Black Cat Heater - Dissapointing Results - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-26-2002, 07:58 PM   #1
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Black Cat Heater - Dissapointing Results

Hi all,

Just got back from a 3-day outing in our 16 ft. Casita. It was our first cold-weather camping trip and prior to leaving, I purchased a 'Black Cat' heater by Coleman. We had heard good things about this heater - maybe some of the comments were on this board (?). The results were dissapointing. It just didn't heat the trailer up as well as we had hoped. We probably ran it for 2 hours. You had to pretty much stay right in front of it to feel the heat and this was just not practical. It got pretty chilly so we did what the manufacturer says you shouldn't do - we used the stove for heat. The stove worked great! It got nice and toasty quick, the heat was well distributed, and it stayed warm for quite a while after turning off the gas. Of course, we had venting with one window partially opened along with the ceiling vent.

My question is this: how hazardous is it to use the stove for heating really? Assuming of course, you have venting, don't sleep with it on, or forget that it's running? This solution appeals to us because we prefer to travel with as little stuff as possible and the stove could do double duty. Are the dire warnings (posted on the galley cabinet, no less) just a matter of manufacturer CYA?

Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2002, 09:07 PM   #2
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Black Cat, et. al.

Kim,

The Black Cat and its cousins are radiant heaters; they radiate heat in a beam. This heats the objects in the beam but not the air. As objects warm up, they in turn can heat the air by convection.

The same problem would arise with any radiant heater, but one with more heat output would do a better job.
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Old 11-27-2002, 03:34 AM   #3
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stove for heat

That warning was probable put on there for protection of the manufacturer. A lot people have no common sense and use things dangerously. Like forget it's on and put something on top of the flame, you know really stupid stuff. My oven at home (when it was gas) had one of these warning, but it went ahead and explained why. running the oven for heat burns out the unit quicker. it's continually on not off an on when baking. I imagine it would be the same on a stove top. The government trying to take care of us because we don't have the since to do it ourselves. and of course the other reason would be the oxygen use along with the pollutants it puts out, which is probably the most dangerous part because if you are asleep and you don't have the window open enough you won't wake up. Then if you open it too much it might blow out the flame and you won't wake up.
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Old 11-27-2002, 03:38 AM   #4
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Just what is a Black Cat Heater? I have not heard of that name before up here in santa land:)
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Old 11-27-2002, 05:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Orginally posted by Chester Taje

* * * * * * Just what is a Black Cat Heater? I have not heard of that name before up here in santa land:)
Ches,

Do a Google search for "Coleman Black Cat Heater." Up there it's probably called a hand warmer. ;)

It's a cute little 3,000 BTU radiant catalytic heater that screws on to a 1 lb propane bottle.

Note that 3,000 BTU is 879.2 watts; about half the output of a 1500 watt electric heater.
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Old 11-27-2002, 05:48 AM   #6
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Morgan-----Ok got you. For some unknown reason I can't get on internet except here.I will try later. Thanks
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Old 11-27-2002, 06:17 AM   #7
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Stove for warmth

Hi Kim
We have used our stove to heat our former tent trailer, house trailer and now the Trillium. It works great and we've never had a problem. We turn it on for about 5 minutes it warms everything up then we turn it off. We leave the roof vent and one of the windows open a crack.

One thing I heard/read somewhere was to use a clay flowerpot on top of the stove to hold the heat and radiate it once the stove is turned off. We thought of using a fire brick and Jana suggested a cast iron pot. We will try the cast iron pot this summer.
Nancy
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Old 11-27-2002, 06:37 AM   #8
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Hi Kim!

Sorry to hear you were disappointed by the output of the Black Cat.

We love to winter camp ... but as I've often said before, I feel it's really important to have electricity for cold winter camping.

For emergencies, and for spot heating, we've used a Mr. Heater Buddy heater, which has two settings, 4,000 and 9,000 BTU ... much more than the Coleman Black Cat ... but the Mr. Heater doesn't work at altitudes about 6,000 feet ... so I also have a Coleman Black Cat ... which we carry to Colorado to take the chill out of a dry-camping high-altitude campout.

But, as I've often said ... and will continue to say ... I sincerely feel you need electricity for a winter camp-out. Luckily most of the state parks around here stay open year-round, with electricity to most sites.

Re: using the stove ... makes me nervous ... how did you "vent" the heat away from the stove exhaust vent ... without running the exhaust fan (which would deplete the trailer battery)? I would think the heat would build up and possibly melt the plastic flapper or something.
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Old 11-27-2002, 07:23 AM   #9
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CO detector

No matter what gas devices you use or how you use them, I feel it's imperative to have a battery-operated Carbon Monoxide detector inside every RV. At $25 + or - , it's cheap life insurance!:zz Kim, your method of opening the window or vent should be adequate, but the CO detector will let you know if it's not.

