Running furnace while driving - Ok?

I have just purchased a 1997 Gulf Stream - Sun Voyager - Class A - 36ft. It is located in Texas and I live in Minnesota. I will be flying down to drive it back and was wondering about keeping warm while driving. I know I can use the heating system that is part of the engines cooling system but I am not sure if that will be enough as I travel farther north.

Can the coach furnace (the one that runs on propane) be used while driving to supplement heating the coach without any problems?


Minneapolis, MN
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

You are asking one of the most hotly debated questions (usually in relation to the refrigerator) in the RV world; is it safe to drive with the propane turned on?
Many will "Say sure, I've done it for years."
Consider for a moment that any good safety manual will tell you to do a cursory "leakdown" test on the gas piping each time the unit is set up. The reason is that the flarel connections used in the piping system can (it is rare, yes, but it can happen) loosen due to viberations while the vehicle is moving. Also parts of the system may be exposed to road hazzards under the coach. I can tell you from years of experience how these things can fail from a drop of water getting between the nut and tubing , freezing and either bending the tubing or splitting the nut. Not to mention the situation where you are driving a little too close to somene else's flammable vapors with a flame in the appliance.
Also where is the burner air intake located? Will it pick up a lot of dirt and debris from the road (tire spray, etc?) Just one more thing to consider.
This is just my opinion on the topic. I know some will support me, others will disagree, so take it for what it's worth and have a safe trip home.


Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Gordy, My two cents. My RV (Class A) older 89 Winn, has a rear heater installed under the rear bed that can be operated while motoring down the road, so I use it to heat with while driving. You can close the curtain between the you and the rest of the MH also, if you have one. Personally, I would not run the LP Furnace while driving for even for the Fridge. I just don't trust LP on the move. Some, like Ed said, will say they have done it for years and that's ok, but not for me. If your gonna be in sub-zero weather on the way home, make sure it has been winterized before you leave to go home. (stop at RV PARKS that have showers, etc. so you won't need to have water on inside the unit) Good Luck and Welcome to the forum.... :) :laugh: :cool: ;)
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

IMHO - thought I would weigh in on this topic.

If you cannot use something - why have it??

That's why you have carbon monoxide, fire and propane alarms. If it starts going off (propane) while driving - immediately slow and start opening windows - then stop and find out why.

I always use propane to run my fridge while driving - and if necessary certainly use the heater.

Likewise - my generator is a diesel powered and I start and run it all the time when driving if the coach needs to be cooled.

Maintain the unit very closely - inspect things on an ongoing basis. Like I feel - if you cannot use it - why have it?

Merry Christmas - Happy New Year.

Congrats on your purchase - we live in Decorah Iowa area -

Bill & Judy
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

I want to thank all of you for your thoughts on this matter. For this one trip to make it home I think an extra jacket and some warm gloves might be the best idea. Once I get home and have a chance to check out the entire propane system, then I can better decide if the system is safe to use while driving.

I would hate for my first trip in my new RV to be a disaster. I could just see it now.... driving at 60 mph with flames coming out the rear. LOL

Drive safe

Minneapolis, MN
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Hi Gordy

It's very likely that airflow along the side of the coach will make operation of the furnace either sporadic or possibly will not operate at all.
The furnace chamber internal working pressure was designed for stationary operation. Air turbulance around the vents (both intake & exhaust) could force too much fresh air into the burner or draw too much out at the exhuast.
The only real way to be sure is to give it a try.

Good Luck
C.T. :laugh:
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Heck why not add my 2 cents worth :clown: .
Gordy don't know if you will get back to this topic to read this :question: BUT the way I handle the situation is that I run my generator and my two roof top AC units have heat strips in them, as most do so I use them in real cold weather to supplement the engine heat :laugh: .
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Gordy and All -

I get the feeling that a lot of the responders to your question have never been north of Amarillo or Atlanta in January!

Basically, you have two choices:

1. Be super safe and freeze to death on the trip. (You can have my motorhome when you pry my cold, dead, frozen fingers off the steering wheel!)

2. Tempt the Fates and arrive thawed if not well cooked!

We all swear that you're not supposed to have the propane turned on when you travel. We all (or nearly all) keep it on anyway. Especially if we live north of Amarillo or Atlanta!

