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Tagged: Propane heaters
- This topic has 40 replies, 12 voices, and was last updated 7 years, 3 months ago by Steve and Dianne Colibaba.
April 17, 2014 at 5:20 pm #2083AnonymousInactive
The link didn’t come through properly.April 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm #2084
Is there any newer studies on the latest technology? The model shown is pretty basic from 2001, maybe they are better now. The Big Buddy I use is CSA approved for indoor use.April 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm #2088AnonymousInactive
One of the problems with catalyst product is the actual formulation of the catalyst is proprietary. Catalyst in use goes through a process of deactivation, so over time, become less effective at preventing harmful emissions. Any metal salts, sulfur or compounds in the fuel increase the deactivation rate, and as propane is a blend of gases and basically a waste product of the petrochemical industry, I’d be fairly dubious of fuel quality. How does it go, “results may vary”?
You’ll note that none of the manufacturers tell you that the heater will degrade with time, usually they carry a disclaimer of “only to be serviced by qualified personnel”.
I learned a lot about catalysts in the process of getting the antique Ford 300 cu. in. 6 cylinder certified for EPA use in the USA. The company I work for has global rights, purchased from Ford, to produce this engine. This a very popular engine in the oilfield for motive power for pumpjacks, generators, and water pumps for it’s high tolerance for poor quality fuel, low levels of maintenance, and sulfur compounds. We succeeded in getting the emissions so low that we shouldn’t have to redesign anything in the fuel system for at least ten years, I’ll be retired long before that happens! The exhaust is so clean, that if you added oxygen, you could breathe it.
I’d be very interested in taking our five gas analyzer to some used cat heaters, but I don’t think my boss would appreciate me wandering off with a $15,000 piece of equipment that costs the company $500 every six months to get re-certified just to satisfy my curiosity.
So, in conclusion, I don’t know what compounds or how much each manufacturer uses, if the pads are being made in China, quality of fuel and amount of contaminants, external dirt reaching the pad, (you would be surprised at how much natural dust contains metals, let alone the man-made stuff). The reality of the world is that the dollar drives all commercial ventures, and that materials that make a catalyst are very expensive. I would have to trust a lot of things to keep me safe. If my furnace malfunctions, all the exhaust is outdoors, and I get cold, if a cat heater malfunctions, I don’t wake up. Dead people don’t generally sue. 😉April 18, 2014 at 5:06 am #2102Mike McVittieParticipant
Thanks for the info. I never did believe you could run a buddy heater indoors no matter what it says on the box. It burns fossil fuels and gives off carbon monoxide ( a deadly gas). Way too many people die of carbon monoxide and it is so preventable. I will heat my ice fishing hut with one, but the door is open often and I’m outside alot. It is counter productive to have a heater running with the windows open, so I will use the furnace or electric heaters. Just my thoughts.April 18, 2014 at 8:29 am #2103
It puts out a ton of heat, I leave all three 12″by12″ roof vents wide open and a side window half open and still only need the Big Buddy turned up to half way for outside temps near freezing. I have a CO detector on board the RV., though it doesn’t have a read out. I should try and find a portable CO detector with readout and do some tests.
I’m most concerned about the thing leaking propane and causing a fire becasue of it’s open flame. That’s why I won’t sleep with it on. Although I do sleep with the regular RV furnace on and fridge and they both could leak and cause a fire, especially the propane fridge, those things freak me out how cheaply they are built now and they DO burn a lot of RVs.
What do you guys do about your RV oven? It burns a lot of propane inside the rig, especially cooking up a roast or something. Sometimes I have it on for hours. Some deal though, all vents are open.April 18, 2014 at 9:48 am #2104AnonymousInactive
Whenever I use the stove or oven, I put the exhaust fan in the hood on and make sure the flap is released. I also put a clothespin on the flap to hold it open, it tends to bang in the wind, really annoying. A small mini mod, I pulled the hood and put window screening at the back to keep the wasps out.
I know it’s impossible to remove all hazards in the RV lifestyle, but many do sleep in their units with cat heaters on.
The only way I’ve found to test smoke alarms for CO detection is put a candle under them and wait a while. Candles produce a surprising amount of CO!
I downloaded the Big Buddy manual, I see the O2 detection is actually a calibrated air inlet orifice on the pilot light. I presume when the O2 content drops below a certain value, the characteristic of the pilot flame changes enough that the thermocouple is no longer heated properly, shutting down the heater.
I also see they recommend that if you are running off an external tank, you install a fuel filter in line. I would be concerned running it this way, as you are bringing a high pressure hose inside the RV. I see some have plumbed into the existing RV gas lines, meaning they have modified the heater by removing the regulator. This is good for the manufacturer as it eliminates any liability.
Current CSA standards allow for a maximum of two feet of hose length to used inside a structure, and this standard only applies to propane at regulated pressure. (11-14″ water column, less than 1/2 psi) The hose must be of crimped construction for the fittings, use gas rated hose, and carry the manufacturers tag. Refillable propane bottles are not allowed inside any structure. That’s why you see them in cages at the refill stations.
There is a reason most rv’s have their propane lines mounted externally and only have the actual feeds coming through the floor where needed. Propane is dangerous, much more so than natural gas. It has a lower ignition point, is very energy dense, is heavier than air, unlike natural gas. You wouldn’t use gasoline inside your RV, propane is only mildly less explosive, and the ignition point only slightly higher than gasoline.
