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Old 04-22-2017, 02:03 PM   #41
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Are they all like this? Unprotected tanks on the underside of a chassis with extremely low ground clearance? Or is that just Roadtrek?

Not checking the RT forum, I don't "do" Facebook...
The Chevy Roadtreks are primarily the ones that have low clearance issues, but you don't seem to hear much about tank damage. It is usually the tank valves that take the hit, as they are the lowest point and are midpoint between the axles so can high center.

The winter driving issew is mostly a corrosion thing as the salt does a number on the motorhome components which aren't are corrosion resistant as vehicle parts.
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Old 04-22-2017, 03:25 PM   #42
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RT Sprinters have an option to harness the heat from the engine coolant and pipe it to a glycol heat exchanger for the cabin use.

It sounds complicated, but it is really simple, and a great idea to utilize the waste heat.


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Old 04-22-2017, 03:42 PM   #43
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.

RT Sprinters have an option to harness the heat from the engine coolant and pipe it to a glycol heat exchanger for the cabin use.

It sounds complicated, but it is really simple, and a great idea to utilize the waste heat.
Yes. Rixen's offers that as an option on their Espar D5 hydronic setup as well. But the D5 heats up the glycol loop so quickly that I decided it wasn't worth it. It does have the additional advantage that you can use it in reverse to preheat the engine.
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Old 04-22-2017, 04:38 PM   #44
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So, do these heat strips and other electrics run on 12v? Does a solar system have enough oomph in sub-freezing temps to keep it all running? It's pretty cool that it all runs off the engine coolant system as most 4-seasons systems that I'm familiar with really only work when you're parked.
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Old 04-22-2017, 04:54 PM   #45
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So, do these heat strips and other electrics run on 12v? Does a solar system have enough oomph in sub-freezing temps to keep it all running? It's pretty cool that it all runs off the engine coolant system as most 4-seasons systems that I'm familiar with really only work when you're parked.
Yes, the heat strips are 12VDC. No, my modest solar would not keep up. I have 440Ah of AGM and a second engine alternator. Dry camping for a long period would still be a challenge, though. We don't really attempt long-term winter camping without a hookup.

To be clear, our system uses the Espar glycol loop, not the engine's (although it could.) I can use it while driving, though, using the electric heating element in the Rixen's expansion tank powered by the second engine alternator.
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Old 04-22-2017, 06:02 PM   #46
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I have almost finished winterizing loop on my van following my 2013 plans. The 14 gal. SS tank is protected with ¾” hoses on the side of the tank. I still need to run coolant through the ½” copper tube attached to the fresh water tank with the Gorilla tape. My water pump is inside the bottom of the B-pillar so Espar Airtronics D2 plus coolant hose under the pump cover should be sufficient.

I like a lot the combination of the Isotemp Slim 15l marine water heater with Espar Hydronic D5. Starting with cold water in the Isotemp heater (15l – 4 gal) D5 runs high for 5-6 min. and then low for up to 13 min. Water stays hot for a day or so, but if cold just turning the roaring 17k Btu of the D5 makes hot water in less than 15 min.

Eberspacher from UK sells similar system, note the EU name for what is known in NA as “marine water heater” = “calorifier” https://www.eberspacher.com/products...mbitronic.html

The difference to Rixen system from Sandy Oregon is the use of marine water heater / calorifier, an instant source of a few gal. of 170F hot water, instead of Rixen’s hot plate heat exchanger as a source of hot water. It is easy to argue the benefits of both; my preference is a marine water heater providing hot water without a need to fire the roaring D5.

A newcomer to NA market from Germany is Alde system offering LPG powered hydronic system with 2.2 gal of hot water always available. Alde - USA

There are many ways to configure water and space heating but for the winter camping any of the hydronic system will likely be a winner. If winter camping is not the highest priority Truma or Webasto Dual Top are in my view the winners. My combo of Airtronics D2 for space heating and Hydronic D5/Isotemp for water heating is complex but D2 space heating is unbeatable regarding reliability and quietness.

