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Understanding How Motorhome Heating Works

Every motorhomer knows the benefits of a good heating system on those nights that carry a chill in the air. 

The heating system in a motorhome provides two key functions, to provide hot water and to warm the internal living space of your motorhome.

The two leading brands of motorhome heating are Truma and Alde. Both use gas or mains electric as the power source to the boiler or heater. The key difference is Truma system heats the living space by pumping warm air through piping and vents around the motorhome in a similar principle to the way that you have warm air blown into your car. The Alde system is more akin to your home central heating where there will be radiators positioned around the motorhome. In some motorhomes you may even find under floor heating too.

(Checkout Alde Heating Explained)

Motorhome heating
Heating efficiently

Combining both electricity (when on hook up) and gas can mean greater efficiency. This allows the boiler to draw the power from the most efficient source depending on demand.

Gas is great if you’re wild camping or not on hook up as you will have the independence without the need to be tethered to a bollard. Electrical Hook up means you can conserve your gas supply if you need to.

The gas type that you use can be affected by the cold. Butane gas (Blue bottle) is less efficient and indeed may struggle to work in low tempratures in winter. If you’re taking your van away in the cold spells or taking a winter trip skiing then propane (Red/orange)  is the preferable option. Incidentally the Autogas LPG used in refillable gas bottles such as Gaslow or Gasit is propane. 

Alde heating system control panel
Other things to consider

Other factors to consider that will affect your motorhome heating is the insulation in your motorhome. Many manufacturers now have constructed their motorhome to Grade 3 standard (EN1645) which is a grading system set to a European Standard. To achieve this grading of thermal insulation and heating, the motorhome has to go from -15 degrees centigrade to +20 degrees centigrade in a 4 hour period and the water system has to work after that period.

Whilst the habitation area of the motorhome is generally well insulated, the least energy efficient area of the motorhome, in terms of insulation, is usually the cab.

With a large single glazed windscreen and side windows this can be an area where heat is lost and condensation can usually occur. These effects can be offset by using insulated screens to cover the windows.

(Checkout the review on insulated screens)

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