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Old 11-10-2014, 10:57 AM   #1
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Tank Heater Option

Has anyone noticed any benefit to the Tank Heater option on the Wildcat?

I just got back from a weekend camping in weather that dipped below freezing each night with the lows around 20 degrees. Even with the tank heaters on the entire time, I could not dump the tanks because the contents were too frozen to dump. I suspect it was at the dump valves where the obstruction was located and not in the tanks themselves.

I also suspect the tank warmers are either ineffective or ill suited for actually warming the tanks. I noticed no current change from the generator when turning these tank heaters either on or off. As a comparison, turning on the 6 LED lights in the living area does change the generator load. If the heaters draw less current than 6 LED lights, then they arenít doing anything in the way of providing heat.

If others would share their knowledge of these tank heaters, I would appreciate it. Depending on the response, I may investigate why mine donít seem to work or just chalk it up as a Wildcat marketing strategy and not a functional option.
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Old 11-10-2014, 11:51 AM   #2
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Are they accessible to test, with a DMM or with a temperature gauge?
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Old 11-11-2014, 10:40 AM   #3
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I would have to remove portions of the enclosed underbelly to access the tanks and heating pads for temperature and individual continuity but I may be able to remove the DC power switch for the tank heaters and check continuity to all 4 tank heaters in parallel and for total current draw. However, there was no appreciable load placed on the generator when the tanks were cold and the switch was first turned on or off so, either they aren’t connected or they are of such a low wattage that they can’t generate any appreciable heat. If anyone notices any beneficial effects from the tank heaters, I’ll check them out some more.

Another anomaly I noticed was the cold air returns don’t draw any air. Instead, there is a slight warm breeze coming from the cold air returns. The hot air vents have a very warm and noticeable airflow. I plan to remove some panels in the basement and see what is happening there. Perhaps a trip to the dealer is the answer.
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:00 AM   #4
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I would have to remove portions of the enclosed underbelly to access the tanks and heating pads for temperature and individual continuity but I may be able to remove the DC power switch for the tank heaters and check continuity to all 4 tank heaters in parallel and for total current draw. However, there was no appreciable load placed on the generator when the tanks were cold and the switch was first turned on or off so, either they aren’t connected or they are of such a low wattage that they can’t generate any appreciable heat. If anyone notices any beneficial effects from the tank heaters, I’ll check them out some more.

Another anomaly I noticed was the cold air returns don’t draw any air. Instead, there is a slight warm breeze coming from the cold air returns. The hot air vents have a very warm and noticeable airflow. I plan to remove some panels in the basement and see what is happening there. Perhaps a trip to the dealer is the answer.
If you had your heater on then you are probably getting warm air our of the return from the basement heat duct if you have one, Also if your basement is above 40 degrees the switch will be on but the tank heaters will not draw. They are on a stat that comes on at 40 and off at 60 degrees. FR uses the whole basement as a return Plenum. ( NO DUCT WORK) Now I'm saying this because that's how mine work's. So really you may not have a problem. Just a guess here... but that is pretty much how they work on all units. those tank heaters pull about 14 amps or so depending on the pad size and number of them. Suburban by code has to put a return air in the living area, but it doesn't have to hook to your furnace. You don't even want to know how I found that out, What a nightmare between me, FR and suburban. I'm the person who made FR put return airs in the 8289WS in 2012. Now all the units have them.
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Old 11-11-2014, 01:32 PM   #5
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Thanks for the explanation. It explains the heating pads and cold air return operation I experienced.

I didn’t expect the heat applied to the enclosed underbelly to spill out the cold air returns. Maybe the setup isn’t well balanced. I may remove a panel in the basement to see the furnace and some of the underbelly but that will have to wait for a warmer day.
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Old 11-11-2014, 01:43 PM   #6
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Thanks for the explanation. It explains the heating pads and cold air return operation I experienced.

I didnít expect the heat applied to the enclosed underbelly to spill out the cold air returns. Maybe the setup isnít well balanced. I may remove a panel in the basement to see the furnace and some of the underbelly but that will have to wait for a warmer day.
Don't blame you at all, what you can do is tape over the register in the basement. You will stop the R/A problem. I know that I have been the low 20's and the heat off the tanks get the basement from freezing. The more liquid in the tanks the more heat retention I have found and that's with 3 tanks. 1-40 and two 35 gals. Or maybe just block off half that regester if your a cold weather camper, I mean below freezing for at least 3 days in a row...
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Old 12-01-2014, 02:15 PM   #7
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My 2 cents.....

I am not familiar with 'tank heater pads' as an option but I do have some experience with the 'poor quality control' Forest River has.

Perhaps the wiring or plug end of the heater pads is not even connected.... your continuity test would reveal that.
My point is that our Hot water heater tanks 110 volt plug in was never used by previous owner from factory for 7 years...how I know... I found the plug in cord buried in the heater cavity with factory silicone sealant all over the cord and plug end, after we bought this unit in July this year.

Also, perhaps the wires leading to the 'heating pads' got cut during the build / install process.
My point is that is what happened to my black holding tank level gage wires.... how I know... I removed a portion of the under belly cover to reveal the tank and found the wires neatly sliced right where they cut out for the black tank drain. Again...the gage never used by previous owner for 7 years from factory...until I fixed them.

