Alde reliability

I just picked up a used 2015 T@B Max S model to replace a one year old T@G. I moved up to the T@B S for the obvious reasons; size,  water heat, cabin heat, toilet and shower. I have been reading the forum threads regarding the Alde and I am not comforted by the seemingly finicky nature of the system. Blown fuses, overheating to the point of a pressure failure, pump vibration, etc. etc. etc.  So tell me, is the system reliable or am I going to be continuously chasing problems resulting in ongoing frustration? I'm retired, I want to camp not fix. Does anyone find the system to be easy to deal with?
Thanks,
Spending February in the Florida Panhandle so I might need heat.
John & Michelle & JD (Just Dog) 2015 T@B Max-S,  towed by a 2017 Toyota Highlander v6

Comments

  • SAMSAM Posts: 1,404Member
    @jrslad, I think once you learn the nuances of the system you will love it.  Radiator heat is great, hot water available quickly, ability to use propane or electric is great.  To reduce any cabin noise, make sure the circulating pump speed is turned down to 1 - 2, otherwise it can make the glycol reservoir gurgle.  To avoid blowing fuses, you must make sure the Alde is turned off completely before plugging into or out of shorepower.  Keep in mind, on the forum you will hear everyone's issues, so it can seem that everyone has problems.  I can tell you we picked up our trailer this spring and we have had perfect performance with the Alde.  No complaints here.  I think the reported pump vibration is the water pump, not the Alde circulation pump.  Have fun in Florida and enjoy your Alde!
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • VernaVerna Posts: 4,216Administrator
    The Alde is the best heater/furnace/boiler that nüCamp could have used in their T@B’s and their Cirrus Truck Campers. Follow the advice @SAM has given you and you will be a very happy camper. I have wintered for two years in AZ with my T@B and will be embarking on my 3rd Trip soon.  All three for the most part in dispersed camping without electricity.

    By the way, the propane tank only runs out between 10 pm and 4 am, so be sure to have a backup tank.....yes, I’m serious.  It’s Murphy’s law of the propane tank. 
    Verna, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2014 T@B S M@X, white/red, INDIANA  H@@SIER; towed by 2015 Toyota Tacoma V6 TRD 4x4; T@B Administrator
  • HomebodyatheartHomebodyatheart Posts: 1,111Member
    @jrslad my Tab 320MaxS is my first trailer, and it has been a learning curve. I wouldn't trade my first season adventures for the world! I love my Tab and I absolutely love the Alde heat! My winter project is to actually sit and read the manual (not one of my better points, ask @ericnliz! :)  ). In the meantime I've learned to crank it up hotter than I need it then turn it down when I'm warm enough as I tend to run cold a lot. I also close up the windows late afternoon, holding some heat from the day in. I turn the heat up later. I've also (knock on wood!) never blown a fuse yet. I am meticulous about the order I plug in and turn things on and off. Some day one will blow, and I have spares. Anyway, keep asking questions and search for past answers on the forum. The archives and people here are a wealth of knowledge!  Enjoy the journey!
    2017 T@B Max S silver and cherry red, TV 2015 Toyota Highlander L@dybug ("Bug" aka my esc@pe pod), towed by Big Red, or Silver
  • dragonsdoflydragonsdofly Posts: 336Member
    @jrslad, we've never camped, or owned a trailer, but due to circumstances decided to take the plunge and become t@b owners. We've found everything to be wonderfully a plug 'n' play experience. About the alde: we live in Michigan and just went camping for a weekend in Ohio. We've travelled 34/35 states, 18,000 miles from sea to shining sea and most mountain ranges in between. In places like Las Vegas and Tucson in July/August and Yellowstone in snow. The alde has always worked. Period. At sea level to nearly 8,000 ft. No blown fuses, no leaks, no worries. We did experience a slight vibration at higher altitudes, but not the rumble or growl some have described. We stayed warm and toasty always. The vibration was so slight that the husband was blissfully unaware. Kids (11 & 12 now) thought it was kinda fun. Just familiarize yourself with the trailer operating systems and go enjoy!
    2017 t@b sofitel(Dr@gonsFly)TV 2005 gmc envoy xl. Wyandotte, Michigan.
    Draco dormiens numquam titilandus.
  • SAMSAM Posts: 1,404Member
    Jrslad - this won’t impact you at sea level in Florida, but the vibration you referred to may have been at high elevations.  Apparently the model of Alde approved in the USA was not designed specifically for this.  But, the factory consulted Alde and designed the high altitude propane regulator which eliminated the problem.  By the way, how cold does the Panhandle get?
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • RatkityRatkity Posts: 3,077Member
    My toy hauler has a traditional RV furnace. Oh Alde, how I miss thee!! I never had blown fuses, air lock, noise... and I converted the manual thermostat to digital (was an early 2015 with manual one). The speed of the pump was controlled manually. It was so quiet and toasty. 