For those ordering a new trailer, unless you will never camp outside of the sun belt:mex, the built-in furnace is great. And it is direct-vent, which means all combustion air is taken from, and exhausted to, the outside so there is virtually no danger of CO poisoning. (I'm speaking of the model used by Casita, and I presume the same/similar furnace is used by Scamp and other manufacturers too.) Of course when we camp with electric hookup, we use an electric heater and waste the campground's money, not ours!

IMNSHO, trailer manufacturers should have a CO detector as standard equipment or high on their list of options. :violin

:snowman Think Snow!
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Old 11-27-2002, 07:39 AM   #10
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Black Cat

Kim, What if you used the stove to get the heat up, like Nancy, then turn it off and use the Black cat to keep the temp up? Don't know if that will work, but since you already have the heater you might try it. Course like Charles says, if you have electric, use it.

George, at one time I was told those detectors don't work. But that was a few years back, so I assume they have improved them? How would you check them to find out.
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Old 11-27-2002, 08:24 AM   #11
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CO detectors

Jana, I'm sure the CO devices have improved over the years, just as the smoke detectors have been improved and are more reliable. They are all rated by Underwriters Laboratories. As a residential builder, I recall when smoke detectors first were marketed and we (and the Building Inspector) thought it would be great to install one in/near the kitchen. Wrong! They would sound off as soon as the cook took the frying pan out of the cupboard, remember?

In the last few years we have installed CO detectors in every house we have built if there were gas devices in the living area (even though they are not required by the Uniform Building Code.) (Smoke detectors are required by UBC.)

Having said that, our own home is designed to be energy-efficient and therefore air-tight. In cold weather, when we have the gas oven baking for a long time, the CO detector goes off. First thought I had a defective or over-sensative detector, but had the same response with a replacement. We learned we had to crack a window under those conditions.

:snowman Think Snow!
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Old 11-27-2002, 09:51 AM   #12
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Note to all:

I've been emailed about why we're spending so much time talking about portable heaters and now Phil M's asking about a built-in Catalytic heater.

"Don't your trailers have propane heaters?"

Well, with some brands, Casita included, the propane heater is an option ... not standards. Most folks in Texas don't understand heaters and put their fur coats on when temperatures dip below 50 degrees F (10 C).

Obviously you need some sort of heat when you are winter camping.

Problem with using the built-in propane heater ... particularly when dry camping ... is the DC blower motor will quickly drain the trailer's battery.

So hard core winter campers (and mountain campers) are always seeking auxillarily forms of heat ... particularly heat sources that don't drain batteries.

Because we do a lot of below freezing camping, I sincerely believe you can be a toasty as bugs in a rug ... if you have electricity.

A little ceramic cube heater will generate enough heat to chase you out of the trailer ... in all but the most extreme conditions.

And, in those conditions, high winds, really low temperatures ... Pam and I might even run both the ceramic cube heater .... and the built-in propane heater ... because, after all, we have electricity, so have no fear of draining the trailer's battery.
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Old 11-28-2002, 01:26 PM   #13
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Reason you couldn't get warm with a Black Cat in a 16' trailer is that 3KBtu takes a loooong time to heat up that much surface and space.

My 6KBtu heater in my Scamp 13 takes a while, altho when it does heat up it gets to be too much and I need to open the roof vent a little.

Like Charles, I prefer electric heat, but you gotta have the electric for it to work:r My elec heater is radiant (quartz rod) and also takes a while to build up if I start cold.

On CO detectors, there are two basic kinds; the ones for home and the ones for RVs. The $25-range models are home use, and usually are marked as not recommended for RV; sadly the RV ones are more like $50-60 US. As I understand it, the home ones have a MUCH higher alarm threshold in part because they are used in much larger spaces, usually in basement near furnace where leaks are more likely, and in part to preclude false alarms. Reportedly, the threshold is high enuf that firemen testing air would be required to don masks before entering -- do you want to sleep if the CO level was just below that? Not Me!

Also bear in mind that CO poisoning is cumulative over weeks at lower levels, so you want to know early.

Pete and Rats
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Old 11-28-2002, 02:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Orginally posted by Chester Taje

* * * * * * Just what is a Black Cat Heater? I have not heard of that name before up here in santa land:)

Ches, The Black Cat catalytic is available from Canadian Tire for $60.00. We love ours for a quick warm up whilst making coffee. Kims vehicle is 16' so it may be just to much for it.
It would make a great christmas gift to ones self.
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