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Thread: Furrion tankless water heater in cold weather conditions

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    Furrion tankless water heater in cold weather conditions

    I've browsed through the various threads related to the Furrion tankless water heaters that are now standard on 2021 Reflection fifth wheels, but didn't find anyone discussing the question I have concerning these systems.

    My question is does anyone have any experience or had any issue using the Furrion tankless water heater in freezing weather conditions?

    I just purchased a new 340RDS and have all of two night use under my belt, both of which happen to be driving back home after the purchase (I purchased it out of state). So, since I've used it now, the system has water in it and is no longer winterized. I am back home now and I'm plugged into 110.

    We are planning a trip in a week or so and have a couple of days of freezing weather in the forecast where I live, so rather than winterize the unit again, I thought I would kick the furnace on and turn the tank heaters on to keep everything inside warm enough to prevent freezing over the next few days.

    However, being that I don't have any experience with this new tankless system, I was wondering about it's freeze protection (or lack thereof). I might have made some poor assumptions in the past, but I always operated under the assumption that the "tanked" systems generated enough heat in and around the water heater to protect it (to some degree or another) during mild freezing conditions. However, because the tankless systems are only generating heat when the system is actually generating hot water (i.e. someone is in the shower or using hot water in one of the sinks), I began to wonder if the tankless system is more susceptible to freezing conditions that the tanked systems I'm used to since at least some of the system is exposed to the exterior of the unit with only the thin metal door between it and the air outside, which wouldn't provide any protection to freezing conditions.

    When I called Grand Design with my question, they referred me to Furrion. Furrion said, without hesitation, that their system provide no freeze protection and must be winterized if freezing weather occurs. No surprise there. I called Grand Design again and the rep I spoke with the second time said that they don't have any reports of anyone having issues with the tankless system in freezing weather, but that was of little comfort.

    It seems to me this tankless system is probably the weak link in the system, at least concerning using the RV in freezing conditions.

    I do realize these units are not designed for extreme weather conditions, but Grand Design itself makes the claim that they test their units down to zero degrees and that their "Third party extreme cold testing showed that the Reflection remained functional." "Remaining functional" in my mind means no freeze damage down to zero degrees. There seems to be a disconnect between what Furrion says about the tankless system and what Grand Design is claiming. I realize Furrion isn't going to claim their unit won't be damaged by freezing conditions, but I am wondering...can I take this thing out and be confident it's not going to get damaged if temps drop into the 20s? Right now, I'm guessing no.

    I'd love to hear from anyone with experience in these circumstances.

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    Big Traveler geotex1's Avatar
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    In you circumstance, and many of us have camping in freezing weather, is that you'll have to keep a trickle going and plan accordingly to deal with the accumulation of the trickle. I am pretty certain Furrion's manual has a a prominent "caution box" warning about freezing. You're right, thermos bottle styles are superior in frigid camping. As for GD, I have no idea what configuration they tested but do believe common sense is the best approach to take in your excursions.
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    So, I'm going to ask a dumb question...(because I don't know the answer)

    Can't you bypass the water heater, just like when you winterize, and drain what little water is stored in there?
    Inventory Manager at Tom Schaeffer's RV, Shoemakersville, PA www.tomschaeffers.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntr70 View Post
    So, I'm going to ask a dumb question...(because I don't know the answer)

    Can't you bypass the water heater, just like when you winterize, and drain what little water is stored in there?
    I think that is probably one solution, with the drawback of not having hot water, of course.

    I guess I'm just frustrated with myself for not thinking of this issue prior to my purchase. I am also a little frustrated that the Grand Design reps won't say it's good down to zero degrees as their website seems to imply, but instead they say the unit should be winterized if freezing conditions are expected. I'd like for them to tell me whether or not I can expect to "remain functional" as they claim down to zero degrees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bdelcurto View Post
    I think that is probably one solution, with the drawback of not having hot water, of course.

