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Old 12-04-2017, 03:57 PM   #1
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Default Propane free... Onan free?

As my research accelerates on my search for new class B, one question continues to consume me: Can I get a fully outfitted rig without propane AND traditional generater? At the moment I'm leaning toward Promaster setup for ease of maintenance as I travel (just 7-14 days at the moment).

Eveny time I do the "build it yourself" mode online, I'm not a hundred percent sure I'm getting rid of propane. Heck even when I opt for the "platinum/diamond" option packages (Roadtrek for example) I'm not sure I've completely accomplished such a feat.. Is there a downside to this venture? Can I conceivably lose rig weight and maybe gain storage space with no propane tank? Sorry about the newbie questions. Carry on
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:17 PM   #2
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As my research accelerates on my search for new class B, one question continues to consume me: Can I get a fully outfitted rig without propane AND traditional generater? At the moment I'm leaning toward Promaster setup for ease of maintenance as I travel (just 7-14 days at the moment).
I guess it depends on how you intend to use your class B and what you call "fully outfitted".

My 2015 Promaster SportsMobile has no Propane and no generator other than the optional 220 amp alternator that can be ordered with the Promaster. I also got the Promaster with the optional rear heat/AC connections to the dash heat/ac system.

Sportsmobile installed rear heat/ac, floor heat, and water heater all heated from the van engine coolant. Here is a description of my build.

My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobile. - Sportsmobile Forum
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:18 PM   #3
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I have propane and Onan free RV built my myself, however I still use hydrocarbon fuel to heat my van, to heat water and the stove.

For space and water heating I use diesel fuel, for stove ethanol. I have not seen electrically heated van from batteries yet, some folks get by with electric battery water heating, many with fully electric refrigerators, and few with electric induction stoves.

So, for space heating you donít need LPG if you use another fuel, or donít go to cold places, or have good sleeping bags.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:55 PM   #4
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As mentioned, intended us makes all the difference.

Need air conditioning when not plugged in for many hours, very hard to do without a generator, regardless of what Roadtrek says.

Hot water, heat, cooking inside and out are the things for propane and the heat and hot water can be covered fairly easily in a diesel van, not as easily in a gasoline van. Cooking, especially outside is tough without propane unless you use the little bottles or charcoal.

Doable, yes, depending on how you define "full featured" can get to be very expensive, though.
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:42 PM   #5
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.

Anything is possible,

all it takes is money.
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Old 12-05-2017, 12:48 AM   #6
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Can I get a fully outfitted rig without propane AND traditional generater?
Do you mean without propane but WITH a generator? Or do you mean without either one?

If you want the generator but not the propane, our Crossfit's Onan generator runs off of the Transit gas tank. And although the common version of our van comes with propane, they offer an induction cooktop and the Truma heater CAN run off electricity rather than propane (either shore power or the rather loud Onan). So, theoretically anyway, you wouldn't need propane at all.

Coachmen is new enough in the Class B division to be willing to custom make vans (I checked a few months ago thinking I might want a different engine and color and they said it was no problem.) Note that it's on a Transit rather than a Promaster, but if that's acceptable, you might call them and see if they are willing to work with you.

If you don't want either propane or generator, you will have to plan on using shore power, go with a large battery bank, use an underhood generator, etc OR do without the big energy-suckers like air conditioning, etc. You CAN get heaters, stovetops, refrigerators and all the bells and whistles without using propane.
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:24 AM   #7
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Thank you all so much for your input and feedback.. Maybe it's not a bad idea to have propane on board. My initial thoughts were probably nothing you haven't heard: I don't want an on board generator. Too d@mn loud and annoying for my taste.. A second underhood alternator is just fine. I'm really interested in loading up on as much lithium batteries as a manufacturer will allow. Same goes for solar. I'm not necessarily an Eco nut. But I do a lot of off site camping. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.. But I started thinking about opting for the induction stove, and I started wondering, "do I need propane?". As with most technology, I realize we are still in the early stages. But a man can dream. Thanks again for all the great knowledge. This community seems real giving and helpful .i appreciate it.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:07 PM   #8
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If you want to have a Class B escape the condition of being propane-limited, you might consider enough lithium and solar to power a good marine-grade refrigerator plus internal appliances (including a large computer workstation and microwave oven in our case, as those things were priorities for us), while retaining the efficiency of propane for stove, furnace, and hot water heater.

