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Old 07-01-2020, 09:07 PM   #1
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Default Winnebago switches to Timberline heater for Revel

Winnebago has announced they are switching to the Timberline diesel-fired hydronic heating system on the 2021 Revel model. Elwell Corp's Timberline system uses the Autoterm Binar 5D Compact hydronic heat source combined with heat exchangers and a touchscreen controller to replace the five separate switches and thermostat used on the previous Espar/Rixen system.

According to Winnebago ease of use was the driving goal for this change:
“We put a lot of effort into improving the Revel for the 2021 model year. Making the rig easier to operate was one of our goals, said Chris Bienert, product manager at Winnebago. “We were impressed with the intuitive user interface and smooth operation of the Timberline system."
Autoterm is European distribution arm for Planar diesel and gas fired heaters produced by Advers corporation in Russia. Elwell is a US reseller of overseas sourced RV components and appears to have engineered the Timberline controller system domestically.


Controller


Binar 5D Compact




Note that preliminary photos of the 2021 Revel still show Rixen's multiple switch system, so presumably this is a production year change.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:21 PM   #2
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Winnebago had previously resisted putting the Espar/Rixen system on their Boldt model aimed at the more luxury oriented buyers similar to the Airstream Interstate.

If the Timberline system works out on Revel perhaps they'll migrate it to the Boldt, allowing an all-electric / diesel rig with no propane requirement.
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Old 07-01-2020, 10:28 PM   #3
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It looks like hydronic systems are gaining popularity for campervans or larger motorhomes, from Rixen/Espar, Eberspacher/Alde to Elwell/Planar. Planar (Advers LDT in Russia) is a workhorse in Russia and it is less expensive than Webasto or Eberspacher. Planar company started in 2013 distributing Russian product in NA, I was contemplating getting a Planar but went the established and more expensive route of Espar/Eberspacher.

Radiant floor installation will definitely be quieter than liquid > air powered heat exchangers, easier to control but manufacturing cost will go up.
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:00 PM   #4
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Radiant floor installation will definitely be quieter than liquid > air powered heat exchangers, easier to control but manufacturing cost will go up.
I am a little skeptical about the desirability of radiant floor heat in a van. I have a home with radiant heat (admittedly embedded in poured concrete). It is certainly quiet, and has its advantages. But you really have to plan ahead. It takes a LONG time (i.e. several days) to get things rolling. Admittedly, it would be faster in a van, but it still will be slow and sluggish to get the air to be comfortable. With a fan/heat exchanger (or two), you can get the air hot almost instantly. Noise was a problem with our Rixen's system, but only because there was insufficient control of fan speed. I added a PWM controller, and found that the system could usually do its job when the fan was running almost silently.

Of course, this isn't an either/or situation. No reason you couldn't have both, which might be the best of both worlds.
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:08 PM   #5
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I am a little skeptical about the desirability of radiant floor heat in a van. I have a home with radiant heat (admittedly embedded in poured concrete). It is certainly quiet, and has its advantages. But you really have to plan ahead. It takes a LONG time (i.e. several days) to get things rolling. Admittedly, it would be faster in a van, but it still will be slow and sluggish to get the air to be comfortable. With a fan/heat exchanger (or two), you can get the air hot almost instantly. Noise was a problem with our Rixen's system, but only because there was insufficient control of fan speed. I added a PWM controller, and found that the system could usually do its job when the fan was running almost silently.

Of course, this isn't an either/or situation. No reason you couldn't have both, which might be the best of both worlds.
“When the RV is cold the fans run on high until the interior temperature starts to reach it’s target. The fans then automatically slow down and remain on low levels, maintaining the comfort levels inside.” It seems as they have both options and the liquid > air exchanger is proportionally controlled.
Timberline – Elwell Corporation

Personally, I wouldn't like to have radiant heating in a van, just imagine a mess if there is a coolant leak.
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:34 PM   #6
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I have never particularly understood the premise of running a heater to heat water through a heat exchanger, and then have another heat exchanger to heat air with water. It just seems like an extra step unless you already have a big tank of held hot water like you might in a residential boiler setup.



Radiant floor heat in a van just doesn't seem like the best choice to me, either.


A quiet fuel to air system would be my choice by quite a margin, I think.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:56 AM   #7
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I have never particularly understood the premise of running a heater to heat water through a heat exchanger, and then have another heat exchanger to heat air with water. It just seems like an extra step unless you already have a big tank of held hot water like you might in a residential boiler setup.
Well, having owned one for awhile now, I can attest that these systems are very effective. You DO have a (relatively) big tank of held hot water (between the expansion tank and the long coolant runs). The water stays hot a long time, is easy to keep hot via electric coils when there is shore power and the burner when it is not, and is always available both for warm air and especially for true instant hot water. There is also the advantage of using the glycol loops as part of a 4-season setup.

