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Old 11-23-2012, 03:55 PM   #1
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North East Winterized SMB

Hi,

We are starting to look into a SMB for our mountain bike and ski trips.

We live in the north east and we would like to use our sportmobile to camp at different backcountry ski trailheads mainly in New Hampshire and sometimes in Québec. As you know it gets well below zero up here.

I have read in a very usefull post here about the options to run the van HVAC on a automated mode via a thermostat to keep the interior above freezing? is that the way to go or get a propane furnace? We would like to sleep upstairs but we might have to keep the top down if it's really cold.

Any advice to camp in cold weather is appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 11-23-2012, 09:19 PM   #2
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vyed
Hi,

We are starting to look into a SMB for our mountain bike and ski trips.

We live in the north east and we would like to use our sportmobile to camp at different backcountry ski trailheads mainly in New Hampshire and sometimes in Québec. As you know it gets well below zero up here.

I have read in a very usefull post here about the options to run the van HVAC on a automated mode via a thermostat to keep the interior above freezing? is that the way to go or get a propane furnace? We would like to sleep upstairs but we might have to keep the top down if it's really cold.

Any advice to camp in cold weather is appreciated.

Thanks
Vyed,
I hope we hear from others on this subject because I'd like to know as much about this as I can to avoid frozen pipes.
I never second guess how long it is going to be below freezing because you never know. The last snowshoeing trip I went on, the outside temp was 28 degrees at 6:00pm. It dropped to 17 degrees overnight. It didn't get above freezing until about 11:30 am the next day. It would be very expensive to fix a frozen/burst water pipe in the wall of my van.

So, I do this to my van whenever the temp is going to be below freezing. It usually takes me about 10 minutes:
I drain my gray water tanks (located under the van, in the cold) Need to empty them as well as protect the drain S-traps and drain valves(with RV antifreeze) from freezing because any residual gray water in them will freeze.
On my van I have a flat plate water heater located outside of the van that needs to be drained and also the main water fill pipe that has to be drained as it drains water from pipes inside the walls of the van. Running heat in the van at that point should keep the interior pipes/pump/fresh water tank from freezing. Hope this helps.


-don
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Old 11-23-2012, 10:55 PM   #3
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

I really don't do cold weather much but frequent 20*+ weather often. As long as I keep the heat on inside the van and run the Espar Hydronic in the early hours for a couple of hours I've never had a problem. Colder than that can be a problem although I've stayed in temps to 8* and nothing happened. The pipes froze slightly but never broke. Still, if you can't keep the van warm, the hot water warm, and let some water drip through the faucets from time to time, you will have trouble. My flat plate is outside.
People that leave their vans sitting in a parking lot while they ski need to have timers to keep the temps up. If it sits for days with no heat? Forget it. Water needs to be drained.

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Old 11-24-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Talk to jwinterstellar, he's done extensive modifications to his SMB so it can withstand sub 20f temps including moving the flat plate water exhanger inside. He has lots of experience with what can and does goes wrong.


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Old 11-24-2012, 04:12 PM   #5
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapatio
Talk to jwinterstellar, he's done extensive modifications to his SMB so it can withstand sub 20f temps including moving the flat plate water exhanger inside. He has lots of experience with what can and does goes wrong.


http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/member ... ile&u=5445
I don't know if SMB will install a gasoline version of Espar or Webasto due to RVIA rules. So if you want anything other than a propane system you might have to look for a used diesel van. You might E-mail SMB on this. I don't know why SMB can't insulate and route lines inside the van during construction. If I understood them correctly, its the Flat Plate Heat Exchanger that RVIA requires to be mounted outside. I just don't know if insulation and inside routing of the lines would help if the vehicle sits in cold weather unless there is heat inside the van. Even water tanks can freeze. They make tank heaters but they pull quite a bit of juice.
Not that somebody doesn't make one, I've never heard of a timer kit for a propane heater. Shore power and an electric heater might be the best choice.

If you purchase a used diesel van you can follow these threads, just understand SMB will probably not move the flat plate inside.

http://www.badgertrek.com/

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/viewto ... =13&t=6018

I also don't think you have to use a flat plate with the new Espar units (SMB can advise). The flate plate is nice to have because it pre-warms the engine and if the engine it hot, provided you have the extra pump, you can get a full shower w/o having to run the Espar. But if you don't need one I wouldn't install it if the plan is cold weather camping.

I've been able to stay in temps below 10* with the top up and no insulation around the canvas but you can feel the cold when you put your hand close. Many use aluminized bubble wrap to line the inside. I have the Espar D-4 Airtronic cab heater and it work great most of the time. I have had to wake to restart it but that has been because I set it wrong. In cold weather I prefer to sleep up top and crank on the heater. I leave the windows cracked so I don't get too hot. All the pipes inside have never broke. As far as outside, I have the Hydronic water heater kick on about 4AM and run through a 2 hour cycle. The worse part of the Espar products (for me at least) has been access for maintenance and the problems that occur if air gets in the fuel lines. They do make a bit of noise while running that might bother some folks.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:13 AM   #6
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Hi thanks for the reply so far.

I am quoting another post below: Is it possible to use only the HVAC heater like mentioned below or do I still need a separated heater. We don't realy need AC, we are mostly concerned with heat.

Thanks for your help.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultrasport12

The rear A/C unit is great, I had to add it on to my last two vans but it was one of the reasons I went to Ohio to get this van because it had factory rear A/C and heat. The unit takes up a bit of space as I said so talk to Sportsmobile before hand as it might limit your build options. It works really nice even when camping with the V-10 engine. We have a temp unit for our remote start system and if it gets too hot (A/C) or too cold (heat) inside the van the engine starts and runs until its warmed up or cooled down if we want it too. Once you have had one its hard to live without it especially in the Northeast where I lived until ten years ago. The rear A/C is only part of it the rear heater warms up the big interior really fast and even way less cold drafts. You can buy the van preped for rear A/C and heat (all factory wiring and hoses) and then get a smaller unit if you have too. Here are some of those but there are others. Be sure you get heat also...


...Jamie
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:42 AM   #7
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

The quoted posts suggests that both a front and rear heater are needed, along with a remote start. I would think SMB could do all that on a new build. Adding rear auotmotive type heat to an existing SMB would be a big job. Based on our limited experience, the front heater alone could probably keep the interior above freezing but it might need to run all night.

I don't like to run the engine on the van when camping. It just seems wrong. I don't like noise and exhaust fumes outside the van, I worry about carbon monoxide fumes getting inside, and I also worry about bumping the shift lever into gear... I suppose it could run out of gas too, don't know how much it uses at idle.

IMHO a propane furnace is the way to go.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:53 PM   #8
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally
IMHO a propane furnace is the way to go.
Or a diesel furnace with the same tank as engine... It could also deliver hot water if needed.
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Old 12-16-2012, 06:48 PM   #9
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

We live in northern new Hampshire
And live and ski out of our van in winter
The key piece of equipment in our smb
Is the suburban propane furnace
A must have for us to go and ski
Where we do.

Blanca
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:12 AM   #10
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Re: North East Winterized SMB

Thought I'd toss my 2c on the topic. Had a little water cooler talk at work about house plumbing that got me thinking about van plumbing and hopped on the forum.

Disclaimer: I don't own a van anymore, never used in the cold, and never had solar power.

What would be the pros and cons to electical pipe wrap? Would it do enough for tanks or would you need a recirculator to keep water moving.

The power draw on some of the wraps I'm looking at is low, but will solar be enough.


http://www.heatersplus.com/wrapon_pipe.html
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