Airstream Heating Systems
It seems only fitting that we're writing this while watching the snow fall outside. There are a few different heating systems that we tend to turn to when doing Airstream renovations. When we are working with a client to decide which route they'd like to go, we use the following basic pros and cons:
Pros: Furnaces run off of propane to create the heat, and they use battery power to push the air around with a fan. These systems can be a great option if you have a big battery bank and/or are mostly staying at RV parks or venues with RV hook-ups. A furnace is sort of like having forced air in your home, the system pushes air around the trailer, making it the quickest way to warm up the space. You don't see this system, as it is run with ducts through cabinets and walls.
Cons: On cold nights when the furnace has to run consistently, this system can use a large amount of battery. Furnaces are also not as efficient with the propane usage. Additionally, all of the duct work can take up valuable space in your Airstream, where you may be trying to maximize every inch of storage space available.
Our Go-To: Dometic Furnaces
Pros: Catalytic heaters are super efficient systems; they solely run off of propane, using zero battery power. Depending on the size of your travel trailer, you can place multiple units throughout the space, and they come in different sizes. We will often do a large unit in the kitchen/common area and a smaller unit in a back bedroom or bathroom.
Cons: These heaters are usually mounted to a wall, which can be difficult if flat wall space is limited. There are design decisions that can be made to make the unit stand out less, but ultimately catalytic heaters are not only visible in the space but they are also hot to the touch. For our clients who have animals or young kids, we don't always recommend these systems.
Our Go-To: Camco Olympian Wave Catalytic Heater
Pros: After installing an electric fireplace in one of our client's Airstreams, they are now a frequent request. The main reasons being the aesthetic and the fact that they can be built into a cabinet. In addition to their looks, these units don't take up a lot of space. An electric fireplace in an Airstream can look and feel cozy.
Cons: Electric fireplaces run off of house power/shore power, which means you either have to be plugged into power or you can run it off of your inverter as long as you know you have enough battery to sustain the electric fireplace + the rest of the systems running in your trailer.
Pros: Heat pumps can come installed in your air conditioner unit. We recommend these for our clients who mostly tow their trailers in warm climates. Relying on your AC to also provide your heat means that you don't have to find a space to mount a catalytic heater or electric fireplace, or take up room inside of your cabinets for a furnace.
Cons: If the temperature outside gets into the 40s, heat pumps won't operate.
Our Go-To: Dometic Penguin w/Heat Pump