Power systems (fuel) - help me decide

Chorky

Observer
Whatever house battery chemistry you select, you'll want an insulated battery box with some type of automated heating circuit for when it's unattended for weeks. Yea! Another project within a project. :)
Well....maybe? it depends. If were talking about the batteries that are going in the truck at some point for truck systems, oh absolutely...Actually, based on that info in you quoted me above, I'm going to be curious to see how my truck handles the sub zeros this winter. Its only ever seen teens, maybe single digits....

But, so the idea is all systems (including fuel) will be inside the insulated portion of the 'house' (er, trailer). Plan is to have 4" of insulation. So a double wall of sorts. Now, there will be a false wall between the actual house and batteries/fuel/gen/etc. of course for safety purposes. But, the items will still be inside the overall insulated home. The house would always be heated. Even if tanks are empty. Reason being is, well, ever see how fast a stick house degrades from not being lived in (ie, no heat)? So, anyway, always having heat, pending a loss of power or fuel supply, the false wall would provde enough of a barrier for safety reasons, but still allow heat to seep through, although much cooler, but not freezing. So in theory, batteries, genset, fuel, etc.. would all always at the absolute worst, be above 0. I could set the house temp to 40 while gone, and with outside vents, the 'systems closet' you could call it, would certainly be cold, but probably not below zero by any means.

Maybe it would work, maybe not... that's the theory. I do like the battery heater idea, but I dont plan on having things exposed. Stuff just doesn't last as long in extremem climates. But, heaters for the planned aux batteries in the truck will absolutely occur. And, likely those aux truck batteries (either 2 or 4) will also primarily power battery heaters for the starting batteries, and the future planned diesel heater (for when I'm away from a power source in dead of winter, or to prewarm the cab!).

As of now, I would think for the house, I could get away with a diesel coolant heater and one (maybe 2?) radiators with a temp sensing fan to keep the underbelly above freezing. A diesel air heater (yes two systems...but....) could provide heat, and a diesel genset (since I'm already running diesel heat devices) could be used to charge when I'm not on shore, or theres insufficient solar (pretty much most the winter probably). Thus far I think I am going to stick with LP for cooking. I cook a lot and just like cooking with gas. 2 20# tanks can last a summer, so that would be fine. Then, just need to decide on refer. 12v is probably the way to go...if the numbers can work ok. Anywhoo...current thought process.
 

Alloy

Active member
Start with a heat loss calc. It will allow you to compare insulation vs heater/ cooling sizing and Ah consumption.

Here's a R value calc for a wall assemblies. Pay attention to thermal transfer. Our trailer has 1 1/2" aluminum framing 16" on center. We use to have 2 PEX water lines against the wall that would freeze at 10F.



By placing EPS over the windows I gain 20,000btu/hr at 0F.

I insulated the box for the FLA but is in the bottom of the trailer. It will have some heat gain when duct to heat the front tanks is open.

I don't think there's enough said about vapor sealing either.
 

grizzlyj

Adventurer
The camper should probably be made in a way that being left cold and damp won't affect the material. Personal stuff inside not so sure how you do that if unheated for weeks though?
If you need a set up that will still work if the heater/power etc fails in your absence then in planning for that is heating it a bit all the time still helpful?
Any domestic portable electric fan heater kind of thing will heat up the inside from genny power in no time, but how quickly does a big battery of any type get from frozen to usable from ambient air temperature I wonder? I have seen battery heaters that are some sort of matrix fixed underneath you could run off a hydronic system or the engine coolant, is there a "too much" heat limit if they are really cold?
 

dbhost

New member
As the title suggests. I cannot seem to make a decision on keeping with industry standard of LP, or go the diesel route, or some sort of combination between the two.

LP:
US industry standard
lots of parts/appliance available - though not always good quality
relatively simple
can be dangerous (volatile)
can be expensive / difficult to find good LP sources nation wide and in Canada
not as efficient as other options especially with elevation and temp changes

Diesel:
Higher efficiency
Can have large on board tank to last significant amounts of time
easier to source diesel than LP
not as volatile
costly systems
not industry standard meaning sourcing parts could be more difficult
would require 12v fridge/freezer route - more extensive electrical system
would require LP system if wanting to cook with gas
could introduce cold weather concerns


I'm sure theres a ton of other pros/cons, but these are the primary ones that pop up in my head for now.
Looking at your info, I am pretty sure you can solve the Diesel issues.

I've seen a wide variety of Diesel burner stoves, most of them are backpacking stoves, however I have seen a few fixed RV / Camper type stoves like the Webasto...
Webasto can provide you with a diesel heater for the camper.
Heated water can be provided by stove top heat exchangers, or again built in like the Aqua-Hot.

For me, it makes sense to try as best you can to go with a single fuel source for your truck and your appliances, that way you only have to carry one fuel type, instead of struggling to find multiple fuel sources... Which is why my rig build is being based around a gasser.

My build and appliances is / are.
'04 F150 5.4L 3V (yeah I know, lousy engine) 4x4. Looking for similar year 3/4 ton gas 4x4 with long bed and Supercab...
Coleman 424 and 425 gasoline stoves. The 425 is a white gas stove, but can be run on regular unleaded with some care and feeding...
Coleman 285 dual fuel gas lanterns for outdoor lighting.
Coleman 518B 3K BTU catalytic heater.
Coleman 515 5K BTU - 8K BTU adjustable catalytic heater.
Harbor Freight Tailgator 900w 2 stroke generator.

After thorough research and testing I have found the catalytic heaters work well on regular unleaded. Just keep clear of anything leaded...
The tailgator is problematic in that it is 2 stroke. I can add 2 stroke oil directly to the generators tank and mix there instead of having a dedicated fuel supply for it.

This way, I can carry 2 jerry cans of fuel on the truck to fuel the truck, stoves, lanterns, heaters, and generator.

How water / shower is provided via a Zodi battery shower connected to a home made heat exchanger coil contained in a vented coffee can heat concentrator. This sits stove top, and provides water from cold with no flame, to HOT, measure your added heat carefully!

While diesel options are much more expensive, you already knew that, your options give you more international options. Many places for example in South America, Diesel if the fuel of choice there, and even regular unleaded is difficult to source up...
 

Alloy

Active member
Looking at your info, I am pretty sure you can solve the Diesel issues.

I've seen a wide variety of Diesel burner stoves, most of them are backpacking stoves, however I have seen a few fixed RV / Camper type stoves like the Webasto...
Webasto can provide you with a diesel heater for the camper.
Heated water can be provided by stove top heat exchangers, or again built in like the Aqua-Hot.

That right...... I just remeberd I installed one of these a while back.


A heat lost calc will tell what temp it will work at.
 
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