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Heating at Altitude

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#1 Neversummer70

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 01:51 AM

Hey All!,

Well, Im back. after selling my 02 FWC I saw a new 2021 Fleet model with the side dinette and had to get it.  I currently work remote and ski at Alta and Snowbird in Utah. My dream office! 

 

So, I am at my wits end: after settling in and setting up my workstation the other day, first week with the camper on the tacoma, I fired up the furnace and connected to the intrawebs through my phone. Thinking all was well, I had a good connection and noone in the zoom meeting was the wiser thanks to my fake background (insert evil laugh here).  

then ....WOMP WOMP.  furnace was blowing cold air.  Alta parking lot is at about 8600 feet.  

Now, many of you are saying "yeah duh, propane doesn't work well at altitude"

 

However, I'm a dummy so bear with me. 

 

So,  I have a power inverter for the laptop so I can work:

A BMK 200W Car Power Inverter DC 12V to 110V AC Car Inverter

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

So, just to make sure I went down the canyon and checked the furnace in SLC (About 5600 feet). Works great. perfect. just what I wanted.  Oh, thin air how you mock me!

 

I was like "ok, I am installing an Overlander Solar kit. I can use an electric heater during the day and not worry about the power draw too much".  And i thought, "I probably won't ever camp at altitude above 7K (Big Cottonwood and Little Cottonwood Canyons  in Utah are both watersheds and no camping allowed) so an electric heater during the day should be fine. "

 

Did the googles, found the best rated one : 

A Vornado MVH Vortex Heater. 

https://www.amazon.c...b16c3b[lt|&th=1

 

I Rushed to the local Bed Bath and Beyond and in the parking lot I plugged it into the inverter.  

Turned on for a second (YAY!! much rejoicing!)

then it shut off after one second (boo, must eat Robin's minstrels).

 

repeat, repeat repeat. (*%&U%($U(*(!!!  welcome back to camper ownership sucker!

 

I know it has to do with the inverter right? not enough power right? should I get a bigger inverter with more juice?  a diesel heater?  should I sell it and live in a tent?

 

You WDW camper folks know your stuff and someone out there has the answer. I can feel it. 

 

Anyways, thats my Ted Talk. If you have any advice for the heating situation please please send it over.  maybe its something easy like upping the wattage? or getting a chinese diesel heater? 

 

thanks !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 craig333

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 05:16 AM

I don't know about your heater. I have a suburban in my camper and it works well over 9k as long as the voltage doesn't drop too low. Its not a propane issue. 


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Craig K6JGV_________________________ 2004 2500 CTD 4X4 FWC HAWK 1960 CJ5


#3 Vic Harder

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 07:24 AM

Agreed, not a propane issue.  Furnace maybe.  Do you know about the air ducting issue?

 

And forget electric heaters unless you can plug in to shore power.  I have 200AH of usable power and an induction cooktop that take 1800W on high... about the same as an electric heater.  I get about 1 hour of use at that power draw.  The inverter I used for this is an AIMS 3000W Pure Sine wave inverter.  Not small.  Fed by 1AWG welding cable.  


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#4 BlueSky

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 12:23 PM

Weeeellll my experience with several types of propane furnaces has been that the combination of both high altitude and cold weather can be problematic.  Even one of the small green propane bottles with parabolic heater on it will have trouble in really cold weather at high altitude. Given that our truck campers are really a 3-season camper, keeping it warm in there without shore power for several hours is going to be a really tough thing to accomplish. Perhaps with a lot of money, time and effort it can be done.


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#5 MountainSufi

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 02:04 PM

Howdy from Jackson Hole! Altitude 6,200'

 

I've done zero winter camping, but have met FWC couple from AK who were living in winter with no complaints. Hang in there, & I'll follow this thread for sure.

 

Thoughts:

  • My FWC dealer & I both find the Honeywell digital thermostats to be unreliable crap. I've had 2 die & blow cold air. Get the old fashioned Honeywell @ Ace Hardware or Amazon. Carry a spare. They swap in easily after you add a few extra inches to the famously short FWC wiring. This could be your problem.