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Old 04-22-2017, 08:13 PM   #47
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I've mentioned before our first week in our B was constant 24/7 below freezing temperature and we weren't winterized. It is possible. Taking extra precautions such as diluting gray and black tanks with RV anti-freeze is prudent. The simple fact is in cold climates you are rarely going to find an open dump station so cassettes and composting toilets might be attractive. However, we average 10 days between dumps and being frugal with water in cold climate and taking more advantages of using public facilities than norm we could extend that. But seriously, we never plan to extend that much time in cold weather. We've done weekends and that first week I mentioned was to pick up the B in Ohio, drive home to Minnesota to stock up and then drive 3 days to reach above freezing weather in Arizona when it got down to 0F in Gallup, NM on our way.

There is a big misconception about solar. I doubt it will meet many needs in the winter especially if your goal (often necessary) is to live off grid. Solar panels are typically flat on the roof. The winter sun angle is extremely low and the daylight days are very short. I noticed in Death Valley two Class Bs in February were using portable solar panels on the ground and moving them to track the sun at an optimum right angle. We have 420w of solar on our B. It is a waste, in my hindsight opinion when I can recharge a days worth of electrical use with a second alternator in well under an hour. Most of our travel is in fall, late winter, and spring under not so optimum sun. In the summer we camp mostly in sheltered forests. When driving, where solar is most always out of any possible shade it is not needed when charging our batteries at 280 amps per hour. The practical aspect of solar would be to keep batteries topped off while your B is parked and unused. Keep in mind we are extremely heavy electrical users since we have 800ah of li-ion batteries and have all the time inverter powered 120V service making our van use transparent whether off grid or on shore power. We spend 90-95% of our nights off grid even if we actually have shore power because of the transparency, battery capacity and charging ease.

Most Bs are capable of cold weather camping if you can find a site with shore power. This has been proven time and again at Mike Wendland's Winter Freezeout at Tahquamenon Falls SP in Michigan's UP where usually 30 Class Bs of all makes, models and years attend.
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Old 04-22-2017, 10:26 PM   #48
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Most Bs are capable of cold weather camping if you can find a site with shore power. This has been proven time and again at Mike Wendland's Winter Freezeout at Tahquamenon Falls SP in Michigan's UP where usually 30 Class Bs of all makes, models and years attend.
Actually, I think that this statement is only true if you are willing to forgo use of your water system. (This is certainly possible, but not my idea of fun.) Otherwise, it requires either a van with all plumbing inside (which takes a lot of space), or special provisions of the kind that both of our vans have.
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Old 04-22-2017, 10:45 PM   #49
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Actually, I think that this statement is only true if you are willing to forgo use of your water system. (This is certainly possible, but not my idea of fun.) Otherwise, it requires either a van with all plumbing inside (which takes a lot of space), or special provisions of the kind that both of our vans have.
I would have to second avanti's thought. I wouldn't even think of de-winterizing until the overnight temps are above freezing. Too many system are just too vulnerable on most Class B's. I'm sure that the new electrical stuff is slick and will undoubtedly be the way of the future but for now, I'll stick with the old propane tank heaters and furnaces for the foreseeable future. They may be low-tech, but I'm familiar with them and I can predict what they'll do and how they react under all conditions. They're also simple and relatively inexpensive to repair or replace when necessary. I'm a great believer in the KISS system.
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:35 AM   #50
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I had 2 Bigfoots which were winter capable. Both had LPG furnace, LPG water heater and LPG fridge. First one was the camper and the last one was the trailer. When I was getting the camper in 1996-7 Bigfoot had a van also winter capable as far as I remember. The camper had all water tanks within the heated space and the trailer had the black and the grey tank enclosed under the trailer with hot air ducted in. Fresh water tank was inside. We camp in freezing weather often, with or without the shore power. Usually the camping time was limited by black tank 16 gal. volume with dump stations often closed.

Both RVs had excellent rigid foam insulation, double pane windows and good size batteries.

I see no reason why this type of hot air ducting winter capable system wouldn’t work on any van today, yes, hydronic technology is very good but it isn’t simple based on my experience of designing and installing one from scratch.

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