    Just saying I never had an issue with the Alde. I did like the warnings of dropping the hidden fuses. Leave it to me to lose the fuse holders! I'd probably lose both. LOL. They'd probably appear where my socks go.
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha T@B from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a T@Bluver at heart)
  • JimEngelJimEngel Posts: 34Member
    edited December 2017

    Being a year and a half into this, the up side is that the T@B as a whole and the Alde are remarkably well conceived, designed and made products. The towing characteristics, breaks, suspension and bearing systems seem to be of the highest quality and well integrated. The 3 way refrigerator and Alde have performed well.
    But there is a major down side.
    This is a very complex system, and the learning curve is substantial.
    Documentation is not well unified and difficult to sort out. We got a huge stack of manuals, but no real plan on how to work with it, and although the material was there it is buried in among an enormous amount of verbiage that is irrelevant.
    The essential problem is that this is a small and diverse market. In autos or trucks 95 percent of the market is in a hand full of brands with relatively strong dealer networks, documentation and parts supplies. The average trailer owner may be hundreds of miles rather than tens of miles from a dealer. And each dealer serves many brands. And, for instance, a 2011 Chevy Silverado is a known quantity with documented circuit diagrams and functions. Travel trailers are essentially built one at a time, and are undocumented except for what is put together by the internet community.
    The plus side for the T@B is that factory support for the trailer and its components has in my experience been very good.
    The major down side has been our dealer experience:


    T@B Dealer Experience, General RV in Huntley, Illinois

    We have been quite satisfied with our T@B trailer and although there is a steep learning curve there have been no issues of construction, quality or reliability. The dealer experience, however, is another story.
    Our dealer was General RV, in Huntley, Illinois. This is a big chain with a lot of stock and an elaborate sales program, but very poor service.  To understand why, you need look no further then their web site, where you will see the notice: "We need RV technicians, and no experience is needed!"
    When we made the purchase we were absolute beginners. We were told that we needed a break controller, so we got suckered in and paid $120 for a unit available on Amazon for about $60 and something like $120 for installation.
    Tow vehicle is a 2011 Chevy Silverado half ton pickup.
    "Installation," took all of five minutes, consisted of ramming two screws into the dash board and mounting the unit so that you could not see the LED indicators, or easily reach the controls. They hooked up the two under the hood wires for the controller and the trailer 12 volt power feed but just hand tightened the nuts, you could literally move them with your fingers. Naturally the brakes were intermittent, and it took some serious time and frustration to trace down the problem, including an hour or so with the manufacturer technical guy. (Tekonsha – Primus Factory support was excellent.)
    They also hooked up the under the hood 12 volt trailer power lead, but did not plug in a fuse or inform us that we needed to do it. The first couple of test runs went fine, in retrospect we were on shore power prior to going, and plugged in to 120 volt on arrival; we thought we had 12 volt in transit but did not.
    On our first extended trip the battery was dead about six hours out. I was able to figure out what the problem was relatively quickly, but finding the little square, green 40 amp fuse on the road is difficult; the local Chevy dealer parts department could not find it in stock, but then the counter guy dug out two of them in a box taken from old equipment and gave them to us free.
    Then the interesting part, the thing had power on, but was still not charging very much. Digging through the inch and a half thick Silverado manual, we found deep in the small print the fact that the trailer power would not charge a battery unless the truck transmission was in tow mode. Who would have thought that the power feed charging enable was by means of the automatic transmission control?
    I don't know about other dealers, but my conclusion is that to do this you pretty much have to commit to being your own mechanic, and really research anything you have to go to a shop for. Part of the problem is that there are so many trailer brands out there, and that apparently model year does not mean all that much, changes seem to be put in at any time as production goes on. But General RV is really dedicated to poor or outright abusive service practices, and it comes from the top down to those service technicians hired with no experience, presumably because they are willing to work for less.

