Convection vs. Catalytic? Differences? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-05-2007, 12:37 AM   #1
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I am looking to find out the difference btw the convection portable heaters and the catalytic portable heaters ???? I am thinking of getting one temporarily until I find a furnace:

Coleman Procat = Catalytic Heater
Mr Heater Buddy = Convection Heater



thanks!!
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:27 PM   #2
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Hi Kurt,

I have the Mr. Heater Big Buddy and I have tried the Procat. The Procat had a smell to it during operation that I could never burn off. Kept it running in the garage for a winter afternoon. Couldn't stand it so I got the Big Buddy. I like the fact that it has a (2-D battery) powered fan for circulation and adjustable BTU output from 3000 to 18000 BTU. It WILL heat quickly.

But as with any non-vented heater (as both of these are), be prepared for tons of condensation forming inside during use. Everything from rivets inside, windows, aluminum window frames, door knobs, to the vent above will drip condensation. You must allow a good cross ventilation (open a vent and a window and use a power vent) to help minimize the excess condensation. My wife and I camped when it was 33 to 45 degrees and raining for 2 days using the heater and could barely tell whether we had a window leak or heavy condensation during the rains. We were constantly sopping up moisture. Luckily, the ensolite did not sweat. My laptop even shut down (internal humidity sensor) during all this. But at least we were warm.

Live and learn.
Terry
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Old 06-06-2007, 11:54 AM   #3
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Terry, if there was a smell using your Cat, likely there was something wrong with it. Were I you, I would send it back to Coleman as they are very good about safety with these heaters.

As stated, all vent-free LP heaters (cat or non-cat) produce water as a byproduct of combustion at a rate of one ounce of water per 1,000 BTU per hour. The trick to controlling the condensation is to get it to happen where you can deal with it, like windows with drainage.

What I did in my egg was put felt or foam insulation on the hidden sides of all the window frames and the roof vent frame, plus I glued some sheet foam (backpacker mats) to the inside of the gravel shield which kept condensate from forming on the inside of the plexi window.

I also kept the roof vent open a bit (depending on outside temps and how much I was running my heater) to not only vent the excess heat but also to vent the heated air which is carrying the most moisture.
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Old 06-06-2007, 04:30 PM   #4
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interesting...

so I take it convection and catylitic are the same things then.

I like the coleman because its cheaper but do not like the idea of the moisture. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and by a new vented furnace.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:47 PM   #5
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I have the Mr. Heater Big Buddy and I have tried the Procat. The Procat had a smell to it during operation that I could never burn off. Kept it running in the garage for a winter afternoon. Couldn't stand it so I got the Big Buddy. I like the fact that it has a (2-D battery) powered fan for circulation and adjustable BTU output from 3000 to 18000 BTU. It WILL heat quickly.
Other owners of the ProCat and similar Coleman catalytics have reported in this forum that the smell does eventually go away. I have not needed to use my ProCat yet, so I don't know.

My ProCat has a 2-D-powered fan, too, but this model does not have the high heat output of the Big Buddy... it's also smaller in size. The Portable Buddy is a closer comparison in heat output, but has no fan.
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Old 06-07-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
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so I take it convection and catylitic are the same things then.
I would say no. Both are just boxes to burn propane, but the open-flame designs (like the Mr. Heater Buddy models) burn it at the relatively high temperature of a normal propane flame, while the catalytics (Coleman et al) burn it in the presence of a catalyst (specific metal mesh) which allows the chemical reaction to happen at a much lower temperature.

The catalytic approach may be safer (lower temperatures mean less chance of accidentally igniting something), and allows heat to be radiated directly. The flame-type needs to encourage some form of air circulation (the "convection" reference) and use other tricks (like the ceramic grid in the Buddy design) to absorb and re-radiate the heat.

An outside-vented furnace (such as the stock one in my Boler) seems inherently safer to me, and eliminates the moisture addition, but will be less efficient because not all of the heat ends up in the trailer. Those with a fan (again like mine) also need battery power and make noise.
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Old 06-07-2007, 08:41 PM   #7
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I am looking to find out the difference btw the convection portable heaters and the catalytic portable heaters ???? I am thinking of getting one temporarily until I find a furnace:

Coleman Procat = Catalytic Heater
Mr Heater Buddy = Convection Heater
thanks!!

Kurt to answer your question specifically about the Catalytic vs. Convection. Both models you mention are very similar in terms of using propane to create a flameless ignition -- the Procat uses a patinum coated catalyst "bed" or mat to efficiently burn propane. The Buddy uses a ceramic mat. Both are Radient heaters in that the warm objects and/or people in front of them. The Mr. Buddy Big Buddy adds a convection feature. Convection super simply stated is the act of cold air moving toward hot air creating a draft of sorts. This is the principle of forced hotwater baseboards in houses. The is a hot tube and fin element in the middle of the baseboard casing. The bottom is open to the floor and the top vent is open. Hot air rises and cold air is drawn up from the bottom. The Big Buddy heater has a set of convection vents at the base allowing cold air to be drawn in for the added benefit of radient and convective heat. Of course the Procat has a battery powered fan and that draws air in from the side vents creating a powered convection.

The are both good heaters and both have the same issues of venting CO2 and water vapor into the living space. Much terminology differences in this case is marketing spin.

Rob
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Old 06-08-2007, 02:57 PM   #8
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Great, thanks for all the responses!
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Old 06-08-2007, 03:08 PM   #9
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The "Buddy" products from MrHeater are radiant, but apparently not catalytic. The MrHeater General FAQ makes a point of distinguishing between catalytic heaters and their design; the burner details are available in the product manual. MrHeater's ceramic panel is just the front wall of the chamber which contains the burner.

In the end, the net effect must be pretty similar. I agree with Rob that the claimed feature benefits of any of these designs are mostly marketing, rather than meaningful reality.
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Old 06-09-2007, 12:37 AM   #10
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It looks like you have a little one. I would bite the bullet and buy a forced air unit or an enclosed convection unit that your little one has no chance of getting burned on.
One of my young grandsons burned himself on a catalytic heater on a camping trip with me.

John
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Old 06-10-2007, 12:33 PM   #11
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I found a used furnace out of a Boler one and have emailed the guy to see if its still available. I have my fingers crossed.
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