2011 Vacation Day 16 - Saturday: Let there be heat...

So we head home this morning, the very last day of our Alto Vacation. On the road by 9:00, shaping up to be a good driving day. Stopped for gas in Deep River, as it is always a good idea to head out on a full tank. As we were finishing up with the gas, a man walked over and tapped on my window. He saw the Alto and was very curious.
He and his wife have been looking at A-Liners, and a similar trailer called a Chalet, and were close to a purchase. They did not know the Alto existed. We pulled off to the side and gave them a tour. We actually raised the roof for them and they were very impressed. They had plans to fly out to B.C. to see this other trailer, but are now going to do some research into the Alto. We gave them a brochure, as we carry a bunch and only give them out to those that seem really keen. They were definitely interested and were asking good questions. Perhaps yet another sale.

Made our way to Almonte to meet with Frank about the Propex furnace. A little background on why we are looking at a furnace. When we ordered the Alto and were figuring out options, the three that took up most of our conversations were the heat pump, the LP furnace and the exterior shower.
The heat pump was an automatic selection, as we knew in the future that having an air conditioner may well come in handy. The key decison was whether we would have a need for the furnace. The heat pump has a couple of limiting factors to its functioning; you need 30 amp electric, and to generate heat, the outside temperature cannot dip below 8C, or about 46F. The furnace, has no operating limitations, other than ensuring the propane tank is not empty. After much debate, we decided to not option the furnace, as we thought the combination of limiting factors for the heat pump would not happen often enough. As we were not ordering the furnace, this had a positive impact on where we could install the exterior shower. The standard location the factory installs them is on what is called the service side of a trailer, which is basically the opposite of the door. We were not keen on this, as we figured it would be far handier if it was near the door. We requested the exterior shower be placed in the area normally used for the venting of the furnace. This has proven to be a great location.

Not such a great decision about the furnace. On several occasions we have be caught without heat, either through lack of electricity or it being too cold for the heat pump to actually function. This has happened enough for us to re-think our furnace decision. Installing the factory offered furnace would be a huge job, as the exterior shower would need to be moved from an ideal location, some sort of patch added to cover the hole where it was, then the installation of the furnace. This also means eating up some nice storage space as well. So what to do. Well, I did what I normally do...I research.

I discovered a furnace produced for the European RV market called a Propex. There are 2 models, one producing 6800 BTU's and the other 9600. Both are extremely small. They are also efficient, both in terms of propane and 12v amperage consumption. Compared to the Suburban brand, the factory option, they are far more efficient. Granted, they spit out less BTU's than the Suburbans, but probably more than enough for the size of the Alto. They are very popular for installation in VW Westfalia's. There is a lot of user experience information available on the Internet, and this was most helpful.

Which brings us to Almonte, where the Canadian distributor just happens to have his Westie shop. Pulled into Frank's place and it is literally all things Westie. He modifies and services also sorts of Westie's for his clients, including installing these Propex furnaces. He showed us the one he has in his own Westie, and fired it up. It is really quiet and pumps out a lot of heat for its size. We were immediately impressed. We then showed Frank our Alto, and explained the situation. We soon discovered that it will fit perfectly at an angle, right under our external shower. It will also be able to vent through the floor, outside the frame members, a perfect location. While Frank and I were figuring all this out, Dale was talking to Frank's partner and wife, along with another Westie couple, about the Alto. As this will solve our heat concerns, we bought one right away. Pretty excited about this development, as the other option was just not that appealing.
Small and efficient...
So that brings an end to this years vacation, which in a nutshell was awesome. We saw a lot of new territory, talked to all sorts of nice people, and of course, we were super comfortable in the Alto, which continues to exceed expectations.


Post a Comment