While I close Horton Common over the winter months, at the start and end of the camping season when its cold I’ve had a couple of discussions in the past with our guests about Alde vs Truma heating systems in caravans and motorhomes. It will usually be along the lines of they are thinking of changing their caravan or motorhome and are trying to decide which is best. I’ve found there can be strong opinions on both sides in the Alde vs Truma debate. The reality is, both systems have their pros and cons. Therefore, with this post, I want to discuss what are the benefits and potential drawbacks of each system. So when it comes time to change your caravan or motorhome you can make an informed decision.
When its time to consider purchasing a new caravan/motorhome, the layout is probably the main factor that will influence your choice. You may also need to decide if you want to opt for the new range of 8ft wide caravans coming onto the market. When it comes to a motorhome you’ll be trying to decide what motorhome class to choose. For instance, will a panel van conversion provide enough space or do you want to ‘splash out’ on an A-Class?
All of these choices and decisions will impact whether an Alde wet central heating system is even an option or if there are potential drawbacks with a Truma blown air heating system. For instance, the layout of the caravan or motorhome in combination with a Truma blown air systems may require external ventilation pipes, which you will learn below is not ideal.
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Introduction to Alde Wet Central Heating vs Truma Hot Air Heating
I’ve previously written a post on the pros and cons of Alde wet central heating and I’ll be referencing some of those points. However, this post is focusing more on a comparison between the Alde and Truma systems. To start off the debate on the pros and cons of each system I’ve included the video below from Keith and Michelle of the YouTube channel Carefree Caravanning. As Keith and Michelle have owned caravans with both Alde and Truma heating systems their feedback provides valuable insight.
So as you can see from the video above, Keith and Michelle raise a selection of potential pros and cons for both Alde and Truma heating systems in caravans and motorhomes. I’ll now summarise those points below with a few of my own comments/thoughts.
Potential Noise from Truma Hot Air Heating
The issue of noise being generated by a Truma hot air heating system is something I’ve heard our guests reference in the past, and it is a potential issue. As the Truma hot blown air system uses a fan to distribute the heat via ducting around the caravan and motorhome, the sound of the fan may be an annoyance. However, there are a couple of factors to consider.
Fan Speed and Noise
To point out the obvious, the higher the fan speed the more noise it will generate. Therefore, in the evenings particularly if you are able to operate a Truma heating system on the lower fan speed setting the noise will be significantly reduced. Typically, the fan speed is only going to be running at full speed to initially get the caravan up to temperature. Or if the outside temperature is extremely low. Another factor to consider is how well insulated is the caravan? A better-insulated caravan will require less heat and therefore can heat the caravan on the lower fan speed more of the time. I want to write a post in the future on caravan body insulation technologies. In the meantime, when you are purchasing a new caravan how well insulated the caravan is should be a consideration before making your purchase.
The current version of the Truma heating/hot water control panel: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Cleaning/Servicing the Truma Fan Blades
You may have heard that Truma hot air heating systems get noisier over time. And this can be true due to the fact dust can build up on the fan blades. The dust can change the resonance/type of noise produced by the fan when in operation. A build-up of dust can affect the balance of the fan, further effecting the amount of noise generated. Therefore, if you are considering purchasing a second-hand caravan with a Truma hot air heating system the fan blades may need cleaning to reduce the noise produced during operation.
Warm-Up and Response Time – Alde vs Truma
Where there can be a difference between Alde vs Truma heating systems is warm-up and response time. With the Truma hot air system, you will start to feel the heat is a shorter period of time compared to the Alde wet heating system. Another point worth noting, if you want to lower the temperature for instance at night you will typically find the Truma system will respond quicker than the Alde system.
The current version of the Alde wet central heating control panel: Image – Amazon.co.uk
However, from a discussion with one of our guests who has experience of both heating systems they stated a benefit of the Alde system in particularly cold climates. They use their caravan during the winter months and claim that their current Alde wet heating keeps their caravan at a more constant temperature than their old caravan with a Truma hot air system ever could. So while the Alde system may not respond as quickly as a Truma system clearly some feel it has the ability to maintain a more comfortable temperature.
Heat Distribution – Alde vs Truma
One of the key selling points that Alde promotes their systems on is better heat distribution within the caravan or motorhome. The Alde system uses small radiators positioned around the caravan/motorhome. However, Alde also offers the ability for an underfloor heating system.
