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Old 09-07-2018, 10:47 PM   #1
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No Propane!

Seriously, I will not be using propane in my conversion. I want to use a hydronic heating system to heat the coach, the water, and preheat the engine in cold climates. I could go on an on about the advantages of this fairly new approach to heating air and water in an RV. But I'd like to hear from you.

Has anyone installed a hydronic system in their skoolie?
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Old 09-08-2018, 06:13 AM   #2
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Yes, this has been discussed before. More than once.
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Old 09-08-2018, 01:23 PM   #3
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Solar water systems work great if designed and controlled properly and the correct safeties in place.
Without propane a diesel fired system separate from the buses heating,motor running and fuel tank would work for back up.
Why NO PROPANE?
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:15 PM   #4
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If you are concerned about fire...consider this... the vast majority of RV fire are electrical...not propane.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:28 PM   #5
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I think he said something about " My wife said no propane"
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Old 09-09-2018, 06:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
Yes, this has been discussed before. More than once.
Sorry, this is my first post.
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Old 09-09-2018, 06:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
Solar water systems work great if designed and controlled properly and the correct safeties in place.
Without propane a diesel fired system separate from the buses heating,motor running and fuel tank would work for back up.
Why NO PROPANE?
I'm going to build a kind of survivalist bus (zombie apocalypse). Propane will not be available at all if civilization crumbles. But fantastical ideas off the table, I've had times when locating propane was not easy. It isn't something that can be produced with another on-hand substance (like biodiesel from cooking oil) or something that is renewable (like solar). It is dangerous and would multiply any other issue (like an electrical fire). Just the fumes from a burner left on (or turned on by the cat) would be a big problem.

None of these issues exist in the hydronic system. On-demand hot water...so nice. Quiet heater in the coach...not a bad thing. Able to start up when the temps are arctic...very nice.

Bottom line: I have my reasons. We can debate them, if you wish. Or, I can elaborate more, if you want. I just don't want an inferior system in my rig. A hydronic system will accomplish everything I desire and more. Propane is more of a liability than I care to endure.

I'd like to hear from others who have built such a system.

If some of you are tired of having this discussion, please click to something more appealing to you. I'm not here to bore you, just learn.

Blessings
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Old 09-09-2018, 06:39 PM   #8
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I'd like to see actual cases of issues that happened in converted buses due to the liability of propane. I bet they are few and far between. If done correctly it is very safe. Done incorrectly anything you do could potentially be dangerous. How are you powering your hydronic system? Most RV fires are from electrical issues
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:03 PM   #9
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I'd like to see actual cases of issues that happened in converted buses due to the liability of propane. I bet they are few and far between. If done correctly it is very safe. Done incorrectly anything you do could potentially be dangerous. How are you powering your hydronic system? Most RV fires are from electrical issues
Someone I know had his 5th Wheel burn to the ground because the cat started the gas range somehow.

If used correctly, electricity doesn't start fires either. However, the other safety issue is the gas itself is toxic. And you're right, anything can be dangerous if you're a dunce. But safety is not the only issue. The issues are:
* Supply vs demand (I've had to go without or travel far to find propane when I wasn't paying attention to the tanks). Renewable energy is key here.
* Risk of fire and inhalation
* Noise level of propane heater (not too big of a deal)
* Water heater tank capacity vs on-demand (kind of a big deal)

I'm looking into powering the system with electricity (shore and solar) as well as diesel. Power consumption of DC is nominal (I don't have the stats right now). While running the engine, the hydronic fluid is warmed by it. It is antifreeze, after all.

Thanks for the input.
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Dub View Post

I'm looking into powering the system with electricity (shore and solar) as well as diesel. Power consumption of DC is nominal (I don't have the stats right now). While running the engine, the hydronic fluid is warmed by it. It is antifreeze, after all.

Thanks for the input.
I'm trying to justify the use of it on mine. My hydronic flooring I want warm while the engine isn't running. My On Demand water heater will be propane fueled as well as stove and possibly fridge. Plans on a 60gallon tank, should last more than needed. Propane generator to keep fuel sources to a minimum.
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
If you are concerned about fire...consider this... the vast majority of RV fire are electrical...not propane.
You sure? Is it not the propane flame that sets the leaking ammonia on fire when RV refrigerators go up? Pretty sure most RV fires start in the fridge. (And there is likely a reason why every RV fridge on Earth has been recalled several times. LOL ) Sooner or later the ammonia plumbing cracks, and thar she blows.


If I am wrong, I will be delighted to learn more about it.
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Old 09-10-2018, 05:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I'd like to see actual cases of issues that happened in converted buses due to the liability of propane. I bet they are few and far between. If done correctly it is very safe. Done incorrectly anything you do could potentially be dangerous. How are you powering your hydronic system? Most RV fires are from electrical issues
One of our best forum members was seriously injured in a propane explosion in his bus.
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Old 09-10-2018, 05:50 AM   #13
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You sure? Is it not the propane flame that sets the leaking ammonia on fire when RV refrigerators go up? Pretty sure most RV fires start in the fridge. (And there is likely a reason why every RV fridge on Earth has been recalled several times. LOL ) Sooner or later the ammonia plumbing cracks, and thar she blows.


