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Old 12-13-2013, 03:39 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 342
Tank Heaters

Keeping busy again and would like to bounce my idea off any and all. Maybe some of you have done this before.
Adding DC heating pads w/thermostat(42-60F) and insulating the fully exposed tanks
I will only use one or all of these when I have full hook-ups or maybe running down the road(powered by TV) I will most likely only be in climates that might drop to 20F at night and only a couple days a year.
I bought three switches with lights(to remind me to turn them off) I will install these on the converter housing. Which might not be the most convenient to turn on and off(low on the floor) but extremely convenient to run the wires to and from and I don’t expect to use these very often. I made a window in the converter cover panel with Plexiglas to see the switch lights. Heat pads are 4.3ampDC so a 15amp fuse should do all three and have the unused fuses.
I am presently doing a very good job of cleaning the bottom of the tanks, even a little sanding.
I am going to buy Reflectix from local hardware store. Reflectix does not have a very good R-value(3-7) but it appears to be very strong and is considered a water barrier too. I would think this would hold up as well as anything. Might put a second layer on the bottom of the tanks, I’ll have to see how it looks. NOTE:The manufacture of the heat pads states that insulation helps considerably but is not necessary.
I plan to install the insulation with contact cement or if this doesn’t hold well I will use double sided hurricane tape.
I will cover any and all seams with aluminum tape.
And it appears that my water pump inlet comes from the bottom of my tank and goes up through the floor so I will insolate that short run a little extra with pipe-insulation and covering that with Reflectix for protection.
All input is good input…..
Just for some info, my parents are full-timers and their classA is winterized by running ducting from the propane heater. Well to save propane they have an electric fireplace-heater and they turned down the furnace thermostat to 55. The fireplace kept them nice and warm but the furnace never came on and their tanks froze. Luckily they had no damage but had to wait tell they thawed the pump and tanks for water the next morning. My dad is going to install a 60w light bulb in the compartment for next time.
So if your tanks are ducted use that furnace.

2011 Wildwood T26BHXL
2004 Yukon XL Denali
43yrs of camping; one lucky guy
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:06 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Clarksville Va.
Posts: 6,836
That sounds like a good plan is your underbelly closed? I do not winterize myself. I keep my unit at home and plugged into power. If you can I would also suggest that you wrap the elbows and wrap some at your tank valves. That's how the factory has it. I have also used that silver insulation stuffed into my outdoor shower door and I loosely covered my water pump with it also. I had the water filter and housing removed a couple of days ago at my dealer. I will use an external filter now. Found out that all my water lines are not plex they are rubber. My dealer was shocked when he saw it and found out. Doing it this way I have been down to 22 degrees without any problem. I also use a 1500 watt heater plugged in and my stat at 50 incase I loose power I also have a 2" duct down there. I will tell you that those tank pads will really run down your batteries fast. I also installed a remote stat in the basement it shows the lowest temp plus the current temp. My basement has gotten down to 41 low and 55 high this winter so far. I took one out of my Refer and put in the basement being I'm not using it now. Well good luck with your plan sounds good but remember the elbows and valves. I use to own a Wildwood LE 19'. I like that line.

Rockwood #8289 WS 2012
F250 6.0 / Husky 16k
With 4 point leveling system
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:11 PM   #3
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 342

Install went very easy and I have done a short trip and all went well, not to the snow because us Northern Californians have none. The insulation held up perfectly to freeway speeds, I’ll be watching closely.
When the heat pads came they were labeled as 5.9amp/dc not 4.3; bigger is better.
My 3 hour project did take more like 10 hours. Finding a durable insulation that could with stand being under the camper, adhesives to hold it in place and a good pattern to cut the insulation and locating the switches in an appropriate location, took most of my time(do it right the first time)
I did the wiring first. I installed and labeled three switches w/lights on the converter, I wanted the lights to remind me to turn them off. 5-17 amps/dc would quickly drain my batteries without shore or TV power.
I cut a hole in the converter cover and installed a plexiglass window to see the switches.
I had open fuse slots and installed one 20amp fuse to run all three heaters. There were already wires running through the floor behind the converter so those were easy to follow under the camper.
Tank clean up was easy. Planned to insulate so I cleaned the whole tank and framing around tanks with scuff pads and alcohol.
The heat elements came on neoprene with a sticky back. I installed the heat pads on flat areas as close to the outlets as possible. The sticky back holds extremely well but I added aluminum tape on the edges, just seemed like the thing to do.
Insulating took a little finesse around the hoses and level-indicator-wires. I worked with a smaller piece first to nicely go around all the obstacles and then went back with a large piece to fully cover with minimal seams. I was able to tuck insulation above the tank on all sides and under the cross member, should hold well, but I will be watching closely for quite a while.
The only hose I insulated was the pump feed. I used neoprene flexible hose insulation and then covered that with insulation and aluminum tape.
I decided not to insulate the grey or black tanks. The 2 ½ ft pipe run from the grey tank to the valve does worry me, I’ll just have to see.

I have to say I am a little disappointed with the location of the fill hose on the FW. It goes in the side about 80% up. The air bleed is 85% up the side of the tank. I can only believe I am not getting the full capacity of my 48gl tank. My old Terry filled in the top, even the pump came from a draw-tube through the top. I always kind of wondered why the Wildwood’s FW is 48gl and the GW is 35gl but maybe this is why; my FW is only filling to 38-40gl.
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2011 Wildwood T26BHXL
2004 Yukon XL Denali
43yrs of camping; one lucky guy
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:56 PM   #4
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Anacortes, WA
Posts: 1,169
Do you really want to draw 7 amps per heater from your house batteries to heat the sewage to 64 F? With that amount of contaminants. it probably wouldn't start to freeze until 29 degrees.

We don't camp after late September, and rarely stay anywhere except FHU campgrounds, so it isn't an issue for us. I'm not willing to assign 28 amps for the task. I've disconnected my Arctic pack. I'll reconnect it for selling the rig.
Frank and Eileen
No longer RVers or FR owners
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Old 01-03-2014, 09:31 AM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 342
I think you might be right about the black and even the grey, I might not ever use them, that’s why I didn’t insulate them(YET; we’ll see). My kids are getting older and want to go up to the snow, I will always park below the snow line but nights will be freezing cold. I just want to be safe and why would I care if I’m pulling some extra amps from the campground. I thought hard about only heating the fresh water but it was just as easy to do all three if I was going to do any. Switches are good…..just turn them off

With no tank heaters, 5 years ago, I did a spring time trip to the Grand Canyon and we got snow every night. During the day the temperature was nice and most of the snow would melt but it was cold at night. So at night I would open cabinet doors and run the heater, I would dump the gray tank and empty the sewer hose then disconnect and empty the fresh water hose. It was all good until our last day, got up in the morning and started in on my normal pack-up routine. Went to dump and clean black tank and nothing came out, it was frozen. So I ran the hot water from the shower wand in to the potty and thawed it out.
We ran in to snow on the ground in Bryce Canyon 3 years ago.
“There is no bad weather, only bad gear” that’s what they say…….
2011 Wildwood T26BHXL
2004 Yukon XL Denali
43yrs of camping; one lucky guy
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heater, tank

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