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Thread: DIY tent heater

  1. #1
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    Default DIY tent heater

    Ok i may be going out on a limb here, while i really like the propex heatsource furnaces, i have no where near the budget for that. So ive been sick at home thinking for a couple days now....

    Couldnt one get a small modern RV heater, one that uses a separated heat exchanger (most of the new ones do), mount it into a metal box and simply run the heat and return ducts to the tent? It already has a fan built in, already is set up for a T stat. Will definately not be *** cool or efficient as the heatsource but seems like to would work to me. With the heater mounted to the side of the box, the exhaust would go out, and the warm air could be captured in the box and plumbed to the tent. im assuming it has a return air, (coming from home systems here) but then the box could possibly be separated to allow it to circulate air back from the tent.
    Can anyone think of something obvious that im missing completely? i dont have my hands on a heater, which is how i think, so im trying to conceptualize a bit here.

  2. #2
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    This guy did what you're considering but he wanted AC not heat.

    http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=44561

    Most houses/buildings have some sort of central heat/AC and duct the air to living quarters. We're just scaling the concept down.

    Tom

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treenail View Post
    This guy did what you're considering but he wanted AC not heat.

    http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=44561

    Most houses/buildings have some sort of central heat/AC and duct the air to living quarters. We're just scaling the concept down.

    Tom
    exactly, unfortunately all his pics are dead. I come from construction so im plenty familiar with residential HVAC not so much with RV units.

  4. #4
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    Hmmm..all of the pics open for me when I click the hotlink.

    If you want to go directly, start here:

    http://www.tnttt.com/

    Then search for thread "44561"

    The thread started on 6/10/11 by Shadowcatcher
    Last edited by Treenail; 02-28-2012 at 04:30 PM.

  5. #5
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    Great minds think alike! I have the parts in my garage to do exactly this.

    The main issue I've found is that the smallest RV furnace is about 12,000 to 16,000 BTU/Hr (depending on the vendor) while the propex is just 6,500 BTU/Hr. 6500btu/hr seems like plenty good for a RTT, but I have a 8'X10' ground tent so I guess 16,000 isn't gross overkill. I would just expect the RV furnace to cycle on/off a lot more. The Propex is very compact. I have a Suburban NT-16S (16,000) and its about 10"x10"x22" so while not small it is not huge either.

    I'll post up some pictures if I ever get around to starting the fabrication on this project.
    -Ted Z
    '97 Grand Cherokee Laredo w/ stuff
    '07 Patriot Sport

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted_Z View Post
    Great minds think alike! I have the parts in my garage to do exactly this.

    The main issue I've found is that the smallest RV furnace is about 12,000 to 16,000 BTU/Hr (depending on the vendor) while the propex is just 6,500 BTU/Hr. 6500btu/hr seems like plenty good for a RTT, but I have a 8'X10' ground tent so I guess 16,000 isn't gross overkill. I would just expect the RV furnace to cycle on/off a lot more. The Propex is very compact. I have a Suburban NT-16S (16,000) and its about 10"x10"x22" so while not small it is not huge either.

    I'll post up some pictures if I ever get around to starting the fabrication on this project.
    Awesome. Yeah I've done a bit of looking and there are some small models out now. But they are very spendy. I'm gonna keep my eyes out for a used one.

  7. #7
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    I just bought a scratch and dent 12,000BTU from my local trailer store and looking at it, it would not be very hard to do what your describing. If you put it in a box, and attached some simple ducting to the front vent hole and to the rear exhaust, it would be pretty portable. Then you could have quick disconnects for the DC (only 2.8A Max), thermostat (just a simple contact or switch would work), and the propane (standard appliance pressure 13in of wc I think).

    I'll post up some pics of my unit this weekend when I'm playing with things to show the sizes you'd be dealing with.

    Don

    -
    '96 Bronco and Custom Toy-Hauler Trailer

  8. #8
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    Yeah after thinking about it didn't seem like it would be hard. Mind me asking what you paid for your heater?

  9. #9
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    Hey Java:

    You're over thinking it. For over 22 years, we've been trout fishing and tent camping in the north Georgia and Tennessee mountains from mid February to mid April. Many times I remember fishing with snow on the banks. (After mid April, the trout fishing is not that good) I say this in reference to the night time temps which range from 32 to around 15 degrees.

    I can't take credit for the idea, but we've always used a two-burner "Mr. Heater" atop a regular-sized propane tank. Our tents are usually a full size "Coleman" type. We simply cut the Mr. Heater heater down on its lowest setting and only light one of the burners. You then roll up part of your tent flap to insure fresh air, and then you will sleep warm and comfy. The nylon or canvas tent will retain enough heat that you really won't need much of a blanket. Last year when it was 24 outside with wind, the inside of the tent was 70 degrees. Seriously, this works and is simple. I figure we use about 1/2 a propane tank over 6 nights of camping, and we use the propane for some cooking too.

    The big fear is CO2 poisoning, and that was my concern too because people have died going to sleep using propane heaters in an enclosed tent. Evidently, by keeping just a portion of your tent flap open will let in enough fresh air to avoid any problems. Just for safety, I've been bringing a CO2 detector with us and I've never had an alarm over the past five years. I don't expect to convince anyone, but it does work, and it's simple and cheap.

    We've been in the outfitting business for 21 years, and I've been hunting, fishing, and camping since my youth. If I can't convince you to try a propane tank and burner, then I highly recommend Zodi. Their tent heaters http://www.zodi.com/Consumer/zodihotvent.html work very well. Just to plug Zodi because they make a great product, we also use their portable water heater http://www.zodi.com/Consumer/zodihottaphpshower.html. We took one of these on a two week trip to Mozambique (yes, I smuggled in the green disposable propane bottles), and we all took hot showers every evening and didn't use all of the propane. (Ours is an older unit with the small 12v gel cell battery instead of the 4 D-cell power pack they use now. With the 12v gel battery, you can power your air mattress pump/blower which also is excellent to stoke fires with here in the damp and rainy Appalachians).

    Good luck with your setup, and let us know what you decide to use. It's amazing the extent and complexity of some of the vehicles and setups on this site, but really, so much of it is unnecessary. It's refreshing to find something that is simple in design and works well.
    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, Im from the government and Im here to help. Ronald Reagan

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." Thomas Paine

  10. #10
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    We're building a roof top tent setup on an M416 trailer, similar to this one, and I plan to use a propane heater on the floor/bottom of the "annex" room part of the tent. I'll obviously open some of the upper tent windows, but it should be quite warm as heat rises.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, Im from the government and Im here to help. Ronald Reagan

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." Thomas Paine

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