Without the burden of a 3-way fridge, even a B-sized undermount propane tank can be made to stretch a long way (weeks off grid). And if you have solar AND lithium, there's rarely a need to run either the engine or an Onan to top off the batteries.

In your case, as others have noted, the decision might come down to price. The diesel options can eliminate the use of propane, but that comes at a cost.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:44 PM   #9
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As previously noted, so much depends on how you'll use the rig.

If extended stay remote boondocking in a colder temperature place then propane is almost a must have for heat. The other option is to use the vehicle's propulsion fuel but then you have to make sure to arrive with enough fuel in the tank to: 1. heat the rig for your intended stay and 2. have enough fuel left over to make it back to a fuel station.

Maybe someone here who has experience with diesel heat could let us know how much fuel they burn when staying in cold temperatures for 1 week and also for 2 weeks if heating is a constant requirement. If just touring and driving every couple of days then burning diesel for heat would not be a problem.

I think 400ah battery capacity is ideal if choosing a compressor fridge over an absorption fridge. That would permit extended stays in a shaded campsite for example without having to recharge the batteries often.
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Old 12-05-2017, 01:53 PM   #10
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Most people who want extended-stay in the boonies tend to avoid aircon and modern day "luxuries".

Most people who want extended-stay with aircon and modern day "luxuries" tended to go to campsites with hookups.

The limitation to extended-stay is not propane, or water, or battery, or fuel...

The limitation to extended-stay is beer.

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Old 12-05-2017, 02:09 PM   #11
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Maybe someone here who has experience with diesel heat could let us know how much fuel they burn when staying in cold temperatures for 1 week and also for 2 weeks if heating is a constant requirement.
The Espar D5 hydronic is spec'd at .16 gal/hour of operation. I would gestimate that ours runs at maybe a 50% duty cycle in very cold conditions. So, running for a week is easy, assuming you are getting 12VDC somewhere.
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:07 PM   #12
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Just a contrary opinion but you cannot match the chemical energy in propane and gasoline with any battery. I put my effort in trying to make the Onan reliable. When that doesn't work I have spare parts, and when that doesn't work I have a Honda EU1000i between the front seats for battery charging that runs on propane. I would like to have an EU500i which doesn't exist.

The noise of the 2.8 Onan is not all that bad and not noticeable inside with the A/C running. Other than A/C it shouldn't have to run more than an hour or two a day. You should be away from everyone or with like minded RV's. Eventually technology will provide an all electric RV that works. It just isn't here yet. Just an opinion that probably doesn't belong in this thread!
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:40 PM   #13
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Just a contrary opinion but you cannot match the chemical energy in propane and gasoline with any battery. I put my effort in trying to make the Onan reliable. When that doesn't work I have spare parts, and when that doesn't work I have a Honda EU1000i between the front seats for battery charging that runs on propane.

The noise of the 2.8 Onan is not all that bad and not noticeable inside with the A/C running. Other than A/C it shouldn't have to run more than an hour or two a day. You should be away from everyone or with like minded RV's. Eventually technology will provide an all electric RV that works. It just isn't here yet. Just an opinion that probably doesn't belong in this thread!
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Those a great points that i honestly havent given a ton of thought on. I'm probably over thinking this. My first class B rig, and I'm trying to think through making it as perfect for my needs as possible. Of course we all have different needs. Sadly, I'm probably not going to fully grasp "my needs" until after months of ownership. When you spend way north of 100k, last thing I want is a dealer who thinks he's teaching me about what my needs will be as signing papers. Thanks again for the input.
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Old 12-05-2017, 04:46 PM   #14
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I've been enjoying an all-electric with diesel-fired heat and hot water RV for 3 years now without propane with full use of our van's microwave, electric coffee pot, induction cooktop and all other 120VAC needs, and can do an extended stay until the beer runs out as BBQ says.

