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Post Info TOPIC: New guy seeking information


RV-Dreams Community Member

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New guy seeking information


My wife and I retire December 2019, after 30 years of law enforcement. We made the decision early last year to sell our home and join those of you fortunate enough to full-time.

 

I have many questions, even after months of research. We have decided that a 40' diesel MH is the best option for us. We are very interested in one with a hydronic heating system. It seems that on-demand hot water and heated basement would be a real asset. We have also discussed an all electric coach to avoid losing storage space taken up by an LP tank.

Since we are novices to this, I would love your feed-back.



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Shane Tucker


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Shane,

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the lifestyle choice. Just like the motorhome/fifth wheel choice, there is not one specific setup that will work for everyone. Regarding your all-electric question, my concern would be that you would be limiting yourself only to campgrounds and resorts that have 50 amp electric service (not all do). A total-electric coach draws a LOT of current! It would also restrict your ability to boondock for a night if you wanted/needed to. With a traditional setup, you would have either an LP or diesel heater and the batteries would run the fan and the controls overnight. You could cook breakfast the next morning on a gas range without firing up the generator (and most places have restrictions on the hours you can run a generator).

Beyond that - if you haven't already - read all the great educational material Howard has made available on RV-Dreams.com. Also, join the Escapees RV Club (it's not expensive and well worth it) to get access to all of their educational and support materiel. The Escapees organization was one of the pioneers in the area of legal domicile for full-time RVers and provide mail and domicile services to a lot of us on the road.

The main advantage you have over the way we did it is lead time for planning... great job!

Rob

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2012 F350 DRW Lariat 6.7

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2016 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS

MOR/ryde IS, disc brakes, LR G tires

Full-time as of 8/2015

 

 



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As a likely "class of 2019" retiree and newb FTer I'll add a hearty hail and welcome. We've been in planning mode for just over 3 years now, we have not completely ruled out a MH but we are strongly leaning to a 5er to fit our goals. To each his or her own. You'll find a wealth of support 'round here. Knowledgeable folks too... they've helped us a lot as we move toward FT. So fire off your questions...smile



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Brian, Cindi & Josie (our fur baby)



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Chief, if you have heard a bad rap on propane, it just isn't true nor do propane tanks take up that much storage. I agree with Second Chance, why limit yourself to RV parks with 50 amp service? Can't see lots of America, our beautiful country, with a rig you described.

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2015 Winnebago TT 2101DS & Chevy Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts of WindyNation solar - parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for USC & historical flags. 14 year Army vet. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state & county campgrounds



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You'll still able to boondock with an all electric coach. You'll, of course, need a generator and/or solar plus the needed batteries which also take up space. You mention a 40' MH which would likely be a diesel which most likely will come with a diesel powered genny. When running, it will make noise and in some CGs that is majorly frowned on during quiet time from roughly 10PM till 6 or 7AM. Propane for a furnace or water heater makes no significant sound. Hydronic heating without propane or other fuel will draw battery power or need run time off the genny if you're not hooked up to CG power.

As you can see, there will be compromises. Now, if you plan to only stay in FHU CGs with 50amp service, you'll be fine. Your call.

FWIW, Brian



-- Edited by BiggarView on Sunday 12th of February 2017 12:50:51 PM

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Brian, Cindi & Josie (our fur baby)



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Chief, You can boon-dock with an all electric coach, We had a 45' Newmar London Aire that was all electric. We were in the desert near Quartzsite for more than a week and only  ran the diesel generator about an hour in the morning when we made coffee and cooked breakfast on the electric stove, and then ran it again for about an hour at dinner time when wife was making dinner. our coach had a very large battery bank from the factory, the water heater could run on either electric or diesel, the hydronic furnace also ran on diesel. The diesel 13KW generator in the coach was very quiet and didn't seem to bother anyone. The refrigerator was also a residential unit that the batteries had no problem running with the large inverter.

Also, many times we ran the whole coach on 30 amps. You just have to be aware of the current draw of each large appliance and only run one or two at a time. (depending on draw).

We loved the coach, but had to quit full-timing when wife got sick and couldn't see keeping it just to have that expensive of an RV just sitting around.

Jim

 



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Jim and Linda
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Gee, a very quiet 13kw diesel generator run only in the morning (when I'm having my coffee) and the afternoon (when I'm having a ****tail) that didn't seem to bother anyone. Were my solar panels or propane fridge and water heater too loud for you?

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2015 Winnebago TT 2101DS & Chevy Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts of WindyNation solar - parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for USC & historical flags. 14 year Army vet. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state & county campgrounds



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Thank you all for the good information. We obviously have much more research to do. Jim01, I'm sorry to hear of your wife's illness. Newmar Dutch Star and Tiffin are 2 of the MH's that top our used (3-5 years old) list. Your info at least confirmed that not everything I read was wrong. Thanks to everyone else for opening my eyes to CG life, we want to be good neighbors. My thought was that if we were cold camping, the hydronic heat would prevent the basement pipes from freezing. Am I wrong for thinking this?

