Catalytic heaters - odiferous? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-18-2005, 12:08 AM   #1
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Hi All,
We've used a Coleman Procat catalytic heater before and even after buring a few canisters of propane (16+ hours), it still gives off an odor when burning, and sure does linger. My wife has an acute sense of smell and we're concerned the odor might be too strong. I understand that the Mr Buddy heaters are not Catalytic heaters - do they give off any odor? I thought I remember a thread that mentioned something about this.

Thanks!
Steve
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Old 11-18-2005, 05:48 AM   #2
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I can't smell any odor from our Mr. Heater. The wife says I have a poor sense of smell. Never can tell when the grand-daughter needs a diaper change.
Tom Trostel
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Old 11-18-2005, 02:05 PM   #3
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Empire Comfort Systems makes vent-free heaters in both catalytic (which they call infrared or radiant) and non-catalytic (which they call blue flame). Other common suppliers include Camco/US Catalytic for the Olympian Wave catalytic units, and the Mr. Heater series of non-catalytic "Portable Indoor-Safe Propane Heaters".

In the material which I have seen from these companies, I have not noticed any indication that one type or the other might be less prone to producing undesireable smells; however, since a catalyst exists to let chemical reactions proceed more easily than they would otherwise (so propane can "burn" at lower than the normal ignition temperature), I can believe that some compounds may be formed which are less desireable than the water and carbon dioxide that the burning of pure propane produces.

Personally, I have a Coleman heater - the same ProCat ™ model - but have not used it yet., so I don't know if it produces an odour.
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Old 11-18-2005, 07:34 PM   #4
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Be patient. Your Coleman will "burn Off". It took several cannisters for mine to destink, but it does go away eventually.

I advise folks to waste a few cannisters and set it outside, let it burn on HIGH until the smell goes away. It's really bad, I know.

I almost took mine back, but it cleaned up.
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Old 11-18-2005, 07:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gina D.@Nov 18 2005, 06:34 PM
...I advise folks to waste a few cannisters and set it outside, let it burn on HIGH until the smell goes away....
Although the ProCat's instructions say only to use the disposable 1-lb canisters (same warning as in the SportCat manual), I have a hose which will connect a 20 lb tank to the needle valve fitting of the ProCat. Guessing that the manufacturer's restriction is intended to keep people from bringing the big tanks into enclosed spaces, and knowing that the disposable cylinders are a relatively expensive way to buy propane, I'm thinking of hooking up a 20-lb tank for a "burn in" run.

I assume the problem is some part of the catalytic reactor assembly, such as a coating, which is needed for production but smells when it burns off. Thanks for the warning, so I can take care of this before I need the heater!
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Old 11-18-2005, 10:23 PM   #6
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I remember reading online in one of the camper posts that the propane heaters can be dangerous and that a window needs to be left open if using one of these in the camper. I decided not to use my Mr Buddy for that reason and bought a electric heater instead for safety reasons.
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:50 PM   #7
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Funny you should mention about hanging in there and burning a couple more canisters - I happened to be doing that now, and just before I stepped over to the computer, I popped my head into the room that I'm heating and I thought it seemed to be less smelly than before. I'll continue the burn a bit longer.
Thanks for the suggestion!

Steve
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Old 11-18-2005, 11:57 PM   #8
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Several years ago, when the Black Cats first came out, I asked at a Coleman outlet in TN why the prohibition re: bulk container -- The store staff's conclusion was that with a cannister in place, the unit formed a fairly stable tripod, but without the cannister there was easy potential for instability and a resulting fire.

Electric heating is indeed far safer than vented LP heating, which in turn is safer than unvented LP heating, but I leave a window cracked regardless (moreso with my unvented Empire ODS heater.

Even electric heating has its dangers; if bedding slides off the bed to in front of the heater, there is danger of combustion and/or smouldering.
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Old 11-21-2005, 10:06 AM   #9
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When connecting a Coleman catalytic heater to my camper's bulk tank in the 1970's, I had to plumb into the propane plumbing before the camper's regulator. The heater's design required more pressure than is available after the regulator.
To address the tipping issue, my Coleman had a substantial handle which was fastened to a bulkhead.
We used the heater for many years, and it worked flawlessly until we gave the camper away.
Our dogs learned to avoid the heater after one smelly episode when one fell asleep too close to the burner. Singed dog hair gives off a very unpleasant odor quite like singed human hair. Ever singed the hair on an arm, or eyelid by being to close to a candle, stove burner or other flame source?
By-the-way, the initial use odor will go away over time.
We did a lot of winter camping, and that heater kept us very comfortable, even in below zero temps. With 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 adults in an 8', cab-over camper, there was a considerable amount of body heat generated. We always kept an undercounter access door partially open to provide a source of air for combustion. Carbon monoxide wasn't a problem, but lack of oxygen could easily have put us all permanently to sleep.
Stay safe by considering all the ramifications.
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 11-21-2005, 12:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pete Dumbleton@Nov 18 2005, 10:57 PM
Several years ago, when the Black Cats first came out, I asked at a Coleman outlet in TN why the prohibition re: bulk container -- The store staff's conclusion was that with a cannister in place, the unit formed a fairly stable tripod, but without the cannister there was easy potential for instability and a resulting fire.
I agree that stability is a concern - I am only considering the bulk supply hose option with the heater sitting in my driveway, not on a flamable surface. Also, while the BlackCat ™ uses the disposable propane container a one leg of the tripod stand, the ProCat ™ has a plastic housing and stands up by itself with no cylinder. The extra housing is for the fan and the compartment for the batteries that run it. I still think this is a good caution, since the stiff propane hose could easily pull the ProCat over.
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