We've managed 4-5 days stays in one place numerous times though that is not our style. Two nights is enough for most places. With 40 gal. fresh water, 26 gal. gray and 18 gal. black extended stays have not been a problem. We usually dump and take on water anywhere from 9 to 12 days or at convenient opportunity. We seldom hook up to shore power even when we are in campgrounds that have it since we have full use of our electrical systems all the time.

We travel mostly in the fall, winter and spring and stay mostly air conditioning free in the upper Midwest and Canada in the summer. So air conditioning is not a priority but I estimate we could get 4-5 hours with our 800ah lithium ion battery bank in a pinch and have never done over 3 hours in one stretch in 12 years of Class B RVing anyway. On our two previous vans I hated the Onan and I hate air conditioning and the noise with it in the serenity of nature. So I avoided using them. Both our previous vans I don't think I reached 24 hours on the Onan in over 125,000 miles of travel. Most of that was testing and exercising.

In hot weather we can keep our van at ambient temperature with back door screens, sliding door screen, insulated curtains, maximum insulated van and the Maxxfan. Grilling or cast iron pot cooking over charcoal or a pit fire is an outdoor treat. In a campground we mostly live outdoors. You can't dismiss 40 years of the habit and pleasure of tent camping prior to RVing.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:00 PM   #15
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:04 PM   #16
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The noise of the 2.8 Onan is not all that bad and not noticeable inside with the A/C running.
This may be true, but only because the A/C is even worse than the Onan. Kind of like saying that you don't mind that toothache so much if you hit your thumb with a hammer. IMO, neither of them is acceptable. I've never had serious reliability issues with my (propane-powered) Onan. I just can't stand the noise.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:05 PM   #17
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:08 PM   #18
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I have 2 diesel furnaces, one is to heat the van the Espar Airtronics D2, it is super quiet, it operates on four levels. In the steady state it is most often running on the lowest level delivering 850W at consumption rate of 0.1l/hr. (0.026gal/hr.) and it draws of 670mA. Extremely quiet and efficient heater, best one I ever had in an RV.

The second furnace, the Espar Hydronic D5 is used to heat water, it is fast, not too quiet, operates on 2 levels at consumption rates listed by Avanti. It takes about 12 min. to heat 4 gal. of water in the Isotemp marine water heater and water stays hot for 12 hrs. or more.

No question that diesel is great as an energy source, but, it all looks great until it stops working. Igniting diesel requires glow plug, combustion chamber will get carbon deposit so it need to be clean as required. Simplicity of igniting and clean burning of gaseous propane doesnít even compare to diesel.

I donít have numbers but wouldnít be surprised if diesel appliances are less than 1% of NA RVs. In the same ratio are likely RV mechanics capable to tackle these diesel beasts. I can fix my own but not everyone does or wants.
This reparability aspect should be address during any purchase, a more exotic RV - more difficult will be to find a place willing or knowing how to help. Yes, diesel Hydronic and Airtronics furnaces are often used in Semis or diesel boats but folks serving these markets donít commonly fix RVs.

I would think that for folks which like to camp off the grid the simpler, the most vanilla like RV will be their best choice. Think hard about Li battery banks, diesel appliances, induction stoves, complex electronics, 48V versus LPG used by likely more than 99% RVs in NA.
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:52 PM   #19
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"I would think that folks that like to camp off grid the simpler, the most vanilla like RV would be their best choice"

An absolutely true statement. Note that all electric RVs follow the climate if off grid.

Traveling cross country in the summer (not by choice but it happens) is the only time I need A/C with the Onan. Parking out of the way in a truck stop I get a good night's sleep with the Onan running, the A/C on, and the CO alarm on. Finding shore power late in the day sometimes works and if it does, I use it.

Not having all night A/C available is not acceptable. I don't use it much but I do use it. The expense of any other option is incredible, even if it worked.
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Old 12-05-2017, 11:06 PM   #20
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As mentioned in another thread, we put a muffler (ahem, exhaust resonator) on our Onan and it cut the sound by about half. Cost of resonator and installation, including welding, was under $100.
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