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Shane Tucker


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Welcome Chief. We have been FT for 19 months, so still newbees. We chose a 2007 Tiffin Allegro Bus with AquaHot (Hydronic heat) and made several upgrades. We ditched the RV refrigerator and put in a residential refrigerator without the ice/water in the door feature. We did not upgrade to six house batteries and a 3000 watt inverter. If we wanted the water/ice in the door, it was recommended we upgrade those items. The four batteries and 2000 watt inverter are running it fine. The only thing left that uses propane is the two burner stove. The AquaHot burns diesel and also has an electric element. We have no issues boondocking in moderate climates for up to 7 days as long as we are in a location where we can run the generator for a couple hours in the morning and a couple in the evening.
The AquaHot was not on my must have list; but after having it, I sure like the capabilities. We have camped in 18 degree weather and the lower bay stays at about 40 degrees. Inside, we are toasty. Endless hot water. With 150 gallons of diesel (ok, it will cut off when the tank gets down to 20-30 gallons so you can drive to a pump), we can go a long time before we must move.
Shoot me a PM or email and we can set up a call sometime. We have a blog too if you are bored.

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USAF Retired 2010. Began full timing June 2015. 2007 Allegro Bus 40QSP with 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland TOAD. Our blog: keepingupwiththejonesrv.blogspot.com. 



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Welcome, Chief, and thanks for your service. Law enforcement isn't an easy life.

It sounds like you have done some initial research, in that you have looked at all of the various options available and decided that a MH is the best fit for you. Now the fun begins - finding the right coach for you. One of the decisions you will have to make is how much, if any, you want to boondock, and how often you will want/need to stay in places that have only 30A service. Many COE and State parks are 30A only and no generator use is allowed. That will require you to make some decisions on what you are going to run when. It doesn't take many trips out to the power pedestal to reset the breaker before you learn that you may not be able to run the a/c and the coffee maker and the microwave at once. The hydronic heat can run on diesel when you only have 30A available.

There are trade-offs for everything. A hydronic heating system requires annual maintenance by someone who actually knows what they are doing. Most people who have had propane furnaces and hydronic systems prefer the hydronic system, but not all do. Repairs can be expensive, but then that's true of most things RV.

Suggestion: join the owners' forums for all of the brands you are considering and ask some questions there about your intended use, needs, and wants. You may also find the perfect coach for you that way, as most have a Classifieds section.

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David, kb0zke

1993 Foretravel U300 40'

Build number 4371

For sale



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David,

Thank you for the information. We are interested in boondocking, state parks, etc. This is so nice to interact with people "in the know". I've read a lot but you never know what's accurate and what's not.

From what I read, I assumed that the all electric and hydronic heat would be luxury items which would make things easier. On a side note, a large chunk of my military time, in the 82nd Airborne Div. was in the field. We "camped" with what we could jump in with, which was what fit in an Alice Pack. Needless to say, I want to be a "glamor camper" now that I'm older. My wife and I want to experience as much of this great nation as possible. I just need good guidance and have many questions.

How do you keep your basement pipes from freezing in a cold climate? I read propane heat sources created moisture inside the coach, is that true? What areas can you run you generator?

We were looking at different manufacturers of motor homes. We want to cap our expenditures to $200k for used motor home and toad. We will be debt free in 2 years when our house is paid off. Between my wife and I, our retirement income will be around 50k. We will have a nest egg for emergencies. I only list these figures so ya'll can provide feedback on maintenance costs for a 40' 400-450 HP diesel and whether we would be ok with that income. And, am I being too manly to want that level of horsepower? We really like the Tiffin Allegro Bus and Newmar Dutch Star. We are still a bit unsure on the best manufacturer.

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Shane Tucker


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Chief, at 40 feet California length limits will shut you out of many of our state parks unfortunately. See www.parks.ca.gov/rvlength.

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2015 Winnebago TT 2101DS & Chevy Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts of WindyNation solar - parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL pole for USC & historical flags. 14 year Army vet. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state & county campgrounds



