heat - Fiberglass RV



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Old 03-10-2019, 02:33 PM   #1
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Name: lee
Trailer: trailswest campsterl, 1996 Scamp 16 foot
Idaho
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heat

The main thread is how to heat a small trailer for shoulder season camping. Recently we were having dinner with friends ( the husband is an over the road trucker ) and he mentioned using his " bunk heater " to stay warm . He drives in Idaho, Washington and Oregon so often has to overnight in single digit temps . Apparently most trucks that have sleepers also have bunk heaters . They run on dielsel and 12v power . Seems to me ( often wrong but never in doubt ) this might work for our campers ? It wouldn't take much to make a small diesel container to be mounted outside the trailer and I bet the 12v usage is minimal or one could rig the unit with a small refrigerator or computer fan that would draw minimal 12v power . They must be safe for confined spaces as , for what I see visually , most sleepers are probably as small or smaller than our fiberglass campers . Now let the naysayers begin, Positive comments are also allowed. Lee
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Old 03-10-2019, 02:55 PM   #2
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I don't ever want to have to store and pour diesel or kerosene again. The stuff stinks, and stinks for a long, long time.
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Old 03-10-2019, 04:14 PM   #3
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Glenn I can agree but freezing your buns off all night stinks as well , just in a different way . Lee
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Old 03-10-2019, 04:49 PM   #4
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What is the cost? What do they look like?
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:33 PM   #5
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Darwin I looked them up ( just google bunk heaters ) They are fairly small , about the size of a loaf of bread . Cost wise anywhere from $400.00 to $850.00 so not cheap but certainly worth the money if you do winter or shoulder season camping. My hope in posting this was to maybe get some info from someone who has used them for camping . I am going to call one of the suppliers Monday or so and see if they have propane units available which would be great for our trailers and would address Glenn's concern about dealing with diesel or kerosene. Lee
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:57 PM   #6
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Name: Gordon
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Diesel fueled heaters have been discussed in this forum a few times. My take on it from reading about them here is this:

They are a reasonable alternative for a vehicle that already has diesel storage on board when it can be fairly easily piped to the heater. But if you have to add diesel tank(s), piping, etc to a camper just to use a diesel fueled heater then its not very practical or cost effective.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:38 PM   #7
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I only spent about 20 minutes looking them up and digging through the specs for power usage. Power usage with a fan seemed to be about 3 amps which is the same for my Suburban heater (12k BTU). My Suburban doesn't run 100% of the time, but the bunk heaters ranged from 6.5 to 8K btu and my Casita 16 has to have at least twice the volume of a sleeper cab. I think the bunk heater would have to run 100% of time. I don't see the bunk heater as saving anything over the Suburban with the added issue of the diesel fuel storage.

I have a theory (well, not just me, rather, all of science..) that to do the same amount of work requires about the same amount of energy regardless of how it's done so this result doesn't surprise me. Heating the same space to the same temperature in the same amount of time for the same length time is the "work" being asked for. You can make tradeoffs but then that's a different task and you aren't comparing the same jobs.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:42 PM   #8
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Name: lee
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Thanks for the input . This is what I hoped for , good info as to the potential for using a bunk heater for trailers . Looks like the ole Suburban may be the best route. Thanks all Lee
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:59 PM   #9
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Something else to consider. The diesel heaters require periodic maintenance and cleaning as they carbon up with use. Propane burns much cleaner and doesn't require much maintenance if any.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:28 PM   #10
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Name: David
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These heaters are very popular in the van life scene these days https://www.ebay.com/i/254059316367?chn=ps They seem to get good reviews. I have experience with the original version of this heater made by webasto/espar , cost on that is about $1k though. We had one on a ford transit camper van we rented while in Iceland a few years ago. The transit was diesel so the heater was taking diesel right out of the cars tank, but it worked well and it seems to burn very little fuel.
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:17 PM   #11
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Name: lee
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heat

Thanks Gomka that is just the kind of info I was looking for. I see there are propane bunk heaters available and around $500.00 or so. Lee and Norma
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:24 AM   #12
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Name: Mike
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Diesel heaters

These are very popular in the EU, and Chinese versions are available on fleaBay for a reasonable price with, I am told, mixed results. There is a Facebook group dedicated to sharing install and usage info.
As others have said, there are some issues with carbon buildup, and it seems to me the power usage for the blower would be comparable to a propane furnace? Not sure.
Their primary benefit is the respectable heat output for their compact size. Personally I am more comfortable dealing with propane.
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:54 AM   #13
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Name: Mark
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Don't forget to consider, diesel produces 138,500 BTU's per gallon while a gallon of propane produces 91,000 BTU's.......takes less diesel to produce the same heat if heating units have he same efficiency.
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Old 03-21-2019, 01:01 PM   #14
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Consider that you also have to carry diesel fuel which is messy, stinks and the stink is difficult to get rid of. If you are using propane at the moment you would want to stick to a propane heater like a Heat Source Propex.
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