Catalytic Heaters Pros/Cons HELP - Fiberglass RV


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 11-21-2012, 12:28 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Thee Jimbo's Avatar
 
Name: Jimbo
Trailer: 1971 Trails West Campster/1980 Scamp 13
California
Posts: 308
Registry
Catalytic Heaters Pros/Cons HELP

Hi. I have an Olympian heater from The 70's I want yo use in my little trailer

Two questions

1) What are the pros and cons of this type of heater , and

2) how safe is a 70's model Olympian heater. I am sure that the newer are safer but it's also $200 bucks I don't have plus I like the vintage look of the one I have.

Ok I have a third

3) I want to mount it in the fiberglass under the "closet" door on my 13' by the wheel well. Has anybody done this? Is it a good spot? Is it in the way!

Thanks. Jimbo
__________________

__________________
Thee Jimbo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 01:19 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
David Tilston's Avatar
 
Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
Alberta
Posts: 5,317
Registry
Pros: No vent
Cons: No vent

The heater will be 100% efficient, since all the heat generated will be inside the trailer. The down side of that is that the air it uses to react with the fuel comes from inside the trailer. You will need to have some method of getting fresh air in. Trouble is that leaving a window open kinda defeats the purpose of using a heater. The products of combustion are not toxic, since all you are likely to get are carbon dioxide and water. The water will likely cause some condensation.

As for the location of installation, It does get hot. There should not be anything too close above it.
__________________

__________________
David Tilston is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 01:58 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Name: Jim
Trailer: Bigfoot 1981 Trailer
British Columbia
Posts: 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thee Jimbo View Post
Hi. I have an Olympian heater from The 70's I want yo use in my little trailer

Two questions

1) What are the pros and cons of this type of heater , and

2) how safe is a 70's model Olympian heater. I am sure that the newer are safer but it's also $200 bucks I don't have plus I like the vintage look of the one I have.

Ok I have a third

3) I want to mount it in the fiberglass under the "closet" door on my 13' by the wheel well. Has anybody done this? Is it a good spot? Is it in the way!

Thanks. Jimbo
Hi Jimbo,
I had a Olympic Cat. heater and after awhile the wick has to be replace by the factory as it is not a doityouself job. I definitely would not use one if it is very old. There are other makes of heaters, Procam for one which is one of the lowest priced units and do a good job and also have a thermostat which the Olympic only has a dial, eg, low, med, high. We had a ceramic brick in our large 5th wheel for years, but, as was posted, you have to keep a window open for ventalation as well as to avoid condensation. It gave us all the heat we needed. I definitely am thinking about getting a small ceramic or blue flame heater once my restoration is completed. Unfortunately these heaters are illegal in Canada, so will purchase from the States. Read the instructions for placement as they can vary.
jimmied is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 03:00 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Francesca Knowles's Avatar
 
Name: Francesca Knowles
Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
Jefferson County, Washington State, U.S.A.
Posts: 4,543
Registry
Have you been able to test/light the heater, and if so how did that go? Did it light readily, burn steadily once lit, etc.?

A heater that age may not have the low-oxygen shutoff now required on newer units, certainly an important and useful safety feature. I strongly recommend the installation of a CO detector if you don't have one already.

As noted above, the blanket (or wick) is the part most likely to be shot after all these years- even if it's been little used, if the heater's been left uncovered for a long time the blanket may well be contaminated with dust/dirt, which will interfere with its operation.





Francesca
__________________
.................................
Propane Facts vs. Fiction:. Click here
Tow Limit Calculator: Click here
Francesca Knowles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 07:28 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Name: LKG907
Trailer: Casita 17'SD
Washington
Posts: 145
The topic of catalytic heater typically causes folks who don't own them to pipe up with their concerns about their safety. Do your own homework and make your own decistion.

A '70's Olympian heater may actually have the ODS shut-off. Do your homework on the clearance specifications. It may or may not be properly installed.
Attached Thumbnails
wave 3.JPG  
__________________
LK Gray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 07:50 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Francesca Knowles's Avatar
 
Name: Francesca Knowles
Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
Jefferson County, Washington State, U.S.A.
Posts: 4,543
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by LK Gray View Post
The topic of catalytic heater typically causes folks who don't own them to pipe up with their concerns about their safety. Do your own homework and make your own decistion.

A '70's Olympian heater may actually have the ODS shut-off. Do your homework on the clearance specifications. It may or may not be properly installed.
I do own and have used for more than five years a catalytic heater of the same vintage as the O.P.'s. It heats my Trillium very well as a sole source, and I wouldn't choose any other type of heater.

