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Thread: Trailer Heater Question

  1. #1
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    Default Trailer Heater Question

    I have a 25' cargo mate trailer that I bought used. I would like to install a heater. I have looked at portable propane, but the reviews have been mixed. I don't mind a permanent install. The ingenious nature of Alaskans never ceases to amaze me and I am counting on it now. Just looking for idea. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Member Stanly's Avatar
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    Default Lots of Beans and

    a Bic Lighter!! Sorry, I know that was lame, couldn't help myself...

  3. #3

    Default Mr Heater

    This would be a good choice if you decide to ge portable. I was told they shut off automatically for safety reasons.

  4. #4
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default A word of caution

    If you are using the heater and planning on sleeping in there, be sure to install a heater that vents it's exhaust and sucks fresh air from outside. Do not rely on the Mr. Buddy sensor to shut down for low oxygen levels.
    BUT, the real reason I wrote this is to warn you about the condensation build up inside the trailer if you do decide to run a Mr. Buddy heater and sleep in there.
    We have used our trailer in the past as a "camper" and woke up in the A.M. to find the doors were frozen shut. Mind you it was -15 in Petersville at the time. Waking up and having to pee only to find the doors frozen shut sucks. Of course with a little shoulder into the door it finally opened but tore up the foam gasket that seals the door shut. Easily replaced later. Boy did I have to go by the time I finally got it open.
    The inside of the trailer was covered in ice from our breathing all night long. Had to thaw everything out in the shop once back home.
    BK

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    Default

    I've used a portable kerosene heater and left a roof vent cracked. It worked pretty well but we needed a Mr Heater to take the wake-up chill off. Now I have a built-in propane camper furnace and it isn't enough so I take a 2 burner Buddy heater on a 20# propane tank for when we're awake. I keep a smoke/carbon monoxide detector in the trailer and have never had an alarm. I've never had a condensation problem, either. -5* is the coldest I've slept in it. Expect the floor to be really cold and the lower your cot is the more you'll know it.

    The best heaters I've seen have been high efficiency direct vent propane heaters mounted in the vee nose. The very best one used a Rinnai heater. It needs a small generator to run the heater but it sure worked well. Way better than what I have. I've seen similar non-electric heaters used, too. The Rinnai has a circulating fan. That's the ticket.

  6. #6
    Member Tight Lines's Avatar
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    Wink

    Check out www.jcwhitney.com . They have motorhome heaters that are vented and safe propane to use in a trailer in the $400-$500 price range.
    With other types of heaters carbon monoxide is a real issue.

    Just my 2 cents but be safe what ever you do!!!

    Dave

  7. #7

    Default

    For the best set up, go to Active Gear out of Canada. You can get the heater you need that runs on 12 Volt. It is the Espar. It is the standard that the US and Canadian military and some of the North Slope and Canadian Oil Producers use. You can get coolant heaters or air heaters. They are currently the best there is for what you want to do.

    Propane and electric models are not adequate and will not serve you well. Moisture, condensation, cost of fuel, generator running, etc all leads to failure. You need dry, clean, breathable, moving, exchanging air in an enclosed trailer. All you need to add to the trailer with the Espar, is a small fuel resevoir and a 12 volt source outlet. Really simple to install, can do it in about three or four hours total, start to finish.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Default

    I have a camper that I use for winter camping. The problem of keeping it heated in the winter was really interesting. The best system is a heater with external venting; a high output btu heater needs a fan. The fan in my camper draws 8 amps. You need a big battery to supply 8 amps + lights for a weekend. The other problem is charging your trailer battery. When you are running your truck it can be setup to charge the camper battery. Unless you know what you’re doing the best charge you can put on your camper battery is 3 to 8 amps/hr. If you want to heat the trailer as you are driving down the road you could have a net loss.

    I found you need a generator to charge the battery to run the heater and lights. A small generator DC output is only 8 amps maximum it would not add any current to the battery if the heater was on. The solution was to use the camper converter to charge the battery and run the heater when you are camping. I also added a 11.6v low voltage battery disconnect to save the battery.

