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Old 11-19-2020, 04:26 AM   #1
jls
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Default would a reptile heat bulb underneath keep things from freezing?

would a 150W Reptile Heat Bulb and Digital Thermostat Controller Combo Set placed under the van keep my tarp-skirted van's water tanks & lines above freezing on nights that dip into the 20s F.? (or maybe a couple 80W or 100W ones would be better than 150W?)

anyone already been down this road?
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Old 11-19-2020, 02:16 PM   #2
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That's a slick package. I would think it work fine with a tarp, assuming you can keep the wind out.

If for you get colder you could run the van engine for a few minutes to create heat in the exhaust system.
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Old 11-19-2020, 02:45 PM   #3
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If for you get colder you could run the van engine for a few minutes to create heat in the exhaust system.
Don't do that. Running an engine without letting it get up to full operating temperature is not at all a good thing. And, don't underestimate how long that takes, especially with a modern Diesel engine, which may NEVER get up to temperature at idle..
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Old 11-19-2020, 03:51 PM   #4
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My feeling is that it may not be enough - I'd be inclined to use the type of small ceramic cube heater that we use inside the van - 1500W.
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Old 11-19-2020, 05:37 PM   #5
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150 watts is not much heat - just a light bulb. If you have electric available, a ceramic heater costs less than $30. If your skirting keeps wind out that will probably be enough.
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Old 11-19-2020, 06:31 PM   #6
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i've been shying away from the ceramic heaters with fan because a couple reviews noted they caught on fire! they are a higher wattage plus the fan (maybe those were a factor?) but they also have a heat coil embedded in ceramic like these reptile ones, so i'm not really sure how much more of a fire hazard they are.
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Old 11-19-2020, 11:16 PM   #7
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Don't do that. Running an engine without letting it get up to full operating temperature is not at all a good thing. And, don't underestimate how long that takes, especially with a modern Diesel engine, which may NEVER get up to temperature at idle..
I would agree on an ongoing basis but I don't think occasionally doing this is a problem.

That said, upon thinking on this, this van will likely not be moved, so idling not the best solution.
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Old 11-19-2020, 11:31 PM   #8
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I would agree on an ongoing basis but I don't think occasionally doing this is a problem.
Well, even a single instance of an engine start not followed by a warmup will pump water vapor from the air into the engine and exhaust, where it will condense and remain as liquid water until the next start. How serious this is is dependent on the relative humidity at the time.
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Old 11-20-2020, 02:32 AM   #9
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My feeling is.... if it is well protected/skirted against the wind then yes it would be sufficient. For water to become rock solid frozen to the point where it could expand and crack your pex pipe the temp should go lower than 20's.

I would make sure the wind cannot lift the skirt in any ways and for an extra security, why not put some Styrofoam or pink fiberglass insulation squeezed around your van.
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Old 11-20-2020, 03:42 AM   #10
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For water to become rock solid frozen to the point where it could expand and crack your pex pipe the temp should go lower than 20's.
This is not accurate. When water freezes, it freezes. It is a phase transition--it doesn't freeze "more" when it gets colder. It does get somewhat harder, but it does NOT continue to expand. The danger point is exactly at the point of freezing, which is 32 degrees F under normal conditions. After that, as ice gets colder, it contracts just like any other solid.

P.S. -- Pex pipe is rarely damaged by freezing. It is the plastic and metal fixtures and fittings that are most often damaged.
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Old 11-20-2020, 02:05 PM   #11
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Yes Avanti I totally agree with you. The expansion is at max at around freezing point.

I should have phrase that differently. I was talking about the outside temp.
So in short, If the underbody of the van is isolated somehow and an heat source is set up there and the outside temp is not gowing lower than the 20's
then the water should not freeze rock solid in his pipes.

Thanks for pointing that
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Old 11-20-2020, 03:28 PM   #12
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Should be OK with the interior kept at 55F with a skirt without a heat source. You can always try it and see.
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:36 PM   #13
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Just curious, why not drain the tanks and lines?
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Old 11-20-2020, 11:39 PM   #14
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I live in coastal california so i plan to use the vehicle throughout the winter. it's just a few times a year temps dip below freezing so i'm trying to come up with a solution for those frosty nights.
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Old 11-26-2020, 05:47 PM   #15
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I am skeptical of keeping it from freezing in this situation. remember, air will get in around the wheels, engine, on our 2000 190, the water outlet from the fresh tank is just inside the drivers rear wheel.
Here in Vermont I almost missed my garden hoses the first cold night we had this fall. I ran out at about 9PM and pulled them from the faucets, and the water was slushy consistency, it5 was 27 degrees.
As another poster said, the pex will "probably" be fine, but the fittings "may"crack.
If there was a way to tarp the van and blow heat under it, maybe, but it seems to be very risky to me.
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Old 11-26-2020, 06:32 PM   #16
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Freezing water conditions involve not only temperature but also duration - the lower the ambient temperature, the less time it will take for the water to reach 32 degrees. If you're located in coastal California, chances are that the temperature only dips briefly below 32 degrees - this is much different than parts of the country that experience sustained temperatures below freezing. If you can protect the most vulnerable components such as exposed exterior pipes with insulation to slow the heat transfer, then chances are you'll be okay. It all depends upon how cold for how long and also how warm during the day.
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:34 PM   #17
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Default Careful... you could melt something!

Heat lamps can create a hot spot, and can do exactly what you're trying to prevent -- damage your tanks! Best to use a heat blanket, a pad that distributes heat evenly.

There's an RV surplus store in Quartzite, AZ that had 12 volt heat blankets for $5 or $10/ea. called Gamblers RV. Also check with a place in Corona, CA on Railroad St. -- Walts? I forget the name. And there's aways Amazon and eBay.

My RV started life in NY state, so it came with "Arctic Pack" heaters. Haven't had to use them yet, but someday I'll need them!
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