Forest River Furnace Operation (How To Turn On RV Furnace)

There is always a learning curve. The reason for that curve is that technology has designed different devices to work in different ways. One prime example is the Forest River RV furnace. Its thermostat may not operate in the same way as other brands do.

This task will depend on the model year and type of RV or trailer you own. For the more modern Wildwood, you may have a power button to push and hold till the furnace light lights up. Then press the + & - buttons to get to your temperature level.

To learn more about this operation, just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you have the information that should help you turn your furnace on. To some people this is easy to others, it is not.

Where is The Furnace in My RV?


This is a good question. The answer is that it depends on what make and model you have. The RV furnace does not have a standard location and can be placed just about anywhere in an RV.

For example, on Forest River Flagstaff pop-up RV has its furnace under the dinette bench. The Odyssey 26D has its furnace underneath the stove, while the Freedom Express Ultra Lite’s furnace is under the kitchen cabinets. Finally, the Jayco Eagle’s furnace is in a plywood box under the couch.

You may need to use your owner’s manual to find out where your RV maker stashed the furnace. It may not be in the same place even in the same model but with a different floor plan.

Sometimes the thermostat is in a unique place as well. One owner of a pop-up found theirs below their sink next to their GFCI. When you buy an RV or trailer, living in it can be quite an adventure as you hunt for so many components.

Using RV Furnace For The First Time

This is where the learning curve comes n. The thermostats are not always designed the same as other brands or models. Yours may be all push button and uses an LCD digital display. Another may have a switch to move from cool, cold, to heat

It can be a daunting task when you think you have pushed all the right buttons and moved all the right switches and nothing happens. Sometimes, there may be a second thermostat in a hidden area which makes the operation more frustrating.

The best advice that can be given here is to read your owner’s manual and follow its instructions. Those manuals give you the right instructions for your specific model of RV or trailer.

If you do not have your manual anymore, contact the company, or the dealer or go on the internet and look one up. They are easily found for most recent RVs, etc. If your RV is older, you may have a more difficult time finding a manual especially if the company is no longer in existence.

How do I Manually Turn on My RV Furnace?


The steps are as follows:

1. Turn on the gas by hand. It is recommended that you do not use any tools and if it won’t turn, call a technician.

2. Turn the power switch on. The door models have the power switch inside the door and non-door models have it outside the furnace.

3. Turn the thermostat to its lowest level

4. Turn off all power to the furnace at the main power supply

5. Go to the exterior access panel, remove it and turn the power switch on the furnace to OFF.

6. Wait for a few minutes to check for a gas odor and if there is none, turn that switch back on.

7. Then turn the main power switch back on.

8. Set your furnace to the desired temperature level.

Double-check your furnace’s owner’s manual as different models will have different instructions depending on if it is electric, gas-powered, or both. Follow those instructions for your specific make and model of furnace.

Also, make sure your electrical supply is well connected. Most furnaces need electricity to get started. They won’t run on electricity but need the boost to get lit.

How do I Light The Pilot on My RV Furnace?

You won’t have to worry about this process if your furnace is not powered by propane. Also, if your furnace has an automatic start, you may not need to worry about lighting your pilot light.

For those furnaces that do not have those features, you need to first access your furnace. Then turn the dial to pilot and hold that dial down. You can use a striker, lighter, or match to light the incoming gas.

Once lit, release the dial and turn it on. The pilot light should stay lit unless you did not hold the dial in long enough. If your RV or trailer is more recent, you may have a direct spark system.

This system replaces the pilot light. To get the furnace on just engage the system and it is all done for you. Make sure the propane line to the furnace is open. The furnace won’t light without that gas supply.

Also, make sure all your electrical connections are tight and clean and there is power in the battery. You will know the pilot light is on because you can see the flame.

Also, you need to turn the thermostat to auto to get it to run right.

How To Turn on The Furnace in a Travel Trailer


This system is usually the same as it is on self-drive RVs. You just have to look at what type of furnace you have and then proceed from that point. Some furnaces may be all-electric, all gas, or both.

Just follow the above instructions for your gas furnace. Make sure to turn the thermostat to auto. That is the way the furnace makers have designed their units and it is an extra step to get heat.

If your thermostat is one of the more modern designs, you may only have to push a button at the bottom of the thermostat to turn it on. Then just set your temperature level so you are comfortable.

If your furnace is started by electronic ignition, then make sure it is plugged in before you hit that power button. Also, make sure your propane tanks are full of gas. This is a common mistake many owners make as they forget to check their tanks when it gets colder at night.

Forest River Furnace Operation

The furnaces placed in Forest River models are usually powered through your 12-volt electrical system. That system can be by battery, solar, or through your inverter/converter.

Make sure you have enough power in your batteries to sustain the furnace throughout the night. The only drawback is that the furnace will drain the battery in one night so you need to have a recharging system set up.

The one thing you have to be careful about is when you plug in the furnace. This should be done with zero load on the power line. To get to zero load just flip the breaker on the shore power pole or cut the main power.

Then plug in the furnace and after that, turn the breaker or power back on. If you don’t do this, you can cause some sparks that may ruin your plug. Once it is powered up, set your thermostat to your temperature level.

Grand Design Furnace Operation


This model of the furnace will operate similarly to Forest Rivers. Grand Design and Forest River do not make their own furnaces. They come from Atwood/Dometic, or Suburban to name a couple of the RV furnace makers.

Their operation will be found in the owner’s manual for those furnace brands. They work the same as we have already explained. Some key issues to watch are:

- make sure there are no obstructions in the furnace compartment blocking airflow.

- make sure the propane tank is full & the furnace is plugged in

- look at the exhaust tube for obstructions and clear them out of the way

- make sure you have a 12-volt power supply and the battery is not drained

- if there is air in the system, turn on your gas range to help clear that air

Those are the basic things to watch out for as your furnace is similar to many other furnaces across the RV industry.

Some Final Words

Operating your furnace may be frustrating as it may not always work when you turn the thermostat dial or push the buttons. Check the basics first like propane fuel, plugged in and there is the power to the electronic starter.

If you still have problems after doing all of the above. Call in an approved technician. They may find the problem and then show you how to operate the furnace.

It is not a hard device to operate, it just takes a little learning curve to get to that point.

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