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diesel coolant heater as base board heater
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The BTU rating should be listed on a tag on the water heater someplace BUT - it will be a bit misleading for a 6 gallon RV water heater. These water heaters are VERY IN-efficient, the BTU rating will be for the burner but not all of that heat will get transfered to the water. The heat from the burner passes down a central 3 inch or so diameter tube that usually makes a 90 deg bend inside the water heater tank, this still only allows about 18 inches of the tube to come in contact with the water, a lot of the heat shoots out the end of the tube that points outside the RV. almost all of the louvered outside cover plates on RV's are schorched brown due to the exhausting heat. A 30 gallon home heater would be more efficient, both because of the design of the burner and because of the much longer central heating tube that contains a spiral insert to keep the heat out against the side of the tube. Put a water heater blanket around the outside and it is even more efficient.

3400 BTU equals about 1KW of heat, a couple KW should heat your small space just fine so any burner that is rated higher than say 10,000 BTU should be more than enough. The small propane bottle mounted infrared Mr. Heater has a burner that is only about 4 inches in diameter and is rated at up to 14,000 BTU. the burner can be rated anything higher, it just won't have to burn as often as a smaller burner to keep the water in the tank hot.

I just did a quick search for "Rv propane water heater", most of the 6 gallon units seem to be 12,000 BTU, this should be plenty of heat even though they will probably burn a bit more propane than a full sized home water heater.

During the search I ran into THIS web page, he did EXACTLY what we are discussing here using a 6 gallon propane RV water heater.

Check with your local salvage yard, or whoever handles or recycles home appliences in your area, all these have to go someplace. The town I live in only has about 1500 people but the local salvage yard gets 2-3 gas water heaters almost every month, most are completely usable. Most are natural gas but some are propane. The burners always work fine and the tanks don't leak. almost all of these use pilot lights and the only problem that I have found has been that the thermocouple won't allow the pilot light to stay lit. Thermocouples don't go bad, but they put out such a small voltage that about any corrosion that is on the screw-in end of the thermocouple tube that goes to the gas controller will keep it from working. unscrew the thermocouple connection at the gas controller and clean the end of the brass connection, and also the connection down inside the screw-in opening of the gas regulator, this has always corrected the problem for me. I am amazed how folks toss perfectly usable stuff just because it has a few years on it and needs a bit of attention, may have something to do with appliance repair men.

I pay 5 bucks for water heaters at my local salvage yard.
Location: fisher,illinois,usa | Registered: June 03, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Another option for in-house heating that I had forgotten about.

Some people have laid hot water tubing under ceramic tiles (hydronic heating).

Connect it to a solar HW system with some kind of gas HW heater for extra heat if you wish (tankless HW on demand heaters work well).

A warm floor can be very pleasant.

There was an article about a system in the Home Power Magazine. Home Power #89 June/July 2002.

Magazine Link:

Article Link:
Location: Oregon | Registered: October 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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