    If you had a large generator you could use electric heaters to heat the trailer this would solve a lot of problems if you like being put asleep hearing a generator running.

    There are other ways to skin this dog with out using a generator, it will take a lot of research and $$$. I would start by trying to finding a high btu heater with out a fan or use two heater.

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    Default

    Hmm. For what it's worth, my current trailer is urethane insulated and is factory equipped with a direct vent propane motorhome furnace that operates on 12v. The trailer has a deep cycle battery and I added a built-in shore powered battery charger and a solar panel. As I said before the furnace isn't adequate to heat the trailer to comfortable temps on its own, and this trailer is exceptionally well built and well sealed. Since the furnace runs often I can count on the battery draining to dead before morning when its cold out. A generator is a must if you plan to use forced air. Without a fan you'll have a warm ceiling and a cold floor. I expect I'll remove the camper furnace and add a Rinnai since I have to use the generator anyway. A 1000w Yamaha generator is so quiet it isn't a nuisance and it'll run all night on a gallon of gas. I'll stay with propane since the factory did a nice tank installation.

    Talk to guys that actually own enclosed snow-go trailers and sleep in them. I compare notes all the time. Arctic Man is a great place to see some good systems. The Rinnai solution is by far the best I've seen yet. My heater is adequate to wrench on a machine but it isn't enough to play cards and hang out after a long day without warm clothes on. Not so in the Rinnai trailer. A tee shirt and jeans are no problem in there.

    I know my trailer is right at 200 sq feet and is insulated but I need to figure out what the real BTU requirement is to heat it. The insulation isn't like that in a house and the trailer floor isn't insulated. You need to over rate the furnace from my experience but I don't know by how much.

  10. #10

    Default

    www.itrheaters.com makes a couple diff. btu models that are affordable,simple,no batteries, and diesel power will condense less than propane. Just another option that was discussed in the equipment section. Stay warm.

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    Default

    Thanks for all the input. I've started my research.

  12. #12
    Member M Gho's Avatar
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    Default

    I also had the same idea. I ended up putting a decent woodstove in my 25' United trailer. It cut out one snowmachine spot, but in test cases here in my driveway while -10F outside it was a toasty 55F inside with just one fire which lasted almost five hours. I secured the stove pipe with the same system that goes into a cabin roof and screwed the pipes together with sheet metal screws to the storm collar and added a directional hat on top. I plan on bolting the stove legs to the floor near the fire board, and carry an extra cap. I would be a little nervous about having a fire in there with snowmachine gas, but for a spring weekend of camping it should work to keep the chill off and dry gear out.

  13. #13
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Propane direct vented



    this is a nice slim heater that can be used with, or without the blower. If you get in colder weather and it does not seem to be moving enough warm air around the trailer, you can fire up the generator and run the fan motor..
    but It does not need power to operate ,is very slim and should provide enough heat for a trailer.
    It is vented so you won't need to worry about the carbon monoxide problems along with the condensation problems that you get with non vented propane or natural gas stoves..
    you can mount it right up against the wall, either high up out of your way, or down low where the heat can atleast start out down where you would like it.
    the cost is around 500 bucks before you put the vent in.
    these are sold thru Northern tool supply and they deliver pretty quickly.. I have purchased two of these units for my cabins and they are dependable and have worked without flaw.
    Max

    HouseWarmer Slim-Profile Direct-Vent Wall Heater with Built-In Blower — 18,000 BTU, Propane, Model# HWDV181BDVP

    Slim-profile design is less obtrusive and more attractive than traditional vented heaters. Heater requires no electricity so it will even work in a power failure (electricity required for blower). 115V, .4 Amp blower has 4-ft. electric cord for a standard wall outlet. Use in accordance with local codes and ordinances. U.S.A.
    Overall Rating 5 / 5
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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