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Old 06-11-2020, 12:22 PM   #21
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I've used my Camplux 6L BD158 propane heater at 9k feet on several trips without issue. Interestingly, I see now that they don't recommend using any of their heaters above 2k (!). I'm fairly certain that wasn't the case when I bought mine. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check the flame window when I was using it to confirm I had a steady blue flame. I just pulled apart the heater to check for signs of soot, and everything looks nice and clean (aside from a horrendous amount of tree pollen from leaving it out overnight).

My theory of why it's worked well for me is the following (warning, this is long!).

It's important to consider several variables when choosing the water heater "size". Flow rate, inlet water temperature, and desired temperature rise will determine the required btu/h. As you probably know, fixed orifice furnaces require a smaller orifice size at altitude to compensate for less atmospheric oxygen--a general rule of thumb seems to be 4% input reduction for every 1000ft above sea level. Conversely, you can derate the burner by 4% for every 1000ft.

So in the case of 9k feet elevation, the Camplux 6L 41k btu/h heater would only be rated for 26.2k btu/h (36% less). The popular Eccotemp L5, rated at 35k btu/h, would be derated to 22.4k btu/h. This doesn't even take into account the efficiency of the heater. The Camplux 6L claims "high" efficiency of 88.5%. I haven't been able to find an efficiency claim for the Eccotemp, so I'll assume it's similar. This drops the energy available at 9k feet to 23.2k and 19.8k btu/h for the Camplux 6L and Eccotemp L5, respectively.

Now, we can calculate the flow rate that can be heated to a given temperature by dividing the derated btu/h by the temperature rise. Since we tend to use our shower on warm days and our water is stored inside the van, I'll estimate 70degF as the inlet water temperature. An outlet temperature of ~105degF felt comfortable (judging by 40-41degC as displayed on the Camplux temperature display). Using 8.34lb per gal of water:

(41000 * 0.64 * 0.885) / (8.34 * (105 - 70)) = 79.5gph, or 1.33gpm (Camplux 6L)

(35000 * 0.64 * 0.885) / (8.34 * (105 - 70)) = 67.9gph, or 1.13gpm (Eccotemp L5)

This is the *max* flow rate the heater can achieve at this temperature rise. It drops quickly with colder inlet temps:

inlet temp (degF) vs. flow rate @ 105degF outlet temp (Camplux 6L):
70 1.33
65 1.16
60 1.03
55 0.93
50 0.84

inlet temp (degF) vs. flow rate @ 105degF outlet temp (Eccotemp L5):
70 1.13
65 0.99
60 0.88
55 0.79
50 0.72**

**The Eccotemp L5 requires a minimum flow of 0.75gpm for the heater to activate, which means you're not going to get a hot shower when your inlet water is below about 53degF--and since we all like turn up the heat as it gets colder... Take the heater to a slightly higher elevation like 10k ft, and now you'll need 77degF inlet water to reach the minimum flow with 105degF out!

Now if you choose a slightly "larger" water heater like the Camplux 6L, which also has a much lower activation flow of 0.44gpm, you can see that you're far more likely to get a hot shower.

One trick you could use is to recirculate your heated water (in, say a bucket) until it reaches a higher inlet temperature before taking your shower...but given the choice, I'd rather not deal with that--especially since the heaters are basically the same price!

tl;dr: I highly recommend sizing your water heater a bit "larger" if you plan to use it at higher altitudes, and make sure you look closely at not only the btu/h but also the minimum flow rate (i.e. bigger isn't always better).

Regarding gas mix: initially I was using the disposable 1lb propane bottles, but this weekend was the first time using refillable 1lb bottles. Since I live in CO, perhaps my refill was a blend--is there a way to determine this?
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Old 07-26-2020, 05:08 PM   #22
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Happy to update for those following the thread, used my triton at highest point of around 10,600 ft and it worked perfectly fine, this was still with east coast sea level propane in my tank.

Haven’t opened up the unit to see if there was any Soot build up. Still kind of unhappy with the quality, can’t see it lasting more than a couple trips stored in my rear bumper box.. It’s already starting to come apart from the off-road driving. But hey it worked, very well.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:01 PM   #23
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Propane at high altitude

Hi there,
For whatever it may be worth, we also have a Born Free, 24ft. RV with propane or electric running pretty much everything. We have never had any problems getting hot or warm water using the system set-up that was installed in this rig. And we live and often camp at well over 8,000 feet ( were also in Colorado).
Maybe its the system itself? I can get the name if youd like. But it was standard to the Born Free.
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Old 08-19-2020, 06:28 PM   #24
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Just want to add a datapoint to this thread. I recently purchased a Joolca Hottap shower and it has been working perfectly here in CO at 8,400 ft. It took a bit to get the water flow and temp right but so far I'm happy with it. Daily hot showers are nice, even if I do have to walk the water, 5 gallons at a time, from the spring up the hill.

Oh, and Joolca's customer service has been amazing. They are very communicative and helpful.

Jeff
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Old 08-19-2020, 07:13 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
Just want to add a datapoint to this thread. I recently purchased a Joolca Hottap shower and it has been working perfectly here in CO at 8,400 ft. It took a bit to get the water flow and temp right but so far I'm happy with it. Daily hot showers are nice, even if I do have to walk the water, 5 gallons at a time, from the spring up the hill.

Oh, and Joolca's customer service has been amazing. They are very communicative and helpful.

Jeff

How many gallons per shower?
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Old 08-19-2020, 11:02 PM   #26
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I’m taking what I consider are very generous showers and I’m using right at 4gal per.

It would be easy to cut that in half if water were scarce.
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Old 08-20-2020, 03:28 AM   #27
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Excellent, thanks for posting @fjefman.
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Old 08-20-2020, 07:05 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
Im taking what I consider are very generous showers and Im using right at 4gal per.

It would be easy to cut that in half if water were scarce.
I would agree with fjefman that 4 gal is pretty average.I also used my Joolca shower a couple of times recently and one was a 2 or so gallon deal and I felt it was barely enough but doable.Second would have been around 4-5 and I felt that was plenty.Am planning on purchasing there pump setup so that if you are near a water source you can have an endless shower if propane is not a factor.
Am eagerly waiting for the Ensuite double to ship as I think that will be a great addition.
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Old 08-20-2020, 11:07 PM   #29
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I ordered the HOTTAP V2 NOMAD Kit this afternoon:

https://www.joolca.com/products/hott...TTAP-Nomad-Kit

I'll do a review when it arrives, but that won't be until October 25th, as they are on back-order
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Old 08-21-2020, 03:37 PM   #30
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Yeah, the design of the Joolca pump setup (https://www.joolca.com/products/off-grid-plumbing) is pretty clever, but as Glen mentioned, they are backordered on most of their products.

I would have gotten the full kit if it was available when I placed my order. I was lucky enough to get the heater setup before my trip.

For the pump I'm using a standard 12v pump off Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1) with some standard garden hose and fittings and a strainer at the end (https://www.amazon.com/CABINA-HOME-S...8045699&sr=8-2) dunked into a 5 gal bucket of water. This pump is powered by the van. The setup is not as clean as the one from Joolca, but it works very well.

Jeff
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