The Truma system, by comparison, will use a collection of various ventilation pipes and vents to distribute the heat around the living space. However, as stated above in the video by Keith and Michelle, the Truma system doesnt always provide ideal heat distribution. Depending on the layout of the caravan or motorhome certain areas (typically the washroom) may get less heat. This issue can be due to a couple of reasons. First off, you want to make sure you have Truma throttle vents fitted to balance the system to provide some control over where the heat is distributed.
With a Truma hot air heating system, you want to make sure you have the adjustable vents fitted to balance the system and to control where the hot air goes in the caravan/motorhome: Image – Amazon.co.uk
By opening and closing these vents you can then force more hot air into certain areas of the living space. You may choose to adjust the vents throughout the day. For instance, you will want the washroom to be warm when you have a shower and the bedroom to be cooler when your sleeping. You would think all caravans with a Truma hot air heating system would be fitted with these adjustable air vents, but for some reason, that’s not the case.
External Hot Air Ventilation Pipes and Insulation
While the adjustable Truma air vents can address part of the potential issue with poor heat distribution in a caravan or motorhome that may be only part of the problem. Depending on the layout of the caravan/motorhome the manufacturer may have had to take a hot air pipe outside, under the body of the vehicle and along the chassis. Now the ventilation pipe is very thin, therefore heat easily escapes. What makes this issue even worse is that its normally the washroom which suffers from an external hot air heating pipe. Obviously, when you are having a shower you don’t the washroom to be the coldest place within the caravan/motorhome.
The hot air ventilation pipe typically used in caravans and motorhomes with Truma systems heat loss through the pipe can be an issue: Image – Amazon.co.uk
To address this issue the external section of hot air pipe needs insulating as Keith and Michelle discuss in the video above. Now, this job should have really been completed by caravan/motorhome manufacturer. Why all external hot air pipes as part of a Truma heating system are not insulated during the caravan/motorhome manufacturing process is beyond me. I recently wrote a post on caravan private sales vs part exchange. Well, if you are part-exchanging your caravan at a dealership for a new caravan with Truma heating/external air pipes try and get them to insulate the pipe as part of the deal.
How to Insulate External Hot Air Ventilation Pipes
If you do need to insulate external hot air ventilation pipes under your caravan or motorhome its a relatively simple but tricky task. Using some insulated pipe wrapping and foil tape you can dramatically reduce the heat loss through the pipe. Hence, more of the heat goes back into your caravan/motorhome instead of being lost. However, it can be a tricky job. You will likely have to get on your back under the caravan to fit the pipe installation. If possible you may want to remove the pipe first, wrap the pipe insulation and then refit the pipe under the caravan and secure it in place with new pipe clips around the chassis rails.
You will obviously need to measure your external hot air ventilation pipe to work out the length of insulated pipe wrap required: Image – Amazon.co.uk
With the hot air ventilation pipe removed from the caravan, it would be easier to measure the length of pipe insulation wrap required. Its important to note the insulation wrap does not have an adhesive backing. Now, as long as you wrap the pipe securely and use foil tape on the outside it should hold in position around the pipe. However, you could also use double-sided sticky tape on the pipe, which is commonly used for fitting carpets etc.
Efficiency and Maintainance – Alde vs Truma
I don’t currently have any figures to reference for efficiency comparisons, but as stated above there are a couple of known factors which could influence efficiency and how much gas/electricity each system uses. For instance, as stated above a Truma system with hot air pipes which are external of the caravan/motorhome will reduce efficiency. Furthermore, when it comes to motorhomes with the Alde system there is an optional heat exchanger which can capture heat from the engine. More details in my Alde wet heating post.
The Alde wet heating systems do need topping up with glycol from time to time: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Both Truma and Alde systems have a gas burner which will also need annual attention during the caravan service. Furthermore, as discussed in my post linked above, leaks with the Alde system is a possibility. Its not an issue any of our guests have referenced, but it can potentially happen with a wet heating system.
Conclusions on Alde vs Truma Heating Systems for Caravans and Motorhomes
Personally I believe there is no outright winner in the Alde vs Truma debate. Therefore, I also don’t think you should preference a particular make or model of caravan/motorhome primarily on the type of caravan heating system used. While Truma systems benefit from quicker warm-up and response times they can be noisy. Where Alde wet heating may take longer to get up to temperature it would appear in some cases to be able to hold a more consistent temperature, as well as potentially providing better heat distribution. Personally, my main primary concern would be to get a layout that worked best first and foremost.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found the above information useful if you were unsure over the features and benefits in the Alde vs Truma debate. You may also want to check out my post on how to use caravan/motorhome hot water systems. Both Alde and Truma controls can be confusing to some people, especially caravan beginners and motorhome beginners. I also hope at some point in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common. 🙂