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Old 02-28-2008, 08:28 PM   #1
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Problems with Older Model Sportsmobile

Hi,

I am new to this forum, but happy to find it and hopefully someone can steer me in the right direction.

I own a 1994 sportsmobile E250 with 4x4, and we recently did a lot of cold weather camping. Our heater (suburban) wasn't working, so I took it in to a RV maintenance place, and it took them a while but they said that the problem was a bee's nest. they removed it, and sent me on my way.

We would then get heat for about 15 minutes, and then nada the rest of the nite. We took it into another rv place, and found out that our auxillary battery was pretty much toast, so we replaced the auxillary battery with the nicest marine/rv battery that they had that fit into our battery holder area.

when we told the guy at the RV shop that we ran our 4 cubic foot fridge and our suburban heater on the auxillary battery, he looked at me like I was crazy, insisting our fridge must be propane also (which it isn't).

Anyways, turns out the heater worked for most of the nite and then pretty much quit, only blowing cold air.

Bottom line (and sorry for the long story) is my question - in the older model sportsmobile conversions, are there history of problems of trying to run fridge and heater at the same time? it's not like we were dry camping for long periods of time or anything, just stopping for the nite and continuing on.

thanks so much,

Lisa Siegel
http://www.conceptionsurfboards.com
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:15 PM   #2
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Is your Suburban heater pure electric? Does it have an overheat/reset sensor (my garage electric heater will stop sometimes if it gets too hot and I have to reset, there is a button sensor at the top of the dish)?
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Old 02-29-2008, 03:43 PM   #3
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heater/fridge issues

Hi,

yes the suburban heater is propane, and does have an automatic limit switch for when it gets too hot.

i don't think this was the problem though, because it stopped working the rest of the nite and it was super cold outside, and it never came back on.
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Old 02-29-2008, 04:20 PM   #4
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How about some more information:

Ok, how cold was it? Could it have been cold enough to stop the propane from flowing? -30 to -40F?

Did the furnace fan come on? But not the heat? Did the stove work? Did the lights work? Did the lights dim when the furnace came on? Does it work now? Or has it failed completely?

If the lights work, you had electricity. If the stove works, you have propane. If the lights dimmed when the furnace came on, maybe the battery had enough power to spin the fan, but not enough to spin it fast enough to trip the safety (furnace senses the air movement and won't come on if the fan (air) is not on).

Let us know more so we can better help you.

Mike
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Old 03-01-2008, 05:55 PM   #5
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It was cold, but not that cold - probably about 20 deg F.

We were camping out the nite before our river trip through the grand canyon, and had just got that new battery issue resolved, or so we thought.

I haven't had the opportunity for cold weather camping since then (about a month ago) and we spent about the first month of our vacation cold at nite and thinking we had heater problems before the new battery was installed.

That nite, i cranked the heat to about 75 or 80, just happy to have it working. first few hours of the nite was fine, then like i mentioned it just blew cold air. The stove has always worked fine, and other electric items like lights, but i imagine they don't draw near the power load. We started the vehicle and the heater still did not come on. I am thinking without an extra battery, we might need to have the fridge off at night if we want to have heat lasting through the nite..

any other thoughts, mike? i'm sortof wishing we would have just bought a newer model, maybe these issues have been resolved in newer models?
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Old 03-01-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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One other thing, was it windy? Could you have blown out the pilot light? No pilot light = no propane = no heat.

Or do you have pilotless ignition? Ours is pilotless and make a 'crackling' sound when it is starting the furnace.

Or you could have run out of propane. Is the stove working now?

If it was low battery, it would take some time running the engine to be able to start to recharge the house battery, 1/2 hour or more.

So, is it working now? Or is it still blowing cold air?

Mike
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Old 03-01-2008, 07:17 PM   #7
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it's got to be a battery issue from what you are describing. it doesn't have a pilot light, and wasn't particularly windy.

i'm not totally sure what it's doing now, as my boyfriend has it in california camping and i'm elsewhere visitng relatives. it just seems kind of lame that sportsmobile would have these items that can't be run on one house battery at the same time for one nite of dry camping on a fully charged house battery if that makes sense.

it sounds like we need to decide on colder evenings if we want the fridge running overnite, or the heater, cuz we're not getting both. though i don't even think we had our fridge up real cold that nite if i recall, so maybe it's not designed to run the heater all nite on a cold nite on a single house battery. has this been an issue in newer models, or do newer models come standard with two house batteries?

Or perhaps now the furnaces and fridges are more "energy efficient" and this isn't a problem?
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Old 03-01-2008, 08:21 PM   #8
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Well I'd suggest trying running the furnace without the fridge. It may not work even then, and if it doesn't it's probably not your battery... it probably isn't anyway. It shouldn't take much battery to spark the furnace, and you said it was blowing cold air, which means a) it's getting power b) there is enough to blow the fan (which is probably more than the furnace pilot sparker or whatever- not sure).

And there is still the possiblity it is some safety feature of the furnace, possibly damaged by the bees nest, possibly just age. Since it works some of the time I'm not sure what to suggest from more monkeying or a visit to another RV dealer. I don't know, maybe if it detects a insufficient voltage or whatnot it won't fire for safety reasons.

Despite the RV guys reaction there is nothing wrong with not having a propane (3-way) fridge. Some people love 'em some hate 'em. but if it is related... hmm... how about getting some voltage readings with a cheapo cigarette lighter meter- take some from the wall when before you start, when you camp, before bed, if you notice the heater stops and then in the morning before starting. All with the fridge running that is.

Do you know what size house battery you put in for the fried one? And is it a 3 cubic foot fridge?
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Old 03-02-2008, 10:38 AM   #9
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The 2nd battery was an option on our van in 04.

I'm concerned about your statement that you turned the heat up to 75 or 80.

That could make the furnace run alot of the time. The furnace fan takes a lot of power - more than the refrig. And setting it high could have it running, drawing power for most of the night - until the battery got too low.

We usually set our furnace to about 40 at night (I had to readjust the thermostat to get that low) and cuddle under a down comforter. We find it very comfortable, and both the batteries and the propane last much longer.

So, when you get access to the van:

- test if the furnace is working
- check if the battery is up
- try to answer some of the earlier questions about the failure and see if we can get to the bottom of your problems.

Mike
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Old 03-02-2008, 12:11 PM   #10
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I find the Suburban Heater to be one of the more cantankerous thing on my rig. One of the firsts things is to make sure your propane valve is opened all the way. You can have it partially open and get flame on your cook top but not have enough volume to properly run the stove. Get a voltage meeter, I believe that for the furnace to properly work, your voltage needs to be above 10 volts.

The unit has a 100% safety lockout, thus if the unit goes into lockout the only way to get it out is to reset the thermostat. If the blower does not have enough power to get up to 75% of expected RPM, the unit will not even try to ignite. So if you had low power you would not be able to here the electronic ignition come on. That is the clicking or sparking noise that you hear.

If you were to hear it go through the ignition cycle and it still does not heat, it could also be going into lockout. I believe that it will try to start three times and the goes into lockout if it does not get flame.

I have added a service manual for the Suburban heater at this link below.

http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=186

Hope we can help

Greg

2004 2WD EB 350 V10
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