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Author Topic: RV furnace VS catalytic wave propane heater  (Read 823 times)
mike802
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« on: July 23, 2015, 03:22:26 PM »

Along with planning the wiring and electrical service, I am also at the point where I have to decide on a heating system.  I have two Suburban RV Furnaces that I was going to install, but before I did I would like to get some opinions on a RV furnace vs a catalytic propane heater.  I was thinking about running 3 catalytic heaters one in the salon, the bathroom and the bedroom.  I read that the catalytic heaters are much more efficient than the furnaces and obviously dont require any electricity to run.
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Mike
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bevans6
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« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2015, 03:35:47 PM »

I recall going through the decision process and deciding to go with catalytic propane, but the guy who was making them back then was back ordered and wouldn't sell me any.  It's worth a second thought.  Drawbacks, and they are major - you have a significantly hot live flame element in your living space.  I have a Suburband furnace and it's fine, just really in no way optimal.

Brian
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usbusin
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 03:48:50 PM »

I read that the catalytic heaters are much more efficient than the furnaces and obviously dont require any electricity to run.

And, they are quiet!!  Love ours.     We don't use the Suburban forced-air at all.

Keep on Busin and Truckin

GaryD
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Gary D

USBUSIN was our 1960 PD4104 for 16 years Ustruckin' is our 2001 Freightliner truck conversion
Lin
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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2015, 03:52:57 PM »

We have a standard RV furnace and catalytic heaters.  Even with carbon monoxide alarms, I am uncomfortable with sleeping in a room with an unvented catalytic heater.  The one we use in the bedroom is a Platinum Cat, which is vented with a tiny fan through a 1 inch hose.  We have another Olympian catalytic heater that can be used in the front.  By the way, both of these are not permanently mounted, so they are put out when needed only.  Heaters like the Platinum Cat will not create a moisture problem, but the unvented ones can; it depends on how cold it is and the humidity.

Replacement air is another concern for catalytic heaters.  Your furnace will use outside air for combustion and dump the combustion gases outside too.  The catalytic heater uses your inside air for combustion and dumps the gases and moisture inside.  You will need to provide a way for the oxygen to be replenished.  I am sure the manufacturer will tell you to leave a window cracked for this.  Although this can be considered a dent in the systems efficiency, it is probably not that bad depending again on how cold it is. Further, many catalytic heaters are equipped with a low oxygen shut off.  This is a nice safety feature, however it will also shut your heater down above a certain elevation due to the naturally lower oxygen level.

I would say that the catalytic heaters can definitely have a place, but you are better off with them as an auxiliary system rather than the first line  
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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2015, 10:09:21 PM »

I have an Atwood 40,000btu furnace with 4 outlets. It heats the bus quickly, yes it makes some noise, but not bad-it doesn't wake me in the middle of the night when it kicks on. Simple furnaces, outside air only for combustion, when they're off they're off. Not like a catalytic heater that takes some time to cool down. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2015, 07:51:15 PM »

I heated my 4104 well with two portable cat LP heaters. Since the ole 4104 was so drafty I didn't worry about CO, but in a tight bus I might give it more thought.

The only downside was a lot of window fogging which I could live with and was even desirable in dry climates. Dual pane windows would have eliminated that.
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Gordie Allen
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2015, 11:38:41 AM »

Have you considered air-to-air mini-split heat exchangers? I have two 120v 9000 BTU units that heat and cool. They've kept us warm down to 15F. No problems keeping us cool - even on the road. I do have a suburban furnace for backup, but it has to be REALLY cold to need it.
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mike802
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2015, 08:24:19 AM »

Quote
Have you considered air-to-air mini-split heat exchangers? I have two 120v 9000 BTU units that heat and cool. They've kept us warm down to 15F. No problems keeping us cool - even on the road. I do have a suburban furnace for backup, but it has to be REALLY cold to need it.

I don't know much about these, are they household units fitted into a bus, or are they made for RVs?  Where is a good place to buy them and how expensive are they?

