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Electric ceramic heaters help
Hello all, I need some help with a space heater problem.
 I live full time in a 19' caravan in Northern Utah.   We have began the over night temps in the teens.  I have blocked off most of the windows, and have taken the advice from Bob and many others to hang a blanket over the door.   I am currently running a small space heater, however its just not enough.  I am on a very limited budget. ($50-$70)  For all the researching I've done, I have decided ceramic is the best option for me.   I cannot afford a Mr.Heater, because I have 0 income to afford propane. Plus I have a brand new vent less heater I'm unable to afford.
  I am plugged into my friends power from their home.   So electric it is. 
  I don't need it 70 degrees in here at night.  As I dress accordingly and have plenty of blankets.  However I do have my furry kids in here and they are not as prepared as I am. 
  I purchased a few types from a big box store, and I returned them, as the heating elements were not sufficient.    Thus ceramic option now.
 While I have tried to block off around the outside of the caravan, I can still feel a tremendous amount of cold radiating up from the floor.  Ive put down 2 layers of carpet.    My caravan is old.  Older then I am and I know its going to be cold.   But I need a heater that will keep us from freezing, and will actually blow warm air.  The current heater doesn't push the heat out into the open area well.
 Also, I have a current heater on its own cord to the power post, while the rest of the caravan is on a separate cord.  I do have some electric issues inside, which my friends and I hope to tackle over the next few days.   Does anyone have any advice on the extension cord issue?   The caravan is sharing power from a post that is also running the pasture fence, and horses water heaters.    But both posts are on the same circuit. Would we be better to run an entirely new cord from inside the garage on a separate circuit?
 Thanks for any input.  I appreciate it.
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I don't have any comment on the heater but I do about the power cord, Yes do use a separate circuit and use a heavy duty Cord. Heaters as you describe usually are in the 1500 Watt range and that's about all a single outlet/circuit is gonna handle without tripping the breaker.
Box Stock 2007 Ford E-150 All Build Pics HERE
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(12-08-2017, 05:36 PM)Kar74 Wrote:  But both posts are on the same circuit. Would we be better to run an entirely new cord from inside the garage on a separate circuit?    

Yes. And get a beefy extension cord. 

But first look for labels that give watt information.  Does your heater have a label with some Watt (W) information on it? 

With its own circuit and extension cord, you should be able to run heaters in the 1500W range. 

One circuit can handle a max of around 1500 to 1875W, so if your heater can use/produce 1500W of heat, it will basically need its own circuit (and extension cord). 

Once you have maximized the watt numbers from you heater, then continue to add protection, both on the outside and the inside of your home. 

To stay warm you basically can use two paths. Add more heat, or prevent heat from leaving your living space. 

So anything that on the outside, will lower the amount of wind that can get to your caravan, will help. 
Anything that will limit the draft in you caravan will help. 
And anything that will thicken your walls and windows, will help. So blankets, covers, tarps, plastic sheets with air-space between them, will all help to keep the heat trapped inside your caravan. 

Cardboard and duct tape might be usable tools here. Cardboard can be put into plastic bags, and could be used on the outside. 

If you make a skirt that limits the wind from getting under your caravan, you will most likely feel less cold from the floor. 

You might also be able to create a kind of enclosure out of cardboard for your furry kids, that will help trap heat, so the heat does not immediately rise from where ever they like to sleep. 

I mention cardboard, because it can often be found  for free. Other materials might be better for longterm solutions, but cardboard solutions might be good enough to get you through this winter, and it will no doubt help you learn a few tricks of how to easier (and cheaper) stay warm in a caravan in the winter.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to MrAlvinDude for this post:
Kar74 (12-10-2017)
(12-08-2017, 05:36 PM)Kar74 Wrote:  While I have tried to block off around the outside of the caravan, I can still feel a tremendous amount of cold radiating up from the floor.  Ive put down 2 layers of carpet.    

Making a skirt around the caravan is a very good idea. It can however be difficult to make it air-tight enough, so there is no draft that can slip in under the caravan. Be better this is done, the better the skirt will however work. 

It is necessary to fill up any gaps (between skirt plates, between the skirt and caravan, and between the skirt and the ground), and secure with tape (or other things) to make the skirt as wind proof/air tight as possible.  Tape, screws, zip-ties and more, are all tools that can help to make the skirt as wind proof as possible. 

If possible, digging a ½ to 1 inch ditch that the skirt can slip into, or having bricks (or rocks) to help hold the skirt in place at the ground is also an idea.
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Kar74 (12-10-2017)
Here is a trick, of how to cover windows, if you still want light to be able to come in.