I could go on and on about some 'quality control' peeves I have about Forest River....but ... I only posted this in hopes it might help.

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Old 12-01-2014, 02:29 PM   #8
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My 2 cents.....

I am not familiar with 'tank heater pads' as an option but I do have some experience with the 'poor quality control' Forest River has.

Perhaps the wiring or plug end of the heater pads is not even connected.... your continuity test would reveal that.
My point is that our Hot water heater tanks 110 volt plug in was never used by previous owner from factory for 7 years...how I know... I found the plug in cord buried in the heater cavity with factory silicone sealant all over the cord and plug end, after we bought this unit in July this year.

Also, perhaps the wires leading to the 'heating pads' got cut during the build / install process.
My point is that is what happened to my black holding tank level gage wires.... how I know... I removed a portion of the under belly cover to reveal the tank and found the wires neatly sliced right where they cut out for the black tank drain. Again...the gage never used by previous owner for 7 years from factory...until I fixed them.

I could go on and on about some 'quality control' peeves I have about Forest River....but ... I only posted this in hopes it might help.

-Islander-
I agree with everything you said. You are lucky because you know how to do that, where the average buyer might not. It's just a pure shame that these things get buy them. I'm saying that as a Pro type FR person. That's ashame.
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Old 12-01-2014, 02:59 PM   #9
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Suburban by code has to put a return air in the living area, but it doesn't have to hook to your furnace. You don't even want to know how I found that out, What a nightmare between me, FR and suburban. I'm the person who made FR put return airs in the 8289WS in 2012. Now all the units have them.
'gljurczyk'....
I'm at risk for being off topic here...but I was wondering about the return air vent in my Wildcat located in the main salon.
The only thing I notice coming or going from the R/A register is the noise the furnace makes, as it is right behind the furnace cavity.
Does it have to be there to provide air do you think? ...or is it there to dissipate heat build up from the furnace for safety ?

Our water heater is below a bank of pantry cabinets...it transfers heat upward to the 3 cabinets above.... now I installed a vent to let that heat build up to escape into the main salon, and not heat up my cookies.
Sorry for off topic.
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Old 12-02-2014, 07:28 AM   #10
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'gljurczyk'....
I'm at risk for being off topic here...but I was wondering about the return air vent in my Wildcat located in the main salon.
The only thing I notice coming or going from the R/A register is the noise the furnace makes, as it is right behind the furnace cavity.
Does it have to be there to provide air do you think? ...or is it there to dissipate heat build up from the furnace for safety ?

Our water heater is below a bank of pantry cabinets...it transfers heat upward to the 3 cabinets above.... now I installed a vent to let that heat build up to escape into the main salon, and not heat up my cookies.
Sorry for off topic.
-Islander-
You can move the R/A anywhere you want, as long as it has a path back to the furnace. Such as a wall blocking your R/A where you moved it to in the basement. As long as it can back to the furnace in the basement, Move it where you want. Plus it might even be a little quieter it you put something over the original whole. You are going to want atleast 55 sq. inches of R/A (WHOLE SIZE COMBINED). So lets say that would be #2- 2 1/4x12 registers. #3 would be better. You could put in more then 1 R/A to help balance the air flow. Just make sure nothing is stopping the air getting back to the furnace location. Hope I answered your question....
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:16 AM   #11
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Another anomaly I noticed was the cold air returns donít draw any air. Instead, there is a slight warm breeze coming from the cold air returns. The hot air vents have a very warm and noticeable airflow. I plan to remove some panels in the basement and see what is happening there. Perhaps a trip to the dealer is the answer.
TGR, what year and model Wildcat do you have? You mentioned "cold air returnS" as in more than one return. Where are these returns? I have 4 air returns in the ceiling of my Wildcat which drawn air from the cabin when the air conditioner blower is operating. I have a single air return for the furnace although, as has been said, the furnace sucks input air from all available cracks! I will say there is not much of a crack between my basement storage and the catacombs where my furnace hides. I doubt if much air is drawn from my basement.

Regarding the tank heaters: I might have missed reading it, but does your tank heater switch include a light (as mine does) to indicate when it is ON? If so, is the light burning? If not, you may have a blown fuse.

Just tryin' to help.
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Old 12-03-2014, 06:11 PM   #12
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I have a 2015 Wildcat 282 RKX with a rear kitchen. There is one cold air return in the kitchen floor and one in the bathroom floor. This model has the bedroom and bathroom similar to many of the late-model Wildcat 5th wheels with the BAL frame and drop-frame basement.


The tank heater switch has a light to indicate power to the heating pads and it lights as expected. I think gljurczyk's explanation fits my situation. The furnace was running and although the outside temperature was in the teens, the tanks were likely above the 40 degrees required for the DC tank heaters to turn on when I tried cycling the tank heaters.


The weather has been too cold for me to look further into this issue. Perhaps a trip to a warmer climate will give me a chance to investigate more!
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:03 AM   #13
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OK, thanks. I don't remember ever seeing cold air returns in the floor - only warm furnace air outlets.


Sent (I think)
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