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Author Topic: catalytic LP heaters  (Read 4764 times)
cody
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« on: November 10, 2008, 06:53:45 AM »

Anyone familier with the these heaters in a bus application, we've used them in our home for 25 years and they have performed flawlessly, but in a bus I'm not sure, these are rated for indoor use and require no electrical hookups, basically they are the same as what we have in the house but smaller.  I know one of the concerns is oxygen deprivation or cabon monoxide but they are supposedly rated for it.  We currently use a Big Buddy Heater and small electric heaters in the bus and it stays warm but the big buddy gives new meaning to lp usage lol. http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200307975_2003079752                                         
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2008, 06:57:46 AM »

Hi Cody,

I noticed "Item not for sale in the state of California". Wonder what is?  Grin Grin

Sure glad I don't live there anymore, pretty soon you won't even be able to drive our old 2 strokes! LOL

They do look pretty neat though. Never used anything like that so I can't comment, but I did anyway! Wink

Paul
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cody
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2008, 07:05:15 AM »

We have 2 of the larger ones, (the 2 pad ones) in our Skanee house and they do a great job of keeping it warm in our winters with both of them set on the low setting, the house is 1500 sq ft, my concern here is the confined spaces of a bus. We use a cabon monoxide detector and smoke detector now, we even have batteries in them lol.
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luvrbus
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2008, 07:09:26 AM »

Cody, I know nothing about that model but the people that come to the desert (Quartzsite ) I would say 90% use some type catalytic heater in their RV with out problems.If buying one I would want a model with a thermostat.       good luck
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VAN
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2008, 07:31:31 AM »

Cody I have used that type of heater in a conversion van during hunting season,so long as you have some fresh air coming in not a problem,will dry out your sinus' real good though.Have been eye balling a couple of units my self. The unit you have posted seems to have a low oxigen sensor which cuts off the fuel which is nice.Good luc
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Lin
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2008, 08:43:09 AM »

First, I do not see anything in the description that says it is catalytic.  Many people do use the catalytic heaters put out by Olympic that use a platinum catalytic mat to change the CO to CO2.  This one seems to be like many other unvented heaters that claim to burn efficiently enough that they just do not produce much CO.  I had one once and did like it, but it did have some issues.  For one, if you really cranked it up, it could set off the CO alarm.  Hence, it did produce some CO.  Further, they put a lot of water into the air.  We had full length window/walls and I would have to sponge down the windows.  Obviously, you also need to have ample oxygen replacement going on.  Usually leaving a window cracked is okay.  Olympia may even have a recommended square inch figure.  Also remember that they may not work at higher altitudes since the oxygen sensor is likely to shut it down.

At one time, many states did not permit unvented heaters.  A lot of that has changed.  California definitely does not permit them and probably prohibits their sale.  New York did not allow them a couple of years back, but they may have changed that.  Some other states may not permit their use but not have laws prohibiting sale.  That is why the listing tells you to check your local laws.  I would personally be more comfortable with the RV type made by Olympia, even though they cost more, since there have been huge amounts of them in RV service for many years.  Their surface temperature is also a good deal cooler since they do not really have a flame.  There was another one called the Platinum Cat (http://www.ventedcatheater.com/) that uses a small fan to vent the gases through a 1.5 inch tube.  This takes care of the moisture issue and other combustion gases.  It has a wall thermostat and the 12v current it needs is absolutely minimal.  This would be the safest of them.  They are more expensive but, I have one I plan to install that I got on Craigslist very reasonably though.

My thought is to be real careful since there is not a lot of air to spare in a bus, the buses may be more air tight than most houses.
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cody
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2008, 08:53:11 AM »

It is catalytic, I have the same heaters but in a larger size in my house.  I've used them for 25 years in the house but never tryed in the bus, I do have detectors in both the house and bus and have never had them go off yet, I use the Big Buddy heater in the bus now but it goes thru those small bottles of LP like candy.
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makemineatwostroke
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 09:01:01 AM »

Cody: i don't think Pro- Com makes a catalytic heater the ones I have in my shop are infrared and are confussed with being a catalytic   have a great day
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2008, 09:56:19 AM »

I have 2 Little Buddys. I found the Big Buddy to large for the bus and returned it. Normally one is sufficient in cold weather set on low, but my bus is pretty tight.