Butyl tape is however not inexpensive tape, so you most likely want to work on limiting drafts and heat loss elsewhere  first. 

But this is a good way to still have an ability to have light come through a window or two, but still limit the heat loss at those windows.
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Kar74 (12-10-2017)
It might also be possible to section off part of your space. And put the heater into the section that you want kept warm.

Here Carolyn shows how she sections of one section of her RV, using blankets and curtains. 

The key her is to use as thick cloth as possible (I have sometimes used beach towels, as they are big and fairly thick), and to make them snug towards, ceiling, walls and floor. 

In the video, it is not snug towards the ceiling, because the front of the RV is already separated into a storage compartment, and the space with the windows. And it is the space with the windows that is sectioned off in this video. 

One could tape a cardboard strip to the ceiling, in order to make a "wall" that comes down some 5 inches from the ceiling, past the top of the curtain, if it becomes difficult  to get the curtain be snug towards the ceiling. 

Many different materials can be used as section dividers. And the section dividers can be more or less permanent, or a combination, so it is still easy to use all of the caravan in the daytime. 

But the main topic is, to possibly section off a part of the caravan, for the night, so the space that needs  most heat, becomes a bit smaller.
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Kar74 (12-10-2017)
Then a trick to stay warm could be, to be as far off the floor as possible. 

Heat rises, so it will naturally be warmer the closer you get to the ceiling.  So, if possible, try to make high beds for yourself, and for your furry kids. 

Arrange their bed to be on a seat or on a table. 

This will allow for the floor to be cold(er) and the bottom of the bed might still be warmer than at the floor or one inch off the floor.
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Kar74 (12-10-2017)
Then you should make sure that heat can not escape the top of the caravan.

As mentioned before, heat rises, so if it is possible to keep in, and sort of trap, as much heat as possible, from the ceiling and downwards, this will help in keeping the caravan warm(er).

So tape around any roof hatches, so no air can escape that way. So fashion a pillow or other contraption, so it can fit snugly into any skylights or openings there are in the ceiling. As this will help limit the amount of warm air that can escape out that way.

As airing out (once or twice a day) is still important, in order to keep the humidity level down, it may be necessary to fashion those ceiling-opening-blockers so they are easy to remove.

So try to work your way down from the ceiling, down the walls, and especially corners of walls, to make sure they are air tight, so you can trap and keep in as much air and heat as possible.

The goal of making everything air tight, is to hang on to whatever heat that you do manage to get from your electric heater. 

I hope it is okay that I make these heat (stay warm) related comments, though they are not really electric heater related. 

But like I said, staying warm, has two  sides to it.

One side is producing heat, another is hanging on to the heat being produced.
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I run 3 of the 1500 watt in a 28' motorhome on lower settings with high fan speed so maybe just another heater would really make a difference in air circulation and warmth.
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Kar74 (12-10-2017)
OK, thanks everyone for the various info. I appreciate it.
Yesterday, they fixed the wiring inside. And I explained the many times I've read about the circuits and watts... And I was reminded of all the times I am ignored..
So here's what was done. The caravan has a small breaker box under the sink. a 15 amp and a 20 amp switch. They decided the 20 amp went to the ceiling ac unit. So, they ran new wiring, installed a plug and that's where one heater is. Keep in mind, the current space heater is not a good one. I need to upgrade. But now its still running off the same bloody cord and circuit.
(I even read your helpful posts about separate cords, to different circuits to them. Nothing clicked. I'm beyond frustrated)
As for skirting. I have about half the outside blocked off with straw bales, and the rest I have wood available, however I can't move the wood alone. So I have options, just no help.
I have blocked off the entire front window, and 3 others with cardboard and blankets. I've left one available for light, as its by a shelf and the cat plank so they can sun themselves. I usually block it off with spare pillows, when the sun drops. Half of it has been caulked, because the previous owners broke it, then screwed it shut. So only one section is able to open, or let in drafts.
The pets are spoiled and sleep with me at night, so we are up off the floor. I keep one heater on low, on the floor, and another one on low only before bed, or in the am, while I'm getting my coffee and brain on the same wave length.
Do any of you have suggestions about heaters? I have a little ceramic one, but I would like something that had a better fan. In the evening or am, if I get a chill, it can lead to a few hours of misery for me. I have a neurological condition, and getting a bad chill gets my bodies wiring system in a mess.
(Honestly wish I had one of the big heaters I used when we did drywall and painting during the winter. Just a bit overkill in my small place)
Any suggestions appreciated.
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