We've never had trouble with wind turbulence blowing out the furnace's flame or pilot light unless it's a cross wind and blows onto the side of the RV with the furnace. Ditto with the water heater.

Our new (to us) Dolphin LX uses piezoelectric igniters, so a pilot light isn't an issue. We drove in all kinds of winds (except maybe hurricane or tornado) on our June vacation and had no problems with turbulence blowing out the flames.

Bottom line: Whatever gets you home without severe burns or frostbite!

Gary B

Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Hi Gordy, it is fine to use your furnace while driving, as Stan posted once you get into OK you'll find the engine/chassis heater will barely keep you warm, once in Ks you'll find that the heavey jacket is called for then, by the time your in Ne. you'll find that starting the furnace is one heck of a great idea, driving a MH with a snowmobile suit isn't fun and you'll need it once your in Iowa and MN,(if your not using the furnace) as for the furnace blowing out going down the road thats urban legend! Actually the furnace does not know the differnce between the wind and driving down the road. As for lines breaking yes it can happen, you might also get hit by a metorite somewhere in Ks, the MH is equipped with an excess flow valve and and LP gas detector that will shut off the LP at the tank if an internal leak is detected or if a line breaks and the LP flow in excess to what its suppose to. We have used the furnace for years (25+)while traveling in our MH's 5th wheels, pickup campers and TT, being from MN. we have gone both north & south in Dec. Jan., Feb, and Mar. and I know about MH's and there heaters, not many rv's are equipped with air conditioner heaters and they are useless north of OK. and generally speaking Winnebagos are about the only MH's with the rear engine heater unless someone has had it installed. Congrats on the new to you MH and have a good trip. :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: ;) :approve:
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

It is a dangerous practice to drive anywhere, anytime with your LP system on. You are truly tempting the gods and you can be sure your insurance will not be paying off if you get into any problem that is caused or enhanced by an LP system that is on while moving. :cool: :cool:

Gary B

Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Hi Larry where in the world did you get that idea, there is no truth in any of it, by that statment alternate fuel vehicles ( propane/ CNG) are running down the road without insurance I don't think so! :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: ;) :approve:
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Gary, you are comparing apples to oranges here...motor fuel systems are made up of totally different materials than appliance fuel systems and are specifically designed for use in a moving vehicle.
Take a look under the hood of a LP or CNG fueled vehicle sometime and you will not see any copper tubing. The last time I looked at one, it had reenforced hoses that are designed to flex and absorb viberations.
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Somewhere along the road to Caution you cross the Paranoia county line.

Several posters have voiced strong opinions about securing the propane while driving. OK, there's nothing wrong with thinking about safety. However, if you don't trust your propane system while driving, what makes you think that it's any better when parked? If it does indeed leak, you're probably LESS safe using it while parked, because there is less outside air movement to dilute and move the propane away from your rig.

So, if you secure the propane, let's think about the electrical system for a minute. Anyone ever hear of wire insulation wearing through and causing a short? This is also a fire hazard. So, shouldn't we also disconnect all our batteries and not use the generator (or shore power, if we don't trust the insulation)?

Then, gasoline can go "boom", too. A fuel leak onto the exhaust manifold can cause a fire...

This might lead you to want to live in a cave. Oh, scratch that, too. Special Forces might mistake you for Osama Bin Ladin and attack!

Therefore, if you are uncertain about the status of your propane system, I would suggest only putting a few gallons in it for a day, and see if you smell anything, the level goes down unexpectedly, or the propane detector goes off. If it passes this, I frankly wouldn't worry too much about it. You've got a lot more pressing things to worry about while driving an RV all that distance than whether your propane is going to blow up or not. As you might have guessed, I leave mine on (except for going through the odd tunnel or ferry which requires you to secure it).

