AC Heat Strip VS Electric Kickspace Heater - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 02-20-2018, 11:29 PM   #1
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AC Heat Strip VS Electric Kickspace Heater

We have almost finalized our 5.0 build sheet (due by March 1) and I am currently planning on have electrical ran to the interior bottom step and to a thermostat location for an electric kickspace heater I would install later mostly copying Jim Bennet's mod in this thread Electric Heater Install (except I can't find that exact heater unfortunately).

I completely forgot that a heat strip on the AC was an option...so now I'm wondering if there is any reason to choose one over the other??

I'm not clear on how the heat strip will work in conjunction with the propane heat with the digital thermostat which makes it a bit more confusing to me.

The heat strip is only $125 which is a fair amount less than the kickspace heater but I'd appreciate to hear opinions on one vs the other.
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:43 PM   #2
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I don't think the Dometic heat strip can be used with the thermostat.

from the Dometic website: https://www.dometic.com/en-us/us/sup...uin-ii-_-20681

My rooftop unit has the Electric Heat Strip Option (Non-Heat Pump Electric Heat Option), but when it gets colder outside it doesn’t seem to maintain the temperature. What should I do?

The heat mode of operation will NOT replace a furnace for heating the RV in cold weather. The intent is to remove the chill on cool days or mornings. For best results when using your Electric Heater Option:

Turn the selector switch to "OPT HEAT".
The heat strip will come on and begin heating.
When desired temperature level in RV is reached, move the selector switch to "OFF" position or "FAN" position. The thermostat does NOT control the fan/heater ON/OFF cycle.


That seems to be too much trouble for me - I bought a ceramic portable heater. It works fine and has a thermostat. https://www.amazon.com/Lasko-754200-.../dp/B000TKDQ5C
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:57 PM   #3
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Oh, if you want the kickspace heater Jim used, try this website:
MYSON : Heating Through Innovation !

Just click on where to buy - I found three showrooms that sold it in Alaska.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:01 AM   #4
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That seems to be too much trouble for me - I bought a ceramic portable heater. It works fine and has a thermostat. https://www.amazon.com/Lasko-754200-.../dp/B000TKDQ5C
Guaranteed to be much quieter than running the Dometic fan.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:34 AM   #5
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I found some myson heaters but can only find hydronic versions and not an electric only. I was looking at a cadet 120 volt version that has decent reviews but some people complain about the noise levels.

I asked about the heatstrip option and ETI replied that it was controlled by the thermostat and that the furnace vs the heatstrip was a function some function of temp increase needed??
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:38 AM   #6
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We have an electric heater we used in our motorhome but regulation was difficult an it was loud. The oil filled would work well sound wise but they are bulky to haul around. The permanent mount seemed like a good solution.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by akmacs View Post
I completely forgot that a heat strip on the AC was an option...so now I'm wondering if there is any reason to choose one over the other??
Reasons to choose a near-floor electric heater over an in-air-conditioner electric heater:
  • hot air blown from the ceiling is less desirable for even heating than hot air blown from a lower level;
  • pulling in the trailer's hottest air from near the ceiling is less effective in evenly heating the trailer than pulling in the trailer's coldest air from near the floor; and,
  • many air conditioners have only one fan motor so the external air fan runs (pointlessly and noisily) whenever the internal air fan runs for heating.

Some reasons in favour of using the heat strip in the air conditioner are more obvious:
  • possibly lower incremental cost;
  • zero installation effort;
  • no additional wiring (for power - control is required either way); and,
  • no additional space required.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:44 AM   #8
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Jim's kick space heater required a bigger then standard bottom step.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tdf-texas View Post
That seems to be too much trouble for me - I bought a ceramic portable heater. It works fine and has a thermostat. https://www.amazon.com/Lasko-754200-.../dp/B000TKDQ5C
I have the same Lasko heater and it works very well on the low (900 watt) setting. The cord is long enough that I can set it on the floor of the shower and it keeps the bathroom warm for those middle of the night visits while also heating the trailer. It is also nice for blowing on my feet while sitting at the dinette. I like the ability to move it around and it stows away under the passenger dinette bench in its box.
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Old 02-21-2018, 05:35 AM   #10
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If it were me, in my next 5.0, I'd have extra 110v outlets installed in the loft and put one of these wall heaters in the side of the closet. Very quiet and some as low as 500 watts
https://www.amazon.com/Watt-Wall-Ins...h+wall+heaters
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:16 AM   #11
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For what it is worth, my experience with heat strips in the A/C is that they will keep the trailer somewhat warm IF they are turned on when the trailer is warm but do a poor job of warming a trailer that is already cold. I too, am a user of a small ceramic heater which is controlled by a relatively inexpensive ($30) remote wireless thermometer/plug combination which works much better than its built in thermostat. It is small and not being mounted permanently, can be stored in different locations should reorganization of available storage spaces become desirable. While I do not use my trailer in extremely cold conditions, the ceramic heater can easily keep the inside of my 5.0TA in the 70s (F) in temperatures around 32° F, + or -.
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Old 02-21-2018, 09:13 AM   #12
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We had the A/C strip heater in our Scamp and have one in our Casita (Standard equipment) Have used it to warm our trailer in below zero temps , heats well , is out of the way , can't be knocked over ,no chance of being blocked ,and no additional wiring
Works for us but then we are easily pleased !
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Old 02-21-2018, 09:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
  • many air conditioners have only one fan motor so the external air fan runs (pointlessly and noisily) whenever the internal air fan runs for heating.
Exactly. I'm not sure why one would subject themselves to noise inside and outside in an attempt to heat their trailer, when there are many other quieter and more effective alternatives. When I was exploring adding a heat strip the person from Dometic cautioned me that it should be considered supplemental heat.
This agrees with what Escape says in their Owner's Manual: "The optional heat unit on some models is not a substitute for a primary heating system. It is designed to warm the air during moderately cool days or nights."

