Portable catalytic heater - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-10-2007, 09:38 AM   #1
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I just bought a Coleman SportCat Catalytic Heater for my 13' camper to take the edge off and now I'm beginning to think that I might have air quality issues. They say it's fine for in tents and homes but...

Anyone have any feedback?

Paula
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:22 AM   #2
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I have a larger version of it. (Black Cat) I have heated my 13 completely with it in yucko weather. Condensation is a concern sometimes. They also consume oxygen.

You'll get many "don't do it's" and many "it's OKs".. it's a controversial subject.

I never sleep with mine on, and I always have 2 small sources of fresh air coming into the trailer. Cracking a front and back window 1/2" will work.

PS.. the heater will stink for the first couple of uses. I recommend you sit it outside and let a whole canister run to burn the new smell off. I have heard reports of it taking a couple canisters for some.

It's nothing to worry about, once it's gone.. i's gone.
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Old 10-11-2007, 08:54 PM   #3
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If you read the instructions carefully, there should be a specific statement about how many square inches of ventilation is required (IIRC, it is ten for the Black Cat) to keep the unit running. It will shut itself down if the oxygen level gets low.

What I do in my Scamp is slightly open the little kitchen and door windows on opposite sides so there is some cross-ventilation, plus I often open the roof vent a little to let the hottest (and most vapor-laden) air escape.
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:37 PM   #4
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I feel better now! I figure that I too would only use it while awake. I noticed that just heating the water for coffee heats the 13' quite a bit so it shouldn't take the heater long to get the chill off. Where I want to camp in a couple of weeks is at 9-10,000 ft and I'm sure it'll be below freezing. I've gotten soft in my old age!

Thanks guys,

Paula
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Old 10-11-2007, 10:05 PM   #5
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We run our black cat even while sleeping when its cold. We have the roof vent open a crack plus the gap under the door . In below 0 conditions get yourself a good sleeping bag or someone to snuggle up to. The black cat keeps the boler at an ok temperature but its cranked on high. In the morning its out of gas so we have still frozen on more than 1 occasion. Making coffee in the morning warms the boler nicely and melts the icycles.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:00 PM   #6
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Below 0, shoot! That's cold!
Oh, you are in Canada! So it's not that cold! I just have to remember the centigrade fahrenheit dealy.

paula
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:17 AM   #7
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Condensation and ventilation are not the only problems to be concerned with. One week ago this past Saturday night, while camping in the far hills of Idaho, WAAAAY out in the boonies, I experienced a different problem. I had my Coleman catalytic heater turned on for about 30 minutes and had just finished reading a book. When I looked up I saw a fire burning near the ceiling above the stove near where I had the heater sitting . Not a roaring, crackeling fire, but a roiling, twisting, animal like thing. I had to make 3 efforts to get out because I had locked the door. When I finally did get out there was a flash fire throughtout the entire camper but ONLY near the ceiling. After the flash, the fire extinguished itself and there was only smoke left. I had pulled the heater out with me when I exited the camper and immediately turned it off. Waited a few minutes then went back in and turned on the ceiling vent fan to get rid of the smoke. Waited another 5 minutes then went back in expecting to see a lot of damage and smell burnt stuff....this wasn't the case at all. There was NO smoke/burning odor and the only damage was the the ceiling covering now feels like a stiff plastic. I received 2nd degree burns on the entire right side of my forehead and on the heel/thumb of my right hand and 1st degree burns on the entire left side of my forehead. The heater had a small double D battery fan mudule, and the ONLY damage to the heater is that module; the plastic grill being quite distored and the fan blades are completely gone. Except for that, the heater has NO evidence of being burnt. The entire fire was localized near the ceiling, not a bit of damage anyplace else, not the walls or the floor. I had plenty of ventilation while the heater was turned on and the propane detector did NOT go off. There was no leak at the heater or anyplace else that I can discern Obviously there was a vapor of some sort and the heat source to start the fire had to be the catalytic heater, BUT, I'm unable to come up with a clear explanation of what happened. When I got back home, I set up the interior of the trailer exactly as it was at the time of the fire and had the local fire chief/investigator take a look, he had no explanation. I make it a practice, always, to never sleep when the catalytic heater is on. Had I been asleep and zipped up in my sleeping bags the way I normally sleep when it's cold, I most certainly would have died. One other thing I now do and that is to NOT lock the door while I'm cooking or have the heater on.

Russell
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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Wow, William. So glad you are ok.

Thanks for reminding us of the dangers.
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:46 AM   #9
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Is it possible that the heater, when sitting on top of the stove, was too close to the ceiling material? Overheating it? Or is your stove area enclosed so that what little vapors these give off were trapped in a small area.. convection *boom* from overheated vapor.. meaning the heat build up in the area couldn't escape fast enough?

Mine always sits on the floor in an open area.
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Old 10-12-2007, 01:08 PM   #10
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Russell.........
Sure glad you got out of that camper..........i was just looking at those coleman cat heaters and your experience sure is a wake-up.
If you ever figure out what happened please let us know. and again glad you got out in time and hope your injuries heal fast.
Joe
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:20 PM   #11
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Just read a post on another forum of a family of four who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a non vented heater in a trailer and they had the roof vent open....... it seems carbon monoxide gas does not rise and the roof vent did nothing for that gas.
Now i'm wondering if the carbon monoxide tester should be close to the floor instead of up near the roof where i have it now
Joe

the story:
http://www.casitaclub.com/forums/ind...showtopic=9321
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:12 PM   #12
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Even if the stuff you want to exhaust rises, only opening a roof vent won't work well, since the replacement air has to come in somewhere. One opening low and one high seems like a better idea to me.
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Gina: The stove IS in an enclosed area, but the heater was actually on the floor in FRONT of the stove - it's just that the "FIRE" was initially at the ceiling in the area of the stove. The ceiling at that location has a metal cover similar to a stove hood. Obviously the stove area collected vapors of some kind and I don't know from where nor what. I like your explanation best but it doesn't explain the heater fan module damage. Other than the fan module there is NO damage from the floor to about 4 feet high. Any damage above 4 feet is so minimal that you can hardly find it The damage, if you can call it that, was a melting of the fuzzy part of the ceiling covering. It is still resilient but instead of being soft and fuzzy it now feels like a skin of melted plastic.

Russell
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:45 PM   #14
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Glad you got out william! Hope your recovery is speedy.

I use a Sport Cat to "take the chill off" out at Big Bend in the spring. I open the overhead vent & a window in the rear of the camper. I also use a "4 gas monitor" from work. It checks for O2, LEL, CO, & H2S. I've found that it usually alarms on low O2 1st, but I have been keeping it mid-way up the wall on the TV shelf.

After reading of william's mishap, I will buy & install a dedicated CO monitor & install it close to the floor---AKA the "girl's bed.

john
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