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Old 11-09-2016, 11:54 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Propane Heating Options

Hello All!

We have a wood stove as our primary heat source but want to install a thermostat controlled propane heater as a secondary heat source to prevent freezing in the even that we aren't home and the wood stove goes out. I would prefer a vented heater that uses fresh air from outside, and does not burn oxygen from living space, but it seems like ventless heaters also have their benefits. Some options I have looked at are:

-Dickinson Stove: Looks nice, good compact size, but lack of thermostat is an issue. I dont want to have to turn it on/off all the time. I want the heater to automatically come on as soon as the the wood stove no longer keeps the bus warm.

-Direct Vent Furnace (Williams, Rinnai, etc): A bit larger and not sure I have a good spot for it, but appear to have good thermostat controls, sealed combustion chamber, vented, etc. Use little or no electricity.

-Conventional RV Furnace: From what I have read they are loud and power hungry. But I like that I can hide inside a cabinet.

-Ventless Blue Flame/Catalytic/Ceramic: More economical, but seems more dangerous. Though many come with built in oxygen sensors.

I would be very curious to here everyone's thoughts and experience with different heat sources.

Thanks!

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Old 11-09-2016, 01:19 PM   #2
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The Cats are the most efficient in terms of BTU's per volume of propane.
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Old 11-09-2016, 01:55 PM   #3
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Any propane heat that is not vented will add SIGNIFICANT moisture to the air in your bus.

I have a like new Olympic cat heater around here somewhere. I used it for about 3 days and retired it. I had water puddling in the window sills.

The conventional RV furnaces are not the ideal choice for efficiency but do not add the moisture.

I have heard some good things about this one in tiny home applications:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Ashley-Hear...d-51fbcafd824d
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Old 11-09-2016, 02:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Any propane heat that is not vented will add SIGNIFICANT moisture to the air in your bus.

I have a like new Olympic cat heater around here somewhere. I used it for about 3 days and retired it. I had water puddling in the window sills.

The conventional RV furnaces are not the ideal choice for efficiency but do not add the moisture.

I have heard some good things about this one in tiny home applications:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Ashley-Hear...d-51fbcafd824d

Looks like when you want heat you have to push the igniter button everytime.

read this before going vent-less/vent free in any thing:
http://www.abe.iastate.edu/extension...ances-aen-204/
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Old 11-09-2016, 03:43 PM   #5
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Have you looked at the Webasto heaters? Most are diesel fired if your not opposed to that. I believe the Webastos will run around 800-1000 or so if you shop around.
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Old 11-09-2016, 03:45 PM   #6
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Roger the condensation issues. I am still going back & forth on heat for boondocking but will definitely have a small ceramic electric unit for when there is a plug handy.
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glenn bell View Post
Have you looked at the Webasto heaters? Most are diesel fired if your not opposed to that. I believe the Webastos will run around 800-1000 or so if you shop around.
The Webaso's are the BOMB!

I have seen them plumbed into the bus cooling system. In cold weather you use the Webasto for heat when you are parked and to preheat the engine. When you are driving you shut down the Webasto and heat the interior with the engine coolant.

Also, propane contains about 91,000 btu's / gallon. Diesel is closer to 140,000 btu's / gallon. Around here propane sells for about $3.00 a gallon and diesel for about $2.60. (1 Therm-10,000 Btu)

That works out to about $0.33 per Therm for propane and about $0.19 per Therm for diesel.

If I can manage a Webasto on my next bus I am going to put hydronic heating in the bathroom floor
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:25 PM   #8
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those cozy force 10 units can be diesel or propane. It takes a few nights and you get use to setting it about where it will work. I have had the propane for years and couldn't go with out it. Bought two for the bus one for the shop and one for the living quarters. Its all in that 1" exhaust pipe. you just cant beat no moisture in the cabin plus it has a cup holder on the top so you can add some humidity if you want. I love cooking on it myself and heating coffee and soup.
Down side is they just cost a lot but there isn't a small vented unit i have found that can be mounted right on a wall with out having to cut it in besides the exhaust vent that is 1" OD. Plus no power required My new boat has a forced air system and it can suck some juice running the fans. I think that's just not needed in such small areas like a BUS.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:07 PM   #9
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Use a 14K btu Planar in our under 30ft bus and it performs very well.

Set to 22c and 17c at bedtime. About 1 gal diesel in 24 hrs.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post

Also, propane contains about 91,000 btu's / gallon. Diesel is closer to 140,000 btu's / gallon. Around here propane sells for about $3.00 a gallon and diesel for about $2.60. (1 Therm-10,000 Btu)

That works out to about $0.33 per Therm for propane and about $0.19 for diesel. oor
Thanks for this info
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Thanks for this info
No problem.

Another tidbit: For electric heat the same Therm cost $0.28 @ 9.7 cents a KWH.

Diesel is cheaper that electricity.....
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Old 10-27-2021, 03:24 PM   #12
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Hydronic kickspace heater?

Hi, wondering if any of you have heard of this and your thoughts.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/MYSON-Wh...9000/207131368

Haven’t heard of anyone using these hydronic “non-electric” (marketed as such but this isn’t fully true; the fan inside operates using 40w on a 120v system) kickspace heaters. It seems the “heater” uses the heat from already hot water that the unit intakes, thus no boiler is required in the unit itself. Priced reasonably (around $320 for 10,340 BTU) and I love that it heats at the floor level and supposedly can be controlled via thermostat (if I can make it all work together)!

