3000 BTU Catalytic Heater / Carbon Monoxide - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-08-2009, 07:53 PM   #1
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Name: Rob
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I recently installed a Camco/RV Catalytic Safety Heater, Model Wave3 in my 14' TripleE Surfside 1977.
Just wanted to let you all know how well it seems to be working.
That model is 3000/1600 BTU and seems to be fine for the near zero (32F) Canadian fall weather.
I love the quiet operation (no fan) and radiant type of heat.

I was a bit concerned about the Carbon Monoxide (CO) factor, so I decided to take a few measurements (while I am NOT sleeping in it).
My CO detector has a digital readout, but I am not really sure how accurate it is, but some kind of indication.
I understand that the CO alarm should sound at 400 ppm, which is when it starts to get dangerous.
There is a good 8" x 8" vent that lets air into the RV near the heater, which is important to ensure good oxygen supply.
The trick is deciding how much to open up your window vents to let the air flow through.
First I tried worst case scenario: All window vents CLOSED (except the intake vent). A floor measurement yielded 100ppm after 1 hour on highest heat setting 3000BTU. Not great to sleep in but probably wouldn't kill me.
Then I tried it with the roof vent open 1" at the mouth. A floor measurement yielded 30ppm after 1 hour on the highest heat setting 3000BTU. Interestingly it showed ZERO at the height of my bed (16" above the floor).

Anyway I am feeling good and safe now, as long as I leave a 2nd vent open slightly, as per the instructions!

BTW, I was using a Coleman BlackCat 3000 before this, but never really liked / trusted it.
It's heat was nice, but even after 2 years of regular use still had a funny burning paint smell, that would trigger my smoke detector when I used it on high power, and leave me with a bit of a headache. It seemed to be getting weaker with old age too.

Best regards,
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Old 09-08-2009, 11:26 PM   #2
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Great readings you took.....it goes to show that you need a vent down lower and one higher to get that much better reading (the roof vent to me is good)...... I have a cat heater somewhat like yours but no means to measure air quality like you did. That helped!
Thanx,
Joe
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:58 AM   #3
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What it says on the website of First Alert:

"Carbon monoxide is not heavier than air. The diffusion of carbon monoxide in air is relatively even, meaning that a source of carbon monoxide can distribute the gas evenly throughout the room and house. When installing a carbon monoxide alarm, choose a location where the alarm will stay clean, and out of the way of children or pets. See User's Manual for specific installation requirements."
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:57 AM   #4
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FYI, I did another test with the heater set on LOW (1600BTU) and after 2 hours had ZERO on both the floor and at the bed level, with the windows and vents CLOSED!


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Old 09-11-2009, 07:24 AM   #5
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FYI, I did another test with the heater set on LOW (1600BTU) and after 2 hours had ZERO on both the floor and at the bed level, with the windows and vents CLOSED!

Another interesting test Rob.... I know alot of people shy away from this but would you sleep at night with it on low and vented as in your previous test?_____ Does anybody sleep with it on all night in a well vented "Hi and Low Vented" Trailer?_______ Where would be the best place to mount the carbon monoxide tester.... Hi or Low or maybe at bed level?(mine is up high right now)_____ I'm sure this will bring alot of controversy as some deaths where contributed to this but i sure would like to hear everyones take on this good or bad.
Joe
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Old 09-11-2009, 01:24 PM   #6
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A catalytic heater in good condition shouldn't create much carbon monoxide at all. The platinum "catalyst" chemistry it uses to combine propane and oxygen more or less guarantees that, which is why modern cars have platinum catalyst catalytic converters, too. It makes sure all the hydrocarbons left over after combustion in the car's engine are fully consumed before they leave the tailpipe.

What I would like to do, however, is get carbon dioxide measurements inside a trailer that has had all its windows closed for four, eight, and twelve hours. Problem is that's a difficult thing to measure accurately. Best way I know is to use soda lime (used in scuba re-breathers and spacecraft to absorb the CO2 out of a given airspace) to suck the carbon dioxide gas out of a syringe full of air and measure the difference in gas volume.


Edited the first line to read A catalytic heater in good condition shouldn't create much carbon monoxide at all. It was saying carbon dioxide, which is what burning propane is supposed to make. (Thanks to Brian B-P for catching that tone!)
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