...and what PantherRV has put in their description for a heat strip assembly add-on that can be purchased:
"Keep in mind a heat strip is meant to assist a furnace or heater, not to replace it. A heat strip may not produce the desired heat in temperatures below 40°."

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
We had the A/C strip heater in our Scamp and have one in our Casita (Standard equipment) Have used it to warm our trailer in below zero temps , heats well , is out of the way , can't be knocked over ,no chance of being blocked ,and no additional wiring
Works for us but then we are easily pleased !
Steve: Certainly glad a heat strip works for you in a Casita or Scamp, but that may not translate to a 5.0TA with a much larger volume.
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Old 02-21-2018, 10:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
Steve: Certainly glad a heat strip works for you in a Casita or Scamp, but that may not translate to a 5.0TA with a much larger volume.
The built in heat strip in the Casita didn't work too well for me. If it got below 30f, I had to run the propane heater to keep warm as the electric couldn't keep up. Also, the noise level was high.

It's amazing how well the the little ceramic works - the 1500w setting will heat up the trailer fast. I guess because I can position it so it is blowing towards me helps. It is really quiet as well. As it's tiny size makes it easily stored when not needed and only $30, I can't justify anything else.
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Old 02-21-2018, 10:33 AM   #15
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Exactly. I'm not sure why one would subject themselves to noise inside and outside in an attempt to heat their trailer, when there are many other quieter and more effective alternatives. When I was exploring adding a heat strip the person from Dometic cautioned me that it should be considered supplemental heat.
This agrees with what Escape says in their Owner's Manual: "The optional heat unit on some models is not a substitute for a primary heating system. It is designed to warm the air during moderately cool days or nights."

...and what PantherRV has put in their description for a heat strip assembly add-on that can be purchased:
"Keep in mind a heat strip is meant to assist a furnace or heater, not to replace it. A heat strip may not produce the desired heat in temperatures below 40°."



Steve: Certainly glad a heat strip works for you in a Casita or Scamp, but that may not translate to a 5.0TA with a much larger volume.
Excuse me but I have a question The toe space heater is 1500 watts, a portable heater is 1500 watts , the heat strip is 1500 to 1600 watts If all of them are the same wattage , then all of them produce the same heat , then all of them would hypothetically heat the same space equally well . Whether that heat level is adequate is a personnal decision . Temps in the 50's are adequate for us at night.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:14 PM   #16
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Excuse me but I have a question The toe space heater is 1500 watts, a portable heater is 1500 watts , the heat strip is 1500 to 1600 watts If all of them are the same wattage , then all of them produce the same heat , then all of them would hypothetically heat the same space equally well . Whether that heat level is adequate is a personnal decision . Temps in the 50's are adequate for us at night.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the heat strips produce heat at the ceiling level and warm air rises. Furthermore, the heat is produced inside the A/C. There is an efficiency reason why manufacturers install furnaces close to the floor and A/Cs on the roof. My other concern about heat strips is that I know a Scamp 19 owner (lives about 30 miles from me). He claims the heat strips caught the trailer on fire. Fortunately, they were in the trailer and not sleeping at the time so we’re able to put the fire out. Maybe the strips were dust covered from a lack of maintenance, but the fact that they started a fire makes me a bit leery so after selling my Scamp, I did not order them on subsequent trailers. When in use, my ceramic heater has a tip-over switch and is placed on the floor on a fireproof mat.

Steve is correct that adequate heat level is a personal decision. I like low 60s, but my spouse does not tolerate inside temperatures lower than 72° very well, so I typically sleep on top of or without covers.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:56 PM   #17
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We have a 2017 21 foot Escape with a heat strip in the air conditioner. We ordered it because we had one in our previous Casita, and used it quite often when plugged in. It has its own icon on the digital thermostat, so there is no problem with that. We have found, however, that it is a bit loud for night time use. It works fine for morning warm ups and daytime use, but we now use the very quiet propane furnace when nighttime heat is needed.
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:58 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the insight, I think for our use the heatstrip will work fine in the daytime as we don't plan for any winter camping for the foreseeable future. As to nighttime a more quiet electric source would be good but its good to hear that the propane is thought to be very quiet.

We don't need to be that warm at night but I like to minimize big temperature swings to manage condensation and comfort. Our temp range is usually low to mid 60's inside and if we let it get much colder the warmup feels like we are roasting.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:31 PM   #19
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I'm glad to see you were able to glean something out of all this, Michael. Sometimes we tend to wander around discussing a subject but if you pick and choose from the responses, you can learn a lot from other's experiences and ideas.

Sorry you were not able to find the kickspace heater that you wanted - Jim did a great job installing the floor space heater in his 5.0TA and that looked like a great idea for heating the trailer. If I figure how to fit in my 21', that is still on my wish list.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:50 PM   #20
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Another minor issue with the heat strip approach: the interior air is circulated through a heat exchanger housing in the air conditioner which is on the exterior side of the trailer roof, and is usually not insulated from the outside... so it is an extra source of heat loss.
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