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Winter heating with a small electric heater


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Greetings!

Some of you have shared the benefits of using a small electric heater when camping in colder climates and connected to shore power.  It really makes sense that an electric heater will minimize propane usage.  Although we will not be full-timers, I do plan on using our Elite 1 year round, even during the winter since we are avid skiers.

My question is when using the electric heater in colder conditions, is the ambient heat from an electric heater inside the trailer enough to keep the tanks and plumbing from freezing?  I have heard of some using an electric heater during the winter so they don't have to winterize their trailer.  That seems a bit risky.

I am assuming since the trailer is truly a 4 season trailer, the electric heater would be enough but I wanted to hear from your experience.  Are there any winter weather users out there that can provide any insight?

Thanks!

Carl

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I have many times  suggested a small electric heater to extend propane tanks.  As a supplement. 

The furnace makes a much bigger difference in the cavity heat, especially in the new ducted trailers. In our 2008 trailer, unless you leave access doors/drawers open, I'd worry that not enough heat was getting to the interstitial space to keep lines from freezing in really cold weather.

I've never camped in one of the new, better insulated  trailers, so I don't know if my comment is relevant.  But, if under 20 or so, I'd set electric in low, open an access, and run the furnace on low, as well. 

My opinion. Owners of newer trailers, please add your thoughts.

Edited by SeaDawg
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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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33 minutes ago, Carl Hansen said:

Greetings!

Some of you have shared the benefits of using a small electric heater when camping in colder climates and connected to shore power.  It really makes sense that an electric heater will minimize propane usage.  Although we will not be full-timers, I do plan on using our Elite 1 year round, even during the winter since we are avid skiers.

My question is when using the electric heater in colder conditions, is the ambient heat from an electric heater inside the trailer enough to keep the tanks and plumbing from freezing?  I have heard of some using an electric heater during the winter so they don't have to winterize their trailer.  That seems a bit risky.

I am assuming since the trailer is truly a 4 season trailer, the electric heater would be enough but I wanted to hear from your experience.  Are there any winter weather users out there that can provide any insight?

Thanks!

Carl

We use an electric heater when shore power is available.  On our trip home from picking up our 2021 Elite II (December 9-15), we traveled via I-40.  In the higher elevations of NM and AZ, it was in the upper to mid 20's at night, but above freezing during the day.  We did not winterize during the trip home, though we came prepared to, if necessary.  We put remote temperature sensors in the basement and under the bed where the plumbing resides, monitoring temperatures closely.  At night we ran the space heater to maintain upper 50s inside and opened the basement access hatch in the nightstand.  I don't know how much having the access hatch open affected the basement temps that ranged from the upper 30's to low 40's during the night.  We did hand pump antifreeze into the two water inlets (city and tank fill); the winterization and black flush ports had not been used, so we did not winterize them, as per Jason E's suggestion.  We used onboard water the entire trip as most of the RV parks we stayed at recommended not connecting to water, since the supply hose would most likely freeze anyway.  We kept the standard water heater running on electric during the night.  

While camping last weekend at a local park, our electric heater quit working so we used the furnace, but only during the day.  Nighttime temps were around 37 deg.  With no heat on at night, the basement stayed in the low 40's until we arose and turned on the furnace.  

During our trip home we monitored the internal temp of the Lithium batteries via bluetooth.  Never did we have to turn on the battery heat mat.

Edited by Ray and Susan Huff
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Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; delivered December 7, 2020

2013 F350 6.7l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

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Ray and Susan,

This is great information!  Thanks so much for sharing.  I'm sorry your heater died.  I have been looking around for an appropriate electric heater.  There are so many to choose from.  As I read the reviews of the various models, there doesn't seem to be any one that everyone is happy about.

Have you taken your trailer out since you got home or have you put it to bed for the winter?  We plan on following I-40 home ourselves to visit Joshua Tree NP and then turn North to visit family and head for home.

Carl

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We’ve used a small Vornado electric heater for the last 5 years in our Oliver.  We put it right in front of the nightstand blowing toward the bathroom.  With the inside of the trailer in the high 60s/low 70s we’ve never had a freezing issue in temps down to low 20s (19 degrees one night at Pinnacles NP).  If it was colder than that I’m not sure just an electric heater would be enough, but we don’t like to camp in single digit or teens temperatures so I can’t really say.  Mike

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel

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Just now, Carl Hansen said:

Which model do you use?  I have been considering the Vornado line of products.

being a newbie, we will be bringing our Vornado Mdl: EH1-0012.

there are newer models out there now.  about 5 yo.  but very nice.

 

 

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Maggie & Bryan | Arnegard, ND | 2020 LE II (Twin Setup) Hull #665 | 2010 GMC 1500 ExtCab Sierra SLE 

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Our particular model is no longer available, replaced with new models.  I will say it is 5 years old and still going strong.  It is a Vornado Whole House heater.  Ours has 3 settings, 750W, 1150W, 1500W.  It was available in white, which we got.  Small, so it doesn’t take up much space.  The way it is made makes it very hard to tip over and it does have a safety switch on the bottom in case it does.   It has manual controls, some of the newer ones have digital controls.  The closest I could find on Amazon is this one.

EACE123D-3F87-4B31-A253-10BE722AF452.jpeg

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel

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@Carl Hansen I also have an Elite 1.  I just picked it up last week in Hohenwald and spent 3 nights on my way home to central TX.  The nighttime lows reached the mid 20s to mid 30s each night.  I had full hookups each night and used a small (750W) space heater for two nights.  Each of those nights I set the thermostat between 60 and 65 degrees.  The furnace never kicked on when using the small electric heater.  Here is the heater I used.

https://amzn.to/3aVFTxr

Happy trails.

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Hull #735 - 2021 Elite 1 (Shorty)  |  2021 Toyota Tundra

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In the shorty, the duct doesn't run through the back of the trailer. The furnace has been moved to the dinette seat near the toilet room.

I would open a drawer or access hatch, to provide heat to the  interstitial space, imo, if temos dropped into the teens. 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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9 minutes ago, BillATX said:

@Carl Hansen I also have an Elite 1.  I just picked it up last week in Hohenwald and spent 3 nights on my way home to central TX.  The nighttime lows reached the mid 20s to mid 30s each night.  I had full hookups each night and used a small (750W) space heater for two nights.  Each of those nights I set the thermostat between 60 and 65 degrees.  The furnace never kicked on when using the small electric heater.  Here is the heater I used.

https://amzn.to/3aVFTxr

Happy trails.

That's great! 

So much more helpful to a new shorty owner. 

Edited by SeaDawg
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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12
 

 

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1 minute ago, SeaDawg said:

In the shorty, the duct doesn't run through the back of the trailer. The furnace has been moved to the dinette seat near the toilet room.

I would open a drawer or access hatch, to provide heat to the  interstitial space, imo, if temos dropped into the teens. 

That is a great suggestion.  Once we get the trailer, I will look closely at the layout and see what options we have. 

I like the idea where you are using the electric heater as a supplement to the furnace.  I also like the remote temperature sensors to help me learn about the distribution of the ambient heat.

As always, this forum is always the best.  Thanks for the time you take to help others out!

Carl

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Mike & Carol,

Where does the Vornado heater plug in? I can't tell from the photo. Our Elite 2 Twin is scheduled to be hatched this fall, and we plan to use the small portable electric heater we currently have in our T@G teardrop.

Your 'home on the road' looks very cozy!

2021 Legacy Elite 2 Twin Bed (Fall 2021 delivery) | Ram 1500 Longhorn 4x4 3.0L EcoDiesel 3.92 axle

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2 minutes ago, Fargoman said:

Mike & Carol,

Where does the Vornado heater plug in? I can't tell from the photo. Our Elite 2 Twin is scheduled to be hatched this fall, and we plan to use the small portable electric heater we currently have in our T@G teardrop.

Your 'home on the road' looks very cozy!

We had a 110V outlet installed under the bed near the kitchen. I used some On Command cable holders up under the bed extension for the cord.  I don’t know where outlets are installed on new trailers or if they will install them in custom locations.  It would be easy enough to add an outlet under one of the bed extensions.  We just returned from a couple of weeks in east Texas and Arkansas, it was cold and we were cozy!  Mike

Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel

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Ray & Susan,

What brand of remote temperature sensors are you using? I searched the Forum and found one brand that came with 8 sensors, which seems like more that would be necessary.