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Chief, Thanks for you military and LE service. Welcome to Air Force level camping. When I switched from Army to AF and saw they gave us cots and tents in the field I was so excited I said, "Tents! Cool we get tents." The AF guys just stared at me.
Your budget numbers are good. You can get a solid rig and toad for that and pension will cover normal operating costs.
Our bus with AquaHot has a heat register and separate thermostat in the lower compartment closest to the water and holding tanks. The thermostat will call for heat when temp drops below its setting regardless of the inside thermostat setting. By following a few basic protocols like filling the fresh water tank, disconnecting water and sewer hoses and closing all wet bay openings, we have survived as low as 18F. I placed a remote thermostat in the wet bay that will alarm if if gets to 35 degrees.
I can't speak to the propane heat and moisture. We use three Eva-Dry resettable dehumidifiers set around the inside of the coach to fight moisture.
The generator thing just depends on the rules. Recommend you use one of the many camping apps (AllStays, RVparky, etc.) and plot a mock trip. Pick your favorite type places. Then look at each one and see what their restrictions are for rig size, gen, power, water, etc. Being 40 foot will keep you out of some places. The next cut is normally 35 feet, so getting a 38 foot rig is probably not going to get you in any more places than a 40 footer. Being full-time, size matters. More storage, more cloths.
Our rig is a 50 amp unit. All that means is that when I can get 50 amp service, I can run most everything without much though towards power management. As kb0zke pointed out, if you only have 30A service you deal with it. Same goes for 20A or no Amps. You develop your own protocols for the given situation. It is kind of funny to look at each other and ask "what do have here again?" Happens more than you think.
Look forward to seeing you guys out here making it up as you go.


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USAF Retired 2010. Began full timing June 2015. 2007 Allegro Bus 40QSP with 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland TOAD. Our blog: keepingupwiththejonesrv.blogspot.com. 



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Chief, we have two propane furnaces in our coach. The rear furnace heats the bedroom, bathroom, and basement. The front furnace heats the kitchen/dining area and living room. Burning propane may produce a bit of moisture, but that takes place OUTSIDE. Your breathing produces moisture INSIDE, so you leave a vent or two open. Cooking also produces moisture, so be sure to run the kitchen vent.

As for brands, the two you mention were on our initial list, along with several others. Eventually we pared it down to Foretravel, Newell, and Wanderlodge. Today it would be only Foretravel and Newell. Beaver is also frequently mentioned, but you have to own a Beaver in order to join their owners' forum. I'd suggest that you join the owners' forums for all of the brands you are thinking about and ask some general questions on each just to get a feel for what you will learn. Then you can ask more specific questions as you go. When you get to looking for a specific coach each one has Classifieds, so you might find your coach there. If you find one elsewhere, someone on the forum will most likely know something about it.

Our Foretravel is 40' and we've NEVER had a problem with length. A year ago we stayed at a commercial park and the owner actually went out and measured a site because she wasn't sure we would fit. We did, with several feet to spare. She was a new owner of the park and didn't know all of the measurements off the top of her head yet.

Foretravel and Newell use the airbags to level the coach at the campsite rather than drop-down jacks. I think Beaver does, too, but don't know about others. I know Wanderlodge uses the drop-down jacks. The advantage is that you aren't putting all of your weight on a small space. It stays on the tires. One other advantage is that you don't have to get out in wet or cold weather to put out pads. In fact, you can just keep running the generator a bit longer (if rules allow) should you arrive in a rainstorm. Safer that way anyway. Then when the rain is gone you can go out and plug in.

Our Foretravel isn't as tall as newer coaches, but even so, we've found places where branches were closer to the ground than we liked. A taller coach might have had those branches at windshield height.

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David, kb0zke

1993 Foretravel U300 40'

Build number 4371

For sale



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I have looked at Foretravel, Newell and other high end coaches on-line. They are quite expensive unless they are 10-15 years old. It seems to me like we would have to spend extra to up date the out dated furniture, tv's, etc. I like those brands but I get nervous about replacement and possible repairs to such an expensive coach. As far as Tiffin, Red Bay is fairly close to our home in Mississippi. When we return to visit grandchildren, we would be close. I've also read that they provide excelle

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Shane Tucker


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Excellent customer service. (My fat fingers his the wrong key)

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Shane Tucker


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BiggarView wrote:

You'll still able to boondock with an all electric coach. You'll, of course, need a generator and/or solar plus the needed batteries which also take up space. You mention a 40' MH which would likely be a diesel which most likely will come with a diesel powered genny. When running, it will make noise and in some CGs that is majorly frowned on during quiet time from roughly 10PM till 6 or 7AM. Propane for a furnace or water heater makes no significant sound. Hydronic heating without propane will draw battery power or need run time off the genny if you're not hooked up to CG power.

As you can see, there will be compromises. Now, if you plan to only stay in FHU CGs with 50amp service, you'll be fine. Your call.

FWIW, Brian



-- Edited by BiggarView on Wednesday 8th of February 2017 06:11:26 PM


 If you are in a CG, most have power, so no generator needed.  Aside from that, it is an erroneous to assume that all electric coaches will use much more power than propane/electric coaches.  Not true.  If in hot weather , ACs determine power needed for both.  In mild weather, usage will be similar.  We routinely use 30 amp sites without a problem, esp in northern areas in summer.  