I might possibly consider a dual system like George's (although it is not clear to me that it would be dramatically better), but I would NEVER give up my hydronic hot water system.
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Old 07-02-2020, 01:36 AM   #8
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I have never particularly understood the premise of running a heater to heat water through a heat exchanger, and then have another heat exchanger to heat air with water. It just seems like an extra step unless you already have a big tank of held hot water like you might in a residential boiler setup.



Radiant floor heat in a van just doesn't seem like the best choice to me, either.


A quiet fuel to air system would be my choice by quite a margin, I think.
For space heating we use Espar Airtronics D2, it is fast, very quiet on low heat, operates on four heat output levels: 2200, 1800, 1200 and 800W. Best RV heater I ever had. But, being diesel furnace, it requires periodic cleaning or burning kerosene. LPG doesn’t require any maintenance. If I did another conversion I would consider LPG and Propex (space), Malaga (water), Webasto Dual Top (both) or Truma (both).
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Old 07-02-2020, 02:52 AM   #9
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I built a 2,400 sf house and my sole heat was electric radiant floor cables with 15 controllable zones. Avanti mentioned there is a long lag time. True. Mine were embedded in gypcrete flooring on the upper floors and then one foot below the basement concrete slab which created a heat sink to bridge passive solar at night. But the home was super insulated, passive solar and a constant ground temperature of 56 deg. Once it sought a comfortable temperature the heating cables hardly came on. On the main floor radiant heat came from the floor and the ceiling. Of course it was totally silent, passive and radiant heat is the best for comfort.

Our van has electric radiant floor heat, l but there is no way it can heat the van. It provides comfort under foot but with so little insulation on the floor you are heating the outside as well. The windows and the meager insulation of the walls and ceiling are anti-radiators of comfort. I guess I would need to see the engineering calculations and how it would perform in below freezing temperatures. You may not get enough radiant floor heat for the volume to maintain a comfortable temperature.
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:29 PM   #10
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Embassy RV uses a unique approach. They combine a Suburban 6 gallon 3-way water heater that has a glycol loop to use the engine to heat water. It also has a 120VAC electrical element. They don't use the propane side of the water heater so no opening in sidewall. Then they place a Eberspacher (Espar) hydronic heater in that same loop to provide diesel powered heat via a glycol to air heat exchanger and hot water.

Info on their hot water/heating system in this linked video starting at 5:16.
https://youtu.be/JvpCQx9EDgg

Some additional details in this video starting at 5:25.
https://youtu.be/aSTeFfSCsls
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Old 07-03-2020, 12:22 AM   #11
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Embassy RV uses a unique approach. They combine a Suburban 6 gallon 3-way water heater that has a glycol loop to use the engine to heat water. It also has a 120VAC electrical element. They don't use the propane side of the water heater so no opening in sidewall. Then they place a Eberspacher (Espar) hydronic heater in that same loop to provide diesel powered heat via a glycol to air heat exchanger and hot water.
Info on their hot water/heating system in this linked video starting at 5:16.
https://youtu.be/JvpCQx9EDgg
Some additional details in this video starting at 5:25.
https://youtu.be/aSTeFfSCsls
I am not sure if his water heating is unique, marine industry uses Marine Water Heaters for ages. I don’t understand why he is using Suburban modified to 3 ways instead a marine water heater also called calofirier in UK. Marine water heater from the get go are designed to be 2 ways allowing for excellent insulation. There is no open and uninsulated gas furnace combustion space.

I have an Isotemp marine water heater powered by an Espar D5 and 120V for a while now and love it. It can keep hot water for practically 24 hours providing instant water heater at the sink. The Espar D5 is a 5kW heater, sufficient to provide unlimited hot water on the city connection.
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:51 AM   #12
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I am not sure if his water heating is unique, marine industry uses Marine Water Heaters for ages. I don’t understand why he is using Suburban modified to 3 ways instead a marine water heater also called calofirier in UK. Marine water heater from the get go are designed to be 2 ways allowing for excellent insulation. There is no open and uninsulated gas furnace combustion space. . .
You make a good point George. I hadn't thought about the losses from the open gas burner combustion space. The Isotemp units are certainly more efficient. I suspect cost was a factor sine the Suburban unit is about $550, while the Isotemp in equivalent size is about $900. I'll add that to my questions when I get closer to working with Embassy RV as they claim to use a lot of Marine components.

Thanks,
- - Mike
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Old 07-04-2020, 04:24 AM   #13
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You make a good point George. I hadn't thought about the losses from the open gas burner combustion space. The Isotemp units are certainly more efficient. I suspect cost was a factor sine the Suburban unit is about $550, while the Isotemp in equivalent size is about $900. I'll add that to my questions when I get closer to working with Embassy RV as they claim to use a lot of Marine components.

Thanks,
- - Mike
There are other brands of Marine Water Heaters. https://www.westmarine.com/water-heaters
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Old 07-05-2020, 04:41 PM   #14
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I'll add that to my questions when I get closer to working with Embassy RV as they claim to use a lot of Marine components.

Thanks,
- - Mike
I for one will be curious what you find out. On one hand an extra $400 is kind of a drop in the bucket, on the other, the bucket gets filled up by all the drops.
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