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Old 02-08-2015, 06:21 PM   #1
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CheapHeat Mod to Existing Propane Furnace

I recall a few discussions about using electric heaters instead of propane when connected to shore power. Has anyone installed this mod or heard of anyone installing it in their RV?

It looks pretty impressive but I have a concern that it could overwork the furnace's fan because of the increased static pressure in the plenum. Another point is if you have a 50 amp panel and hardwire it to 3700 or 5000 watts it won't work if the campground only has a 30 amp hookup. Too bad it's not switchable.



Ken
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:24 PM   #2
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I have seen that or something like it before. I think I'll stick with my portables and fireplace.
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:59 PM   #3
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Where did you get the idea it causes enough increased static pressure to possibly hurt the fan? The only detractors of cheap Heat I've seen were those who never had one or even saw one in operation. Everyone I've seen that does has one were very happy with it.


Before anyone brings up anything about adding Cheap Heat voiding the gas furnace warranty:


1. Despite claims from Atwood, unless it can be proved that Cheap Heat damaged the furnace, Atwood (or any other manufacturer, for that matter) cannot legally deny a warranty claim.


2. Cheap Heat will cover the factory warranty of any furnace it does damage.
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:30 PM   #4
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I would be concerned with using 50% of all available power for the heater. 1800 Watts is 15 amps. Same with a 50 amp rig, using 31.25 to 41.6 amps may effect other items on that leg. And, if you find a lower voltage at a campground, which is common, you will use even more amperage to run the heater. You may have issues using a coffee pot, MW or other appliances while the heater is running.
I find it easier to just use a portable heater, (and way less expensive) rather than installing what in essence a portable device permanently. Much easier to turn off a portable while Im making coffee than keep turning the thermostat on and off. I like the KISS system... that said, it probably works fine with the above caveats.
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:40 PM   #5
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Jeannie,

It sounds like you have a vested interest in CheapHeat.

I expressed my concern based on years of experience as a home improvement consultant/inspector/tester with actual HVAC design experience. Anyone with any HVAC knowledge knows that placing another airflow obstacle (e.g, the CheapHeat) in a system increases the static pressure and could possibly overwork the fan motor.

I'm glad you informed us that Atwood considers the warranty voided if one is installed. And yes, anyone can sue anyone for anything but you would spend more in attorney fees in the first few hours than the price of a new furnace. Glad to hear that the manufacturer of CheapHeat is willing to pay for the replacement.

A better solution would be for RV Comfort Systems to team with Atwood to design a system based on the increased static pressure.

Ken
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Old 02-09-2015, 01:24 AM   #6
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I would be concerned with using 50% of all available power for the heater. 1800 Watts is 15 amps. Same with a 50 amp rig, using 31.25 to 41.6 amps may effect other items on that leg. And, if you find a lower voltage at a campground, which is common, you will use even more amperage to run the heater. You may have issues using a coffee pot, MW or other appliances while the heater is running.
I find it easier to just use a portable heater, (and way less expensive) rather than installing what in essence a portable device permanently. Much easier to turn off a portable while Im making coffee than keep turning the thermostat on and off. I like the KISS system... that said, it probably works fine with the above caveats.
When used on a 50A service, Cheap Heat runs on 240V from across both legs, not just one 120V leg, so current draw is less than 25 A, as I recall, when using the highest rating. Two A/Cs in the summer use almost that much, more if you include startup power.
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Old 02-09-2015, 01:34 AM   #7
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Jeannie,

It sounds like you have a vested interest in CheapHeat.

I expressed my concern based on years of experience as a home improvement consultant/inspector/tester with actual HVAC design experience. Anyone with any HVAC knowledge knows that placing another airflow obstacle (e.g, the CheapHeat) in a system increases the static pressure and could possibly overwork the fan motor.

I'm glad you informed us that Atwood considers the warranty voided if one is installed. And yes, anyone can sue anyone for anything but you would spend more in attorney fees in the first few hours than the price of a new furnace. Glad to hear that the manufacturer of CheapHeat is willing to pay for the replacement.

A better solution would be for RV Comfort Systems to team with Atwood to design a system based on the increased static pressure.

Ken
Nope, no vested interest; I've just done a lot of homework (and I get tired of seeing people knocking new products without knowing anything about them).

Percentagewise, I seriously doubt that Cheap Heat's coils increase static pressure enough to cause a problem for the heater blower. Closing off a register or few somewhere would cause more of an increase in static pressure and I would be surprised if RV furnace manufacturers didn't allow some leeway for that when they rated the blower (you can tell people not to close too many registers but you know many will do it anyway so the manufacturers have to CYA).


Several people on a couple other RV forums have been using Cheap Heat for two or three years with no problems. It's also endorsed by Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor, a RVIA certified tech. Also, I seriously doubt Cheap Heat would offer to cover a denied factory warranty claim if there was any real danger of having to actually do so.
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Old 02-09-2015, 01:57 AM   #8
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I don't see the value in making the change. A portable heater, with thermostat would put heat where you need it, when you need it, at a much lower cost. When I'm sleeping, I do not want to heat my kitchen/living area as I may want to heat my bedroom. Same with bath area, I may want to warm that area and not heat the whole rig. I see little value to me to install this. Add to that the potential issues with warranty of not only the heater, bu the rig as a whole when you make permanent installations. Also, I can control a portable heater much easier than using my furnace. Just my personal opinion.

As with many things in life, there can be unexpected consequences. Adding breakers, running electrical lines, well......stuff happens. I'd rather plug in a heater and be done with it.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:45 AM   #9
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I like the idea because it circulates heat into the basement, unlike conventional space heaters, but wonder if the cost would be worth it. According to the website, the unit costs $495 and they are fairly insistant on it being installed by a certified RV tech. which brings the total cost to around $1200. I suppose you could save that much money over time but probably not if staying on a monthly rate where the "camper" is paying for electricity. Maybe a good option for MH owners who have to pay upwards of $4 to $5 a gallon for propane delivery but I'm gonna rule it out for my 5er.
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Old 02-09-2015, 09:20 AM   #10
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Jeannie, I'm not knocking the system, just posing a question. In fact you will notice in my first post that I said that the system looks pretty impressive.

You make some good points about the 50 amp service being 240 volts and that Atwood probably over-engineered the fan motor for increased static pressure but I would like to see some performance data before recommending and/or installing it.

As I said earlier, it would be nice to see RV Comfort Systems team with RV furnace manufacturers to incorporate their CheapHeat component. Jayco could then offer it as an option.

Ken
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