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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  Modifications and Accessories

 > Adding tank heaters for winter use.

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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 11/07/20 01:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If there was no electric power or you experienced a loss of electric power I would be far more worried about keeping the furnace going than the tanks freezing.
Collectively the heaters could draw 40+ amps from the battery and shut down the furnace with a dead battery.


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pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 11/07/20 03:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Time2roll has done lots of cold weather camping. Listen to him carefully.

Power outages do happen--so I keep my furnace on ready to jump in to keep things from freezing.


Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, soon to have SiO2 batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

SDcampowneroperator

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Posted: 11/07/20 07:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have to comment again, concerning tank heaters. 12v wont do, as the amperage they draw is 10 times 120volt. 3 heaters, @ 250watts ea., is 6 amps at 120v, 60 amps at 12volts! Your battery would be dead in minutes, as well your converter would be maxed out trying to power only the tank heaters not to mention the rest of the house.

I have installed tank heat on 2 of my units, with one a 1997 HR 32WFS , I used old waterbed heaters with their thermostats set at 45f ( 8c) then ran the power cables to where I could plug them into my inverter when on the road or dry camped ( with the truck running or when power went out ) or into an outlet when hooked up to power( hydro to us dual US and Canucks ) Worked great to temps below -40 c or f
On the first one, a 1987 Award Columbia which had all exposed tanks I used 5 watt/ ft. heat cable glued to the underside of the tanks around the pump and dump valves, then spray foamed the entire underbelly tanks and all. That worked OK also but required proactive attention as it was not automatic thermostatic so I had to pay attention the temps outside.
In either case the trick is to dump only when the waste tanks are full or if not heated then use copious water, sinks full, flush full bowl 3 times amounts of water to carry the wastewater to the drain. , be certain your waste hose is graded if not heated. Most of all, vent and dehumidify the house or all your attempts at keeping warm will backfire because the moisture WILL condense in your walls rotting and ruining all your attempts leaving you with a rotten unheatable,unliveable hulk.
Seen that, a new Airstream interior destroyed in one winter in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Canada

pianotuna

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Posted: 11/07/20 07:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SDcampoweneroperator,

Please consider adding your comment to the winter camping thread under the full time forum.

Thanks!

pnichols

The Other California

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Posted: 11/08/20 01:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SDcampowneroperator wrote:

I have to comment again, concerning tank heaters. 12v wont do, as the amperage they draw is 10 times 120volt. 3 heaters, @ 250watts ea., is 6 amps at 120v, 60 amps at 12volts! Your battery would be dead in minutes, as well your converter would be maxed out trying to power only the tank heaters not to mention the rest of the house.

I have installed tank heat on 2 of my units, with one a 1997 HR 32WFS , I used old waterbed heaters with their thermostats set at 45f ( 8c) then ran the power cables to where I could plug them into my inverter when on the road or dry camped ( with the truck running or when power went out ) or into an outlet when hooked up to power( hydro to us dual US and Canucks ) Worked great to temps below -40 c or f
On the first one, a 1987 Award Columbia which had all exposed tanks I used 5 watt/ ft. heat cable glued to the underside of the tanks around the pump and dump valves, then spray foamed the entire underbelly tanks and all. That worked OK also but required proactive attention as it was not automatic thermostatic so I had to pay attention the temps outside.
In either case the trick is to dump only when the waste tanks are full or if not heated then use copious water, sinks full, flush full bowl 3 times amounts of water to carry the wastewater to the drain. , be certain your waste hose is graded if not heated. Most of all, vent and dehumidify the house or all your attempts at keeping warm will backfire because the moisture WILL condense in your walls rotting and ruining all your attempts leaving you with a rotten unheatable,unliveable hulk.
Seen that, a new Airstream interior destroyed in one winter in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Canada


What you say is only true if 12V tank heaters are the same wattage as 120V tanks heaters ... which they may not be. Is there an Internet link to the specs of 12V/120V tank heaters showning how many watts each model consumes?

I've been down under my tanks looking at it's 12V heaters on the bottoms of the GW and BW tanks. The wires to these 12V tank heaters don't appear to be anywhere near high enough gauge to carry the currents that you're mentioning.

Regarding battery amp hours consumed to power 12V tank heaters ... tank heaters cycle On and Off as they're opperating, depending upon how much water is in the tanks and the air temperatures ... so their current draw from the batteries is not constant.

I prefer 12V tank heaters for emergency drycamping insurance. When hookup camping, I assume that they wouldn't be offered if common RV converters couldn't keep up with their power needs.


Phil, 2005 E450 Itasca Spirit 24V

pnichols

The Other California

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Posted: 11/08/20 01:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here's the answer to my own question above:
https://www.ultraheat.com/ultraheat-rv-tank-heaters

As you see from the 12V tank heater specifications, their current draw is way low at 4.1amps to 11.8amps. As such, 12V tank heaters should be "no problem" for emergency use in drycamping, since due to their cycling On and OFF, total amp hour draw-down of RV batteries is not too bad at all.

time2roll

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Posted: 11/08/20 01:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Small tank 4 amps 25g
Medium tank 10 amps up to 55 gallons
Large tank 12 amps up to 75 gallons

I have 4 medium tanks = 40 amps. OK the voltage rating is 13.5 and would draw less as the battery sags to 12 volts and below. That would also give less heat and maybe the large pad is needed. My trailer came with a 55 amp converter so 40 amps will be near max. Add a few 12v pipe heaters and you could be on battery power.

OK they may cycle some in moderate temperatures. However at 0F and below I would assume near continuous power is needed. Especially on battery power producing less heat or if the pad is undersized some.

https://www.annodindustries.com/shop/sho........rmers/rv-and-marine/rv-tank-heaters.html

JoshuaH

Jefferson City, Mo

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Posted: 11/08/20 01:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the input. This is obviously more than I realized, will have to give this more thought.

pianotuna

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Posted: 11/08/20 02:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The ultra heat site suggests:

"correctly sized heat panels to RV holding tanks down to our design benchmark of -11°F (-24°C)"

CavemanCharlie

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Posted: 11/12/20 01:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When I use my TT in the winter time I just leave it winterized. Then I use a porta potti for waste and a tote in the sink for washing hands ETC. I am just using it for a weekend at a time though, not for long time living.

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