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Old 08-26-2009, 09:39 PM   #1
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flat plate versus propane hot H2O

I'm looking for someone to make up my mind because I can't. I do lots of off-roading but zero experience in motorized camping, including a Class B RV like SMB.

I'm spec'ing an E350 RB with V10 gasoline engine and 50 package with propane furnace. I will have two 16 gal H20 tanks and an exterior shower. The hot water sole purpose is to provide me and mine with hot showers!

So - pros and cons of propane hot H2O versus flate plate. Any/all comments appreciated.
warholic
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Old 09-03-2009, 06:52 PM   #2
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Hey warholic,

My previous van had the propane hot water heater and furnace. They both worked great.
Since you plan on having the propnae system installed, $$ in the long run, having the hot water heater is a good choice.
I use solar showers now, but that may not work so well up in the snowy mountains of CA.

The flatplate heat exchanger is very limited without a holding tank.
You have hot water when the engine is on, or recently turned off. That's it.

Go with a propane heater.

I suggest that the 2 16 gallon water tanks are placed over the rear axle, or evenly balanced in the van.


Good luck with your process!

Peace,

Zugg

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Old 09-03-2009, 08:12 PM   #3
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

The propane water heater takes up a lot more space, but since you're doing a gasser and SMB won't install the gas version I'd say the propane heater is your best option, instead of messing with trying to get a flat plate installed post build.

I run my propane water heater all night and then have hot water for most of the next day.
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:50 PM   #4
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
since you're doing a gasser and SMB won't install the gas version I'd say the propane heater is your best option, instead of messing with trying to get a flat plate installed post build.
Jage, I think you're thinking about the Espar heaters. As far as I know, the Flat Plate Heat Exchangers work fine in either gas or diesel since it's only antifreeze that's piped to the unit, not fuel.

Warholic, the Flat Plate Heat Exchanger takes up no space inside your vehicle and will supply hot water as long as your vehicle is running and you continue to pump water through it -- all day long if you'd like. But you HAVE to have the vehicle running. The hot water supply with a warm engine and the vehicle off is measured in seconds...
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:04 AM   #5
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

thx guys . I think it's propane to start with .. I'll give up space for hot water when/as long as I want with no need to start engine.
I want hot showers and once I decided to go V10 gas engine, i knew this was the path i was probably headed down. Balanced H2O tanks is preferred ...... weight distribution. I suppose one tank drains first tho, then the other one.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:23 AM   #6
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

You can add an engine coolant circulation pump to enable the flatplate to provide hot water for a longer period of time, but the engine does have to heat up before the flatplate is useful.

John K.
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:56 AM   #7
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Right, John, that's what I did. If one simply plans their shower times to when they arrive somewhere, the pump will keep the flatplate hot for quite some time after the engine is stopped.
But really, who showers! Even with all the espar stuff, the flat plate, and the pump, I still more often just heat up a wet towel in the microwave and wipe down. And, pour a quart of water over your head. Those with lot's of car camping and backpacking experience will understand.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:34 AM   #8
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey
Right, John, that's what I did. If one simply plans their shower times to when they arrive somewhere, the pump will keep the flatplate hot for quite some time after the engine is stopped.
But really, who showers! Even with all the espar stuff, the flat plate, and the pump, I still more often just heat up a wet towel in the microwave and wipe down. And, pour a quart of water over your head. Those with lot's of car camping and backpacking experience will understand.

I'm following that pattern too and most often just use a solar bag for a shower when camping. With modest sunlight, it is plenty hot for 2-4 showers at the end of the day.

The van shower is most often used for 'hosing off' the layer of dirt/sand that covers the kids (and me) at the end of the day.

I have the flat plate heater, but could easily get by without a water heater of any sort.

R
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:45 PM   #9
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Our van carries 18 gallons of water. We do not have a water heater. If we want hat water we have 1 quart thermos that we keep full and reheat every day or two. We can either heat water a quart at a time with 1000 watt Hot Pot or a larger amount on our camp stove if we desire. Really only need hot water for birdie baths in the spring and fall when the tank water IS COLD, some dried foods, and doing dishes and the Hot Pot and camp stove can easily handle that load.
If we really want/need a good bathing we break out the Sun Shower.
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:13 AM   #10
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Re: flat plate versus propane hot H2O

Ill add to this thread the choice of a marine water heater with electric. Like a flat plate but will hold the temp for at least 12 hours. It's a good reserve water supply too. Depending on the cabinet their may be room for a little pressure tank too.
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