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Old 10-10-2016, 01:41 PM   #1
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Winter Camping Propane Usage

I have a 2006 Sightseer 26P and have never winter camped before. I will be in an area where the average temps drop to 25 deg F at night and 50 deg F during the day for 5 nights. Does anyone know the approx amount of propane used per hour/day if the furnace is set to a reasonable 60-65 def F? I think my furnace is 35000btu. I understand the sun and wind play a factor in the amount of time the furnace will run. I am just trying to determine is my 18 gal propane tank will get me thru 5-6 days or if I will have to refill the tank mid trip. Thanks for any and all advice.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:18 PM   #2
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The reason you haven't gotten any response is it's an impossible question. Assuming your at a site with power use a small electric heater and that works out fine to heat the coach. Been doing that forever and never froze.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:43 PM   #3
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I've done a couple of weekends in the temps you described. A bit bigger coach at 31'. Supplant the propane with electric as much as I can but I'll still burn thru about 1/4 to 1/3 of the tank over a Friday-Saturday night. Can't go 100% electric since the furnace also keeps my waste and potable water tanks liquid.

You might make it but if the opportunity presents to top off take it. Bringing the slide(s) in and covering the windows with Reflectix insulation at night will help a lot.

You could also add an extend-a-stay fitting to the installed propane tank and supplant with 5 gal propane bottles that are easy to refill rather than moving the coach if you will be stationary for the entire time. The long term stay campers will do the same but with large external tanks and a delivery service to keep it filled.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:51 PM   #4
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Smile thanks

Thank you both for the information. It gives me enough of a benchmark to get a hotel room instead of camping as I will be running only on generator power and cannot plug in an additional heater. It was just the information I was looking for.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:59 PM   #5
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Here is something that may help, 1 gallon of propane contains 91600 btus, or 18 gallons has 1648800 total btus. If your furnace is rated @35000 btus/HR then 18 gallons of propane will last almost 48 continuous (running) hours. As you mention the furnace will not run continuous but runtime to maintain a comfortable temp will depend on the ability of your coach to contain heat loss. You'll need to get an on off cycle of less than 50% to make it 5 days. 10mins on/ 15mins off
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:01 PM   #6
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eeew - Hotel is a dirty word

But....without electricity it's probably a good choice. The power draw on the furnace is substantial so in addition to high propane use you will be probably be running the generator more than you had hoped.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:13 PM   #7
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I know hotel is a dirty word when you have a coach but based on the information and tomgagne's math, it seems to be more monitoring than I am willing to do. Perhaps a shorter first winter trip should be in order...closer to home... I would hate to run out of fuel or propane and damage my coach.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:18 PM   #8
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Or even if you found a spot with electric. I wouldn't hesitate then.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweetbriar View Post
I've done a couple of weekends in the temps you described. A bit bigger coach at 31'. Supplant the propane with electric as much as I can but I'll still burn thru about 1/4 to 1/3 of the tank over a Friday-Saturday night.
Sweetbriar
What size is your propane tank?
(1/4 to 1/2 a tank means nothing unless you include the capacity of your propane tank).
Thanks.
Mel
'96 Safari, (with a 35 gal LP tank)
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:57 PM   #10
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Tanks are only filled to 80 percent by law so if a true 18 gallon total only have about 14 gallon. We have run ours pretty low and can only get 12 gallons or so in.

Also avaiable btu is dependent on temp-less at lower temperatures. Our owners manual has a pretty great explanation of that.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:33 PM   #11
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We notice a difference in LP that is purchased in northern states as compared to southern states.

A local LP dealer noticed the same thing ... his comment is that southern LP is a mixture of butane and propane ... butane contains fewer BTUs per gallon than propane ...
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:24 AM   #12
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True. Up north the "propane" mix is different than in the south so that it can turn to gas easier when it is below freezing.
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:39 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rumberger View Post
I have a 2006 Sightseer 26P and have never winter camped before. I will be in an area where the average temps drop to 25 deg F at night and 50 deg F during the day for 5 nights. Does anyone know the approx amount of propane used per hour/day if the furnace is set to a reasonable 60-65 def F? I think my furnace is 35000btu. I understand the sun and wind play a factor in the amount of time the furnace will run. I am just trying to determine is my 18 gal propane tank will get me thru 5-6 days or if I will have to refill the tank mid trip. Thanks for any and all advice.
Actual usable capacity of your 18 gallon propane tank is about 14 gallons. If heating only with propane you would likely use 2-3 gallons per day under those conditions you describe. You can reduce this by supplementing the propane heat with 120 VAC electric heat if you are in a campground on shore power.

You can set up to connect an external propane tank, and run your RV from the external tank for under $ 100 in parts and labor. Personally I have a BBQ grill size external tank that holds about 8 gallons of propane and can switch back to internal while I take the tank to be refilled.
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Old 10-11-2016, 08:50 AM   #14
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If you want to do cold weather then it's reflectix in the windows under the blinds where friction will keep it in place, vent pillows in all the vents and refectix in the shower bubble. Heavy curtain accross the front behind the cab area. (make sure it goes to the floor.
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Old 10-11-2016, 02:53 PM   #15
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Thank you all for the advice. I have just located a campground close enough to my event that I can commute with my rig (since I don't tow). My coach has electric heat as well as gas so electric at night while plugged in and propane during the day if needed.
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Old 10-11-2016, 04:28 PM   #16
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Just remember electric heat typically doesn't circulate to the basement areas to keep pipes warm. Not that you should hit real cold weather, but be conscious.
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:07 AM   #17
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Just remember electric heat typically doesn't circulate to the basement areas to keep pipes warm. Not that you should hit real cold weather, but be conscious.
Oh my!. I didn't realize that! thanks for the heads up. Is the lack of circulation because electric heat is a heat pump and vented differently than the propane heat? I apologize if that sounds stupid but I am really new to RV-ing and not mechanical at all.
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:36 AM   #18
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Oh my!. I didn't realize that! thanks for the heads up. Is the lack of circulation because electric heat is a heat pump and vented differently than the propane heat? I apologize if that sounds stupid but I am really new to RV-ing and not mechanical at all.
your heat pump will not work below 40 degrees F. Propane from there which is fan forced through the ducting at the floor.

most people also run a small cube heater to help keep the furnace from running as much. I have a smaller RV - View- at 8 degrees I used about 3 gal of propane in 12 hours and using a cube heater, tanks were winterized.

at 18 degrees not winterized I used a cube heater and propane and used about 1.5 gal over the same time. I also put a trouble light (cheap at home depot) in the wet bay to keep it from freezing up. Don't be afraid to run you gen, that's what it is there for.

As a mechanic told me... never had a problem with a well used gen, however ones that almost never run are always a problem.
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Old 10-12-2016, 09:26 AM   #19
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Oh my!. I didn't realize that! thanks for the heads up. Is the lack of circulation because electric heat is a heat pump and vented differently than the propane heat? I apologize if that sounds stupid but I am really new to RV-ing and not mechanical at all.
Ya, its the circulation. The furnace has ductwork to your basement to heat the pipes, whereas using electric heaters or the fireplace would not circulate that heat to the basement.

As NYBobbo stated, on a heat pump it doesn't really matter because your heat pumps are going to shut down <40 degrees or so and force the furnace to come on anyway.
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