 The little canisters of propane are easily/cheaply refillable with an adapter sold at Harbor Freight Tool. Camping World sells a 10 foot hose that will hook to your larger propane tanks and run through the floor for about $20. The little buddy gives 20 hours of heat on a small screw on bottle of propane when set on low.

 I crack my Fantastic Vent open the width of a dime or less to get the odor out. I would not leave home without my Little Buddy. It will provide plenty of stand alone heat even if it is very cold outside. I can blanket off the bedroom/bath area and keep it warm on low setting with just one unit. I have to watch the kids, they will get to warm and turn it off during the nite.

 I have a smoke/ co2 alarm right above the heater and it has never made a peep. I have not used any heat yet this year but if I remember right, the Little Buddy set on low, using the Camping World adapter will run almost 7 days on low heat with a barbecue size propane bottle.
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cody
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2008, 10:12:44 AM »

I just called Pro-com the heaters are infrared and not catalytic, they claim that the heaters would be perfectly safe in a bus, that the safely features would make them safe, the units are meant to heat small confined spaces safely.  I mistook the glowing red pad for a catalytic pad, they do recommend the use of detectors and to me, that makes sence, besides I already have them in place lol.  I think i'm going to try one and see how it does, I know about the moisture problem from using my Big Buddy heater, I had to use a dehumidifier with it then and imagine I'll have to use it again with this.  For 60 bucks it seems an inexpensive experiment.  I normally keep a vent cracked anyway, not sure I'd need to cause my bus has a tendancy to hyperventilate anyway lol.
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Lin
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2008, 11:32:28 AM »

Olympian recommends a fresh air opening of 1 sq inch/1000 BTU's.  I would guess you would want at least as much with any of these heaters.
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cody
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2008, 11:46:35 AM »

I would imagine it would be a good idea, the one i'm looking at is only 6000 BTU so it should be easy to supply enough fresh air to it.  The ones heating our house provide a maximum of 10,000 BTU's on the high setting and I can only remember a few times a winter that we had them on high settings, mostly just one pad burning at each end of the 1500 sq ft house so one pad should do well with heating the bus at 300 sq ft.
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2008, 01:21:36 PM »

i use 1 in my mci-7 and on low it heats me out of the bus
way nicer than forced hot air and the noisy fans and $300 controle boards that fail only on the coldest long holidas
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2008, 01:50:35 PM »

I have two catalytic heaters installed in my bus (plus a propane furnace).  The one in the bedroom is a non-vented model, which raely sees any use, and never while anyone is sleeping there.  In addition to the CO issue, I just don't like its close proximity to bed linens.  I have moved the bed linens, cracked a window, and run it for 20 minutes under close supervision to take the edge off, but that is pretty much it.

The one I have mounted up front is the vented style referenced in the earlier post.  I really like that one.  When the outside temp is 45-55 degrees, that is really all I need to run.  Not having the fan noise and heavy battery draw of the furnace is great when boondocking.
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« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2008, 05:36:13 PM »

I have the same two heaters as NJT except I run mine off a 20 lb bottle is the baggage comp with a long rubber hose. The one lb cans only last about three hours on low settings so I got tired of that.

I've never had to use two heaters at the same time, the second one is really a backup.

My CO alarm has never been set off.
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2008, 06:22:53 PM »

I was tinkering in the bus this evening and this thread inspired me to play around a bit.  I fired up both Cat heaters.  I hadn't run them in a while, and the best time to find out that something doesn't work, is when you aren't needing it.  Well, both ran fine. 

I've always felt pretty confident in the vented one up front, so I targeted the unvented one in the rear.  I cleared the bed linens back a little, and ran her for about an hour.  I put my First Alert CO alarm about 4 feet from the heater and at the same level.  With no windows cracked, and the bedroom is pretty small, I let her run while I left and went back in my house. 

When I came back an hour later, the bedroom was at least 20 degrees warmer (45 -> 65).  I was starting to see slight condensation on the inside of the windows.  But no indication of any CO problem. 

