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Old 01-01-2013, 08:09 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by campnqueen View Post
Hey Road Trip... I knida think along the lines of rlocicero. Use the built in furnace. At night we have a heated mattress pas on our bed... heat the bed before we get in and then turn it off. Used very little power. Also helps to have two big dogs that sleep with you!
Two words-- FLANNEL SHEETS. Get some. Also a down comforter or even
a down sleeping bag opened up and laid on the bed. Add a fleece blanket
in between. This can be VERY warm and not weigh you down but....
those middle of the night potty calls are oh, so, cold

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Old 01-01-2013, 12:23 PM   #42
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This has turned into quite the conversation I see. As an electrician, I'd like to offer up some things, not for debate, but to dispel some things that I've seen that I think are a bit distorted. As stated, I'm not looking to debate and anyone feel free to do their own due diligence. I'm just trying to help the lay person that has minimal or marginal electrical knowledge. That being said, here's my offering.

1. There are 3 recognized "grades" of receptacles, general use, hospital grade, and government "spec" grade. All are UL listed and rated for voltage and amperage, and are capable of operating under general use conditions.

2. The romex wiring used in our campers is the same as is used in our homes, and is also UL listed and rated for voltage and amperage it can carry.

3. A 1500W heater will run at about 13A depending on blower, etc, which is in the operating range of a 15A breaker. It's near the threshold, so obviously you can't run another heater on the circuit, but an alarm clock wouldn't hurt.

4. Electrical fires are usually the result of circuit overload, loose terminations or splices, or faulty, damaged, or otherwise improperly installed wiring/connections.

5. A circuit that has properly sized breaker, wire, and device that are all properly installed, is no more a fire hazzard in your camper than it is in your home.

6. Obviously, if an inverter is involved, then consideration must be given to any load placed on it.

7. With any receptacle time can cause the tension to weaken and not hold the cord as firmly. This is largely the culprit, as the connection is compromised, which can lead to arcing. Arcing is fire/heat. In most cases, this receptacle/cord will be excessively warm to the touch. The melting/burning of wire and devices is a result of this bad connection that often leads to electrical fires. Be it in your home or your camper, if a receptacle does not hold a cord firmly, replace it.

8. The circuit doesn't care what is plugged into it to make up the load, it just wants good connections and not to be overloaded. 15A is 15A, be it a heater, or a large bank of LED lights. It's just like the old "what's heavier 5lbs of feathers or 5 lbs of sand". Without getting overly technical, there are times in the trade when we take inrush currents into consideration, but for the little heaters we're talking about, that's not an issue.

To the OP, I don't see a brand on my heater, but it's a 1500W ceramic with fan/blower, and tip over protection that I paid $20 for at home depot. I would not hesitate or fear using it in my camper. I know not to overload the circuit and to watch/check outlets that I run heavy loads on. In fact, it's good practice to just check the outlets in general. It doesn't necessarily take a heater, blow dryer, or microwave to expose an issue. Sometimes the issue isn't at the outlet you use those items at, but somewhere else in the circuit that has been compromised. It's always a good idea to check connections, as our units are subjected to the rigors of the road, and all the bouncing around.

In my Outback that I just sold, I added a 2nd AC and upgraded it to 50A. In that process, I reconfigured the circuitry of the entire trailer and added some additional circuits. 50A at 240V gives you a lot more options than 30A at 120V, and you can run a lot more things simultaneously. When I get my Sabre, I will look at how they distribute the loads and make whatever changes I deem necessary.

Happy camping and hope this clears the waters a bit for those that needed it.


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Old 01-01-2013, 12:37 PM   #43
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Great inof LaydBack... I feel better and will past this along to my hubby.... I would rather be safe than sorry :O this is why I love this forum... so much GOOD info! THANKS and Happy New Year!

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Old 01-01-2013, 01:34 PM   #44
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Okay, but..... RV's don't use receptacles that are used in building construction, and therein lies a problem. I know this thread is going a little sideways, but I thought I would add/clarify something.

Also, I sure hope the OP gets a good answer in this thread somewhere!

RVs use a receptacle (and switch) designated "self contained device" that are specifically for RVs and manufactured homes. See this Pass & Seymour manufacturer info.: Residential, commercial, hospital, or any other grade of receptacle used in building construction cannot be used in the exterior wall of an RV because the walls are not thick enough to install an outlet box these receptacles. To install a non-SCD type of recept. in an RV exterior wall is inviting disaster. "Ordinary" receptacles must be installed in an outlet box so that there are no exposed terminals. SCD receptacles have a cover on the rear that covers the connections/terminals. You *could* install a non-SCD receptacle on an interior wall or mounted on a cabinet as long as you install an outlet box.

Secondly, a significant problem is that too often, wiring on an SCD receptacle has not been done properly. I have found this on our own TT on the first recept. I pulled out (to relocate up a bit). Rather scary IMO. SCD receptacles have two prongs (or stabs) for each wire to be pushed on to. The wire MUST be pushed onto both prongs or the termination can overheat. There is a proper tool for terminating the wire on SCD receptacles, but if one is very careful, you can push the wire in with a screwdriver.

SCD designated receptacles are not "crap" as I have often read. They are designed to meet Code and safety standards and there is no problem as long as they are installed properly. Too many times I have read that someone is gonna take the POS receptacle out and install a "proper" one.

I know from reading RV forums here and elsewhere that overheating and failed receptacles happen. If you have a 1500W heater running continuously or nearly continuously, there is a risk of fire if the recept. is not properly installed or the wrong one is in there. I wonder how many fires have been caused by improperly terminated wires at a recept.?

