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Old 04-20-2011, 03:56 PM   #1
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what size Suburban Furnace?

Fairly new sportsmobile owner here. I want to install a furnace that does not break the bank and was wondering what size(btu)/ model suburban furnaces others have in their rigs...Have found some direct vent models 16k and 19k btu's in the 450 dollar range online. Any info would help
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

My Sportsmobile was built with a Suburban 12K furnace. That model is no longer available, the 16K puts out 33% more heat.

Even with the poptop up, it keeps us warm in the low teens. Haven't been in really cold weather with it, but we would probably keep the top down if it was that cold.

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Old 04-20-2011, 05:54 PM   #3
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RMORIN
Fairly new sportsmobile owner here. I want to install a furnace that does not break the bank and was wondering what size(btu)/ model suburban furnaces others have in their rigs...Have found some direct vent models 16k and 19k btu's in the 450 dollar range online. Any info would help
post info of what you find. I have been researching this a lot and I haven't found something to get into that doesn't start at around $1200 + just for parts. SMB quoted me about $3k to install a suburban furnace and propane. Van Specialties quoted me about $1700 for a propex heater install with propane. Another place for a gas espar heater was about $3k for install. I have been using the buddy heater for the time being but would like a better alternative! I am thinking a generator might be a nice upgrade. 1k for Honda generator and you can run electric space heater.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:30 AM   #4
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

As far as sizing your furnace goes, there are some other important things that folks would want to know to help you out, i.e.:
1. is your van an RB or EB?
2. Penthouse? Hard top?
3. typical (or design) camping climate; 15 deg ski resort or 35 degree evenings in the desert?

I've heard of guys that are happy with the 10k Propex, so unless you're in the arctic I'm guessing the 16k unit should be just fine.
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:27 PM   #5
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockbender
I've heard of guys that are happy with the 10k Propex, so unless you're in the arctic I'm guessing the 16k unit should be just fine.
I don't think you need an extra 4k even with a big fixie an EB body- nothing adds that much square feet to the van. I'm assuming mine is a 12k suburban though- it's plenty strong.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:35 AM   #6
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Thanks for the info:
My van is a regular body with a penthouse top. Im from the Tahoe area so it does get fairly cold here especially at night. I already have the propane tank so i basically need the furnace unit, thermostat, wiring and fuel lines to the furnace. I found a Suburban NT-16SE furnace at American RV Company online for $470.00.
I checked at one RV shop in Reno, NV and asked if they could install the unit,because cutting a hole in the side of the van scares me.
I didnt get an exact install quote because i hadnt even looked at furnaces at that time, but 3K from sportsmobile seems high to me especially when the unit is only 470 bucks.
Has anyone installed furnace by themselves, in theory it seems fairly easy but i dont want to get in over my head and the cutting the hole in side of van is a one time shot.
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:15 AM   #7
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

I installed one on our old camper van. Don't worry about cutting the hole in the side of the van. A body shop can fix it if you mess up and the total cost will still be below $3,000

The gas appliance inlet air port is supposed to be at least 36" away from a gasoline fill point. I fudged with the refrigerator as you can see.

The furnace is the round hole


Here is the furnace from the inside. Hole needs to line up with the cabinet. There is some room for error, maybe 3/8" either way.


This installation was very noisey. In our next van we will try to completely enclose the furnace in a cabinet, maybe with sound deadening, and use ducts to supply the air. It should be quieter although it may not deliver as much air.
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #8
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RMORIN
I didnt get an exact install quote because i hadnt even looked at furnaces at that time, but 3K from sportsmobile seems high to me especially when the unit is only 470 bucks.

The 3k from sportsmobile is for adding the propane tank and everything too, not just the heater install.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:33 PM   #9
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Had a Suburban 20k btu furnace installed this winter. I do alot of high altitude winter camping so I went for the 20k instead of the 16k (the price wasn't that much different). It's ridiculously hot! Below zero temps are no problem, even with the top up. I warm up food next to the vents! In hindsight, I would get the smaller heater. I think it'll draw less amps which is a good thing when the temps drop.

Researched the Propex and really liked it. It's alot quieter than the Suburban though the exterior vents are tubes that have to run beneath the van and out to the side below the van's body. I was concerned that this would reduce or impinge off road travel with the tubes so exposed to the ground. As well, a big snow would block them. Not good. Also, they were on the expensive side.
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Old 04-26-2011, 11:16 PM   #10
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Re: what size Suburban Furnace?

Anyone have any experience with the oooold school propane furnaces that did not use a fan? They are externally vented, and need no electricity, and only make as much noise as the flame makes (no fan).

I've never actually seen one but my dad says they were great for small campers. They are narrow and shallow but very tall. Because they're tall, the heated air escapes out the top and draws fresh air from down low along the floor. This heat cycle is why there is no fan required. Of course, if it's a large camper it won't warm as well, but in a van or pickup camper they're supposed to be great.

I love the idea of no noise and zero electrical draw. I may have a line on one locally but it's from the 1960s! I guess if it's not a pile of rust, i may still get it and give it a shot when i get around to that phase of my build.
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