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Discussion Starter #1
Seems like a quick drain on the battery bank but maybe someone has come up with a solution to this. I only have 200 amp hours of battery, how long can I run an electric heater before I stress out my battery bank? How small an electric heater has any found out there. I dont plan on being too far north in the winter but even Arizona or Texas can get a cold night. I am trying to avoid propane or gasoline or diesel heaters. I am thinking about fumes and fuel storage, space taken and it just seems electric heat is so easy, but maybe not viable. Any experience anyone can share will help me in my decision making process. Thanks
 

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Seems like a quick drain on the battery bank but maybe someone has come up with a solution to this. I only have 200 amp hours of battery, how long can I run an electric heater before I stress out my battery bank? How small an electric heater has any found out there. I dont plan on being too far north in the winter but even Arizona or Texas can get a cold night. I am trying to avoid propane or gasoline or diesel heaters. I am thinking about fumes and fuel storage, space taken and it just seems electric heat is so easy, but maybe not viable. Any experience anyone can share will help me in my decision making process. Thanks
Any electric heater to warm the whole van interior requires too much power to use.

The object is to keep yourself warm and not the whole van. I use a 12 volt DC bunk heater that works very well in my climate.

https://www.amazon.com/Electrowarmth-Mattress-Non-Fitted-T36-Campers/dp/B001122SZQ/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1542035280&sr=8-4&keywords=bunk+heater

There are two problems using the heating pad. One is your head is outside the sleeping bag so it gets cold. A balaclava solves that problem. The second issue is getting up in the morning in a cold van interior. That is solved with the remote start option for the Transit. Set the dash controls for max. heat and have a vehicle powered inverter set to run a 750 watt electric baseboard heater in back of van. Without getting out of bed, remote start the engine and wait for van interior to warm before getting up.

The use of the heating pad does not use much additional power because in a cold van interior the refrigerator does not use as much power. The refrigerator cycles less and the bunk heater is quiet for better sleeping and stealth city camping.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
electric heaters

I use a 12 volt DC bunk heater that works very well in my climate.

Makes alot of sense not heating the Whole van. We were in Big Bend a few winters ago and it got pretty dam cold at night. We had a more primitive set up back then, no heat at all but lots of blankets. Our shared body heat kept us just fine at 30 degrees and of course I was the one that had to leave the warm nest ,get up and start the van in the morning to get the heat going. I would crawl back in until it was decent enough for us both to get up. So a bunk heater (never heard of that before) I guess kept the bed warm at a low setting. How low does it get in the winter in your climate ? Remote starter sounds good for me. I will check into that. Thanks for the input.
 

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Convection makes heating a space much more efficient. You might get away with a 500w electric heater if it has a decent fan to blow that heat around. You'd still burn a lot of ah, but you'd get more heat for your ah.

The interior of a van is a small space to heat, and a well insulated van shouldn't take much to keep it warm. But you can make that even easier by reducing the size of the space you want to heat with thermal curtains (or moving blankets). Using those as "walls" at the edge of your bed, you can then just heat the bed area instead of the entire van. Put the heater on a timer or use a thermostat to keep temps at 55 and you'll be cozy. It seems like a lot of trouble to hang these curtains every night, but it's a seasonal thing and well worth the trouble.

I've slept in my van at temps down to 0, and my solution for those few times was to crank the heat with the engine running right before bed, wake up, get up, and start the engine for an hour in the middle of the night once that heat dissipates (sometimes more than once).

The remote start would be GREAT for situations like this. Also, using the van's heat for the few times you might need it camping makes more sense than buying and setting up a heating system. But, if you expect to encounter cold camping more than 10 days a year, the stand-alone heating would be worth it. Oh, the remote start feature could also be used to keep the batteries charged or power the heater if you use elec heat. It sucks to have dead batteries on a 0 degree morning 5 miles from the nearest paved road.
 

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So a bunk heater (never heard of that before) I guess kept the bed warm at a low setting. How low does it get in the winter in your climate?
We use the same 12 volt Electrowarmth twin size heated mattress pad across the lower portion of the bed. At the lowest "1" or "2" settings we have been very comfortable in our Thinsulate insulated van under a level 3 Thinsulate comforter in exterior temperatures down to 15° F with minimal overnight battery drain.
 

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Apart from orton's electric blanket you are the first to ask. With a big enough battery bank it may be doable, I am thinking 500 AH minimum.
To compare: The most efficient 5000 btu window unit air conditioner draws 410 watts. I cannot run this all day on a 500Ah battery pack.

Now portable heaters are usually way more then 410 watts. Think 1000 watts and above. That's not realistic on batteries. Best option for heating a whole van is fuel (propane, petrol or diesel).
 

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Remote starter sounds good for me. I will check into that. Thanks for the input.
If you want the Ford OEM remote start, get it now. FordPartsGiant last week told me both uni and bidirectional Ford remote starts were discontinued. They had no other info and I didn't confirm with a dealer or other parts houses. I ordered a unidirectional remote start from Amazon.
 

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a ok space heater is 1200 watts on low
this type heater wont keep a van warm

E blanket or heating pad is the only easy option -

1kwh is 3400 Btu - not much heat -

1 pound of propane is 21600 Btu
pretty much equal to a 5kwh battery -

heat pump will be more efficient and could be the
way to go at the moment -
needs much more complicated install and spendy -
 

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Another option is to man up and put some warm clothes on in the morning after you climb out of your hay pile.

My wife won't sleep in any closed space without an open window, outside temperature be damned.

