Hydronic Heating a 13 Footer - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-18-2005, 04:44 PM   #15
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Here is the link for the hot water heater. http://www.ducktec.com./itm00211.htm I did call a local supplier yesterday, & he said this model ran on 220, not 110 as stated in the ad on the net. This heater should be a 110 unit for campground power, & it should be confirmed before buying.

Rob, do you have any links for low power fans, & pumps?
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Old 11-18-2005, 08:07 PM   #16
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Originally posted by wes harris@Nov 18 2005, 03:44 PM
Here is the link for the hot water heater...
I think a more authoritative source of information on this product would be Atwood Moble Products - Water Heaters. I haven't downloaded the brochures yet, but the the web pages mention the heat exchanger feature only in the marine version, not the RV (motorhome and trailer) version - I guess it's just an option they didn't mention in the basic information.

There is no need for a heat exchanger if the same water is circulated for space heating as used at the sink and shower - that seems to be the approach taken with the normal RV hydronic systems usually found in large motorhomes. As Terry mentioned, this means all of the space heating plumbing must be safe for potable water, and an automotive heater core seems likely to not be.

6-gallon Atwood and Suburban/American Appliance water heaters without the heat exchanger are very common in lightweight fiberglass trailers. I did notice in an earlier spec comparison that the Atwoods seem to have lower-output burners, which might not be a good thing in an integrated hot water and hydronic space heating application.
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Old 11-21-2005, 04:17 PM   #17
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Wes,
You've introduced an interesting topic which has energized a few of the old brain cells. I'm wondering why a system which heats the floor via loops of vinyl tubing wouldn't work. I think Gina was referring to this type of system for a neighbor's driveway.I recall seeing a diagram showing something on the floor with grooves to contain the tubing but I don't remember what that material was, or what went on top of it. I have a friend who used welding hose in his slab floor and heated about 1000 sq. feet using a Grundfos (spelling?) pump and a 10 gallon water heater. As I recall, it worked so well heating the 1000 sq. foot ground floor, that he installed a pair of floor furnace grates(one in the ceiling and another above it in the floor) so heat would rise to the upstairs. The building was kept very comfortable. The original intention, as I recall, was to use a wall thermostat to control the pump and the thermostat built into the heater cycled it as necessary. Whether that was done per original concept is unknown, but I've been in the building in the winter many times and warm floors are very nice.
I realize that not all TT's can spare the loss of even an inch of clearance between floor and ceiling, but we are not all 6'2" tall either. I believe our 17' Casita might be a candidate.
If the tubing was up to potable water standards it might work if provision were made to recirculate the water until a pressure change signalled a need to replenish consumed quantities.
More study is required, but if both domestic hot water supply and space heating could be achieved with the existing H20 heater and pump this would be a great modification. Of course, a heater which will operate on propane or 110V would only add "icing to the cake".
Thanks again Wes, for introducing the topic of hydronic space heating. Now all we need is an active experimentalist.

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:44 PM   #18
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While most RV hyrdronic heating systems seem to use heat exhangers with fans to heat the air, I think Kurt's suggestion of in-floor heating is interesting.

Floor construction varies among our trailers, but I think it is relatively common to have nothing but a single layer of plywood between the finish flooring material (such as sheet vinyl) and the world below the trailer - that's the case for my Boler B1700, except for the fresh and grey water tanks. This is like a house, with plywood across the joists, and open space between the joists, but the frame rails and crossmembers take the place of joists.. In houses, in-floor heating is sometimes installed by placing the tubing against the bottom of the flooring plywood, then covering it from below with insulation (so the heat tends to go up, rather than into the space below. Perhaps this would work - maybe in combination with a small forced-air unit where it might be required - in a trailer?