  • jrsladjrslad Posts: 5Member
    Thanks for all of the feedback. I suspect that the take home message is to "GO CAMP" and enjoy the experience. I plan to do that and I am looking forward to the Florida Panhandle. By the way, in response to Sam's question right now Panama City Beach is at 62f with a low of 45. February might be about the same. I'm looking for high 60s, that is my temp sweet spot as it is usually well below freezing throughout Jan and Feb here in Wisconsin
    John & Michelle & JD (Just Dog) 2015 T@B Max-S,  towed by a 2017 Toyota Highlander v6
  • SAMSAM Posts: 1,404Member
    Temp in the 60s sounds sweet.  Is there plenty of camping available there in the winter?  I know southern Florida is pretty packed that time of year.
    Sharon and John - Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Blue and Silver 2017 CSS towed by a 2015 Salsa Red Toyota Sienna
  • ScottGScottG Posts: 1,550Moderator
    I may be jinxing myself, but after three seasons and nearly 100 nights of camping I've had no problems with the Alde. I do have a nagging sense that it is an overly complicated piece of equipment for what should be a simple pastime, but thus far it works as advertised and is easy and intuitive to operate once you understand the controls.

    It stands to reason that occasional problems will be overrepresented on the forum, as there's little point in having a discussion about everything working just fine.  :-)
    2015 T@B S
  • ericnlizericnliz Posts: 3,560Member
    @jrslad, 'Ya hit the nail RIGHT on the head with the comment "GO CAMP" and enjoy the experience! Hands on is the best teacher you can find. My advise to ALL new owners is to either first driveway camp, or pick a camping spot close to home. Play with EVERY button, switch, knob, & doomaflothchie you can find. The more you use something, the more comfortable & familiar you become with it. When you get to the  :o factor, come here & ask!!! I do!!!!!! ;) Get out there & have fun....after all, that's what you bought your T@B for...right? :)
    2016 T@B MAX S-aka: WolfT@B
    TV: 2006 Chevy Avalanche LT Z71 aka: WhiteWolf, or 1972 Chevy Custom10 P/U aka: SnarlingWolf
    Eric & Liz  Spokane, Wa.


  • jrsladjrslad Posts: 5Member
    Right now there are State Park sites available. See Reserve America for details 
    John & Michelle & JD (Just Dog) 2015 T@B Max-S,  towed by a 2017 Toyota Highlander v6
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Posts: 300Member
    I tell my retired friends ( and younger people, too) with moderate wrenching skills that learning basic repair of Alde or Norcold units would be profitable. Even just being able to accurately diagnose the systems would be a great skill.

  • JimEngelJimEngel Posts: 34Member
    edited December 2017

    pthomas745 makes an excellent point, but there are practical difficulties.
    As an example, there are lots of bike shops across the country, so it is relatively simple to find local shops and then figure out which guys are reliable and fair. I got so confident in our local bike shop that I bought my last bike without even asking the price, had that much confidence. He kept spare not available parts such as the sprocket gears and bearing retainers from discarded assemblies and would give you what you needed for free in a pinch.
    The problem is with much less density how do these self taught craftsmen and people needing help link up?
    How many people in the Chicago area, for instance, need help with an Alde this week?
    Is there some way that we could use the internet, this forum for instance, to set up some sort of reference mechanism?




  • VernaVerna Posts: 4,216Administrator
    @JimEngel, while it will take some reading, there are two Categories on the left that have plenty of references for the Alde.  Heating/Plumbing and Winterizing and User Manual/PDF Files, Videos and Resources. 

