or TX in the summer.

Las Vegas in August saw 24x7 compressor run to keep it under 90F inside.

New rule in my new bus: I'm gonna go where the weather suits my clothes!
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:33 PM   #15
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I see, I live in Phoenix now so that’s good information.

How was your spray foam? Just the ceiling, walls, or both? Closed cell or open? Did you paint your roof white? Radiant barrier?

I ask because, and I’m not personally accusing you at all so don’t misinterpret, it seems like people want to stick a heater or ac in their conversions with some insulation and call it done. No real rhyme or reason besides “replace the fiberglass insulation with foam”.

Open cell foam won’t do much in a bus with a black roof for instance. Radiant barriers make a HUGE difference in an insulation plan along with that white roof paint, and some of the open cell people don’t even bother to seal the bus of air infiltration which closed cell does but open cell doesn’t.

Just some observations after watching YouTube videos and reading about people’s builds.

People are quick to half do insulation and then just add another AC. I view the bus like a yeti cooler or a styrofoam cup. It’s an extremely insulated container (in theory) where you determine the air leaks. Like windows.

Look at how many people rip the ceilings out and remove perfectly good fiberglass. Why? Why not have that fiberglass dead space and that metal ceiling that you can stick magnet hooks to? You can get just as much insulation up there with practically no effort if you spray foamed the roof instead of the ceiling. Plenty of buildings use a foam roof, done right your bus can too. Bonus? You don’t loose ceiling height with all those furring strips and wood planks, and any roof leaks just need minor attention and the foam itself finishes the sealing and repair.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:57 PM   #16
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Look at how many people rip the ceilings out and remove perfectly good fiberglass. Why?
Because of thermal conductivity (metal conducts heat just as well as it conducts electrical current). Unaltered, the metal ceiling will be the same temperature as the roof because there is a continuous metal connection from the ceiling to the roof via the hat channels (ribs). The factory insulation in this situation does you virtually no good because of this - and this is the same reason insulation on the outside of the bus will be useless (regardless of whether you can even get it to stick or not).
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:07 PM   #17
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I’m not following you, the heat comes from outside, the sun mainly, it immediately hits white reflective paint, then it gets to the 3lb spray foam which more or less rejects the change of thermal energy. So the layers under the foam are already fully insulated. What was the roof panel of the bus is now in the “conditioned space”. So any panels or ribs that touch it are also well within the shell of the foamed roof.

A better way to word it, it doesn’t batter if the roof is attached with ribs to everything making a huge thermal conduit. It doesn’t matter because the insulation already did it’s entire job before roof even saw any thermal energy.
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:08 PM   #18
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Because of thermal conductivity (metal conducts heat just as well as it conducts electrical current). Unaltered, the metal ceiling will be the same temperature as the roof because there is a continuous metal connection from the ceiling to the roof via the hat channels (ribs). The factory insulation in this situation does you virtually no good because of this - and this is the same reason insulation on the outside of the bus will be useless (regardless of whether you can even get it to stick or not).
I agree with you, but I think he's talking about spray foaming the outside, which is an interesting concept that I've never heard of.
"You can get just as much insulation up there with practically no effort if you spray foamed the roof instead of the ceiling."
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:09 PM   #19
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Look at how many people rip the ceilings out and remove perfectly good fiberglass. Why?
I actually did some research on bus A/C systems and found that the insulation and heat and A/C system is designed to make a 20* change over ambient. When it's cold outside the passengers are usually bundle up for the conditions, so it doesn't need to be hot inside during the winter, only warmer than the outside. Vice versa for when it's hot and the A/C is on. This is not acceptable for long term occupancy when a more efficient way can be done. Ya, it's easy to just add more to the underside of the ceiling, but then you have the headroom clearance raise it's ugly head to deal with. It's a bit more work up front to remove the ceiling, insulate, and build from there with little headroom loss and better insulation in the big surface that sucks heat and cold out.
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:09 PM   #20
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Iím not following you, the heat comes from outside, the sun mainly, it immediately hits white reflective paint, then it gets to the 3lb spray foam which more or less rejects the change of thermal energy. So the layers under the foam are already fully insulated. What was the roof panel of the bus is now in the ďconditioned spaceĒ. So any panels or ribs that touch it are also well within the shell of the foamed roof.

A better way to word it, it doesnít batter if the roof is attached with ribs to everything making a huge thermal conduit. It doesnít matter because the insulation already did itís entire job before roof even saw any thermal energy.
So you think a roof painted white doesn't heat up at all in the sun? You might want to get a thermometer and find out if that's true or not.
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