In the case of my B1700, the tank areas could be handled by lowering the tanks by the thickness of the tubing (and filler panels of the same thickness between the tubing), which would allow heating of the whole desired floor area, as well as keeping at least the tops of the tanks warm in cool (but not seriously freezing) outddor temperatures. Since the tanks are a ground clearance problem for some of us already, a very mild suspension lift might be in order at the same time.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:22 PM   #19
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I live in a house in which I designed and installed a radiant floor hydronic system. There's no reason I see in principle why such a system shouldn't work in our small trailers.... except for the floor thickness pitfall. The gotcha here is that, in order to direct more of the heat into the trailer, a lot less needs to be kept from the rest of the planet. Assuming there is no floor insulation now, I'd say we need an insulation level beneath the tubing of at least R-7 if there is no carpet on the upside, somewhat more if there is. This means 1-1/2 in or so of styrofoam or 1 inch of polyisocyanurate. Depending on the existing trailer, this could be quite difficult to achieve, given the clearance and tank position issues already mentioned. For simplicity, I'd keep away from (more) expensive heat exchanger heaters and use PEX or copper potable water tubing.

Heckuva idea. Wish somebody would do it.
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Old 11-26-2005, 12:13 AM   #20
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Quiet warmth, what a novel idea. :11:
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Old 11-26-2005, 10:03 AM   #21
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I wonder if it would be possible to insulate under the floor. How to protect it from road damage is my question. Maybe a thin sheet of plastic or aluminum glued to sheet foam insulation?
Could the tanks be freeze protected also? Would road clearance be compromised or would the insulation all be above the axle and not prove to be a problem?
Are there other considerations?
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Old 11-26-2005, 03:25 PM   #22
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I wonder if it would be possible to insulate under the floor...
I have been thinking about under-floor insulation, even without in-floor heating. I think it is an entirely reasonable idea, at least in my 17-foot Boler

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...How to protect it from road damage is my question. Maybe a thin sheet of plastic or aluminum glued to sheet foam insulation?
The fiberglass sheet material used as the outer surface of "fiberglass" stick-built trailers is available in sheets in various thicknesses and finishes (e.g. with or without gelcoat). A common brand name is "Filon". I have considered getting some of this (perhaps as scrap from an RV repair or manufacturing operation) for this application.

Off-road and rally competition vehicles routinely use relatively thick sheets of solid plastic as rock guards, but that would be too heavy for the large areas involved. Newer conventional trailers use thin plastic - perhaps composite such as fiberglass - underbody covers for aerodynamics; maybe that would work well.

My current thinking is to use polystyrene foam insulation (Styrofoamģ), glue it in place, and use screws through the foam and just into the floor to hold the cover sheet. I have not tried this yet. An alternative would be some sort of brackets from the frame rails, but I would rather not weld on the rails or drive self-tapping screws into them.

Quote:
...Could the tanks be freeze protected also? Would road clearance be compromised or would the insulation all be above the axle and not prove to be a problem? ...
This depends on specific trailer construction; however, in my Boler B1700 the frame is a pair of 4" high box rails, and the flat floor runs across the top. In the areas without water tanks, there is space for 4 inches of insulation before it would hang lower than the frame.

The tanks in my trailer protrude significantly below the frame rails, and it would be necessary to raise the trailer to provide room to significantly insulate them. I have seen photos of trailers with foam insulation apparently sprayed on the tanks, but this looks neither tidy nor durable to me.

[b]Bigfoot is proud of their winter-worthy insulation design, and uses 1.5" foam in their walls. I wonder if and how they insulate their floors and tanks?
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Old 11-26-2005, 09:28 PM   #23
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My Pelonis and my two 100 watt heated floor mats keeps me in stocking feet in really cold weather and take up virtually no space.

When I looked at this in the past, it was with an eye towards low 12v usage for rustic camping i.e. without shore power. Otherwise I wouldn't have had an urge to go that way.

I had thought to put the car heater core behind the current furnace grate removing the furnace carefully for inclusion if I ever sold the trailer.

A muffin fan or two for air movement is easy enough, but a low current water pump to circulate water is harder to find. Counting on convection to move the water didnít seem efficient. But still, banging the radiator for heat might prove nostalgic.

