News & Articles from Sierra Teardrops

The wonderful Alde hot water system

FunDirectorMitch Oct-20-2015 toilet Systems

The Alde hot water system on our teardrop trailers is amazing but the control panel can be confusing to some. The Alde provides two things: hot water for the shower and sink, and also cabin heat. There are three main components of this system:Alde hot water system on our teardrop T@B Trailers we rent. Rentals teardrop camping trailers in Northern California. 1. the “electric cartridge” 2. the propane burner 3. the circulation pump Alde central heating is a hydronic system that works on the same principles as those found in many of our homes. The heat source consists of a propane furnace with a 230 Volt electric element that heats a mixture of water and glycol. The hot glycol mixture is circulated through the system's convectors and pipes with the aid of a pump. Because of the glycol being pumped through the plumbing, you may hear a ‘bubbling’ sound coming from inside the bench seat when the Alde is running. This is normal, and means that it’s working. :-)

  1. The Electric Switch - The first switch on the left controls how much power the Alde will use to apply to the heater. To simplify this let’s just say each lightning bolt is 1000 watts so you are choosing between 1000, 2000, and 3000 watts. If you are at a site with a 30A hookup, set it to two lightning bolts. If you do not have hookups, set it to one lightning bolt to minimize the battery drain. You’d only be able to use 3000W in Europe, so don’t bother setting it to 3 lightning bolts. Depending on your available electric power and if you’re using propane or not, you can expect to wait anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so before you have scalding hot water or cabin heat.
  2. Propane Switch - The second slider switch from the left selects either propane or electric. Unless you are low on propane, use the flame setting (Propane gas burner). Alde says you can get 18.700 BTU (British Thermal Units*) on propane (5.500W) which is way more than you’d get from electricity. You’ll also get hot water and heat much faster with propane. Remember to open the valve on the propane tank in front of the trailer, or the Alde won’t get any propane to provide heat.
  3. The Pump Switch - The third switch controls the circulation pump, and allows you to specify what you want the Alde to do. You have three options – Off is the ‘o’), hot water only (the ‘faucet’ icon), or hot water and cabin heat (the radiant heat icon looks like a birthday cake to us). • Hot Water - The hot water out of the faucet is HOT! You can make your tea or coffee directly from the tap without needing to boil water. Be careful! • Cabin Heat - Make sure you crack a window or the ceiling vent when using cabin heat with propane. Our teardrop trailers are very well insulated and sealed, and the CO2 detectors are very sensitive. Cracking a window or ceiling vent helps ensure the detector doesn’t go off at 3am!

The round knob is your cabin heat temperature control. Start at the “o” setting between 3 and 4 (about 72 degrees F) and adjust up or down to your comfort level. The most efficient way of heating up the system, especially if it´s cold, is to turn it on with propane and electric until it has reached the desired temperature, then turn off the propane and use electric to maintain the heat. Using both electric and propane? The heater always prioritizes electric over propane so if you activate both sources it will always try to keep the propane usage to a minimum. The Alde control panel also has a little red LED light. Probably not surprising to you, if the red light comes on something is obviously needing attention. If you are dry camping, keep a close eye on that light! If it blinks red, the voltage on your battery has dropped below 10.5V. When that happens, turn off all things pulling power from the battery, or start your generator! You know what’s worse than a blinking red light? Letting your battery drop even further and hearing the smoke detector and CO2 detector chirping because of low voltage. If it stays constantly red, the propane line to the Alde has become blocked (check your propane levels and valve) or has the unit has overheated. You can reset the system by resetting its circuit breaker, found on the face of the driver’s side bench seat. Have fun, stay warm, and enjoy the Alde!

*For the curious, one BTU is the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit