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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Project: Thermostat Upgrade

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JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 07/13/12 12:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Project: Thermostat Upgrade

For the last four years, I’ve been full-timing in my camper. For the majority of that four years, my camper’s furnace has been controlled via the original factory thermostat.


I learned really fast in my first winter full-timing that it wasn’t the best of thermostats by design when the furnace started to run constantly because the temperature pickup coil would be affected by the, at the time, un-insulated fridge compartment.

My fix that winter was to cut a piece of Reflectix, wrap it in duct tape and install it behind the thermostat.

It’s performance improved more with the remodel of the fridge compartment to fill all the dead air space around the fridge with insulation so that it was no longer affected by the outside temps, but it still was a pain in the butt to set accurately, but I lived with it.

I bought a replacement, sometime before the Fall Colors Rally of 2011, but didn’t get around to installing it till April.

For a replacement, I bought a programmable digital thermostat, a Honeywell RTH221B 1 week thermostat.


I picked this particular model because it was designed for fairly wide range of heating and cooling applications, including millivolt use. My old Suburban furnace uses a very basic 12volt circuit loop to switch the unit on and off, so all the thermostat really does is complete the power circuit, so this thermostat was a perfect replacement.

Other advantages including being able to program a lower temp during times of the day, and have it automatically adjust, or simply set it to hold a specific temperature which can be adjusted up and down in 1 degree increments.

Fortunately for me, the previous owner used the correct color coded wiring for a thermostat for house systems when he did the furnace upgrade, so it was simply a matter of matching up the wire colors to their specific terminals on the backing plate.



The thermostat is designed to work with heating and cooling, so if you have a roof top A/C that can be run by a remote thermostat, this will work for that as well, however, it doesn’t have a fan speed control, simply a fan ON or Auto option.

That was pretty much all the wiring, the actual thermostat is removable so that you can change the two AAA batteries it uses.

There’s one tiny Phillips screw on the top that secures it in place and that’s pretty much it for installation.



One thing I dearly love about this particular model of thermostat is while you can’t set a specific number of degrees you want it to wait between cycles, you CAN set how many times an hour the furnace can cycle, the slowest being once every half hour will it check to see if it needs to cycle on.

I have mine set to once every 20 minutes, which keeps the camper temperature even without too wide a range of temperature swing, and at the same time keeping the runtime to a minimum so that the batteries don’t get drawn down too far.

So, there you have my super simple and quick thermostat upgrade.


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SteveAE

Bend, Oregon

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Posted: 07/13/12 08:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JoeChiOhki,

If you stay in Oregon year round, I suggest you verify (before winter) that your thermostat will function when it (the thermostat) gets down around 35 degrees(F). My experience with the digital Honeywell thermostats is that they don't. A simple test is to put it in the freezer for a hour or so and turn it on. If you hear a click, you are good to go.....if not then

Good luck,
Steve

JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 07/14/12 04:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Steve, why would I let my camper freeze? If it's cold while traveling, the furnace runs . I'm a full-timer, so I never let her get that cold inside, the likely reason they're failing to turn on is the voltage output of the AAA batteries has dropped too low for the relay to actuate.

I live year round in my camper, so the temp inside is usually maintained to protect the systems.

LanceDuyen

Houston, TX, US

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Posted: 07/16/12 05:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice job

SteveAE

Bend, Oregon

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Posted: 07/16/12 03:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JoeChiOhki,

Didn't know that you full time. So I guess (would hope anyway) it wouldn't freeze.

If you carefully read the Honeywell small print, it states that the min. operating temp of their thermostates is something like 37 degrees. I (of course) didn't believe that a thermostate wouldn't work at freezing temps so I gave it a try and.....it didn't work. Replaced with a different mfg (from ACE hardware) digital thermostate and tested in the freezer (same batteries) and it worked great. Just though I would pass this on.

Steve

JoeChiOhki

Sauvie Island, OR

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Posted: 07/16/12 04:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SteveAE wrote:

JoeChiOhki,

Didn't know that you full time. So I guess (would hope anyway) it wouldn't freeze.

If you carefully read the Honeywell small print, it states that the min. operating temp of their thermostates is something like 37 degrees. I (of course) didn't believe that a thermostate wouldn't work at freezing temps so I gave it a try and.....it didn't work. Replaced with a different mfg (from ACE hardware) digital thermostate and tested in the freezer (same batteries) and it worked great. Just though I would pass this on.

Steve


Thanks for the info Steve, good information to spread out to others who might be interested. Even in my pre-full timing days, I usually traveled with the camper already heated and heated along the way because my water systems were always in the active mode if the camper wasn't winterized and put in storage.

skipbee

Glen Arm,Md. 21057 USA

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Posted: 07/19/12 09:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Matt,

I fitted a digital thermostat to our rig last year. We have a high/low setting that required me to relearn soldering to upgrade the device. The thermostat is a big success, it maintains an almost constant temperature, the Hi/lo switch was a waste of time. I've never used it on heating or cooling. We do have an auto switch that shuts off the fan completely, it's a big battery saver when using the furnace. We've enjoyed your recent posts, keep 'em coming.

I install fresh batteries in the fall.


skipbee
2004 F350 Diesel CC SRW 19.5" Rickson W/T 4WD
2005 Lance 1121 well found.
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All that glisters is not gold. All who wander are not lost. See us on YouTube" Living the Lance Life" 3 of 4.

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