Gary B

Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Hi Ed, I have looked and while copper is not used the reinforce hoses have a finite life time, that means once a pertoluem product be it gasoline, diesel, oil, or LPG the rubber begins to deterorate, and will fail after a number of years! While copper is not used steel is and steel will crack from time to time and rember ED these fuels & lines are under the hood where the exhaust manifold is cherry red from heat (approx. 3" from the exhaust valve the temp is about 1200*F under normal driving. As alaskan-rver post if you want to be paranoid thats fine, heres someting else to think about 1 gallon of gasoline has the explosive power of 3+ STICKS OF dyamite and MH's typically care 70 to 80 gallons in a thin sheet metal tank suppended by a sheet meatal band that could break at the very next pothole, and if the rubber hoses connecting the fuel lines in the engine compartment aren't in good condition they could leak and with 40+ PSI fuel would spray all over a very hot engine and wow a fire. Apples and oranges NO actually the iron pipe and the copper maybe be better. :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: :approve:
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

At the risk of sounding like a smart arse......
The furnace DOES NOT know the difference between wind and driving, as Gary pointed are correct! However, the aerodynamics of the coach dictate the effects of turbulance around the furnace vent. Some coaches the furnace may work just fine...and some will not. Not my opinion here, just the facts!
As a service tech, and service manager, in the rv biz since 1976 I've had this question asked of me hundreds of standard answer is DON'T DO IT!! Why? Because the change in airflow can cause incomplete combustion that creates soot and carbon....not desirable byproducts and nasty to clean out of the chamber.
The best solution was given by Poppa...if you have roof AC's with heaters..use 'em.

I would suggest calling a representative in the service dept. of the furnace manufacturer. They would be best educated as to the performance of thier product under those conditions.

Like Ed said...I'm sure some will agree, and some will disagree.

Gary B

Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

This is my final and last post on this thread. First off if a person does not feel comfortable with traveling with the LP on then by all means shut it off when traveling!~! Second my gripe is with folks who in order to justify their point will make up or repaet false stories, like the old insurance story (the insurance denially covers evrything from being over weight to having the LP on to not having tires that are 2 years old or newer) or there is the plumbing story alternate fuel vehicles have better hoses and tubing, or always posted by folks who live south of the snowbelt, and think that 50*F is cold and 40*F is very cold and 30*F is bitterly cold, the "I just turn on the furnace while setting up the rv and by the time I'm done its toasty warm" of COURSE it is in 50*F weather, lets see you come up here to MN this next week, where temps will be in the -10*F. And show me how toasty warm it is in 20 min. Air conditioner strip heaters are great in 50*F to 40*F temps but a waste of time if colder. And the aerodynamics story just doesn't hold, aerodynamics are in play no matter if the coach is going down the road or sitting still, areo. is the effects of air moving over an object and comes into play if the object is in motion or still, whether that airflow is a result of wind or motion. As a commerical pilot and aircraft tech since the early 1960's I know that to be fact. Yes furnaces, water heater and refers do soot up and not from the wind or going down the road, they soot because they are not properly maintained, most likely haven'tbeen checked and cleaned for years, as CamperTech posted check with the mfg. and if you do you'll find that all say that all the appliances should be inspected and serviced annually by a quialifed tech. Having read the operators manuals for several furnaces one mfg says not to use it while driving and the other advises to turn it off before fueling.
And lastly paranoia helps or solves nothing education is the key if you take the time to learn about the systems and how they work and the saftey features, and keep them maintained then the risks are lowered, everyting has dangers driving down the road, gasoline, diesel, and LPG, now if everyone is legal with the DOT LP tanks then you have OPD valves which also incorperate an excess flow valve which means that is a line or hose fails then the LP is shutoff at the tank valve automatically,I know for a fact that these valves work, these valves have been in use on MH tanks since the late 80's early 90's, MH's also have LP gas detectors wired to a shutoff valve. So do what you feel comfortable with, do a little reseach and leave the myth's and urban legends for the other forums. :) :laugh: :cool: :bleh: ;) :approve:
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

As with Gary, this is my last post on this topic too!

Being a stubborn old cuss, I just had to get in this last point.

The majority of time an rv is being used, the outside wind speed is considerably less than that seen at 60 mph while driving down the highway! Of course there are exceptions, BUT....I digress.
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Man, this is one subject that just don't go away. It is like the Engergizer Bunny, Just keeps on going and going and going.

C Nash

Senior Member
Running furnace while driving - Ok?

Kind of sad us sitting here talking about being worried that our rvs might explode when our soldiers in Iraq can't even sit down and enjoy a meal. Makes our problems seem kind of small. They need our prayers