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Old 12-01-2019, 07:49 PM   #1
aray
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Heat strip in AC roof question

Hi, I have a second pre-sale question about my proposed unit: the Passport 199ML. The salesman was walking me through the unit last week and was showing me the AC in the roof. I noticed it had settings for heating as well as for cooling. He explained to me that I had two options: propane heating (which also serves to heat the undercarriage in the winter to keep the lines from freezing (assuming it gets down that cold)) or a heat strip in the roof AC unit (the advantage there is reduced propane usage and instead I draw from the RV park's 30 amp utility feed).

The odd thing was he wasn't sure this was an included option. He said he'd research it for me and get back to me. He did and I did in parallel. My research on the keystonerv.com website shows only an option for upgrading the AC unit from 13.5K to 15K BTU cooling; nothing there shows an upgrade for a heat strip. However his research contradicted mine; he says a heat strip is an optional upgrade to the AC unit and would be an additional $79 charge (if I recall the price correctly).

So I'm confused: why the contradictory information? Can someone who owns a Passport please confirm or deny whether or not the OM AC unit comes with an electric heater strip by default?

Thanks.

Ray
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:00 PM   #2
Brentw
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Don't have a passport, but most brands of AC units are used in many rvs. My experience has shown me that the AC unit may have the capability of the optional heat, and some actually have the heat strip installed.
It will not do to much for you, most are around 1200 watts, picture the blower in the AC unit whistling past a single 1200 watt heat coil. But 1200 watts of heat may take the chill off of a cool evening.
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:44 AM   #3
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Keystone doesn't offer the "heat strip option" from the factory, but any RV dealership can install the A/C manufacturer's OEM heat strip in any air conditioner unit that is wired/equipped to accept it. That's likely what the salesman was relaying to you. The heat strip is available for your model, it's a "dealer installed item" and he can have it installed at the dealership for you (if you want it) for $79. On some brands of Keystone trailers, it is installed as OEM, on Passports, it's not available from the factory, although you may find an occasional Passport that was built when Keystone ran out of air conditioners at the assembly plant and "borrowed some" from the Alpine line or from the Fuzion line, where all their rear air conditioners come equipped with a heat strip (that's usually not properly connected)….. So, finding one in a Passport is not impossible, but it's not included in the typical build or as a factory installed option.

If it were me, I'd opt to have the heat strip installed. While it's true that it's only about the "heat output" of a small electric heater, many times that's all you need to run to "take the chill off" the RV. And, if you have pets or small children, there's very little space in any "small RV" to operate a "hot cube" that doesn't present an issue with children or pets accidentally bumping into it or it being in the way if you place it on a kitchen counter....

Realize that 1200-1500 watts is only about 5000 BTU's of heat, but that's normally all you need when the temperature is below comfortable, but not below freezing.

As stated, the A/C heat strip is not a "feel immediate warmth" kind of device because of the volume of air that flows over the small heating element, but when used overnight, the A/C fan produces the "white noise" which helps with outside distractions in a busy RV park while there "just enough heat" to keep the RV warm inside without using propane.

We've had one on most of our RV's, this A/C doesn't have the connections to install one and we do miss it, although we've got a small electric heater that we use and place "in the way, on the galley counter"....
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Old 12-02-2019, 11:19 AM   #4
aray
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Excellent reply, and thanks!


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Old 12-02-2019, 02:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post
Keystone doesn't offer the "heat strip option" from the factory, but any RV dealership can install the A/C manufacturer's OEM heat strip in any air conditioner unit that is wired/equipped to accept it.
Wow, I never knew this was an option. That's very attractive.

For units that have inCommand, what are the chances the inCommand unit will be willing to recognize the presence of this option without serious brain surgery?
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Old 12-02-2019, 04:25 PM   #6
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Wow, I never knew this was an option. That's very attractive.



For units that have inCommand, what are the chances the inCommand unit will be willing to recognize the presence of this option without serious brain surgery?


First thing is to verify the AC unit is heat strip ready.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:41 PM   #7
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When I'm shopping I demand to see the build/order sheet. It will list everything that came on the unit from the factory. I have zero trust for sales people.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:49 PM   #8
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Don’t get heat strips confused with heat pumps. Most heat strips are around $80, are for non ducted AC units, and produce around 5k BTUs. Most Passports are ducted ACs. Make sure the heat strip the salesman is referring to is compatible with the AC unit in that coach. The main AC on units such as Alpine and Montana are heat pump units. These are ducted and produce about 16k BTUs. Two completely different animals.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:45 PM   #9
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First thing is to verify the AC unit is heat strip ready.
As far as I can tell, my Brisk II can take a Dometic 3315450.000 heat strip. Is it possible for me to teach inCommand how to run that?
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Old 12-07-2019, 06:27 PM   #10
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As far as I can tell, my Brisk II can take a Dometic 3315450.000 heat strip. Is it possible for me to teach inCommand how to run that?


