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Old 11-07-2011, 04:26 PM   #1
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My electric ceiling heater install

We bought our Catalina 20RD TT about 3 months ago. It's our first TT and I haven't been able to resist doing various upgrades/mods.

The first one was to install a recessed electric heater in the ceiling. This will let us keep a minimal amount of heat in the trailer over the winter (about 45F or so). Also, this heater is WAY quieter than the Suburban furnace which sounds like you are parked next to an airport.

It's a 1000W axial fan type made by Q-Mark. I researched every one available on the market and chose this one because it allows a closer (12") clearance to sidewalls and has an extension frame (available in 1" or 2"). The ceiling cavity is only 4 3/4" deep so the frame allowed my to have about a 2" layer of insulation above it.

After cutting a hole in the ceiling, I was able to fish the wires over to the fridge (after pulling it out) and down to the electrical panel. I installed a low voltage heating relay and transformer behind the elec. panel and ran LV wiring up to the thermostat in the cavity behind the bathtub. I wired it to the panel and installed a new 1P-15A breaker. Not worried about the increased electrical load as the A/C unit won't be turned on at the same time as the heater.

I'm really happy with the end result and it looks like it might have been installed by the TT manufacturer. Still patting myself on the back.

While I was pulling wiring into the walls and ceiling, I also installed a coax cable for the TV from the rear of the trailer to the opposite side near the door and at the end of the kitchen cabinet. Along with an articulating arm TV bracket, we'll now be able to watch TV in bed and from the dinette. We bought a 19" LDC TV with built-in DVD player which solved where to put the DVD player.

Now with a warm trailer in the winter, I'll be able to watch TV while doing the rest of our planned mods like adding a couple of cabinet doors, cabinet shelving, fixing the wobbly (factory standard) table, counter extension and towel rods.

Gil
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:49 AM   #2
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nicely done! how many watt is it? 1500?
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:55 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by The_Stuff View Post
nicely done! how many watt is it? 1500?
It's a 1000W axial fan type made by Q-Mark. (in original post)

Looks good, nice job!
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:07 AM   #4
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NICE!! By any chance do you have the exact model and where you purchased? I'm trying to get away from anything Propane on the RV.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:46 PM   #5
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Hi Ruben,

I bought the heater online at F.N. Cuthbert in Ohio. Their link is: Ceiling Heaters

The 1000 watt unit I bought is Q-Mark #QCH1101. To make it a little confusing, I think "Q-Mark" is the name of the product line and the actual manufacturer is Marley. Their is an entirely different number for the same heater under "Marley". The above link will have all the info. you should need.

The Q-Mark heaters are a little different in that the power supply to the heater is always ON (not controlled by a thermostat) and you have to run a separate pair of wires (120 volt) to the thermostat or low voltage relay. This way, the fan continues to run until the element has cooled down. I used a Honeywell #R841 relay and a standard Edwards 120/24v transformer. I also bought a White-Rodgers #1C20-101 LV thermostat ($12 wholesale). It uses a snap-action switch instead of a mercury one. Try and buy what you can from an electrical wholesaler as they are waaay cheaper.

BTW, the general rule of thumb (at least in the PNW area where we are) is to size a heater for 6 watts per square foot. For much colder areas, it might be in the order of 10 watts per foot. This is based on keeping the "room" heated to about 70F on the coldest day of the winter. So for our trailer of about 150 sq. feet, the min. size for our climate would have been 900 watts so I went with a 1000 watt unit. If you aren't planning to use your trailer in the dead of winter and just want some minimal heat for winter storage, you can easily go with a smaller heater. The max. heater size is 1500 watts at 120 volts though. If you have a 50 amp TT, you could use a higher wattage heater at 240 volts.

For a larger trailer or motorhome, I suppose you could always install two heaters in the ceiling at opposite ends (if an open floor plan). But then you may have a problem on how to run power wiring in the ceiling cavity.

I looked at installing a recessed electric wall heater somewhere, but I could not find a location that had the required vertical and horizontal clearance requirements. Other trailers might be easy in this respect though. A ceiling heater also does not intrude into any of the precious storage space that a wall heater would.

Hope this helps,
Gil
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Old 11-09-2011, 12:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info. We have a skylight in our triailer and I'm thinking this could fit in it with little modification..
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:10 PM   #7
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When you mention the skylight, are you meaning that gives you an access point to the ceiling space? One spot I was able to get into the ceiling was by removing the plastic surround on the bathroom fan. I also discovered that by unscrewing a light fixture (the stock ones) that there is a 1" or so hole that you can make use of. You could enlarge it a bit if needed. You can also run wiring at the top of cabinets. At the back and top of cabinets, you can get from the ceiling space down inside the wall by cutting a small hole in the plywood (it's only 1/8" so a utility knife works well). Then use caulking, spray foam to seal the opening or glue on a small piece of 1/8" plywood if needed. An A/C unit should also give another point of access to a ceiling space.

If you have exposed 120 volt wiring inside a cabinet, you should probably make sure it is mechanically protected with armored cable or solid wood. And make sure it is not possible to install a screw or nail into the wiring at some point in the future when someone has forgotten what is in there. Mind you, I'm not terribly impressed with the way factory wiring is installed, but then they are all built the same way. I'm too used to working with wiring in buildings and Building Codes.

You can always run wiring under the floor as well. I bought some of the special tape at our RV dealer that is used for fixing tears in the woven fabric. Never had to go under the trailer though. If you are really stuck, I guess you could always pull off a wall or ceiling piece of plywood. They aren't really attached very well and should come off easily. Glue back on or use a finishing nailer.
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:28 AM   #8
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Well, in one of the Cabinets is the wiring for the Microwave which is also about 3ft or so from the Skylight. what I meant by skylight was actually taking the skylight out and placing heater there. So I dont have to do cutting? I assume the heater needs venting to outside? roof? or is it a FLUSH mount?
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:02 PM   #9
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I am not sure that your skylight would be the right thing to do? First, you must have the opening in the ceiling the exact size specified by the manufacturer. To small and it won't fit and too large, you have gaps around that you'll have to cover up somehow (would probably look like an afterthought or mistake. And you've got to maintain the manufacturers specified clearances from sidewalls (12" for Q-Mark) and from the floor (6' IIRC).

The heater is not vented to the outside. You want as much insulation behind the heater as possible. Better for heat loss and you won't want condensation happening on the back of the heater.

The ceilings are typically (all??) 1/8" plywood which is very easy to cut with a utility knife. The ceiling trusses are made with nominal 2x2 wood (closer to 1.5x1.5" actual). I added a 2x2 (2 total) between the trusses alongside the heater. You need to do this to have something to screw the heater into to secure it in place. I used some basic "L" brackets at the end of each piece of 2x2 and wood screws. I cut the existing insulation out as needed and put a layer of it back in behind the heater.

If you use the extension flange like I did, the heater would be termed "semi-recessed". The heater I installed hangs down 2" from the ceiling surface and goes up into the ceiling about 2 3/4".

I put painter's tape on the ceiling to mark out the cuts. At the end of the day, if you really botched the cutout, you could always replace a section of ceiling plywood. It's not really secured in place with much.

Gil
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