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.
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!