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Old 04-29-2019, 09:00 AM   #1
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Tank Heater - Temperature Regulation...?

Can one run the ETI water tank heaters with a minimum of water in a tank? The tank heater manual specifies that the heater comes on at 34 deg F, but doesn't mention if it's all right to run the heater with a minimum of water. Simply said: Will the heater over heat with a little water to heat?

It's in the mid-20's over night here in Colorado, and while I have half a tank of fresh water, only a couple of gallons in the gray water tank.

Thank you, in advance, for you advice.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:37 AM   #2
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I do not think you need any liquid in the fresh or grey tanks that would impact the optional tank heaters. They are thermostatically controlled , on @ 30 and off @40, whether the tanks have liquid or not. But they are 12v heaters so it is recommended you are hooked up to electric.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:51 AM   #3
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Unless the tank is full you won’t get any water out of it.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:04 AM   #4
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We've already camped in our Escape at least five nights where the nights have gotten below 20 degrees, one night down to 15, plus numerous nights at 20-32 degrees. We run the furnace at night, have the insulation under the camper, and also have heating pads underneath the fresh/grey tanks. We've yet to run the tank pads. It would take days to freeze your tanks in the mid-20's.

PS: we live in Minnesota and are very familiar with camping in freezing weather.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:18 AM   #5
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Thank you CPAHarley & Perryb67.

This is the first time we've experienced extended below freezing temperatures with our new 19'er. We live at 8,300' elevation in the Colorado Rocky Mtn Foothills and it probably won't get above freezing here for several days. So, I want to be cautious and kind of set "rules" around below freezing temperatures for the trailer.

With our previous Scamp trailer, I didn't worry about a single night's temperature above the mid-20's, but this will be multiple days. Also, as an abundance of caution I've put a ski hand warming packet in the external shower cubby since it's outside the insulation. I've also set the thermostat at 45 deg and opened the appropriate cabinet doors to circulate the warmth.

BTW... In addition to the heating pads, we did get the ETI insulation package. And since the trailer's in the driveway, it is plugged in to "city power".

Thank you, again for you thoughts.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:38 AM   #6
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smart item using the ski hand heat pad. I fill my enclosure with insulation. Once we winterize it should be safe.
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Old 04-29-2019, 11:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeBoulder View Post
With our previous Scamp trailer, I didn't worry about a single night's temperature above the mid-20's, but this will be multiple days. Also, as an abundance of caution I've put a ski hand warming packet in the external shower cubby since it's outside the insulation. I've also set the thermostat at 45 deg and opened the appropriate cabinet doors to circulate the warmth.

BTW... In addition to the heating pads, we did get the ETI insulation package. And since the trailer's in the driveway, it is plugged in to "city power".
With this additional information, with days below freezing and only 45 degrees in the camper, I'd be running our pads too! We purchased our pads for extended days below freezing in the shoulder seasons when we're hooked up to electrical.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:13 PM   #8
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Unless the tank is full you won’t get any water out of it.
Please forget this response about the water heater. I tried an edit to delete it but it didn’t take.
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Old 04-29-2019, 01:29 PM   #9
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Oh, yes. The water heater's also "on" to keep things warm.

(As I type this, it's started snowing. Gotta love spring time in the Rockies!)
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:17 PM   #10
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Can one run the ETI water tank heaters with a minimum of water in a tank? The tank heater manual specifies that the heater comes on at 34 deg F, but doesn't mention if it's all right to run the heater with a minimum of water. Simply said: Will the heater over heat with a little water to heat?

It's in the mid-20's over night here in Colorado, and while I have half a tank of fresh water, only a couple of gallons in the gray water tank.

Thank you, in advance, for you advice.
I have had a few nights in the mid 20s, in Florida. So I added a tank heater to my gray and fresh water tanks per the manufacturers directions. (In my case the manufacturer is UltraHeat.) UltraHeat indicates on their website that the heaters should be turned on:

"Only when fluids are present within the holding tanks and drainage pipes, and the outside temperature approaches freezing and remains below.

Failure to observe either, could result in damage to your system." I call this and confirmed verbally that it is necessary to turn them off when above freezing and that there should be some fluid in the tanks. The issue of fluid in the tanks seems to relate to not heating the tank material and or damaging the heaters.

I also use a pipe warmer on the pipes running across the belly of the camper. They seem to have a thermostat so they are less sensitive to damage if left on, but they must have water in them. I confirmed this verbally.

They do offer a thermostatically managed switch, but this was overkill in my case.

There may be differences with other brands.
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Old 04-29-2019, 02:21 PM   #11
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With tank heaters & ETI spray on insulation, what's people's experience(s)? What are the low temperatures & durations have people camped in? And has anyone camped at such a low temperature (and/or duration) that the heaters & insulation couldn't keep things from freezing up?
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:06 PM   #12
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I have camped down to 5F degrees and routinely camp below freezing. Once the trailer is winterized, it is easy as long as you have electric for auxiliary heat. I have also camped in the "teens" with a heated water supply hose and all systems operational without any issue. Winter camping is nice as there are smaller crowds.
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:38 PM   #13
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Camping with “everything working” in the teens is good to know. While I haven’t seen an updated weather forecast this afternoon, it’s currently in the low 20’s and snowing hard. So I would not be surprised if it doesn’t get down to 10 F tonight.
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Old 05-04-2019, 03:43 PM   #14
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There's a couple older cold-weather threads with more detail, but above 15-20F or so everything's fine. The insulation and tank heaters do their thing. Condensation will start to be a problem, but when it's that cold even a little ventilation will keep humidity down.

Somewhere around 0-10F (especially with highs above freezing) dumping starts to get interesting and you may have to dump a bit of antifreeze into the tanks. You'll also want to open up cabinet doors to let warm air circulate into the areas where the pipes are. If you're relying on just propane for heat, you'll tear through a tank every couple days or so. Even with low humidity, you'll get a fair bit of condensation on the windows and around the bed that you'll probably want to wipe off daily.

Around 25-30F or so, an electric space heater alone is no longer enough to keep things warm and you'll have to run the furnace a bit to supplement.
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Old 05-04-2019, 05:43 PM   #15
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you may have to dump a bit of antifreeze into the tanks.

Diluted antifreeze ( even a little bit diluted ) is much more likely to become ice.
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Old 05-04-2019, 07:17 PM   #16
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Diluted antifreeze ( even a little bit diluted ) is much more likely to become ice.
It doesn't need to lower the freezing point much. It's still getting a decent bit of heat from heating pads. Just enough that it's slushy instead of freezing solid so it won't hold the valve closed or clog it. I had pretty good luck pouring a half-gallon or so in immediately after dumping (which may also reduce mixing since the antifreeze is mostly filling the dump piping rather than the tank). I used the 0-degree or below-zero windshield washer fluid, which seemed to be enough to keep things flowing freely.

If that fails you can unhook the dump-side of the sewer hose and pour hot water into it then raise it up to back-feed the hot water up against the dump valve, but that's way more hassle. Had to go more or less that route when I didn't put antifreeze in first (except I got lucky in that the gray tank was almost empty, so I just ran hot water into it then backfed)
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