I just thought I'd throw my very limited input into the discussion of oxygen depletion. I think we have a tendency to assume that the air we are breathing contains oxygen, and that if it didn't we would somehow notice.
A few years ago I sold my Scamp
and purchased a small LittleGuy teardrop camper. Therefore, I also lurk on a teardrop forum. There, on the front page of the forum, is a sticky posting warning teardroppers in no uncertain terms that sleeping in a closed-up teardrop can kill you.
Only a few people use propane in a teardrop, because it is seldom necessary to add heat. Two bodies in a teardrop provide quite a bit of heat, and a simple 12v mattress pad can run for several nights on a good deep cycle battery
. However, just one or two people breathing can easily use up the oxygen in the small space of a teardrop camper over a 6-to-8 hour period. So, we always have a window or roof vent open.
An egg camper
is several times larger than a teardrop, so the risk of oxygen depletion is therefore reduced... UNLESS you add the element of combustion. If you have a propane device burning inside air, it is relentlessly competing with your lungs for available oxygen. Therefore, it is my opinion that Little Buddy heaters and their ilk should only be used according to the instructions (provide fresh air), and never be used during sleep. My opinion.
Now, add the element that Snoozy mentioned about a boat. Now you have the added element of a sealed shell that is partially below waterline. Propane vapor is heavier than air and settles to the bottom. In a camper, there is at least SOME possibility of that dissipating through a door seal or floor penetration of some type, but in a boat, there is NO chance of that. Additionally, boats typically do not have large windows
and doors to allow a degree of air infiltration.
I believe that a propane appliance that is installed and used according to the manufacturer's recommendations should be safe to use. NOW... that is a loaded statement. First, Scamp
, for one, does not install the refrigerators according to specification. Dometic specifically states that it should exhaust through the roof, not through the side-wall. The flue is a necessary part of the equation, to create a draft to draw the exhaust gasses out. There are very specific measurements that the flue must be within, to create the proper updraft. Additionally, very few RVs of any brand have properly sealed the fridge
cavity to separate combustion and non-combustion air.
Next on the list is that on the propane appliances that I used to have, the owner's manual stated that all the joints should be leak-tested BEFORE EVERY USE. In other words, the rattling and shaking of driving down the road can quite easily create a leak, and an annual inspection is not sufficient to rat those out.
If you choose to only inspect annually, or not at all, or only every-other use, you are doing so at increased risk to your safety. Again, I am not opposed to propane appliances, but I do recognize the risk, determine how much risk I am willing to assume, and then act to mitigate the remaining risk.