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Ask Dave: Any comments about the Alde heating system?

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Dear Dave,
Do you have any experience with the Alde heating system used by nuCamp, Airstream and Roadtrek?

Long story, but based on my personal experience and the multitude of comments on nuCamp forums (haven’t checked any others yet), there are some issues with the Alde heating systems in at least the nuCamp RVs.

Additionally, while it does what it says, it is a very complex heating system with lots of maintenance and user knowledge requirements. There is little or no effort to educate the buyers/owners by the dealers, etc. (I think they would lose sales if people knew what it took to operate/maintain them.)

It’s the same old “buyer beware” philosophy of the RV biz.

Lots more to the story but don’t want to bore you. If you decide to research it let me know. —Calvin, 2021 nuCamp Cirrus 620

Calvin,
I decided to do a little research and also put this out there to ask our readers what they have experienced. When I went to the website, I found out why it looked familiar, as they partnered with Truma in 2019 for distribution in the United States RV market. What a time to jump in, I would say!

About Alde heating system

From their website, Alde has been in the European market for almost 60 years and have several products in the heating system market including a hydronic heater, floor heating, cab heating and others. The main heating system starts with a boiler that looks to be similar to Aqua-Hot, which has been around  for years. The boiler heats an antifreeze they call glycol and distributes the heated liquid throughout the coach with convectors, underfloor heating, fan convectors, panel radiators, and heat boosters. Basically, they heat cooler interior air that is drawn in at the floor level and as the hot air rises from the converters it heats the walls and creates a heat barrier. Then when the air cools it drifts down to the floor for circulation.

There is not much technical information available on the site, naturally. So I did some more research and found a couple of reviews online. The first was from Truck Camper Magazine. It did a test and review in 2019 and stated that a few advantages are quiet operation, better efficiency, and no blowing dust and dirt throughout the rig. Another plus from the review was the comfort of even heat throughout the rig, with no hot pockets or cold cabinetry. Also, the temperature was consistent, not cycling hot and cold like a traditional forced air furnace.

I checked the threads on a few model sites such as Airstream and it seems that most of the issues were not understanding how the system works, especially setting the controller. Most commented that either Airstream or Truma had an outstanding customer service department and walked them through setting the temperature for the water heater or other parts of the system.

As for maintenance, the glycol should be replaced every two to three years and the system might need to have air bubbles bled out if there is gurgling.

Downside of Alde heating system

The only downside that I could see to the Alde heating system was the time it takes for the system to heat up and get the rig warm. Could be up to four hours, so you need to be prepared. However, the Truck Camper review stated they started to feel the heat in 30 minutes and after an hour it was fair.

I agree: The dealer orientation and even the Alde site are poor, at best. However, Truma has several videos and tutorials that seem to be helpful.

Let’s hear from any of our readers that might have experience with this system. Readers?


Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

Read more from Dave here

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Bob p
14 days ago

I find it hard to believe all these comments about reading the manuals, everybody knows Americans automatically know everything about their purchases and manufacturers just publish those manuals for the purpose of killing another tree. Lol

Charlie
16 days ago

Our 2018 Model year Airstream 30′ came with the Alde system. Airstream had started using it in 2017.
 Their folks were not well in formed in the beginning. A combination of their education, various dealer technicians, and a very long thread on AirForms came to a common understanding of what and how the Alde worked in our Airstreams. My system had one of the early Alde Flow enhancements.This helped support hot water distribution. My thought was that most European applications where in shorter coaches as  opposed to Airstreams 30′ with long plumbing runs. A correction to the main Mixer valve also improved performance. When the concern over  the use of a non-corrosive glycol arose Airstream provided a fleet wide no charge replacement with the good stuff. I did run into an  elevation based problem that resolved itself. Having said all that we are very satisfied with the Alde’s performance. It has provided heat and hot water with outside temps in the teens.

Greg
17 days ago

I own a T@B 2019 320 S with the Alde system and have experienced no issues using it. It works as advertised and has provided comfortable heat without a noisy blower. I have closely followed concerns about the system on the nuCamp owner’s forum and have observed that many of the problems experienced are due to trailer owners not reading the Alde manual to gain a basic understanding of the system. However, the manual could be better written, so “some” of the customer confusion is understandable. Those owners who have educated themselves about how the Alde works, and have learned to deal with problems as they arise, regularly share (on the nuCamp forum or owners Facebook group) what needs to be done to fix those problems. The corrosion issue is definitely a concern, but has been experienced by a relatively small number of T@B owners. Regardless, Truma-Alde should step up to the plate an provide a factory-paid replacement of the glycol fluid with the recommended Rhomar water.

Quentin Humberd
17 days ago

We have a 2019 NuCamp T@B 400 with Alde and the Alde Flow for continuous hot water. I agree that the system is more complicated than it needs to be, but with a little time you can learn the basics. Great flexibility with shore power and/or propane. We have never had one problem, but I took the time to learn DYI maintenance.

The big issue is the glycol used in US causing corrosion compared to the glycol used in Europe. That is being addressed by NuCamp and Airstream. We are very happy with it.

Bill
17 days ago

We love the Alde in our Airstream. But. like everything else in any RV, you have to know how to read the manual, and forums. Just had a “Gas Failure” on our last trip. Believe it was just a hiccup, as I learned how to cycle DC power to the unit and it reset the failure message.

Sam
17 days ago

More ado about nothing. First, we must read the book. Abbreviated RTFM. This system is not much more than a baseboard hot water system exactly like your house. The choice there is cheap to install, quick and uncomfortable forced hot air, or more costly, yet more consistent and comfortable circulating hot water. Water itself is a cheap transfer medium. But it freezes. Houses stay warm, campers do not. So propylene glycol antifreeze is used. As it has been in industrial heat transfer systems for decades. And decades. Same stuff colored pink is what you pump through your on board water system in the fall to prevent freeze damage. Nothing exotic here. All of the other gizmos are enhancements to help the system work more effectively. Things nowadays are just more technical and complicated because that is what we as consumers keep asking for. RTFB!!

Dennis
17 days ago

We own a 2018 NuCamp Cirrus 820 truck camper with the Alde heating system. Our previous three RVs all had Atwood furnaces. In our experience the comfort provided by the Alde heating is superior to a forced air RV furnace.

Our major issues with the forced air furnace were the noise of the fan and burner, the temperature swing between cycles, and cold areas to the point of having frost in the upper storage areas in extremely cold weather. The Alde system alleviated all these issues.

One feature not mentioned in the TCM was the ability of the Alde system to operate on propane, electric, or both. Propane is the most efficient means. However, there is a 1kWh setting for a 15 amp circuit and 2 kWh setting for a 30 amp circuit. Either setting will provide heat and hot water. You can also use the electric with the propane to further reduce propane consumption of the already extremely efficient system. We have also found the Alde circulation pump uses far less power than a furnace fan.

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