If I am wrong, I will be delighted to learn more about it.
This has been my understanding as well.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Dub View Post
Seriously, I will not be using propane in my conversion. I want to use a hydronic heating system to heat the coach, the water, and preheat the engine in cold climates. I could go on an on about the advantages of this fairly new approach to heating air and water in an RV. But I'd like to hear from you.

Has anyone installed a hydronic system in their skoolie?
I don't mean to be rude but, as I said there is quite a bit of info on this forum. I just did a search using hydronic heat in the forum search bar and came up with quite a few hits as well as pictures and diagrams. Many of them mine. I try to respond to as many as I can because I have done it and it works quite well. I, however, don't like to type long explanations again. I'm quite happy to answer questions about how and why I did things.

I don't have propane, probably not for any of the reasons you cited, I just don't like messing with it.

I have seen some mention of "on demand hot water" on this post. If you are saying that you can get domestic hot water "on demand" with a hydronic system it don't work that way. You still need some sort of water heater, I have a marine water heater that uses a built in heat exchanger or 120VAC to heat the water. If you are saying that you are going to use an on demand hot water heater to get cabin heat it will take a pretty big unit to heat the water.

It was pointed out quite early in my planning stages that you don't want engine coolant (poison) where, in the event of a failure, it could contaminate your domestic hot water. I actually have three water systems. Engine (poison antifreeze),heat (non poison antifreeze) and domestic. There is a heat exchanger in each system. Theoretically, if both heat exchangers fail, the domestic water could be contaminated but, I don't really see that happening.
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Old 09-10-2018, 09:04 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G Dub View Post
I'm going to build a kind of survivalist bus (zombie apocalypse). Propane will not be available at all if civilization crumbles. But fantastical ideas off the table, I've had times when locating propane was not easy. It isn't something that can be produced with another on-hand substance (like biodiesel from cooking oil) or something that is renewable (like solar). It is dangerous and would multiply any other issue (like an electrical fire). Just the fumes from a burner left on (or turned on by the cat) would be a big problem.

None of these issues exist in the hydronic system. On-demand hot water...so nice. Quiet heater in the coach...not a bad thing. Able to start up when the temps are arctic...very nice.

Bottom line: I have my reasons. We can debate them, if you wish. Or, I can elaborate more, if you want. I just don't want an inferior system in my rig. A hydronic system will accomplish everything I desire and more. Propane is more of a liability than I care to endure.

I'd like to hear from others who have built such a system.

If some of you are tired of having this discussion, please click to something more appealing to you. I'm not here to bore you, just learn.

Blessings
I have hydronic heat in my house and a tiny tiny leak ruined a LOT of stuff that had just been remodeled. Buses move and vibrate a lot more than houses. Hydronic heat is efficient and quiet and I love it, but a leak is a killer and it's very expensive to install and very difficult to fix any issues as they are buried.
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Old 09-10-2018, 10:35 AM   #16
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Well then, I'd say go for it. As usual, we'll all expect to see lots of pictures of the build to help us non readers understand what is happening.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I'm trying to justify the use of it on mine. My hydronic flooring I want warm while the engine isn't running. My On Demand water heater will be propane fueled as well as stove and possibly fridge. Plans on a 60gallon tank, should last more than needed. Propane generator to keep fuel sources to a minimum.
What's to justify? The cost? (If so, a valid point.)

How's this: "Better costs more." (?)

Plus, me thinks that a propane on-demand system might be a tad expensive (IDK). Run the #'s and see.

Instead of running the pipes in the basement, are you going to run them through the subfloor? Or do you need two routes to minimize heat in the times you don't need a hot floor?

That 60 gallon tank sounds big. I used to have two 40Lb tanks on my 5th wheel and they lasted pretty well. Are you thinking of having special plumbing going to it? Seems like you'd have to. IDK if you'll run into legal issues in some states or not. Will everyone be willing to fill such a rig?

I like the idea of single fuel on-board. That's why I'm going all diesel and electric. To me, propane is just too specialized - diesel can be made at home. And I'll already have diesel. Have you looked into the diesel-only options for cooking and heating? They're a bit pricey.

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Old 09-10-2018, 06:10 PM   #18
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Well then, I'd say go for it. As usual, we'll all expect to see lots of pictures of the build to help us non readers understand what is happening.
Jack
My hope is to video the entire process, start to finish. And then record the adventure afterward.

It'll be awhile, though. Still saving for the bus.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:39 PM   #19
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What's to justify? The cost? (If so, a valid point.)

How's this: "Better costs more." (?)

Plus, me thinks that a propane on-demand system might be a tad expensive (IDK). Run the #'s and see.

Instead of running the pipes in the basement, are you going to run them through the subfloor? Or do you need two routes to minimize heat in the times you don't need a hot floor?

That 60 gallon tank sounds big. I used to have two 40Lb tanks on my 5th wheel and they lasted pretty well. Are you thinking of having special plumbing going to it? Seems like you'd have to. IDK if you'll run into legal issues in some states or not. Will everyone be willing to fill such a rig?