I donít drink the water that comes out of the water heater but still, water thatís been through a heater core seemed, in the end, an unattractive idea. Lead free solder not withstanding. I mean, all my water comes out of pipes so I don't know what my hang up is, but even so. In a bigger trailer, a second dedicated heater in a closed loop seemed more advisable.

And in the end, the need to rustic camp in freezing weather went away somewhere. Go figure. I rustic camp because I rarely plan far ahead enough to make reservations and regular campgrounds fill up quickly. Any winter camping, even with shore power, is pretty isolated camping so the need to rustic camp just isnít there.

And so, the only attraction would be any gee-whiz factor or inherent advantage. In the end, I didnít see enough of either so I moved on. Interesting discussion though.
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Old 03-10-2006, 05:58 PM   #24
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Here is the link for the hot water heater. http://www.ducktec.com./itm00211.htm I did call a local supplier yesterday, & he said this model ran on 220, not 110 as stated in the ad on the net. This heater should be a 110 unit for campground power, & it should be confirmed before buying.

Rob, do you have any links for low power fans, & pumps?
hay how about a wood stove some copper pipe a water tank on the roof. alonge with some wood storage in a box on the back. another 900lbs wont hurt any thing WILL it or may be we should just do what i did in mexico cabo in 1960 we were sleeping in tha back of DOC'S truck with one of the kids blankets i got so cold i went to the air plane started the engine turned on the cabin heat and sleep like a baby. at day brake we flew south to zwat it was warmer on the main land & fishing was much better. surfing on that trip was no to good so fishing was our thing. O what we wont go through to go fishing.
LEE
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:28 PM   #25
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Sorry I have been MIA between snow, vacation and computer nonsense. I want to clear up one thing for all out there who depend on AC power for their rigs. We all camp with our rigs in different ways and places. All too often suggestions are to just plug in for appliances, heating, cooling, fans and lights, etc. Since I spend about 95% of my time untethered my goal is to find 12v batt/solar, LP or alternative solutions that do not depend on the power company.

One of the biggest concerns for a radiant floor type heating system would be the slow response time. In houses radiant floor systems maintain a comfortable level but are slow to respond to sudden needs to increase or decrease the temp. I also thing that by the time you insulated the entire floor under to minimize heat loss you could come up with alternatives for less work and money.

Back when this topic started I did a bit of research came up with a few things. Sharing the concern for possible lead based solders, I found on ebay a couple of different times relatively in expensive stainless steel exchangers with muffin fans already attached. Pictured below is a double but my first search I also found singles of the same type. This one is listed as a "buy it now" for $32 US. If one were still concerned about water quality I would suggest that you build one out of standard copper fin and tube radiator from Home depot or Lowes. In fact if you were to encase several back and fourth loops in a box that was open on the top and bottom you would likely not need the fans and have created a convection type heater. The trade offs are small sixe you need the fan, larger area you don't.

For a pump, I was thinking along the lines of a generic automotive solid-state fuel pump. Facet has one that draws about an 1 amp 37 gal and hour at 4-5 psi. Found this on ebay for about $40 New. Not sure how safe it is for potable water yet but I am checking on that. Basically we need to find a 12v very low amp draw pump that will handle the heat of the water and be safe.

The last bit I wonder about is run out of water...run out of heat. You would always have to make sure you had enough water in the system. Also has anyone run their water heater in the winter time? You always see the bypass kits for cold weather.

Well that's my two cents worth.

Rob
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Old 03-10-2006, 11:00 PM   #26
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Water heaters work just fine in cold weather. The bypass kits are for winterizing so you don't have to fill your water heater with anti-freeze. Of course you'll need to winterize your water floor heating system when you're not using it!

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Old 03-11-2006, 09:02 AM   #27
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Up North they sell a perculator heater (Tank Heater) that attaches to the car water system. It boils water and makes a poping noise as the water is moved from the heater to the system.

You might want to look in www.jcw.com for a block heater. Item # ZX540036R

http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/Product...t=engine+heater
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