After reading some of your adventures with heaters this winter and finding ourselves in cold situations without electric we would like to see your solutions, Peter. Was it your Buddy that you worked on in Yellowstone?
Our Portable Buddy is our "backup" heater, the one we pull out when we run out of propane
in the main tanks, don't have hookups or the season, shady location, or weather prevent our solar
panels from producing enough electricity to run the furnace
every day. Even when set on "low" the Portable Buddy puts out plenty of heat to keep our 19' fifth wheel warm when the outdoor temps drop to -10c/14F temperatures, but there are some things to be aware of when using the Portable Buddy.
The first thing to know is, even when set on "low," a 1lb propane
cylinder will last just 4-5 hours in the Portable Buddy. The second Portable Buddy limitation is it does not work well at altitude. The problem we ran into, where the Portable Buddy would heat up then go out after an hour or so, was due to the way its oxygen
sensor works. It turns out that the oxygen
sensor is designed to work at altitudes below 6500-7000 feet; we were at 7500 feet when we had problems.
heaters with an oxygen
depletion sensor (ODS) have the same design limitation, so if you want heat at altitude you'll need to depend on a forced air furnace
(which intakes and exhausts outside air for the combustion chamber, so does not need an ODS system) or a catalytic heater like the Wave 3 heater that doesn't have an ODS.
Not having an ODS on a catalytic or ceramic heater worries some people, and I can see their point. In a well sealed trailer a catalytic heater can suck enough oxygen out of the air to suffocate a trailer's occupants in a little over six hours at sea level, but cracking a window and vent addresses that concern. Just don't forget to crack the vent or . . .
Actually most people's trailers, particularly those with slat-like jalousie windows
likely have more than enough air exchange leaks
to keep the oxygen levels in the "safe" range.
Our main source of heat when we dry-camp is our forced-air furnace
, but it depends on having battery
power, something we ran short of at Yellowstone because our solar panel
didn't pump out enough power to run the furnace all night. I've bought a second 55w solar panel
to fix this problem, but even then we wouldn't get enough sun to run the furnace during the late fall and winter months. If we camp at those times we'll need some alternate way to keep the batteries topped off so the furnace will run.