Thanks.
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Mike
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2015, 08:55:06 AM »

With anything there are drawbacks with mini/split you are tied to a power pole or a generator.
 
With the furnace they run all night on 1- 12v battery and use about 3 gals of propane in 24 hrs, the catalytic are cheap to use but I don't care for the smell and the non vent myself.
 
Weigh your options it's your choice I have diesel fired hydo heat but have friends with the diesel fired air heaters and love them they use very little diesel for a 24 hr period with their diesel air heaters BTW they purchased the units used from a truck wrecking yard for less than 500 bucks ea      
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 08:59:54 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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Gordie Allen
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2015, 02:32:36 PM »

Have you considered air-to-air mini-split heat exchangers? I have two 120v 9000 BTU units that heat and cool. They've kept us warm down to 15F. No problems keeping us cool - even on the road. I do have a suburban furnace for backup, but it has to be REALLY cold to need it.
These are designed for homes. Cost is about $700 each. They've run problem free for three years. The have their own inverters powering variable speed motors for maximum energy efficiency and no excessive power draw on startup   We have 1000 amp. hrs. of house batteries which will run one unit about 10 hours. We're plugged in most of the time, so it really hasn't been an issue. Currently we use the original coach heater on the road and both minis for on the road a/c.  We have a second alternator running off the front of the crankshaft to charge the house batteries on the road. We have a 1800 w Honda generator with both 110 ac and 12v dc output, so I can charge the house batteries directly and then run through the true sine wave inverter.
I'm waiting for solar collector film technology to become a little more cost effective. Since we want the bus to look stock from the outside, film technology is the only option for solar.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2015, 02:35:42 PM by Gordie Allen » Logged

Augusta, MI
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Geoff
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2015, 05:09:12 PM »

The Scholastic series Webasto is the way to go.  Diesel fired coolant heat.

--Geoff
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Geoff
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2015, 04:28:07 PM »

What heat source is optimum for you isn't going to work for someone else. Weigh everything against a block of salt and then make an informed decision. Without a doubt, the catalytic heaters use a fraction of the fuel that a furnace will use. (3 gals/wk vs 3 gals/day) The down side is they create condensation and suck the oxygen out of the surrounding air. The only byproduct of a cat heater is water that is made through the chemical reaction taking place on the catalytic filament between propane and air. Upside, quiet-holy peace and quiet! Also very even heat in that there are no drafts or blowing air to chill you. We've had both and will never go back to a furnace. I had to replace blower motors on furnaces-catalytics don't even need wiring. We keep a vent cracked in our bedroom and kitchen and we have 2 carbon monoxide sensors (1 in BR and 1 in lounge) that we keep current. (they have a shelflife even if they're not used) We found that if we have a condensation problem it's because we don't have the vents opened enough. We cook and shower daily and live in temps that drop down below zero on occasion. We have 3- 6000 BTU (BR-Kit-Lounge) and a smaller one in the Bath. We also have a baseboard in the bed, hall, and lounge if 50A is available. But the cats are used first. We had Plat Cats originally, but the guy never had time to rebuild them so we replaced them with the Olympic Waves which fit in the same holes.
HTH Will
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chessie4905
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2015, 04:12:26 AM »

Here's site for platinum cat
http://ventedcatheater.com/2.html

The surface temperature could be a concern with small children or from items accidentally getting too close. From some research it has been stated that the vented ones still generate some moisture and since they use room air for combustion and exhaust, a window will still need to be opened some to compensate. Electricity and fuel consumption seems to be a major plus. Cutting a hole for mounting and exhaust a minus. I don't know if they are ul, rvia, or vehicle insurance approved.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2015, 05:10:51 AM by chessie4905 » Logged

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digesterman
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2015, 05:49:15 AM »

Don't like the idea of propane anything anymore but know the majority of RV's on the road go that route. Diesel fired hot water here, love it, quite and very efficient (electric when plugged into shore power)
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Lee
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2015, 07:32:33 PM »

... Diesel fired hot water here, love it, quite and very efficient

    Yeah ...
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long
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