There seems to be a cavalier attitude towards personal safety among RV’ers that I find disturbing. If you don’t know what you are doing, leave it alone! Using quick disconnects indoors is dangerous, lengths of hose under furniture, using parts that are meant for outdoor use only. If you insist on using a cat heater in a RV, it should be permanently mounted with a copper gas line installed by qualified technician, designed to operate at regulated pressure without modification.
The reasons that these MINIMUM safety standards exist is to protect life and property, they were instituted because people died or were horribly injured, and property destroyed. To ignore the lessons of the past means that history will repeat itself, I don’t want to be featured on the news!April 19, 2014 at 5:01 am #2107AnonymousInactive
Wow, you all have been very busy with the heat business and thank you for the wisdom. So I will add what I know about CO Detectors. My friend works at a propane company and he brought me a $300 electric CO Detector because of my Sarcoidosis, it is suppose to be the best of the best. When you read the fine print manual it states if you have a medical condition you need a stronger device. I haven’t met anyone who knows of one that is stronger than the one I have. I can’t tell you the name of the device since it is out of town in the camper, long ugly story. But I can in a couple of weeks if you ask again.
I also have apnea but need a PAP machine, tough to get, not bothering at the moment. Thanks for your info Cindy. I may need it some day.
Kaiya and I was in the woods yesterday in search of a small family cemetery and I got some 2 dozen ticks and Kaiya got about 4 dozen, kripes! It looks like I got them all off of me and her flea/tick collar should have killed all of them on her by bed time but boy was she gnawing and scratching as they were biting her, poor thing. Her fur is so thick and short you can’t see the tiny buggas. As I pull off one 3 more right next to it would dash to her skin. Just awful.
Van is fixed, yippy! Hopefully making the appt today to have the tow hitch put on. Getting there, slowly.
We hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Spirit and KaiyaApril 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm #2108AnonymousInactive
After re-reading my posts, I perceive that I come across as a bit of an a-hole, and I apologize to any that took it that way.
My concern is that dangerous installations exist, perhaps the best way to prevent this is to supply links to knowledge.
http://www.rvwest.com/rv_tech_talk/article/radiant_heat_provides_a_comfortable_rv_optionApril 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm #2109AnonymousInactive
Hello Roger Fell,
I, myself, did not take any offense to what you stated. You seemed to know your facts and you do have to be very careful with propane and carbine dioxide. I thank you for the links you have provided. My neighbor speaks the same way when it comes to propane with home products. You have given me a lot to think about when it comes to heating, which I may need to know come this winter.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Spirit and KaiyaApril 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm #2110Mike McVittieParticipant
No offence taken …carbon monoxide and fire can not be taken lightlyApril 19, 2014 at 8:25 pm #2112
No problem Roger, I’m sure we all welcome your knowledge and advice. It’s better than us being ignorant of the risks.April 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm #2138Eddie & AileenParticipant
Hi Roger,you’r right about the wories of a open burning heater not making a 100 percent burn and causing (CO). We onced owned a HVAC company and many times I cleaned up old wall/vented open flame heaters and the people were complaining of fealing sick like the flu.(CO-exposure) What we need is to get smart and come up with a +90 condencing furnace for RVs like the ones I’ve put in so many homes over the years. Most work verry well and run a lot cheper than the single burner in ALL RVs.Keep your drive wheels spining/Happy Trails!!April 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm #2168AnonymousInactive
Still waiting on my new drive wheels!
RV furnaces have improved somewhat, I had a 13′ Scamper that would burn through a 20 lb bottle in a weekend without trying, this had one of the old gravity type heaters.
My new 28′ took a month of weekends to burn a 30 lb bottle, with some of the night time temps approaching freezing, and day time temps in the 45 F -50 F range, and was always comfortable.
RV and mobile home furnaces have always been expensive to run. An RV pulse furnace? A normal unit runs $800 to $1200, how much do you think they would charge for a pulse? :-0April 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm #2171Eddie & AileenParticipant
Hi Rodger, I was talking of standerd draft induction +90 furnaces. Working on those Lenox pulse furnaces are a pain, good when thay are working but if thay get out of ajustment thay can be testy. Enjoy all your info on heaters though, I think you have started up a revisited topic on RV fire safty. That is verry good PM in my book! Hope you get camping soon!November 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm #7655AnonymousInactive
I came across an explanation of why the catalytic heaters are legal for indoor use in the USA and not in Canada. It turns out that in Canada, they are worried about the amount of nitrogen oxides and dioxides (known as NOX) these units can emit. We have a 5 gas analyzer at work, specifically designed for flue gases, and I have a Big Buddy with about 20 hours run time on it. I put the two together, and thought RVHH would be interested in the results.
Pilot: CO2 3.6%, CO 72 ppm, NOX 19 ppm, O2 15.6%
Low: CO2 4.3%, CO 418 ppm, NOX 6 ppm, O2 14.5%
Medium: CO2 4.1%, CO 320 ppm, NOX 3 ppm, O2 14.8%
High: CO2 4.3%, CO 244 ppm, NOX 3 ppm, O2 14.5%
It would appear that the pilot light produces the NOX, and the catalyst, once up to temperature, breaks the NOX back down again. It has to be realized that these measurements where made with the probe intake just about touching the catalyst, and don’t represent what would be in the general atmosphere around the heater.
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