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Old 09-16-2018, 01:11 PM   #1
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Yet another heating and cooling question...

Hello all, thanks for reading!

First off, I know others have asked similar questions and I've seen and read most of the threads that pertain to this, but I have a few (lots of) questions. Also, heads up, wall of text ahead.

We have a 1999 Thomas 36' pusher (rear engine) which we are converting. This will be our full time home, all season, all over North America, in whatever weather, with much of that time off grid. To that end, we want to be very sustainable and able to manage whatever climate we encounter. We plan to raise the roof 18-20 inches and replace many of the existing windows with good quality rv windows, while also reducing our overall window area. Maybe double pane, but we've heard they have some issues with fogging up eventually. Still researching to decide if the increase r-value outweighs the expense and hassle of repairing them down the road. (Leaning toward yes, would appreciate any experience here.) We will also have about 3-3.5" of closed cell spray foam insulation on walls and ceiling, and about 2" of foam insulation on the floor. So pretty well insulated.

The big questions we're running into are: how do we heat and cool this baby? This is further complicated by the fact that we are also trying to figure out electrical, I'll probably make a separate post about that. We plan to have two zones for parked heating; the sleeping area/bathroom, and the living area. We also need to figure out heat and AC for driving.

Heating

For driving, we could:

1. Keep the existing coolant heaters. Pros: already installed. Cons: They're bulky/ugly/loud, lines run all the way from the back. Could run them under/behind cabinets, but then if they leak I'm screwed. Could reroute them under the bus, more work. If I'm going to do that I may as well...

2. Replace existing coolant heaters with smaller/better units. Pros: smaller, better (more efficient, quieter), can build it into dash easier, would have flapper valves to direct heat better. Cons: not installed, costs money, same coolant line issues as before.

3. Diesel heater. I have seen many other threads talking about this and it seems like a valid option. Pros: rather efficient, quiet. Could duct it throughout the living area. Cons: money, not installed, more work.

4. ???? I don't know what I don't know... got any ideas?

When we are parked, it will be rare for us to have shore power, and we won't have much solar. We will have 6 of these SunPower X21 panels, should have about 2000 watts if I'm thinking correctly, which, who knows... Also plan to carry a genny, but more as a backup than anything. So electric heating isn't really an option.

1. Radiant floor heating. Could run pex lines in two heating loops (for my two zones), heat them from a standard propane water heater. Or a diesel water heater, but I would prefer not to burn our main fuel for warmth. Pros: seems pretty efficient, could tie into our domestic hot water so wouldn't need many additional parts. Cons: complex, has potential to leak. Lots of work.

2. Wood stove. Pros: dry heat, not much condensation. Looks great, feels great. Easy installation. Cons: ...who doesn't love a wood stove?

3. Combo of those two methods. Radiant floor to take the chill out of the morning (on timer so the floor is warm when you wake), wood stove during the day and into the evening.

4. Forced air from diesel/propane heater. Run ducts behind cabinets, with kickboard heaters throughout. Don't know much about this option.

5. What did I miss?

Ok, this has gotten really long. For AC, suffice it to say that I don't have any at the moment, and would really like some; while driving and while parked. I'm considering building a hot rod style AC system on to the engine for driving. Not sure what I'll do while parked because I don't want to run the genny and won't have enough solar for a mini split, but if there's a way to make one work I'd love to hear it.

Kinda long and rambling, my apologies. Basically I'm looking for any thoughts, experiences, warnings, etc on these options; which of them are more valid, what might be better that I haven't thought of? Any brands/models, etc. that y'all have experience with?

Thanks again, looking forward to the ideas!
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Old 09-19-2018, 12:07 AM   #2
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Parked heating options:


1) Will you have propane anyway? If not, running your heat off diesel would be an elegant solution. You could have a reserve tank for the bus engine if you're concerned about running dry overnight.


2) Disclaimer: I love woodstoves. But....cons to wood stove: hard to regulate living space temp (really hot then really cold), have to constantly source/process fire wood, creosote in chimney concerns, have to stoke at night to keep warm. I'd definitely recommend a woodstove PLUS another option if you go this route.


3) Yup.


4) Probably the most efficient option.


5. How about a diesel heater that kinda looks like a fireplace?
http://dickinsonmarine.com/product/n...diesel-heater/
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:39 AM   #3
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Thunderstruck, thanks for the reply.