That having been said:

I'm more than familiar with pro/con arguments as to their use, and can state with some confidence that if the heater in question was manufactured in the U.S.A. prior to 1980 or so, it doesn't have the low-oxygen shutoff that provides a margin of safety most prudent people would appreciate. The answer to that deficiency is a CO detector, and to imply that such a safety tool- and other precautions/maintenance issues- is somehow only for hysterical ignoramuses does no service to the O.P.

Francesca
__________________
.................................
Propane Facts vs. Fiction:. Click here
Tow Limit Calculator: Click here
Francesca Knowles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 08:14 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Name: LKG907
Trailer: Casita 17'SD
Washington
Posts: 145
FK, Well put. But the question that I haven't been able to answer is this. What occurrs first? CO poisoning or O2 depletion. I have determined that an O2 depletion alarm is beyond my means. See attached for my CO studies.

Correction: My file exceed the 19.5 __byte limit for this website. PM me for the data.
__________________
LK Gray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 08:40 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Francesca Knowles's Avatar
 
Name: Francesca Knowles
Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
Jefferson County, Washington State, U.S.A.
Posts: 4,543
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by LK Gray View Post
FK, Well put. But the question that I haven't been able to answer is this. What occurrs first? CO poisoning or O2 depletion. I have determined that an O2 depletion alarm is beyond my means. See attached for my CO studies.

Correction: My file exceed the 19.5 __byte limit for this website. PM me for the data.
No need-the answer is simple.

Unlike with the combustion of fossil fuels (gasoline/diesel/coal) or wood, catalytic propane combustion produces little CO. The threat arises when the process occurs in confined spaces, and the oxygen required for combustion/catalytic conversion is consumed to the point that what's left is insufficient to sustain life. Simply put, instead of an environment containing the usual mix of oxygen (O), and carbon DIoxide(CO2), a user can find himself in a pure- carbon MONoxide(CO) environment, which no mammal will survive for long.


At least in the case of catalytic combustion, oxygen depletion is the cause of CO poisoning. The answer to this threat is of course the provision of adequate venting/air intake, and the presence of a low-oxygen shutoff and/or CO alarm will serve very well to further/reliably protect against low oxygen conditions, rendering the environment perfectly safe.



"We must use our heads- or lose them", as so eloquently put by the late Elizabeth I...

Francesca
__________________
.................................
Propane Facts vs. Fiction:. Click here
Tow Limit Calculator: Click here
Francesca Knowles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 08:53 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Name: LKG907
Trailer: Casita 17'SD
Washington
Posts: 145
Most oxygen depletion alarms sound at around 17%. Normal O2 level is 19%.
I just wish that I could find an O2 depletion alarm that costs under $800. And the worst part is that they typically are only good for 2 years before you have to send them back to the factory.
__________________
LK Gray is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 09:15 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Francesca Knowles's Avatar
 
Name: Francesca Knowles
Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
Jefferson County, Washington State, U.S.A.
Posts: 4,543
Registry
Quote:
Originally Posted by LK Gray View Post
Most oxygen depletion alarms sound at around 17%. Normal O2 level is 19%.
I just wish that I could find an O2 depletion alarm that costs under $800. And the worst part is that they typically are only good for 2 years before you have to send them back to the factory.


CO alarms readily available for less than fifty dollars sound an alarm at levels far above human-life threat thresholds.

For insuring constant O levels higher than that, one should probably either stay in the Amazon Jungle (outside!) all the time or carry portable free-spewing oxygen cylinders when elsewhwere/inside.

Francesca
__________________
.................................
Propane Facts vs. Fiction:. Click here
Tow Limit Calculator: Click here
Francesca Knowles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 09:17 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
The products of combustion are not toxic, since all you are likely to get are carbon dioxide and water.
This is not true, although it is a common misconception. It is often claimed in discussions like this one, but I have never seen a catalytic heater manufacturer even suggest that their products do not produce carbon monoxide.

The products of propane combustion in any appliance (catalytic or not) are ideally only carbon dioxide and water; however, the products of any real combustion process include some carbon monoxide and unburned propane - whether combustion is assisted by a catalyst or not. Any unvented appliance burning a hydrocarbon fuel (such as propane) is a toxic gas hazard and so requires adequate ventilation and must be attended, as the operating instructions will clearly state... those precautions are not just for oxygen depletion.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission studied this in instrumented tests, and showed that catalytic heaters are not substantially different from other heaters in their formation of carbon monoxide:
CO EMISSIONS FROM A PORTABLE PROPANE CATALYTIC HEATER


Please forgive my bluntness but I believe that this is a significant safety issue.
__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 09:29 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by LK Gray View Post
Most oxygen depletion alarms sound at around 17%. Normal O2 level is 19%.
I just wish that I could find an O2 depletion alarm that costs under $800. And the worst part is that they typically are only good for 2 years before you have to send them back to the factory.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post


CO alarms readily available for less than fifty dollars sound an alarm at levels far above human-life threat thresholds.

