Monday, August 11, 2014

Feeling the RV heat

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have a forced air furnace in our motorhome. It works fine. My husband thinks we need to add a catalytic heater. He claims the forced air furnace fan drains our batteries too fast. I don’t want another gas appliance in our small space, it doesn’t look that safe, and I doubt it will make much difference in battery drain. He is insisting we need it. I need some help in convincing him this is not a rational idea. Please help me.
--Feeling the Heat in Helena

Dear Helena:
It is a rational idea. Your husband is right about the battery drain. The catalytic heater would be cheaper to operate, give constant heat, and create zero battery drain. Cons: it would produce more condensation, necessitate some added ventilation, and add a substantial investment to buy and plumb into your motorhome. You have gas equipment in your rig now, but perhaps you are not comfortable with this addition. If that is the case, you can add solar instead. A small solar investment will replace the battery drain from the furnace fan. When comparing prices between the two, don’t forget to add the cost of plumbing the gas into the motorhome. You will spend as much on brass fittings and copper lines as you will on the heater itself. I wish I would have bought brass fittings instead of stock for my retirement. I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. Brass is the new gold. If installed properly and used properly, one of the auxiliary heaters is a fine addition to any RV. We personally use all three, solar, catalytic and forced air and enjoy the freedom of not worrying about keeping a healthy battery charge. Your husband is on the right track. I have often seen people leaving campgrounds early because of dead batteries. They have to drive or use a generator to power a battery charger. This often happens when there is a cold spell and the furnace is working overtime. A small investment in solar will pay for itself over time. Calculate how often you find yourself paying for an electric site so you can charge your battery bank. If you like to dry camp a lot, your payoff will occur much quicker. Heaters like Big Buddy and Wave are radiant heat. They transfer heat to surrounding objects, which in turn release heat into the space you occupy. It is a very comfortable heat, but does entail finding a space that will be safe, convenient and aesthetically pleasing. Good luck. Discuss this with your husband and maybe you will warm up to the idea of an added heat source.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

5 comments:

Barbara-Me and My Dog... and My RV! said...

I love my Wave 3 heater! I also have solar and feel comfortable no matter what the weather. I have, on occasional super-cold mornings, turned on the coach heater to start the warming process, but as soon as possible, I turn it off to conserve the battery until the sun gets a chance to re-fill the batteries. The Wave 3 just continues warming the place. It's so nice to have the different options. Expensive initial outlay, but after three years, I have more than made up my investment (many tiems over), and also have the ability to camp wherever I want, without hook-ups. Nice!

KarenInTheWoods Karen Pfundtner said...

Yup. Us too. We have a Wave 8 in a 38' motorhome. Often temps are below freezing, and we are comfy in our boo docking mode. We also have 500 watts of solar and 4 batteries. All the comforts of home and we don't often use expensive campgrounds with hookups. We can run lights, tvs, laptops, charge cell phones and run the big furnace once in a while so our basement area gets heat so the water lines don't freeze....

Unknown said...

We own a blue flame heater. The cost of plumbing and propane and electrical use is minimal compared to the price of running your onboard furnace.

Unknown said...

Watch out for altitude limitations on the ceramic-style radiant heaters. Our Kozy World unit gave up staying lit anywhere over 7,000 feet, and it turns out it's only rated for 4,500. We bought a Wave (rated at 12,000) for this reason.

RVgeeks said...

We love our Kozy World heater. It uses zero electricity, sips propane and puts out tons of great heat, making it an excellent addition to our heating options (propane furnace, 2 heat pumps and an electric space heater). It's our #1 choice for boondocking.