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Old 11-03-2014, 02:32 PM   #1
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New RV Owner Heater Question

Hello all, I am a first time buyer and owner of an RV. I recently purchased a Voltage 3970 and I'm quite overwhelmed with the maintenance and lack of support/paperwork from the manufacturer. I just called their support line and asked the following question, and they told me to read the manual that they don't manufacturer the heater.

This unit has 3 Dometic A/C units on the roof. They are Zone 1 through 3, while zone 1 is the main living area and the only zone that has a heat option. I've been using a very small industrial steel chassis space heater along with the electric fireplace and it easily maintains 68 degrees in 32 degree weather.

When I originally purchased the unit 2 months ago, the guy that did the orientation told us that the only heat we had was Propane, but shouldn't the units function in a heat pump mode as well, similar to a 2-stage system in a house but instead of heat strips as the second stage, the furnace would kick in?
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:51 PM   #2
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On my 3895, that is very similar to your unit, I have one propane furnace controlled by Zone 1 on the Zoned Thermostat that forces hot air with a 12V fan through the ducts in the floor.

There is an option to add a 110V ac powered heat strip to most Dometic AC's but my trailer did not have these.

I also use my fireplace when plugged in and a small space heater for the garage to take the load off the furnace. If your camping without power you could easily burned a 30 lb tank of propane over a cold 3 day weekend and the fan on the furnace will probably run down your battery overnight.
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:51 PM   #3
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My first question would be, are you sure none of the A/C's are not a heat pump? If you scroll through the functions on your thermostat (push mode button repeatedly) do any come up HP?
I'm not aware of any units that automatically switch between A/C and the furnace. The AUTO function that pops up on the thermostat will switch between the HP (if you have it) and the A/C because they are the same unit.
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:56 PM   #4
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Zone 1 says Furnace. I need to play with it a bit but I couldn't feel heat without lighting the furnace.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:00 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=I also use my fireplace when plugged in and a small space heater for the garage to take the load off the furnace. If your camping without power you could easily burned a 30 lb tank of propane over a cold 3 day weekend and the fan on the furnace will probably run down your battery overnight.[/QUOTE]

Yours doesn't function as a heat pump without propane?
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:00 PM   #6
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Does you're thermostat have a mode button? If so what are the different modes when you scroll through it?
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:02 PM   #7
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I am not at the site, but I believe they were off, cool, and furnace. I didn't see an HP setting.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carhopper View Post
Yours doesn't function as a heat pump without propane?
After reading sawpilots post I'm going to have another look.

As I recall the only modes on Zone 1 are Cool/Furnace/Fan/Off,
there is an Auto/Hi/Low option for the fan.

Daytime temps were 80/90 degrees here last week. This weekend was the first time this year I've used the furnace, it dropped into the low 50's overnight (burrr). I'm on my 4th trailer and I've never had one with a heat pump.

I hope it was overlooked on my PDI, it would be a great option to have.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:09 PM   #9
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And a "heat pump" is completely independent of propane or heat strips. A heat pump is an A/C that by reversing its process then produces heat. They're reasonably efficient down to about 40F but lower than that and they need a little help. In a home you might have an automatic system that then incorporates a gas or propane furnace or a heat strip that helps the forced air system heat the home. I don't think the RV's have an automatic backup system for the heat pump.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:09 PM   #10
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That's interesting, I wonder why. I thought the heat pump function was just the normal A/C reversed without any additional components needed, but I may be wrong. Heat pumps are very efficient above freezing so it would make sense.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:14 PM   #11
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Ok, if you don't have a heat pump option then you are dependent on manual control of hot and cold. If you want heat you need the propane furnace, electric fireplace, or electric heaters. Cold, use the A/C. They will be independent of each other.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carhopper View Post
That's interesting, I wonder why. I thought the heat pump function was just the normal A/C reversed without any additional components needed, but I may be wrong. Heat pumps are very efficient above freezing so it would make sense.
You are essentially correct, but a standard A/C doesn't have the switching and what else it would need to reverse. (Don't know all the engineering that goes into it.)
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:21 PM   #13
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OK, that clears it up then. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy. I guess I'll use space heaters with external thermostats for accuracy. The fireplace heater actually keeps up pretty well too.
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Old 11-03-2014, 04:27 PM   #14
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Upgrading to a heat pump is always an option. Enjoy your coach.
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Old 11-03-2014, 06:48 PM   #15
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Well gentlemen my trailer is still hooked up from this weekend so I ran by the house during lunch to check.

I stand corrected, my thermostat Zone 1 does have an AUTO mode. In AUTO when the set temperature is below the thermostat the roof top AC blows cold air through the ceiling vents and if you change the set temperature to above the thermostat the propane furnace automatically kicks on and blows hot air from the floor ducts.

So I'll assume I do not have a heat pump. But this AUTO mode is still a great option for the season with warm days and cool nights.

For me... another lesson about my RV learned from the forum.
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:11 PM   #16
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I too learned something then. I thought the AUTO mode only pertained to a heat pump but you've educated me on the A/C, furnace connection. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:23 PM   #17
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I think I recall reading that in order for the AUTO function to work, the two set temps need to be either 3 or 4 degrees apart. As in 68 for heat, 72 for A/C. At some point, I want to see if my AC units are heat pump ready/wired...
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:28 PM   #18
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My A/C unit in the bedroom is heat pump ready. As I have a V3605 that A/C unit control is on the unit as it only blows in the bedroom & not tied into the duct work.
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:30 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donzinger View Post
I think I recall reading that in order for the AUTO function to work, the two set temps need to be either 3 or 4 degrees apart. As in 68 for heat, 72 for A/C.
I was told the same thing about the 3 to 4 degrees of separation during my PDI, except in a different context. The service tech told me that for the load management to be able switch between two of the three AC's while on the generator you need to keep the zones separated by 3 to 4 degrees... ie bedroom 66, den 69, garage 72, and this worked for me during the summer with them all set to COOL... I wonder if I should have had them set to AUTO?

Quote:
Originally Posted by donzinger View Post
At some point, I want to see if my AC units are heat pump ready/wired...
This whole thread has me wondering if I do have an AC with a heat pump???
I guess the only way to know for sure is to get on the roof and check the AC model #...
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Dometic Heat Pumps.pdf (29.9 KB, 49 views)
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:16 PM   #20
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You guys certainly are more up to date on this stuff than me... but at one of the RV shows I attended (believe it was Hershey), the Dutchman rep there told me that NONE of the units they produce at the plant come with A/C units that include a heat pump.

He said that on a custom order, they will include an A/C unit with a heat strip if requested... but never a full fledged heat pump system.

Again, nothing to confirm that... just what he told me. Take it for what it's worth.
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