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fishingguy

forced air or not?

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I am in the proccess of pricing out shell only fish houses and finish the inside myself. I have a few questions on direct vent furnaces or heaters. Are the forced air units the way to go? How long does a good battery last with these heaters? I like the idea of forced air but am concerned about battery life. They do not light or heat without battery power. And that is a concern.

So I'm leaning towards getting a non-forced air unit (needing no battery to run) and use computer, or other type fans to circulate air. I know they will never move as much air, but they also use very little juice. What are your opinions?

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A co-worker of mine has a house with forced air. Wow was that nice. Same temp from top to bottom. It's the cat's meow IMO.

He has a generator.

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I love my forced air.

It keeps a nice even heat throughout my shack.

I usually run my honda gen almost full time but I have been over real shallow water and opted not to use it and I had no problems running lights radio and furnace all weekend on 2 deep cycles.

Anyone and everyone who has been in my shack has commented on how evenly heated and comfortable it was. I would never go back.

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my g/f just won an ice castle at eelpout and it has forced air, i have no problem running the lights and the heater off of a deep cycle for 2-3 days, if i was gonna go on a longer trip i would bring either a second battery or a generator. but like was said before, it stays the same temp top to bottom.

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i have a force air also and i love it. If you plan on putting in carpet the forced air will keep it nice and dry within an hour or two of drilling holes. the other nice thing is you can mount the forced air units right on the floor of your fish house, this helps keep heat down on the floor and closer to the holes. One thing i almost forgot it has electronic ignition so you dont have to light anything, just turn propane on and click the thermostat to on, saves on time lighting a pilot in the freezing cold.

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I'm sure you get opinions on both sides but I can tell you from owner experience with both what I think. Personal preference like in everything smile.gif

In the past I have had numerous direct vent Empires which you see alot of . I can count on one hand how many times I actually needed to turn on a fan each year with any of the Empires. I had rather nice houses that were built well and with insulated floors. I also like the fact it heats without a blower blasting and you can move air with a 12V fan if ever needed. This year I purchased a small 6 X 8 aluminum and insulated with a slide out which has a Atwood/Suburban direct vent forced air rv furnace in it. While the battery operation is a issue and the ignition I had no problems with it all year. That said I would myself rather have the Empires hands down. I did not enjoy the loud fan blasting all the time, and I found that without the furnace ignited and blower running the temp dropped in a hurry in a small 6 X 8 with a 18,000 btu unit. Seemed like the thing had to run all the time and it was annoying to me plus the added power needed.I was in a 16' Ice Castle on Red Lake with one like mine and on my end of the house the air moving was not even warm by the time it reached me.

If you could still get heat without the blower constant it would be ok. The Empire was silent/constant heat and was extremely comfortable heat 90% of the time without any fan needed. They have blower options for them as well but I found I hardly never needed one so I just mounted a 12V fan above the furnace to move air when and if needed. The constant moving of the air, the noise, and power requirement I did not enjoy this year. I use to leave the thermostat on low on the Empire when I was gone so I could return to a warm house. That is not a option with the forced air and power being wasted without being in it.

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I think if you want to be as comfortable as your home living room... forced air by far. every thing from top to bottom can be very moderate. you can make it just like your home f/a system pulling return air from where you want, and putting the reheated air back where you need it. new blower models are getting much better, very quiet and efficient.

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Me new one has a 15k BTU Empire direct vent with two computer fans above the heater. It works great and I don't have to worry about battery usage.

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Just to add to this, I cut a hole in the bottom of the heater and used that same computer fan and mounted it over the hole I cut out and wired in a thermal switch, which you can get at any propane shop that carries Empire heaters.

What I accomplished with this is, when the fire box gets hot it turns on the fan drawing cold floor air into the heater and forces it up, across the fire box and out the front of the heater. Then when the burner shuts off and the fire box cools it shuts off.

I save power by not running the fan all the time and the computer fan draws nil anyway. I also mounted a 6" bus fan, available at any NAPA store, and wired it to that same thermal switch. Just don't skimp on the bus fan simpley because of price. The cheaper plastic fans make a lot of noise and like to crack when they get cold, so spend the $35.00 and get a good metal fan like in the pictures.

Also don't go too low on the BTU's. I had a 10,000 at first and it took too long to heat up and run too often. Also since the 10,000 was running so often the control valve was icing up and shutting down when it got cold making for a rude 3am awakening. This heater is a 15,000 and it was a night and day difference from the 10,000 in heating time and fuel usage. Empire heaters are designed to be used in a regular home with 2x4 or 2x6 studs with more insulation then in a fish house, thus their recommendation of a 120 square foot room is not accurate when appling it to a fish house.

I get nice even heat from top to bottom, the floor dries up very quickly, the holes stay open all night and the guy on the top bunk doesn't need to sleep in the nude which can get a litle scary in a confined space. I can easily run for 3-4 days on 2 good deep cycles running the lights, TV, radio, and Vexilar and 20# of propane.

The only thing I would do differently is to put a larger computer fan in the heater, like say a 6" from a server.

here are the pictures.

heater.jpg

2001.jpg

Fan.jpg

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I've had houses with both. While I love the evenly distributed heat provided by the force air, I don't like the fact that you're out of heat if you run out of battery power even more. If I were to choose, I'd probably choose a wall vent model without force air and install 12 volt fans to circulate the air separately. That way if your batteries run out, you'll still have a heat source should you choose to "rough it" wink.gif

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