    There is also a smartphone app Alde Service that has a copy of the Alde 3010 Manual, which is my go-to Manual for troubleshooting.  I guess I surprised the factory last January when I told them about what troubleshooting I had done (per the manual and owner’s comments on this forum) I had already done.  They shipped me the needed circuit board that I did replace.  
    Verna, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2014 T@B S M@X, white/red, INDIANA  H@@SIER; towed by 2015 Toyota Tacoma V6 TRD 4x4; T@B Administrator
  • JimEngelJimEngel Posts: 34Member
    Verna, yes, while a bit disorganized there is better Alde documentation than most other sub systems. I have both the user's manual, which has circuit and fluid diagrams and much detail and their service manual, which has a lot of color photos and/or diagrams.
    Other than replacing a fuse, and adding a switch in the DC power lead to absolutely turn the Alde system off when it is not required, I have had no specific problems other than trying to understand why and when the pump runs.

  • VernaVerna Posts: 4,216Administrator
    @JimEngel, I guess that might need to be answered by Tech Support at Alde USA.  Some of our owners have had great success speaking with them for those questions that aren’t asked frequently.  

    My experience is that the circulation pump starts when there is a request for heat.  I’m winterized so I can’t say that this pump runs with the water heater also. I tested mine earlier this afternoon without the seat cover on and I could hear the pump kick in. It’s nice when more of the mystery is discovered through questions on this forum. 
    Verna, Indianapolis, Indiana; 2014 T@B S M@X, white/red, INDIANA  H@@SIER; towed by 2015 Toyota Tacoma V6 TRD 4x4; T@B Administrator
  • DurangoTaBDurangoTaB Posts: 679Member
    Many of us T@B owners are first time RV folk, and we mistakenly think when we pay a premium (T@B, Airstream, RoadTrek, etc.) we also should be getting excellent service and support from the dealer.  Not always true.  I paid a premium for my Tacoma for that reason.  But hey, my neighbor has an $85K Airstream and he’s had more problems than I’ve had!  RV’s are different...Having done my share of boating/sailing I am often reminded of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”...you know and take care of the bike and it’ll take care of you.  NuCamp does a darn good job considering their challenges, and this Forum is a wealth of information and helpful people, 24x7 no less!  

    J.D. & Sue

    Durango, CO    2014/15 S M@xx :  "Dory's HabiT@B"  Keep on swimming...

  • RatkityRatkity Posts: 3,077Member
    Many of us T@B owners are first time RV folk, and we mistakenly think when we pay a premium (T@B, Airstream, RoadTrek, etc.) we also should be getting excellent service and support from the dealer.  Not always true.  I paid a premium for my Tacoma for that reason.  But hey, my neighbor has an $85K Airstream and he’s had more problems than I’ve had!  RV’s are different...Having done my share of boating/sailing I am often reminded of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”...you know and take care of the bike and it’ll take care of you.  NuCamp does a darn good job considering their challenges, and this Forum is a wealth of information and helpful people, 24x7 no less!  
    I loved that book. Just have recently read it again.
    2017 820R Retro Toy Hauler from 2015 Tabitha T@B from 2009 Reverse LG Teardrop (but a T@Bluver at heart)
  • juliantabjuliantab Posts: 1Member
    Does anyone know when the coolant in the alde system needs to be changed.  Also, are there any manuals with instructions on how to do it. The heating system works great but it looks complicated and most trailer dealers don't have a clue what an alde heating system is.
  • dragonsdoflydragonsdofly Posts: 336Member
    @juliantab, I think the alde recommendation is every 2 years.I seem to recall reading that somewhere, but my memory isn't gospel. Several owners have changed it themselves and posted about it. Use the search function and look up multiple threads. Some say easy, others won't do it again. YMMV. Good luck!
    2017 t@b sofitel(Dr@gonsFly)TV 2005 gmc envoy xl. Wyandotte, Michigan.
    Draco dormiens numquam titilandus.
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