I would appreciate your opinion on the CheapHeat system. Is it a good investment? It seems that it would work great to keep my RV heated during cold months while in storage. Thanks. —Ray, 2016 Keystone HC 305RL
Thanks for the question, as I was not familiar with the product and did some research, which was very interesting.
CheapHeat™ is an add-on electric heating system offered by RV Comfort Systems. More information and videos can be found here.
It is mounted directly off the blower assembly or downstream of the existing propane heater, and utilizes the existing ductwork of the RV. According to the website, it utilizes tungsten heating coils that run on 120-volt or 240-volt power. Therefore, the unit would need to be plugged into 30- or 50-amp power during storage to operate.
There are three models: 1800 watts, 3750 watts, and 5,000 watts. So you would need to make sure you had proper power at the shoreline outlet. The add-on system utilizes the 12-volt blower motor of your existing furnace and is compatible with most Atwood and Suburban heaters. It has a mixed bag of reviews. (All photos courtesy of Amazon.)
You can purchase the product on Amazon here, where it received 2.7 stars out of 5—mostly due to installation difficulties. One review stated that if you are not familiar with how your propane furnace operates or the thermostat, and are not an expert at AC and DC power, hire a professional. Another stated that they needed an additional $200 worth of wiring and components.
According to the testimonials on the RV Comfort Systems site, owners are very pleased with the performance. One customer even stated that the system keeps their large motorhome at 72 degrees even in 10-degree outside temperatures.
Installation of the CheapHeat system
RV Comfort Systems recommends having a certified RV facility install the unit. It will provide recommendations for installation. One of the main issues is clearance in the furnace cavity to install the main unit between your existing furnace and the ductwork. I would believe it could be a challenge if your rig has metal ductwork coming off the main furnace, as this would require cutting it to customize the install.
According to the website, the coil assembly is completely safe and safeguarded by a bi-metal high limit switch and a fusible link which acts as an in-line circuit breaker. The only connection is the wiretap to the existing blower motor of the onboard propane furnace.
Here is a photo from one of the reviewers on Amazon.
Is it a good investment?
This is a very interesting heating option. However, I would not invest the money just to heat my rig during storage. I believe it would create quite an expensive electric bill to heat what is perfectly fine being cold, when properly winterized, for 6 months. I’ve always blown out all the water and let the unit sit in some very cold temperatures up here in the frozen tundra of Northern Iowa. I do not see the advantage of heating the unit during those times.
However, I do think it is a good option if you are RVing in cold weather and have free or inexpensive shoreline power. It would be a much better option than having to fill the propane tank every few days.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Storing my RV for a month. Drain the water and leave RV cold, or heat it?
I live in Utah, and we will be going on a few more trips this year, including Arizona for Thanksgiving. I won’t use my motorhome again after that until Christmas, when we’ll use it as a guest house. Should I blow out the lines and drain the tanks and leave it cold for the month of December, then warm it up again for the guests? Or try to keep it warm? When I do keep it warm, is it better to use the propane heater or an electric heater and shore power? —Clayton, 1993 National RV Sea Breeze 31
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
Read more from Dave here.