This is hardly a scientific test, and in reality means nothing.  It is not going to change the way I treat  the unvented unit.  But in a small sense it does make me feel a bit better.
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« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2008, 07:38:19 PM »

We have 3 Cat LP's with wall thermostats and exhaust vented. They are very economical on LP and minimal 12V fans. We also have three wall mounted 220V electric for when parked. We used non-vented in our earlier conversion and were constantly fighting moisture problems, especially when it got extremely cold outside. The Cat's work wonderfully and we never use more than the lounge and bedroom at the same time. If we need parts, I'll scavange from the unused on in the bathroom LOL
Good luck with them and let us know how they work for you. It sounds like the installation should be a breeze  Grin
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Lin
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« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2008, 07:45:20 PM »

I also have one Olympian and one Platinum Cat.  I am not doing permanent installations on either.  I have installed a propane quick disconnect in the front and will install one in the bedroom also I plan to use the unvented catalytic heater in the front when needed.  Although they both could be used in either location,  I plan to use only the vented one in the bedroom.  I have a forced air furnace in the front also, but I prefer to do without the noise.  Since we do not need these heaters in the summer and use electric heat if we have shore power, I see no reason the mount these heaters permanently.
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cody
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« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2008, 08:35:07 PM »

Clearly some good information, enough to make it worthwhile taking a closer look at it as a viable heat source, the drawbacks appear to be possible fumes and condensation, both could be controlled easily by using a vented model instead of an unvented one, tho the unvented model seems to have better specs. But looks good enough to check into it further.
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Lin
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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2008, 08:56:26 PM »

Another thing to note is in regard to CO alarms.  We have a Kidde one that has a digital read out of CO ppm.  At the time we got it, our generator exhaust was not properly routed so we would only use the generator on the road.  Once I installed the alarm, I started up the generator to see what would happen standing still.  The detector went up from zero and began to register CO.  I think a little red light was on too, but the alarm did not sound.  I called Kidde about it and they said that the alarm would only sound when CO reached a preset level.  Sorry, I do not remember any of the actual ppm numbers.  My point is that I would not be happy to have any CO register on the readout, especially while asleep, even if it was below their preset "danger level".  By the time the alarm sounds, you have a problem.  It is sort of light a hot engine light on your dash.  It is good to have one, but I like having a gauge so, if I am not too careless, I know there is an issue before it is a serious problem.  Let me tell you, I am cheap and often careless, but even I know the asphyxiation can ruin your weekend.  This is just not something to compromise with.  I could be wrong, but I consider the limited space of a bus to be very unforgiving of this sort of miscalculation.  If you are going with anything less than a completely uncontaminated, vented system, get a really good CO detector.  If you see the readout showing any CO, shut the heater down.  The a-little-bit-of-poison-is-alright theory makes me real uncomfortable.
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2008, 10:37:57 PM »

I had a friend that had had a series of heart attacks.  I had occasion to visit with him when he was doing volunteer work for the Lions club in a remote location.  They gave him a travel trailer to stay in for a week.  It had a cat heater from Oly.  I suggested that any ventless heater would diminish the O level even if it didn't get to the "KILL" level.  His wife checked with his DR. and was told to use a blanket and NOT use the heater simply on the basis of O depletion. Shocked  Anybody out there have a heart problem?  Cry  Me too.   Might want to look into this.  I don't have any scientific evidence to share either, though. Tongue Grin

John
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cody
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« Reply #21 on: November 11, 2008, 05:17:57 AM »

Hadn't concidered that part, good point and really something to look into.
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« Reply #22 on: November 11, 2008, 05:28:04 AM »

Lin If you do not do permanent install with the vented heater how will you deal with venting when you move it from one location to the next? Just curious. Rod
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« Reply #23 on: November 11, 2008, 09:57:52 AM »

RWC,

I plan to set the vented one up in the bedroom on a wall near a window.  I am thinking of sliding the window open slightly and having an insert that will fill the space.  The vent outlet would be installed in the insert.  The quick disconnect, the 12v connection, and the thermostat would all be hidden, but available, there.  You are right though.  I would not be able to use that heater elsewhere.  My reasoning is that the heater is very practical but it is not particularly beautiful and does take up space.  Since we would really use it only a very small fraction of the time we use the bus, I might as well be able to stow it.  It will be mounted in a way that I could leave it up while traveling if we wanted.
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cody
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« Reply #24 on: November 11, 2008, 10:06:11 AM »