For insuring constant O levels higher than that...
Francesca, you seem to be confusing oxygen monitors (alarms) and carbon monoxide monitors (alarms) - they are unrelated. Did I misunderstand your post?

The carbon monoxide monitor will tell you nothing about the oxygen level; the oxygen depletion alarm says nothing about carbon monoxide.
  • oxygen (O2) - low level is bad (oxygen is good and it should be 19% or so of the air), monitor is very expensive (according to LK Gray - I'll believe that)
  • carbon monoxide (CO) - high level is bad (CO is toxic and there shouldn't be any easily detectable in the air), monitor is cheap and readily available (you want your alarm to sound at far below life-threatening levels)
__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2012, 09:33 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
EddyEd's Avatar
 
Name: Tyler
Trailer: 72 Cloud
Wisconsin
Posts: 208
Registry
I won't claim to know anything about the mechanics of it all but I've been using my little heater for over a year now and I have finally gotten over trying to fight the condensation. It is going to happen, just as long as you are aware of it you learn to ventilate with a window open and a little fan either pulling air in or pushing it out, I have found keeping the air moving reduces the condensation a lot. You would think this would defeat having the heater running as your heat is now escaping but a 13' camper is so small most of the heaters out there are way more then enough to keep it warm even with 2 windows open a bit. That's what I do and it works like a charm up here in Northern Wisconsin in November and even December, I haven't yet been out during the worst parts of winter as that's usually when I put my Cloud in the shop and get my projects done for the coming camping season. I hope you find a heater that works well for you soon.
T
__________________
EddyEd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-22-2012, 01:04 AM   #14
Senior Member
 
Brian B-P's Avatar
 
Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
Posts: 5,000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
Unlike with the combustion of fossil fuels (gasoline/diesel/coal) or wood, catalytic propane combustion produces little CO.
Propane is a fossil fuel - it is just one molecule in the range of hydrocarbons which are created over a very long time from organic material (plants and animals).

The catalyst allows the propane to combine with oxygen at a lower temperature than would be required without the catalyst. That's it - no magic, no difference in the end products between a clean open flame and an ideal catalytic reaction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
The threat arises when the process occurs in confined spaces, and the oxygen required for combustion/catalytic conversion is consumed to the point that what's left is insufficient to sustain life.
A lower oxygen level will cause higher CO production, because the oxygen is less available for complete combustion, so an environment of depleted oxygen is a double threat to life - lack of oxygen and toxic CO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
Simply put, instead of an environment containing the usual mix of oxygen (O), and carbon DIoxide(CO2), a user can find himself in a pure- carbon MONoxide(CO) environment, which no mammal will survive for long.
For one thing, 4/5ths of the air is nitrogen, so it will never be just a mix of oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide, and certainly not pure carbon monoxide.

The atmosphere normally contains carbon dioxide, so even if a heater managed to produce only CO (which it can't do), the environment would never contain CO and no CO2 (and nitrogen).

Anyway, reaching pure CO is not relevant to safety - carbon monoxide poisoning starts when the CO is only 1/10th of one percent of the atmosphere.

Of course, the air also contains water vapour, and even more water vapour with that heater going...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles View Post
At least in the case of catalytic combustion, oxygen depletion is the cause of CO poisoning. The answer to this threat is of course the provision of adequate venting/air intake, and the presence of a low-oxygen shutoff and/or CO alarm will serve very well to further/reliably protect against low oxygen conditions, rendering the environment perfectly safe.
Yes, as the CPSC report quoted earlier shows, avoiding oxygen depletion minimizes CO production, but it does not eliminate CO. The situation is essentially the same for catalytic and non-catalytic heaters. I agree that adequate ventilation is critical, and both low-oxygen and high-CO alarms help to detect when it is not adequate, but nothing is perfectly safe. If I run an unvented heater, I am responsible for monitoring it - I'm not betting my life on either a heater or a monitor to operate without fault.
__________________

__________________
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
STATUS: No longer active in forum.
Brian B-P is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pros and cons of a very small 3-way refer rabbit Modifications, Alterations and Updates 21 03-19-2012 01:03 PM
Pros and Cons Alan Ursacki General Chat 11 10-01-2011 06:18 PM
Atwood Everest Star 7912 Furance = pros and cons Kurt in BC Modifications, Alterations and Updates 10 02-18-2008 12:05 AM
Pros and Cons of fiberglass and Casitas Paris Winchell Care and Feeding of Molded Fiberglass Trailers 3 08-02-2007 01:33 PM
Pros and Cons of different types of windows Peggy Problem Solving | Owners Helping Owners 2 06-15-2007 06:25 AM

» Upcoming Events
No events scheduled in
the next 465 days.
» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:23 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.