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Old 03-24-2009, 10:22 AM   #1
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what is a good way to heat bus

Looking at posiable solutions to heating our conversion, my list of possibilities , wood stove, vented lp heater, rv type furnace, anybody please give me your thoughts on which would be the best most cost effective for a full timing rig. Thank you in advance.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:50 AM   #2
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

i think rv type furnace is a very good choice vented through the side thats what i will use i see some wall types and have been curiuos...
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Old 03-25-2009, 11:25 AM   #3
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by dieselman69
Looking at posiable solutions to heating our conversion, my list of possibilities , wood stove, vented lp heater, rv type furnace, anybody please give me your thoughts on which would be the best most cost effective for a full timing rig. Thank you in advance.
I would say that a catalytic propane heater would be the most efficient way to heat, based on cost and convenience. My reasoning below, with the disclaimer that I only have one cup of coffee in me:
-Other heat sources require a penetration to the roof or wall to vent hot exhaust air, so that penetration has to be designed with heat resistance in mind. If using a solid-fuel stove, you also have to design for proper draft, so a chimney of some length is required. The only holes needed for an unvented propane heater are a 1/2" hole for the propane supply, and cracking a window or two for fresh air.
-Solid-fuel stoves require bulkier fuel and regular ash-scooping. One could argue that propane is "cleaner"...at least at the point of use.
-Solid-fuel stoves require more clearances for use (round the stove and around the chimney). A catalytic heater can be mounted against a wall with a few feet of clearance in front of it, and can also be moved for spot-heating.

I don't mention rv furnaces because I have zero experience with them. Maybe somebody will chime in an make their case.

Of course the downside to propane is that it leaves you "tied to the grid" in a manner of speaking. A wood stove could (theoretically) be run forever from a free, renewable resource. But for cost and relative ease-of-use, I think a propane catalytic heater is hard to beat.
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Old 03-25-2009, 06:28 PM   #4
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

Every choice has serious pluses and minuses. Our camper has an RV furnace. It produces lots of heat, but is a battery killer when boondocking. A full charge on a single deep-cycle battery lasted us only about 3 very cold nights.

A lot of people like the non-vented catalytics, but as Smitty said the combustion products produce water vapor that condenses on cold surfaces. Do not take this lightly. The condensation can soak into fiberglass insulation, kill the R-value, and rot hidden wood and unpainted metal. They also burn up breathing air. I would think a CO detector would be a must, or you might go to sleep for a loooong time. Even so, I would probably use a catalytic when I'm no longer a wannabe, and be sure to use use foam insulation.

Sean has a good rundown of the other choices.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:43 PM   #5
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

If bought new, they're expensive, and I don't know how available used BUT I've considered a boat cabin heater. Available in diesel, propane and even solid fuel. A benefit is they are made for a mobile environment ( a house woodstove is not!!) Many don't require electric power. Most are small, made to mount to a bulkhead. As a consequence of being small, the BTU output is also limited, at least in some of the smallest ones I've looked at. Could easily mount 2 or 3 thru the bus though. If a skoolie is in a coastal area, they are probably available used (are there boat wrecking "yards"?) Just another option to consider!
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Old 03-27-2009, 03:33 PM   #6
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

We've spent the winter full time in our bus. Where we are temps have been on avg. in the low 20'sF at night with 40-50's during the day with a lot of wind. Obviously we've had both colder and warmer days. Our heat consists of a catalytic heater in the back of the bus and one of those elec. tower heaters in the front on a thermostat. We've stayed very cozy. I do keep the roof vent cracked and we do have a CO2 alarm. We also have foam insulation. As for gas consumption we go through 2-20lb tanks of propane every 2 weeks using gas for heat, water heater and stove. I'm so far pleased with our catalytic heater. Good luck with your choices.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:08 AM   #7
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

A couple other options that I don't think have been mentioned yet:

You can get a diesel powered hot water heater that both provides hot water for sink/shower and also for circulating through radiators or radiant floor heating. Toyotomi OM-180 is an example of this.

You can also get diesel fired heaters made for vehicles either as coolant heaters, or as tiny little forced air furnaces. Look up Webasto heaters for an example of these.

I like the idea of using diesel for everything possible, so that there is no propane to deal with. Unfortunately, it's a bit expensive: I think that any of these diesel heaters will be about $2000. Propane is a whole lot cheaper, since you can get a water heater and an air heater for a bit over $100 each.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:37 AM   #8
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

Anomolous said

Quote:
ou can get a diesel powered hot water heater that both provides hot water for sink/shower and also for circulating through radiators or radiant floor heating
Why not go in floor heat guys. Really its not that hard. I did my whole set up minus the heater for about $500 and I have to spray foam the underside of the floor of the bus yet. I know most of you regulars have seen my pics but seriously, no issues with condensation beyond the moisture from you and your daily activities, the comfort of a warm floor, and the ability to do propane, electric, or both, I mean seriously is there any competition... I think not... ok maybe but Im all for the in the floor option.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:02 PM   #9
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

Smitty said
Quote:
There's alot to be said for simplicity, atleast IMO. Plumbing between the floors is fine, until it leaks. Heating sources requiring 110vac is fine (for a pump or blower), as long as it's available. The OP never mentioned the intended use of his conversion, whether boondocking will be a large or small percentage of use, or campground/lot rental with full hook-ups will be the norm.
I hear what your saying about the leaks thing, I ran the entire floor heat with one run so no joints, its just a matter of being very careful when screwing stuff to the floor. As for boondocking, we plan to use our system off grid almost always. We hope to have a fairly hefty solar array to allow us to have the 110V AC that we will need. Almost half the roof will be PV panels. I guess its a matter of money at that point. And so the project takes longer...and longer.......
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:55 PM   #10
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Re: what is a good way to heat bus

So many different options out there, you'll have to figure out which one suites you the best. I usually have an electric hook-up, and as such I'd just run a couple of baseboard type electric heaters, they kept me warm enough, but the floor needs to be insulated.

An RV type propane furnace runs on 12v, they are equipped with a blower, and most of them have outlets for running ducted heating to various parts of the bus that make it very versatile. They will burn up propane and batteries, but if you got a good solar array you can recharge the batteries daily.
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