I have about zero knowledge about the “workings” of in command so someone else will have to give you the final answer. I bet you can if you can get into the “software” and unlock that function.
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:17 AM   #11
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My experience in a previous camper, a heat strip will not keep a gnat alive if the temp is below 50 degrees.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:28 AM   #12
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My experience in a previous camper, a heat strip will not keep a gnat alive if the temp is below 50 degrees.
YES to this. It will barely take the chill off at 55*-60*.

We replaced the AC in our last 5th wheel and took the heat strip. WASTE OF MONEY!!
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:58 AM   #13
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Electric built in fireplace will give you more heat. Our heat pump and fireplace take care of 37 feet down to high 40s. Works below that but the defrost cycle WILL wake you.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:53 AM   #14
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Electric built in fireplace will give you more heat. Our heat pump and fireplace take care of 37 feet down to high 40s. Works below that but the defrost cycle WILL wake you.
My 42' Montana heat pump works down to the low 40's and that plus the 5,000 BTU 'fireplace' allows both units to cycle on and off. Electricity where I am is $0.13 per kWh.
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Old 12-12-2019, 12:00 PM   #15
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We travel the southland almost exclusively, so for the money, the heat strip may be all we need most nights. We did our last trip with a 5" cube space heater sitting on our stovetop, and occasionally got overheated.

If I had had the option to order my rig with a heat pump, I would have, because I had one in our previous rig and loved it.

We expected our rig to come with the built-in fireplace, but it didn't (it came with the swing down stairs instead, which we were going to add anyway). We've toyed with the idea of adding a fireplace, but (aside from the fact that it's more heat than we need most times) I'm not sure if I'd have to cut a fireplace-sized hole in my paneling to install it. On the rear of that paneling is the outdoor grill/fridge hatch, so I'm concerned.

The nice folks at inCommand said that if I added a heat strip, they'd send me a custom floorplan for my unit that included it.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:36 PM   #16
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We have a 2010 Keystone Passport 199ML (bought new) and love it. Indoor storage. The only ice it has seen is in a martini. It did not come with the heat strip. We chose not to add one due to the loud noise from the A/C blower. Although the blower is great when encountering noisy neighbors. We use a small ceramic heater to chase the chill away. But if you do, use caution. It can warm the camper AC wires with extended use and not trip a breaker. Which could lead to electrical problems. We know. We now run a separate AC line from the outside box to power the ceramic heater. No problems.
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Old 01-31-2020, 04:24 AM   #17
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I'm in the process of likely ordering a Raptor 356 and talked to a factory rep on the phone about options, weights, and ideas. On the Raptor the heat pump isn't listed, yes I'm talking heat pump, not strip. He also stated that was not an available option which I thought odd. Many other manufacturers offer this at a modest increase, usually less than $200. Yes I now the operational limitations of an RV heat pump but for my uses it would help and reduce propane use. I figured that Keystone didn't stock those units but I see comments about Montana and others having it. Not a deal breaker as a small space heater, and the fireplace is a good chill breaker option
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:55 PM   #18
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I'm in the process of likely ordering a Raptor 356 and talked to a factory rep on the phone about options, weights, and ideas. On the Raptor the heat pump isn't listed, yes I'm talking heat pump, not strip. He also stated that was not an available option which I thought odd. Many other manufacturers offer this at a modest increase, usually less than $200. Yes I now the operational limitations of an RV heat pump but for my uses it would help and reduce propane use. I figured that Keystone didn't stock those units but I see comments about Montana and others having it. Not a deal breaker as a small space heater, and the fireplace is a good chill breaker option
If necessary delete the AC and get a heat pump installed after delivery if possible
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Old 02-18-2020, 06:35 AM   #19
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If necessary delete the AC and get a heat pump installed after delivery if possible
I spoke yesterday to ASA electronics, maker of the in command module and they said the in command would need a "reprogramming" to identify and control a heat pump but easily done. I'm going to the dealer today to see where we are in the build process and it's it's possible to do the delete. Another option is take it like it is, pull the affected air conditioner, install the appropriate heat pump and then have a "spare A/C". That's a costly way to handle it but it still seems odd that Keystone makes the heat pump standard in a Montana but doesn't offer it in a Raptor. Both are supposedly at the top end of the lines.
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