Catalytic Heaters - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-22-2014, 03:26 PM   #1
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Catalytic Heaters

Normally I wouldn't start a new thread for this but believe it might be important enough to do so. A few days ago I asked if anyone had found a Canadian source for the Olympus 3000 Catalytic heater. There are, but that's not the news here.

I visited a really big well known RV place near here today and talked to the maintenance/parts supervisor. He tells me he can get the heaters but that IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO INSTALL or use one in my Trillium Trailer. They can be used, he says, in tents or even hard-top tent trailers but not in enclosed trailers or motor homes.

Take this for what it is worth. I just didn't want to be responsible for inspiring someone to do something they might regret later. For my own part, I've purchased a small portable ceramic heater (if you do so, check the clearance specs!). A furnace is an (expensive!) option and seems a lot for our minimal needs. And it still needs electrical power. Another off-grid option might be a small (shudder) quiet generator to run my heater for half an hour in the evening...
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:29 PM   #2
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The "Wave" models may violate RV building codes in some areas, (California and Canada?) making the "ODS" version the only option available in those areas.
If used in an unventilated space, any propane heater will consume oxygen until there is inadequate oxygen for human breathing. The oxygen sensor in the ET or ODS models senses a low oxygen level and turns off the heater if the level gets too low for safety.
Although an oxygen sensor makes the heater safer, it restricts the heater to use at altitudes below about 5000 to 7000 feet, depending on brand. For many RVers, this is a really major disadvantage, since some of the nicest camping locations are at higher altitudes, and the heater's primary use may be for the cool nights found year-round at high elevation.
From Alternative Heat Sources for an RV last type of heater reviewed at bottom of page.

This makes sense the Wave models have no low oxygen shut off so would not be safe in a "sealed" sleeping area. The ODS models have the sensor so are considered safer.
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Old 08-22-2014, 04:35 PM   #3
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Illegal? That must be a Canadian law thing. I don't think there are any such statutes in the USA (although I wouldn't put it past California to pass one like that).

The big key to using a catalytic heater safely is having proper ventilation: crack a couple of windows or vents while the heater is in use.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:13 PM   #4
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If I was ordering a new trailer I would have them either not install one, or install this somewhere DickinsonMarine.com - Propane Fireplaces

I had the larger one on my first boat and was very happy with its performance. safely vented to the outside.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:22 PM   #5
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No matter what your going to need a little venting to provide a way for the moisture from combustion to escape if nothing else.

Either as Deryk suggests with heater that vents combustion outside or with a cat type heater by opening a roof vent or window a little bit.

Something to be said for the chimney approach, not venting the warm trailer air, just the combustion air. Cat would probably be an easier install.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by RogerDat View Post
From Alternative Heat Sources for an RV last type of heater reviewed at bottom of page.

This makes sense the Wave models have no low oxygen shut off so would not be safe in a "sealed" sleeping area. The ODS models have the sensor so are considered safer.
Roger that quote is full of misinformation, well, not really correct information. RV Propane furnaces don't take air (oxygen) from inside the trailer cabin, they have external intake and exhaust for the combustion chamber. Atwood and Suburban both make marine and RV furnaces that work great. There's probably others too.

Summer time, electric hookup only, campers might find a small electric heater will work great for them. For 4 seasons, over 1 month at time camping, no electricity, the built in furnace is a real nice thing. To us it's well worth the cost of having it installed.

As to it needing electricity, the fan runs off the 12 volt system, thus no need for electrical hookups.

My experiences includes camping in the winter for up to 4 months without electrical hookups. Furnace ran most days evenings and mornings. High mountain summer camping the furnace was really nice in the mornings to take the chill of before getting out of bed. It also worked great the one time we got caught in 5F weather. The thermostat is generally set at about 55F all night.

The point is it depends on what your camping style is, fair weather, week-end, short vacations or long term 4 season. Choose your weapon.
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:20 PM   #7
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Byron the OP is asking about cat heaters. Not the standard RV furnace. Because the cat type does use interior air for combustion is why that applies. The article I linked to was on multiple heating sources including standard RV forced air furnace and alternatives.

For forced air RV furnace you are entirely correct on venting and power requirements. With solar there is no reason one could not run one for extended camping in any season. We have a convection type that was original equipment but generally use the 110 volt cube heater. Both the catalytic and convection type offer silent operation with no power drain. With assorted downsides as a trade offs but since the OP already decided on a catalytic heater I figure trade off question is settled.
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:28 PM   #8
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Well, this has certainly generated a lot of discussion!

Lots of folks use these things and feel they can use them safely.
But apparently the regulation many provinces in Canada is quite clear - not in RVs.
It gets murkier: I discovered today that certain propane heaters like the intended for tents come in two versions, one for most of the US and another more expensive version for Canada and some American states - presumably because of different regulations. I get annoyed by over-regulation. On the other hand, I trust the intention of government officials who make them a lot more than I trust any corporation.

This is a developing technology and my guess is that someone will come up with a less expensive heating solution to furnaces that will satisfy even our cautious regulators. Actually there is a guy in DC I think who markets a vented catalytic heater - I'd buy one in a minute but last I heard from him so far not licensed in Canada. Whatever you do, don't put anyone at risk - stay safe!

Randy
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Old 08-23-2014, 10:19 PM   #9
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Olympian does make a model that might be ok for Canada, just not the wave. I think it has to do with the low oxygen sensor or some other safety cut off. About the same BTU output. Might want to check into it.
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Old 08-24-2014, 02:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy J. View Post
Normally I wouldn't start a new thread for this but believe it might be important enough to do so. A few days ago I asked if anyone had found a Canadian source for the Olympus 3000 Catalytic heater. There are, but that's not the news here.

I visited a really big well known RV place near here today and talked to the maintenance/parts supervisor. He tells me he can get the heaters but that IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO INSTALL or use one in my Trillium Trailer. They can be used, he says, in tents or even hard-top tent trailers but not in enclosed trailers or motor homes.


..
For what its worth this is actually not the first time this has been said here when the topic of Catalytic heaters has come up. I have a hunch its not just a Canadian thing either....
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:48 AM   #11
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For what its worth this is actually not the first time this has been said here when the topic of Catalytic heaters has come up. I have a hunch its not just a Canadian thing either....
I think California has also been mentioned as a US state with regulations against cat heaters in RV's.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:06 AM   #12
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As California must have the highest total number of RV's, as well as the highest number of RV's per 1000 peeps, it should come as no surprise that we also have the most restrictive regulations as to their use, most of which are usually the result of experiences and incidences.

As I have seen any number of small space heaters and water heaters that were clearly marked "Not for use in Mobile Homes or Recreational Vehicles". There must be something to it.....

I once looked at a Burro that had a cat heater in it. When I asked the a seller about it he had no clue about how to properly use it or any dangers it might pose. I hope that the eventual buyer was savvy enough to learn more about it before using it themselves.

Sooooo....just because there are no local regulations against using certain catalytic heaters in an RV, it doesn't make them safe to use in an RV. As such, I opt to take the safer road in all cases.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:18 AM   #13
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I personally know several individuals who suffered monoxide poisoning from catalytic propane heaters when used in ice fishing and deer hunting shacks . I would not use a gas heater in a confined space that was not listed for that purpose and was not properly vented . Cracking a window is not the total answer in my estimation
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:41 AM   #14
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Steve, to be honest, when I am going to sleep with my propane furnace running, I still open the window next to my head....call it paranoia but better then waking up dead
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