Just as a thought lin, I used to buy mounting kits from Radio Shack that had one bracket that mounted on the wall and another that mounted on a speaker, or what ever I wanted to hang, the brackets were strong and the stuff stayed put but only required a moment to lift the item off to remove, that in conjuction with a quick disconnect could be a thought.  I used to paint the brackets to match whatever wall they were on and they disappeared onto the wall.
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« Reply #25 on: November 11, 2008, 11:08:53 AM »

Cody,

Thanks, I will look into that.  The Platinum Cat can be recessed or surface mounted.  I did not want to cut a hole in my beautiful wall to recess it, and surface mount looks poor.  So I plan to build a box for it, recess it into the box, and surface mount the whole box.  The brackets you mention, or something like them, may be just the ticket.
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« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2008, 05:09:53 PM »

We don't put a heater in the bedroom, we depend on blankets and don't like a warm bedroom.

We put the heater in the hallway near the bathroom with both doors open but with the door to the front of the bus closed. Warms the whole area with no problem. We never use the heater on high, it gets much too hot for us.
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« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2008, 06:31:29 PM »

One other thing I couldn't agree with more, and that is the CO monitors. Even though our Cat Platinums are vented, we have a digital CO monitor in the bedroom and another in the kitchen. Asphyxiation is not a good thing  Cry We like our air  Grin Grin
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« Reply #28 on: November 11, 2008, 09:52:15 PM »

Gus,

You are a man after my own heart. Kiss  I had a friend that knocked out the wall of his bedroom and screened it in including his large porch. Shocked  Called it his sleeping room.  No heat ever and in Eugene, while we have very mild winters, it does get down to single digits every once in a while.  He and wife slept on a feather bed and had a down comforter.  Wifey won't let me knock out a wall but the single hung sash window is wide open all year long except the rare evening that needs AC.  I am ruined in a heated bedroom and almost need my down comforter to do the nite thing.

Now the living room and bath are a completely different story, mind you. Grin

John
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« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2009, 02:57:45 PM »

Cody,any updates on the ProCom heater,get it hooked up yet?Van
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cody
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« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2009, 05:05:09 PM »

Yep, it's hooked up and has been working for a while, I average 9 to 12 days off the 20 pound tank, I'm as happy as a clam with it, on low it keeps the bus between 68 and 72 degrees, thats with a fan going to keep the air from layering, and with the ceiling vent slightly cracked.  No problems with the detectors at all, so they like them too, the condensation level hasn't been bad, even in the subzero weather we've had the last few days it's been comfortable in the bus tho the floor could have been warmer but at -30 or more below, it's understandable.  I've gone thru a couple of tanks of gas now and it works great.
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« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2009, 05:42:00 PM »

Cody,

Glad to hear it worked out. I've used two portable "Little Buddy" heaters from Camping World for the three years we've owned our 4104 and never had any of the oxygen or CO problems, but do get condensation with my single pane original windows.

They will run at medium heat on a one lb LP bottle for about three hours. I got tired of this and rigged two 20 lb bottles in a rear bay with a hose going up through the floor, works great. I haven't used one 20lb bottle yet and use the other one as a spare.

They make the bus nice and cozy and we normally don't use more than one at a time. However, we did fire up the second one a week ago when we got caught in an ice storm and stayed at a WM.

Of course my bus is nowhere near air tight so I don't worry about CO; anyway, the heaters have a sensor for low oxygen which will make them shut off automatically. This feature also keeps them from operating at high altitudes but this is not a problem for us so far.

I really like the capability of moving them around for spot heat, that way I don't need to heat the whole bus.
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« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2009, 06:21:04 PM »

Cody,

-30 and all is well?  Glad to hear it. 

When the floor is cold, ramp up the speed of the fan that is   stratifying you air.  I have always gotten away with a very small 6 inch fan but I can see where if I were in the extreme temps that you are I would need to move the air around faster.  Really makes a difference, huh?  Cold feet aren't fun.

John
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"An uneducated vote is a treasonous act more damaging than any treachery of the battlefield.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
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cody
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« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2009, 06:24:18 PM »

The floor is radiating cold into the bus, I need to insulate that better in the spring.Weather like this is a good way to check systems and troubleshoot.
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