2021 Legacy Elite 2 Twin Bed (Fall 2021 delivery) | Ram 1500 Longhorn 4x4 3.0L EcoDiesel 3.92 axle

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Carl - 

IMO there is absolutely no substitute for having a number of these remote temp sensors - particularly if you are camping in cold weather.  In addition to the sensors for between the hulls, don't forget about putting one under the propane tank cover and another under the rear spare tire.  With these in place, you will be able to read the rear sensor in the event the sun is shining on the propane cover or vice versa, thus giving you a more reasonable idea of what the exterior temp currently is.

With regards to electric heaters - due to the fact that these heaters take a fair beating while traveling down the highway and those heating elements are fairly delicate, I bought one of the little square "ceramic" jobs at a garage sale a number of years ago (actually I bought two thinking that the first would die).  Fortunately, after 6 years it has not missed a beat and the very small size is excellent for storing in any sized Oliver.  I'll take a pic of it tomorrow and post it here as an edit.

Bill

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P1020823.JPG

Edited by topgun2
added pic of heater
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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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I would just throw in my few cents and say to all the issues with cold camping have a back up propane heater like a buddy heater should your furnace fail and you are not at an electric site. This happened to me in the Canadian Ice fields with show falling and boon docked across from the glacier in the visitors parking lot ice on the truck be a boy scout and be prepared. Just my two cents. Thanks Gary happy camping

 

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Gary & Jona

2016 Silverado 2500 Diesel

Legacy Elite II Hull 81 

 

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Garyjona has got a very good point there - I too carry a Mister Heater propane heater in the event - read that "just in case".  Since I camp more often than not where I do not have shore power, these heaters provide heat without draining ANY electricity.  The only "problem" with them is that due to the combustion of propane they add moisture to the interior of the Oliver.  Also, even though they have sensors for CO and oxygen levels the moisture issue plus the (remote) possibility of sensor failure causes the absolute need to have a fresh air source open at all times when this heater is operating.

Bill

Mister Heater

Edited by topgun2
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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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13 hours ago, topgun2 said:

IMO there is absolutely no substitute for having a number of these remote temp sensors

I like the idea of multiple temperature sensors.  It's a clever idea to put on behind the spare and one in the propane tanks.  I will definitely consider that.

13 hours ago, GaryJona said:

have a back up propane heater like a buddy heater

We have a Mister Buddy Heater and love it.  We use it for tent camping to take the chill off those brisk mountain mornings.  Mister Heater now has a new omni-directional heater called the Flex.  It looks interesting.  The Flex is 11,000 BTUs vs. the Buddy at 9,000 BTU.

https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-MH11BFLEX-Portable-Propane/dp/B088ZXN7DH/ref=pd_lpo_201_t_0/137-7815592-6244265?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B088ZXN7DH&pd_rd_r=3c161cc8-cc29-4ec6-9ee0-12ae266e250c&pd_rd_w=srkTI&pd_rd_wg=lnBBV&pf_rd_p=16b28406-aa34-451d-8a2e-b3930ada000c&pf_rd_r=RF8ETPSCDGYP1BKM66ER&psc=1&refRID=RF8ETPSCDGYP1BKM66ER

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I never have my Mister Heater - Buddy on anything but low - 4,000 btu.  At that setting the heater will bring the interior temp up from the mid 30's to about 65 degrees within 45 minutes.  That is just enough time for that little snooze before really getting up.  Also, with the heater on the low setting the one pound propane tanks last longer.  I did purchase a long supply hose so that I could connect the heater directly to my 20 pound tanks but I rarely use it.

See the pic of that little electric heater I talked about above - I've posted it as an edit 4 posts above here.

Bill 

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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4 minutes ago, topgun2 said:

I never have my Mister Heater - Buddy on anything but low - 4,000 btu.

I have found the same.  The low setting is more that adequate even for warming a tent early mornings in the great outdoors.

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