We will have propane anyway, for cooking, so I'm thinking of a propane hot water heater as well. Our bus is a pusher, so lots of free space under it for a big tank. I have to do more research on which can be more efficient. That heater you linked to looks great, and has a coil, but seems like it burns a lot of fuel. Of course, I'll only ever have to run it on low, which isn't as bad.

I definitely think I'll be doing radiant flooring as a backup to whatever other heat source I have. You're right about the woodstove cons, but I think the radiant flooring takes care of the biggest issues (temp regulation, stoking at night) and the firewood sourcing is the second biggest issue, but I can work around that.

Took a brief glance at your website and while I don't have the time to dive deeper at the moment, I'll definitely have some questions for you later!
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Old 09-21-2018, 02:42 PM   #4
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A big 100 lb propane tank would be really nice, but it's definitely convenient to have one or two 20lb tanks that you can just exchange at Walmart or wherever. Not as economical, but fast and easy.

Radiant floor sounds awesome. We're working on a build with radiant floor heating driven by the woodstove. It will go a long way towards distributing the heat from the woodstove throughout the bus instead of just making the space around it really hot. Would love to see how yours turns out!

Sure thing, we're here! If you'd like to talk offline, feel free to email:
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderstruckStudios View Post
A big 100 lb propane tank would be really nice, but it's definitely convenient to have one or two 20lb tanks that you can just exchange at Walmart or wherever. Not as economical, but fast and easy.

Radiant floor sounds awesome. We're working on a build with radiant floor heating driven by the woodstove. It will go a long way towards distributing the heat from the woodstove throughout the bus instead of just making the space around it really hot. Would love to see how yours turns out!

Sure thing, we're here! If you'd like to talk offline, feel free to email:
info@ts-studios.com

be VERY CAREFUL using a woodstove as a Boiler... while it sounds innocent people Blow themselves up doing such things unless you get it just right.. you need to makre sure you have proper expansion tanks, pressure relief and such..



you CANT simply turn off the pump when your floor loops reach the correct temperature.. the issue being that your heat source is going to continue to generate heat whether you want it or not till the fire goes out.. if your heat exchanger loop temp is too high for the floors. you need to dissipate or relieve that pressure somehow.. normal gas fired boilers simply kill the heat source when temperature is reached...



do your homework before setting up a wood stove as a boiler... you can do it but make sure you have a way to remove the heat source from your heat exchanger and *NOT* creating a trapped loop of super-heating water... the pressures go up exponentially with temperature if for some reason you cant dissipate the heat being taken on by your heat exchanger...





-Christopher
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Old 09-21-2018, 04:33 PM   #6
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be VERY CAREFUL using a woodstove as a Boiler... while it sounds innocent people Blow themselves up doing such things unless you get it just right.. you need to makre sure you have proper expansion tanks, pressure relief and such..
Absolutely, well said. I believe ASME was founded because people keep dying from boiler explosions. It's not that hard to accidentally boil water in a closed loop and turn it into a pipe bomb.

For the one we're putting in, we did a full heat transfer model in addition to adding in failsafes like pressure relief valves.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:18 PM   #7
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I'll ad this about the OEM heaters: Every bus on the lot where i drive, they all have valves on the heater hoses so the heater plumbing can be 100% isolated from the engine coolant.if you find leak or have to work on either the engine water pump, or rear heater on a front engine bus you won't need to drain the entire system.
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Old 09-22-2018, 09:33 PM   #8
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Today i ran across this ad for foam kits. I sent a email off for $$ per cubic foot of foam. I'll post up when i hear back.

http://www.rhhfoamsystems.com/tech_info.php

Why can't our post(s) have a edit button? it have simpler to add this info to my last post in this thread.
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:45 PM   #9
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Hey y'all, thanks for the great ideas! I've been out of town for a few days but I'll follow up and let y'all know what I do with this. Going to go over and study some of these radiant flooring threads for a while...
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekanic View Post
Today i ran across this ad for foam kits. I sent a email off for $$ per cubic foot of foam. I'll post up when i hear back.

Technical Information I Product Specifications & Material Safety Data Sheets I Versi-Foam Systems

Why can't our post(s) have a edit button? it have simpler to add this info to my last post in this thread.
They are the manufacturer, I'm sure they will direct you to one of their installers for pricing. A quick search showed it to be as expensive if not more than other brands.
Versi-Foam System 50 Spray Foam Kit, 600 Board Feet, 1.75 PCF

It is usually measured in square feet at 1" thick. $1/sf, $12/cf

You do have an edit button, but it's only active for about 5 minutes, then it goes away. I think we should always be able to edit our posts.
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