And I would never try to sleep with one of those greek cookie things on my head no matter how cold it got.

Hope this helps. :D
 

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My popup top lined with insulated panels on an insulated van would be similar to an insulated high roof van in terms of heating requirements. At 5F, with insulation in all the walls, windows and popup top, I can keep the interior in the 60s with a 7,000 BTU furnace running constantly. Here are some back of the envelope calculations: 7,000 BTU is 2000 watts. 2000 watts is 167A @ 12VDC. You'd need a pretty serious battery to run a device with that current draw for any length of time. For example, if you had a 200AH lithium battery (that didn't have voltage sag, etc.), you could run your heater full blast for 1.2 hours.

I estimate my furnace duty cycle is more like 20% at 35F. In those conditions, you could run a 2000 watt heater for 5-6 hours.

Assuming you aren't planning to drive 20-30 minutes every day, replacing 200AH of battery charge is separate, but related issue. If you have a 300 watt panel, on a really good day (parked in full sun all day with minimal shadowing), you can produce something like 100AH @ 12VDC.

As mentioned by others, heating a smaller space, such as using an electric blanket, uses fewer BTUs.
 

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Those heating pads -- do they go beneath your sleeping bag/bedding, or, below the mattress/pad?
 

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Those heating pads -- do they go beneath your sleeping bag/bedding, or, below the mattress/pad?


We just starting using an Electrowarmth 12v DC mattress heater and it’s great! The pad goes on top of the mattress, under the sheet so the heat rises from the pad toward you, but kept under your top cover/comforter/etc. You are essentially heating the cocoon you’re sleeping in.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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All personal preference here...


My last van was an uninsulated Sprinter, mid 20's with the back window open was fine with just our sleeping bag (zero-deg double, good for cuddling and sharing warmth). A bit rough putting on clothes in the morning, but if you just stuffed them in the bag with you for a few minutes, they warmed up nicely. We eventually broke down and bought the smallest, cheapest space heater Walmart had that included a thermostat (1500w), which barely runs through the night down into the low 20's with my Thinsulate insulated Transit. It DOES make it nice to move about in the morning though when we crank it upon waking. Obviously, only works when on shore power (we tend to plan for that on cold nights, along with the availability of a warm shower).



I think that we could be fine down into the teens and Maybe the single digits for sleeping without any heat source, including running the vehicle, with the right sleeping arrangement (no greek treat on my head either). Saying that for Perspective on how much heat above or below what I've used you might want to be comfortable.


I can't justify a heater for boondocking when the lions share of my camping is in the SE. Cooling is more of a problem than heating.
 

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Those heating pads -- do they go beneath your sleeping bag/bedding, or, below the mattress/pad?
I use a sleeping bag and two REI self inflating camp pads as a mattress. Heating pad goes between the top self inflating camp pad and the sleeping bag.

Bought remote start and use the van dash vents and a electric baseboard heater to warm van in the morning. Baseboard heater powered by the vehicle powered inverter.

Baseboard heater is a standard house 1500 watt heater with two heating elements. Disconnected one to make it a 750 watt heater that will run on my 1000 watt inverter.
 

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...The pad goes on top of the mattress, under the sheet so the heat rises from the pad toward you, but kept under your top cover/comforter/etc.
...
I use a sleeping bag and two REI self inflating camp pads as a mattress. Heating pad goes between the top self inflating camp pad and the sleeping bag...

Can you FEEL the wires or elements in the heating pad? I once bought a heated mattress pad for home use. OH, that was not usable, due to the stuff poking up at me.
 

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When i was a kid christmas at the grand parents house in far northwest Minnesota was always interesting, they had wood heat and the fire always went out by morning, Getting out of bed in temps near zero in the house and 40 bellow zero outside, Chamber pots at night and the outhouse first thing in the morning, Yes piss really does freeze before it hits the ground! It was the mid 1970s before they converted the wood furnace to burn oil and had indoor plumbing installed, I was already grown up by then.
Never again!
Direct vented propane heat in the van even if most winters stay above zero outside today.

(A Century farm, it has been in the family for 136 years!)
 

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We have some eco-green-friendly-organic-fair trade-blah-blah down comforter at home that is way too hot for me. Even when the room gets down into the 40's at night I have a leg hanging out. With something like that, I have no problem sleeping in sub-freezing temps, but as mentioned, getting out of bed in the morning is a real challenge. I'm thinking the remote start, especially one that could be put on a timer, would be a good idea.

Maybe someone can arduino one to activate via thermostat and/or a timer. Interior temp gets below 40, it starts the motor (and you already have the heat and fan set at high). Interior temp hits 75 and it shuts down. Oh, is there a remote shut-off involved with the remote start?
 

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Seems like a quick drain on the battery bank but maybe someone has come up with a solution to this. I only have 200 amp hours of battery, how long can I run an electric heater before I stress out my battery bank? How small an electric heater has any found out there. I dont plan on being too far north in the winter but even Arizona or Texas can get a cold night. I am trying to avoid propane or gasoline or diesel heaters. I am thinking about fumes and fuel storage, space taken and it just seems electric heat is so easy, but maybe not viable. Any experience anyone can share will help me in my decision making process. Thanks
I have several of these by Optimus. Sold at Menards (home improvement store). Small power draw: choice of 400 watts or 800 watts. I like them because there is NO FAN-- don't like the noise. Bonus: in a dark room (van) gives off warm, orange glow. 14' x 13'

Set it in front of you for just those few hours before you go to bed. Then use heated mattress pad at low setting when in bed.
 

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