We're thinking of just taking the Suburban furnace out of our Scamp 13' since we don't always have access to an outlet and since the (powerful, I'm told) battery won't push open the sail valve after about 5 hrs. 1) Is this complicated? 2) Do people want these Suburban furnaces? (It works fine with land power.) 3) We're thinking of putting the Olympian where the furnace is now, but I'm not sure if these catalytic heaters can be recessed even a bit--the front would be flush with the furnace door opening.
I wrote a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of catalytic heaters and furnaces
in another topic, but you also wanted to know about the battery running down to the point the heater just won't heat over night.
We take our solar-powered Scamp 5er to all sorts of camp sites. Some have full hookups, some have been little more than a slot in the Olympic rain forest where our solar panel
could only dream of seeing the sun. With the exception of one camping trip where our propane system malfunctioned
, we have never been without heat, and even then we had a backup heater (a Mr Heater Portable Buddy
It is worth noting that most trailers come with two ways to charge the trailer battery, a plug in converter (or battery charger) and the tow vehicle, and for many people that's all they need. A fully charged and good-sized (120 Amp-hour) battery can keep the lights
and heat running for a weekend stay if you limit the things you use your precious electricity for. If you're the kind of camper that moves every other day your vehicle can keep the battery topped off almost indefinitely.
The big question becomes how to keep your electricity consumption down. It might come as a surprise, but the biggest thing you can do is change your light
bulbs. A furnace consumes just under 3 Amps of electricity (36 watts) when it's running, but it only runs about 1/3 to 1/4 of the time. It seems counter intuitive, but just two standard 1156 incandescent light
bulbs like those found in most trailer light
fixtures consume a full 3 Amps -- more electricity than your furnace --
but they're left on for hours at a time. So spending $40 or $80 to replace your two or four most-used light bulbs with warm white LED panels that use just 0.17 Amps each might well be all you need to do to keep the lights
on in the evening and the furnace running all night for two days in a row.
More extreme campers who like to camp off-grid for several days at a time, like us, have replaced all their light bulbs with LEDs. Lynne and I can turn on all fourteen lights
in our trailer -- something we almost never do -- and pull down just 2.5 Amps (30 watts). Throw in our 50-watt solar panel
in a sunny location and our major limitation for how long we can stay in any one spot shifts from our battery size over to our fresh and gray water tank sizes. (Though I should add that we're installing a second 55-watt solar panel
because some of the locations we camp in are not as sunny as we'd like, and we have run into situations where we ran low on juice when running with just one panel. If we replaced our furnace with a Wave 3, which requires no electricity, we could get by just fine with the one panel. )