I think it would be smart to at least spot check some recepts. in your camper. And/or maybe it would be good to check all terminations on the circuit that is supplying a heater. And if you bought a used RV, I would also suggest checking to see if non-SCD receptacles have been installed. In view of the numerous manufacturing issues that we constantly hear about, I have to wonder how many RVs leave plants with improperly wired receptacles.

Please excuse the verbosity herein, but as an elec. eng. I couldn't resist....
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:15 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by rawlus
The technology has advanced over the past few years. They can be done easily and without a mortar bed. The brand I referenced in my original reply is just one option.
Laminate Floor Heating - ThermoSoft

Incidentally, thermosoft makes many of the heated mattress elements in RV use and it is based upon the same principle as their ready to install radiant floor pads.
Sounds like a great thing to have for my tootsies!
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:04 PM   #46
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I somehow figured this would go this way......and to clarify....

I never endorsed or instructed anyone to use a non-scd device, to install any non-scd device anywhere without it being in a box, nor to install any device in the exterior walls. Confronted with either, "I" would be capable of figuring out how to proceed and make the situation safe. Hopefully the nuts and bolts of what I said referenced "proper size and rating" of all components, and the fact that if not "properly installed", then all bets are off, expect problems. If one looks at the link in my sig, one will see that the non-scd devices I installed are in interior walls and "properly" installed in boxes and any splices I done are in boxes as well. I even labled what's going on, in case some "qualified" rv service guy would get the privilege to work on the unit.

Aside from all the marketing hullabaloo, the "brochure" linked above clearly does indicate the certifying agencies (UL and CSA), and the voltage and amperage ratings for which the devices are approved to be able to handle in a "manufactured structure or rv", presumably with the item of your choice, as I don't see any disclaimers for certain loads/items. As long as you don't "exceed" those ratings that the device/circuit is designed for and it's "properly" installed, I say go for it. In many cases, your electric skillet/griddle draws as much as, if not more, than a heater, and nobody thinks twice. Obviously, you may not run them for hours on end, but they're capable of the same damage in a compromised circuit. I think we all know or have experienced the "craftsmanship" or lack thereof that goes into making these units, and accept that as the nature of the industry. Keep that in mind, and check the components involved before using a heavy load or doing any mods, would be my advice.

I don't have a particular agenda or product to endorse, just like to share and help others achieve what they set out to achieve, with their own hands, and save them some dollars, while not sacrificing safety, quality, or property. I followed the thread in hopes of finding out something to be able to "build a better mousetrap" for the new unit....maybe a better heater....maybe something I hadn't heard of. At this point, it remains an interesting topic as my wife likes it cozy/toasty in the trailer (and I like her better when she's cozy in the trailer), and there's no doubt I can save considerable $$$ on propane. In the last unit, we basically only used propane for cooking, and occaissionally for's not like we'd freeze to keep from using propane.

All that being said, I won't banter back and forth. If there's something else I can offer to those that are interested in using electric heat "safely" feel free to PM me.

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Old 01-01-2013, 05:21 PM   #47
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I just open the oven and turn it up, and if it still ain't warm enough, I bring in my charcoal grill.

NOT! For damn sure, but people keep doing this!
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:34 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by RoadTrip View Post
We're newbies, had our MH about 5 months and have decided we will continue to use it year round (mainly to visit family).

So we have the heated water hose, our MH came with the Arctic Pac, and now we are shopping for a space heater to help out the furnace. Over Christmas we found that our old space heater wouldn't keep up with 25 degrees farenheit outside, but it did help extend the furnace cycles.

But we want to upgrade. So far we've found one ceramic space heater using 12 amps that sounds promising - so we want to ask the experts. What space heater do you use?
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:50 PM   #49
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There are several answers to this, but the consensus is to buy a ceramic 1500-1800 Watt heater with a bit of air movement. Most of the rest of the stuff is hype.

1500 Watts is 1500 Watts, and it can only convert to so much heat.

Even the oil-filled heaters can't make those 1500 watts better, but they stretch them out, leaving you cooler while waiting for the heat.

I recommend a ceramic heater. They all have tip-over switches nowadays, and give you a pretty good heat.

Wal*Mart and $25.00, and you're happy.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:49 AM   #50
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LOL - Thanks Miller and everyone for the help. And I feel pretty comfortable in the solution I've found.

Given our situation - 20-30 degree F camping, plugged in to family's house for shore power, and usually having one child staying on board with us (so we need to heat the whole MH), and having the furnace cycle at night approx every 10-15 minutes.

We set out to find out what heating options are available.

1 - In that temp a single 1500w heater will not heat our whole 31' MH, but when used to heat the back half - it stretches out the furnace cycle time to 30-45 min.

2 - 1500w produces a fixed amount of heat, so choice of heater is personal

3 - Wiring is generally...wiring. And all things being equal, if the amps fit - you can use it.

4 - It is *generally* safe, and has been for millions of camp trips, to use space heaters in a sane and reasonable manner on an RV. There are exceptions to this.

5 - If I accept that risk, and at 20-30 degrees, two space heaters still will likely not be the sole heat source in the RV, but may delay cycling of furnace longer.

As for my personal choice, I'm going to follow my gut and your all wonderful examples, and experiment. I think I've concluded that our "year around" plans probably have a lower temperature limit of about 20 Fahrenheit. We camp 99% of the time just for a weekend at a time at the grandparents house, so more involved solutions aren't for us.

I think I'll head to the hardware store and just buy a brand new space heater - or maybe two. Try those and see what happens. Even if it only delays that furnace cycle, that's a great outcome for me.

But it's nice to know that I can also rely solely on the furnace, and just fill up with propane after the weekend.

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