More thoughts for cold weather:

  • Use a super expensive down sleeping bag. The kind Himilayan climbers snuggle into.
  • Get the Insulation Pac. Best $800 you'll ever spend. It'll be toasty & the friggin' heater won't cycle on & off constantly.
  • They don't make guages for our small LP tanks. I've bought a hand held luggage scale. Write the full weight & empty weights with Sharpie on the tanks.

When your travels bring you to the Grand Teton area, you've got a BBQ in my yard waiting!

 

Chris

MountainSufi AT gmail


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#6 MountainSufi

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 02:10 PM

Vic Harder wrote: Do you know about the air ducting issue?

 

No I don't. Please fill us in.


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"We're all in this together"--The Red Green Show


#7 Colorado Mark

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 03:32 PM

Remove the round foil duct between the heater case and the grille.  Just put the grille back on without the duct.

 

Removes a restriction allowing more air to flow.  Low air flow can prevent the sail switch from activating.

 

Restricted air flow can possibly cause motor overheating then, tripping the thermal breaker inside the furnace.

 

Removed it on mine.  No more problems since I did that to mine at elevations up to 10K feet.


Edited by Colorado Mark, 05 March 2022 - 03:33 PM.

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#8 Neversummer70

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 04:27 PM

I don't know about your heater. I have a suburban in my camper and it works well over 9k as long as the voltage doesn't drop too low. Its not a propane issue. 

Thanks!  yeah the furnace is a head scratcher because in my old 2002 FWC it fired up no problem up at Alta many times.   The only problem I had with it was the voltage going to 12.1 and the fan not being able to cycle fast enough but this whole altitude thing is bugging me


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#9 Neversummer70

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 04:30 PM

Agreed, not a propane issue.  Furnace maybe.  Do you know about the air ducting issue?

 

And forget electric heaters unless you can plug in to shore power.  I have 200AH of usable power and an induction cooktop that take 1800W on high... about the same as an electric heater.  I get about 1 hour of use at that power draw.  The inverter I used for this is an AIMS 3000W Pure Sine wave inverter.  Not small.  Fed by 1AWG welding cable.  

Thank you so much for this info!  was looking at a Renogy 2000 sine wave inverter but like you say, it may be a furnace issue. 


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#10 Neversummer70

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Posted 05 March 2022 - 04:34 PM

Howdy from Jackson Hole! Altitude 6,200'

 

I've done zero winter camping, but have met FWC couple from AK who were living in winter with no complaints. Hang in there, & I'll follow this thread for sure.

 

Thoughts:

  • My FWC dealer & I both find the Honeywell digital thermostats to be unreliable crap. I've had 2 die & blow cold air. Get the old fashioned Honeywell @ Ace Hardware or Amazon. Carry a spare. They swap in easily after you add a few extra inches to the famously short FWC wiring. This could be your problem.

More thoughts for cold weather:

  • Use a super expensive down sleeping bag. The kind Himilayan climbers snuggle into.
  • Get the Insulation Pac. Best $800 you'll ever spend. It'll be toasty & the friggin' heater won't cycle on & off constantly.
  • They don't make guages for our small LP tanks. I've bought a hand held luggage scale. Write the full weight & empty weights with Sharpie on the tanks.

When your travels bring you to the Grand Teton area, you've got a BBQ in my yard waiting!

 

Chris

MountainSufi AT gmail

Thanks man! we are heading up (sorta) by you sunday heading to Whitefish and then BC Canada for two weeks.  I do have a sick 0 degree bag but this is more for working in the parking lot at the dinette table, and I agree wholeheartedly about the thermal wrap.  my old FWC was ok at 0 degrees in a blizzard in Tahoe, never had a problem with the furnace blowing cold, until this one. head scratcher for sure....and watch it I will be poaching that BBQ!! 


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