    I guess I'm just frustrated with myself for not thinking of this issue prior to my purchase. I am also a little frustrated that the Grand Design reps won't say it's good down to zero degrees as their website seems to imply, but instead they say the unit should be winterized if freezing conditions are expected. I'd like for them to tell me whether or not I can expect to "remain functional" as they claim down to zero degrees.
    Sorry, I mistook your intention. I would say use it while it is freezing.

    The bulk of the water heater unit is in the heated area, just like any other water heater.

    I thought you were asking about storing it while unwinterized, which, in that case, you wouldn't need any hot water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntr70 View Post
    Sorry, I mistook your intention. I would say use it while it is freezing.

    The bulk of the water heater unit is in the heated area, just like any other water heater.

    I thought you were asking about storing it while unwinterized, which, in that case, you wouldn't need any hot water.
    Sorry about that. I should have been more clear.

    Is it your thought then that if the furnace is on, say set to 50 degrees, keeping the underbelly warm, the tankless unit would be protected from freezing if outside temps dropped into the 20s or teens (Fahrenheit)?

    Edit: I went back to the original post to clarify for future readers and noted that my original question was about using the tankless system in freezing conditions. Maybe that particular point got lost in the other details of my original post. Thanks again for your response and help.
    Last edited by bdelcurto; 03-23-2021 at 01:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bdelcurto View Post
    Sorry about that. I should have been more clear.

    Is it your thought then that if the furnace is on, say set to 50 degrees, keeping the underbelly warm, the tankless unit would be protected from freezing if outside temps dropped into the 20s or teens (Fahrenheit)?

    Edit: I went back to the original post to clarify for future readers and noted that my original question was about using the tankless system in freezing conditions. Maybe that particular point got lost in the other details of my original post. Thanks again for your response and help.
    Yeah, I would think it should be OK. I really thing if you are not going top be in it, and are just running the heat to keep from winterizing again that I would bypass the water heater and drain it.

    If you would be actually using the trailer, you would have the trailer into the 60+ degree range and then it would get more heat.

    Also, it would take more than 1 day of staying below freezing to do any harm to the water system. If daytime temps are over freezing, you are golden.
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntr70 View Post
    Yeah, I would think it should be OK. I really thing if you are not going top be in it, and are just running the heat to keep from winterizing again that I would bypass the water heater and drain it.

    If you would be actually using the trailer, you would have the trailer into the 60+ degree range and then it would get more heat.

    Also, it would take more than 1 day of staying below freezing to do any harm to the water system. If daytime temps are over freezing, you are golden.
    Thanks, huntr, you are always very helpful. I went ahead blew out the water lines and water heater last evening; better safe than sorry. There was less water in water heater than I expected (maybe a quarter of a cup). I expected a bit more...maybe a cup or two. Nonetheless, it's water free now.

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    Site Team Ynot4me2's Avatar
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    I have to admit that when I heard GD was going thankless I thought to myself that this is a great idea and a good opportunity to save on lp. But...I never thought about camping in freezing weather which we often encounter at the beginning and end of our season. I wonder if a heated pad (like used on batteries) or something similar could be modified for the plumbing that is exposed to the outside elements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ynot4me2 View Post
    I have to admit that when I heard GD was going thankless I thought to myself that this is a great idea and a good opportunity to save on lp. But...I never thought about camping in freezing weather which we often encounter at the beginning and end of our season. I wonder if a heated pad (like used on batteries) or something similar could be modified for the plumbing that is exposed to the outside elements.

    Sent from my SM-P610 using Tapatalk
    I was wondering about something like that as well. I was also thinking, in a pickle, one could simply turn the hot water on every couple of hours to heat the unit up. I suspect the residual heat would keep it plenty warm for a couple of hours depending on the outside temps. That is definitely not a long-term solution, but could suffice for a short period of time if you were in a bind.
    Last edited by bdelcurto; 03-24-2021 at 10:32 AM.

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