I’m utilizing propane for hot water heating, so I figure this will be more wear and tear on my water pump and hot water heater, but it seems to me it could work.

Wondering if this is a newfangled type of unit or if anyone’s seen this on a bus.

Also, this is my first post. I’ve been building out a full size 2007 INTL for 10 months now but not too savvy with threads and social things. I’m willing to learn!

Thank you for reading this if you’ve gotten this far

Maria
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Old 10-28-2021, 06:07 PM   #13
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Never seen that type of heater before, but it looks like it has potential! I'm interested
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Old 10-28-2021, 06:28 PM   #14
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Not much different than the under seat bus heaters -- except this is much smaller.
I'm planning on using an under seat heater with quieter fans for one mode of heat.
Yesterday I was driving my bus and it was fully warmed up when I shut it down and parked it in my shop. 4 hours later I turned on the electric coolant pump and ran the front bus heater for about 20 minutes and heated the front area of the bus. That big lump of cast iron CAT engine will hold heat for some time.
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:06 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by jimmythomas View Post
Not much different than the under seat bus heaters -- except this is much smaller.
I'm planning on using an under seat heater with quieter fans for one mode of heat.
Yesterday I was driving my bus and it was fully warmed up when I shut it down and parked it in my shop. 4 hours later I turned on the electric coolant pump and ran the front bus heater for about 20 minutes and heated the front area of the bus. That big lump of cast iron CAT engine will hold heat for some time.

This is one area I'm pretty ignorant, do most/all buses have rear heat, and if so, can it be run with the engine off?
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:25 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
This is one area I'm pretty ignorant, do most/all buses have rear heat, and if so, can it be run with the engine off?
There are usually multiple heaters in a bus for front and rear. All run off engine coolant, so yes, engine must run for it to maintain heat.
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:33 PM   #17
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Any full size bus has at least one rear heater.
My 31' Thomas HDX has one rear heater, it's a 84,000 BTU heater with 2 fans under it. The coolant lines that supply it are 1" diameter and also supply the front heater/ defroster unit.
The system has a supplemental electric water pump to help circulate the coolant flow to the heaters from the engine. So if the engine is not running, you can turn on the pump and circulate coolant to the heaters. This will produce heat until the engine has cooled off.
That 84k btu heater will throw out a lot of heat. Some buses are lucky enough to have a Webasto or similar coolant heater that runs on diesel fuel, these units can be used to heat the entire bus or preheat the engine in cold weather.
I think that small Homer heater is not big enough for a bus.
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Old 10-28-2021, 07:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmythomas View Post
I think that small Homer heater is not big enough for a bus.
Depends on the bus. I'm looking for a 5 or 6 window shortie, I think a small heater like that might be a good fit, particularly if paired with another heat source. Its in the same BTU ballpark as some of the common smaller RV propane forced air furnaces and diesel heaters, but yeah, for a full size bus, I'm sure you would need something substantially larger.
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Old 10-28-2021, 08:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creationsofmaria.com View Post
Hi, wondering if any of you have heard of this and your thoughts.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/MYSON-Wh...9000/207131368

Haven’t heard of anyone using these hydronic “non-electric” (marketed as such but this isn’t fully true; the fan inside operates using 40w on a 120v system) kickspace heaters. It seems the “heater” uses the heat from already hot water that the unit intakes, thus no boiler is required in the unit itself. Priced reasonably (around $320 for 10,340 BTU) and I love that it heats at the floor level and supposedly can be controlled via thermostat (if I can make it all work together)!

I’m utilizing propane for hot water heating, so I figure this will be more wear and tear on my water pump and hot water heater, but it seems to me it could work.

Wondering if this is a newfangled type of unit or if anyone’s seen this on a bus.

Also, this is my first post. I’ve been building out a full size 2007 INTL for 10 months now but not too savvy with threads and social things. I’m willing to learn!

Thank you for reading this if you’ve gotten this far

Maria
Welcome!

That unit looks like a standard baseboard heat exchanger with a fan.

You'll need a propane heater of at least 10K BTU capacity and a circulating pump to deliver max heat out of this thing. What kind of propane heater do you have?

Also, being 110VAC you'll need a source of power-like from an inverter.

A bit of a kludge solution - no criticism intended, this is how you vet ideas, so it's an interesting one to consider.

Not sure that the thermostat would do much, and it won't control air temperature-it just turns off the fan if the water in the system drops below a certain point so the unit doesn't blow cold air.

For driving, if you still have your bus heaters, you can consider a thermostat on the fans like a few others here have discussed so you're not flipping the switch on and off when people complain; when parked, I'm more inclined to recommend a diesel heater. Cheap, powerful, fairly simple to install...
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Old 10-28-2021, 08:24 PM   #20
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The MYSON heater is nothing more than a small hot water base board style heater with a fan. It installs in a hole in a vertical surface vs at the junction of a wall and floor.
Beacon Morris is very similar for half the moola.

How about a diesel fueled hydronic baseboard heating setup?
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