I like the idea of single fuel on-board. That's why I'm going all diesel and electric. To me, propane is just too specialized - diesel can be made at home. And I'll already have diesel. Have you looked into the diesel-only options for cooking and heating? They're a bit pricey.

G Dub
Tank and plumbing will be underneath to the appliance area. Define "special"?
I see no legal issue with my plan. With 60 gallons I don't need "everyone" to fill it. Tank will be mounted for easy access to fill.
I have no interest in messing with vegetable oil for fuel, I highly doubt it's a money saver at all.
Your diesel appliances are admittedly very expensive, which is why they are not an option for me.
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Old 09-10-2018, 06:42 PM   #20
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I don't mean to be rude but, as I said there is quite a bit of info on this forum. I just did a search using hydronic heat in the forum search bar and came up with quite a few hits as well as pictures and diagrams. Many of them mine. I try to respond to as many as I can because I have done it and it works quite well. I, however, don't like to type long explanations again. I'm quite happy to answer questions about how and why I did things.

I don't have propane, probably not for any of the reasons you cited, I just don't like messing with it.

I have seen some mention of "on demand hot water" on this post. If you are saying that you can get domestic hot water "on demand" with a hydronic system it don't work that way. You still need some sort of water heater, I have a marine water heater that uses a built in heat exchanger or 120VAC to heat the water. If you are saying that you are going to use an on demand hot water heater to get cabin heat it will take a pretty big unit to heat the water.

It was pointed out quite early in my planning stages that you don't want engine coolant (poison) where, in the event of a failure, it could contaminate your domestic hot water. I actually have three water systems. Engine (poison antifreeze),heat (non poison antifreeze) and domestic. There is a heat exchanger in each system. Theoretically, if both heat exchangers fail, the domestic water could be contaminated but, I don't really see that happening.
It's not that you're being rude, especially since you are joining the conversation. But this is a forum where ideas are exchanged all the time and to stifle that would be counter-productive. Plus, I like it fresh.

As to your main points, The hydronics in my bus will be easily accessible for maintenance. No part of the system will be able to contaminate the water system. Each system is closed and does not cross-contaminate the other. Plus, there are ways of installing plumbing without leaks - even in a constantly moving bus.

The manufacturers disagree with you on the On-Demand Hot Water front.

Here is what one manufacturer says about their system:
RV Heating Products from Aqua-Hot

"At its most basic level, Aqua-Hot hydronic heating uses tubing to run hot liquid into heat exchangers that disperse heated air into living areas. Coils, with potable water running through them, wrap around the boiler to transport hot water to faucets and appliances. A variety of heat sources are used depending on the system, but all use some combination of the vehicle's engine surplus heat, diesel fuel or propane and AC shore power.

Benefits of Having Aqua-Hot Heating

Just what do RV owners find so superior about their Aqua-Hot system? Why do most insist they’ll never buy another RV without one? It’s simple – Six Wonderful Comfort Zones!

  • Even Heat
  • Instant Hot Water
  • Quiet Heating
  • Low Emissions
  • Added Value
  • Service Centers

1. Even Heating – There are no hot or cold spots.
Aqua-Hot heating systems are in-floor with multiple heat zones throughout your RV. Each heat zone, up to five, is equipped with a sensor. When a heat zone drops below the temperature you’ve set, the heat exchanger automatically circulates moist heat from floor to ceiling and side to side ensuring your entire living area remains a comfortable consistent temperature.

2. Instant Hot Water – Hot water with zero recovery time.
Water is pumped from your water supply through piping that is heated in your Aqua-Hot unit and then delivered to your faucets. As long as you have an endless supply of water, the on-demand system delivers all the hot water you need for shower after shower, laundry and dishes.

3. Quiet Heating – System is whisper quiet when running.
Warm air flows into your living area through quiet, gently circulating fans, leaving you to enjoy only the noise of nature, giving you the perfect environment for a nap or good night’s sleep. Plus, the gentle circulation keeps your interior air pressure even, preventing existing interior heat from being forced out and lost through cracks around the doors or windows.

4. Fume Free Heating – Low emissions technology for odorless heat.
Advanced, low emission technology virtually eliminates fuel odor for you and your neighbors. Noxious fumes have no place in your RV on in nature, so breathe free.

5. Added value – Thousands of dollars of value added for resale.
NADA Recreation Vehicle Appraisal Guide (2013 edition) allows over $9k in value for an Aqua-Hot Heating System confirming an Aqua-Hot system to be a valuable addition to your coach or fifth wheel (2013 year models) when it comes time to sell and trade-up. Plus some of our systems offer an engine preheat option, cutting down on your engine wear and tear which is certainly added value for resale.

6. Service Centers – Factory trained & certified professionals to service your system
Aqua-Hot has over 160 Factory Authorized Service Centers, including mobile service technicians located around North America – a network we’re still growing. This means there is probably a center nearby if you need service or help and that you can feel comfortable and confident with the level of work and service you’ll receive.

Once you experience an Aqua-Hot heating system, you'll understand why nothing feels better than being in your Comfort Zone."

In other words, the boiler is the heater for both the water and the air. If it doesn't work that way, then they are lying and should be exposed.

Peace.
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