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I've read about solar panels on the roof of all electric coaches. I would be willing to add those up front. It sounds like that is the consensus from previous posts here. I have given thought to your posts here and can see the benefit to having propane on board, even if it is just for cooking, in case of power loss. I read that the hydronic systems are quiet, efficient and use little fuel. Is that true? I get that it takes some electric and thought a total of 6 house batteries would handle it. Don't most diesel coaches come with 4 house batteries?

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Shane Tucker


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Random thoughts and answers:
* Hydronic systems use less fuel since diesel fuel has more energy per gallon than propane. The noise from a hydronic system is mostly outside, so your close neighbors will hear it but inside you probably won't. A friend who wintered in Western Washington state used 5 to 10 gallons of diesel a week for heat and hot water. This was perfect since he had two portable 6 gallon cans to keep the tank full.
* Also note that a residential fridge uses less electricity than an RV fridge on electric. In our case our 24cuft Whirlpool side-by-side uses about 5kwh per day less than the 12cuft Norcold it replaced. Most RV manufacturers add two more batteries with a residential fridge.
* People I know with hydronic systems think the battery drain is less than a propane furnace, probably because it uses multiple small fans instead of a large one.
* About every all electric comes with a two burner stovetop, often inductive, instead of a three burner gas stovetop. If you need three burners get a portable inductive. If the power goes out, use a propane campstove outside. Inductive is great and is very efficient, but you might need new pots and pans to work with it.
* The all electric coaches I have seen don't come with enough battery and inverter to truly boondock well, they assume you will only do occasional overnights. They mostly come with 6 batteries and 2800 to 3000 watts of inverter. I would want 8 batteries and at least a 4000 watt inverter if I went all electric. I would want over 1000 watts of solar at a minimum, probably 1500 if I wanted to boondock a lot.

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Bill Joyce,
40' 2004 Dutch Star DP towing a 2012 AWD Chevy Equinox
Journal at http://www.sacnoth.com
Full-timing since July 2003



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Thank you bjoyce! That was very informative. I know enough about electricity to be dangerous. I do understand the concept. What would be the approximate cost of 1000w to 1500w of solar power to install on a coach? If I understand what you're saying, even if connected to shore power the hydronic system still has to run on diesel, which will disturb my neighbors? Am I too concerned about a heat source for our MH? Not that we plan on staying in cold climates much, but we would like to visit places that get moderate snow fall occasionally. Is hydronic heating something we really shouldn't consider? It would reduce the cost and maintenance of our MH selection. Thanks again for the helpful feedback everyone!

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Shane Tucker


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You have an electric option on the hydronic heat, but it needs diesel if it gets very cold or you will have no hot water and heat since the diesel burner has a lot more capacity. Most with hydronic use their heat pumps (air conditioners that reverse) when it is above freezing, instead of the furnace. Our two 15K heat pumps will maintain 70 degrees inside down to it being freezing outside, when our propane furnace kicks on. I am sure you have heat pumps in any diesel pusher with hydronic heat built since about 2000. We had a guy here with an older Country Coach, RVDude, who would go snow skiing and boondock in the parking lot using his hydronic heat with little problems. Are you planning on sitting still for long in cold weather? You have a larger diesel tank than any on-board propane tank and can last longer using hydronic than propane heat.

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Bill Joyce,
40' 2004 Dutch Star DP towing a 2012 AWD Chevy Equinox
Journal at http://www.sacnoth.com
Full-timing since July 2003



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Barbaraok wrote:
BiggarView wrote:

You'll still able to boondock with an all electric coach. You'll, of course, need a generator and/or solar plus the needed batteries which also take up space. You mention a 40' MH which would likely be a diesel which most likely will come with a diesel powered genny. When running, it will make noise and in some CGs that is majorly frowned on during quiet time from roughly 10PM till 6 or 7AM. Propane for a furnace or water heater makes no significant sound. Hydronic heating without propane will draw battery power or need run time off the genny if you're not hooked up to CG power.

As you can see, there will be compromises. Now, if you plan to only stay in FHU CGs with 50amp service, you'll be fine. Your call.

FWIW, Brian



-- Edited by BiggarView on Wednesday 8th of February 2017 06:11:26 PM


 If you are in a CG, most have power, so no generator needed.  Aside from that, it is an erroneous to assume that all electric coaches will use much more power than propane/electric coaches.  Not true.  If in hot weather , ACs determine power needed for both.  In mild weather, usage will be similar.  We routinely use 30 amp sites without a problem, esp in northern areas in summer.  


 Yep, most CGs have power, but that in no way guarantees you won't need a genny. Surely there are many a time when you may only need a 30amp site. I was referring to the most favorable conditions of having the most amps typically available (50) which usually present no challenges to power consumption needs.... but not always. There will always be exceptions.



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Brian, Cindi & Josie (our fur baby)

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