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Falcon Rebuild - Heater Options

FWC Falcon heater propex camco dometic furnace

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#1 Styx2015

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 05:09 PM

Ok let’s talk heaters:
 
My wife and I are in the planning stages of a full rebuild on a 2002 Falcon. From the factory, it was optioned with an Atwood Hydroflame 16000 BTU forced air furnace. Why on earth was 16000BTU necessary? Total square footage is only about 52 square feet and total volume with our increased pop up height will be under 260 cubic feet. That many BTU’s would be enough for a mid sized travel trailer...
 
Anyways, we are thinking that heater technology and efficiency HAS to be better now than 18 years ago, so we are looking to use a new heating system. We will be living out of the camper for about 3 months at a time and seeing all weather conditions in varying regions and altitudes. We have settled on using a propane heater to keep the camper operating on a single fuel source along with our two burner stove. We aren’t keen on a diesel heater. 
 
Right now we have three contenders. 
1. Dometic DFSD16 forced air furnace. This is basically an updated version of our existing installation. 16k BTU
2. Camco Olympian Wave 3/6/8 catalytic heater. Still undecided on the size. 3k, 6k, and 8k BTU’s respectively. 
3. Propex HS2000 blown air heater. 6483 BTU. Many vanlife folks have used these heaters successfully. 
 
I know these three heaters have some slightly different operating principles with forced air vs catalytic. Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Can anyone provide some insight, advice, or real world experience with using these heaters? For those with factory heaters, are you happy with their performance, efficiency, and noise? Is the Propex better than factory? Are the Camco catalytics worth the sacrifice of no thermostat control as well as safety consideration and ventilation requirements? 
 
Really just looking for some real world experience from those that have installed and used before. A cut sheet from the manufacturer only tells so much. Thank you in advance!

 


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#2 PaulT

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 05:28 PM

It will take some research to find the answers but make sure you are comparing like specifications.

 

As I understand it, the Olympian Wave heater BTU rating is energy put into the cabin air because the exhaust gases are dumped into the cabin, while the Dometic BTU rating is the energy consumed by the furnace. The 16 consumes16000 BTU’s of energy from propane but puts something like 12000 BTU’s into the cabin with the difference going out with the hot exhaust gas.  

 

Haven’t seen anything on the Propex but it also dumps hot exhaust gases outside the cabin. However, you would need to see if they report net energy into the cabin or net energy consumed from the propane. 
 

Without that data point, you may not comparing apples to apples.

 

Paul


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#3 Styx2015

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Posted 11 September 2020 - 05:50 PM

Propex does provide this info. Heat input: 7165 BTU. Heat output: 6483 BTU. A bit of math shows that the Propex is therefore is about 90.5% efficient in its heat delivery. Power draw is 1.9A.

 

I was able to find input and output numbers for the dometic as well. Heat input: 16000 BTU. Heat output: 12,160 BTU. Efficiency of 76%. Power draw is 3.4A

 

The Olympian Wave heaters actually provide radiant heat. This serves to heat the objects in the cabin vs the air. Air heating would be convection heating. Since these heaters do not have thermostats and just a few settings (low, medium, high), we would run it in the evenings to warm up the camper, shut it off at night and burrow into our sleeping bags, then turn it back on in the mornings to take the chill out.

 

My thoughts between the Propex and Dometic are that the older campers must have been poorly insulated and required a higher BTU rating to maintain temps in colder weather. During our rebuild process, we will be fixing this issue with proper insulation. I think the comparison between Propex and Dometic renders Propex the victor on higher efficiency and lower power draw.

 

So essentially I have talked myself out of the Dometic and it is between Propex or Camco.


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#4 Styx2015

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 05:05 PM

Leaning towards the Propex, but I'm concerned that it will not provide enough heat for the camper. Can anyone speak on this? We have a Falcon (smallest sized FWC no longer in production). Is anyone using a Propex HS2000 in a larger footprint FWC with success? If it works on a larger platform, it will likely be plenty for us in the Falcon.


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#5 Ronin

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 05:13 PM

Propex does provide this info. Heat input: 7165 BTU. Heat output: 6483 BTU. A bit of math shows that the Propex is therefore is about 90.5% efficient in its heat delivery. Power draw is 1.9A.

 

I was able to find input and output numbers for the dometic as well. Heat input: 16000 BTU. Heat output: 12,160 BTU. Efficiency of 76%. Power draw is 3.4A

 

The Olympian Wave heaters actually provide radiant heat. This serves to heat the objects in the cabin vs the air. Air heating would be convection heating. Since these heaters do not have thermostats and just a few settings (low, medium, high), we would run it in the evenings to warm up the camper, shut it off at night and burrow into our sleeping bags, then turn it back on in the mornings to take the chill out.

 

My thoughts between the Propex and Dometic are that the older campers must have been poorly insulated and required a higher BTU rating to maintain temps in colder weather. During our rebuild process, we will be fixing this issue with proper insulation. I think the comparison between Propex and Dometic renders Propex the victor on higher efficiency and lower power draw.

 

So essentially I have talked myself out of the Dometic and it is between Propex or Camco.

You'll be happy with the Propex. I had an Olympian Wave in my prior Hawk and it provided adequate heat but I was always worried about maintaining adequate ventilation plus being super careful not to leave anything flammable near it. I have a Propex in my ATC and so far it's worked great. It's nice having warm air blowing throughout the camper especially in the overhead bed area. With the Wave it only seemed to heat up the area directly in front of it. You do hear the Propex but it's barely noticeable.  I usually turn it on for 30-40 minutes in the morning and again in the evenings so power draw for me is minimal.


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#6 Vic Harder

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 06:37 PM

I put a 2200 in my Hawk, 2800 in the Puma. Happy with both. 2200 would probably have been enough for the puma too. Not as quiet as you might hope for, but not offensive
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2006 Silverado 3500 ext cab 8' bed LBZ

2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

 


#7 Styx2015

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 07:02 PM

Thank you both for the advice! The HS2000 should be sufficient as our Falcon is much smaller than a Hawk. Also great points about not having to worry as much about things in front of the heating element while also getting better heat circulation. We will be going with a Propex HS2000. 

 

Couple of questions:

 

Where did you purchase your Propex heaters?

Where did you end up mounting the unit and how did you run combustion intake and exhaust?


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#8 Vic Harder

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 08:37 PM

I bought from a Canadian dealer. I have pics in my build threads, but where to put it depends on so many factors! Do have interior pics/sketch of what else you anticipate putting near it?
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2006 Silverado 3500 ext cab 8' bed LBZ

2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

 


#9 Styx2015

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Posted 12 September 2020 - 09:05 PM

Ah yes, I see now that you are up in Canada, makes sense but doesn't help me too much. 

 

We are looking at trying to get our propane tank, heater, and batteries/electrical all in the driver's side rear corner cabinet that we will be building. I don't have any sketches that really help to visualize this at all yet. We are still very much in the planning stages, and I am still at work overseas. Shoot, I still haven't even seen the camper yet, just two more weeks.

 

I've had two different recommendations, one for mounting directly on the floor and drilling holes through the floorpack and composite bed of my Tacoma for combustion intake and exhaust. The other for mounting on the wing that overhangs the truck bedside, and drilling through the floor for combustion intake and exhaust. Always interested in other alternatives and options.

 

I'll check out the build thread for your Puma that you have on your signature for some more ideas.


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#10 Vic Harder

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Posted 13 September 2020 - 05:11 AM

Not the floor, unless you are never removing the camper, and can guarantee it will not shift!
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2006 Silverado 3500 ext cab 8' bed LBZ

2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

 






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