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Old 02-17-2021, 01:41 PM   #41
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Name: Alan
Trailer: Shopping
California
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Check this heater out

I have a 13' Burro and use a Camco Wave catalytic heater (the small one). It works great, however, it has no thermostat. That might be fine in freezing temps where you might leave it on full time, but not when it is just uncomfortable 50 degrees in central calfornia by the ocean.

I just discovered this and emailed for more info. It's the same type of heater with the same efficiency for propane use but adds a 12v vent that looks like even I can install - possibly without having to drill a hole in my trailer.

While a vent isn't technically necessary with this type of heater, I still keep a window cracked, top vent cracked and have a smoke/CO detector. With this setup I'd feel safer and it would vent the moisture that is generated from the heater as well as nitrogen oxide and CO2...not that I have that problem with my Camco. I know it's there but there's enough natural venting (ie. air leaks) that I don't notice it.

No pricing yet and I'm betting it's not going to be cheap (they make them custom on order). However, it fills all my checkboxes.

Apparently they can build it to fit.

The attached photo is from their website and looks like a boat installation.

ThePlatCat
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Old 02-17-2021, 02:09 PM   #42
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Name: Ray
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry C Hanson View Post
Hello,

While surfing the web this morning an interesting heater came to
my attention. It was a simple, inexpensive DIY device being used on
a sailboat that looks like it would be useful in a small trailer.

The old gravity furnace in my Trillium is heavy, takes up a lot of
space, and about roasts me out of the rig in five minutes.
Perhaps this thing might be a viable alternative?

https://goodoldboat.com/diy-sailboat-cabin-heater/

Uncle Larry

I would worry about the flame not visable and fire going out with propane being pumped into the unit. Also what is the flue for? The byproduct of burning propane is water. Propane falls so I would not use it in an enclosed area.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:18 AM   #43
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Now that gravity furnaces have been for the most part, replaced by fan forced, self lighting (battery gobbling) units, I'm starting to see some of these contraptions in use by boondockers who winter camp. It's actually an attempt to create a gravity furnace using a stove burner. While it can work, unlike a gravity furnace, the burner isn't sealed so, under windy conditions, it can back draft. It is however pretty good at getting rid of a lot of the moisture that is generated.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:41 AM   #44
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Name: Larry H
Trailer: Trillium
Arizona
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Water Heater

Wow,

This thread sure has provided great input and food for thought.
I love the idea of using the water heater if the trailer has one.

For the people using the flower pots... I have used this method
successfully.... cheap and effective. Unfortunately, all combustion
products are emitted into the trailer.

On my camping trips I try to follow the weather. Too hot, move to
a higher elevation.... too cold, the opposite. Generally, making the
morning coffee is enough heat to take the edge off until the day
warms up.

If/when I build the 'sailboat pot heater' I will be sure to post the results.

Happy Camping!

Uncle Larry

BTW: Complete combustion of propane results in the formation of
carbon dioxide and water vapor. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of
combustion when there is not enough oxygen to burn the propane completely.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:10 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by alanrg View Post
...While a vent isn't technically necessary with this type of heater, I still keep a window cracked, top vent cracked and have a smoke/CO detector. ..
Venting exhaust gas to the exterior is not needed but venting (ventilation) IS necessary with this type (catalytic) heater. The primary reason is that it can deplete the oxygen level in an enclosed space to a point that it is dangerous to life, and not because it releases carbon monoxide, etc. at a level of concern (at least not when it is properly operating).

If the Platcat is venting dangerous levels of byproducts then it is not operating properly, perhaps because there is not enough oxygen for proper combustion or the pad is contaminated.

Interestingly, their product description says
Few space heaters have as many safety shut-off features as are provided by THE PLATINUM CAT..
yet there is no mention of an oxygen sensor that would shut off the heater if the main danger from this type of heater were to occur (low oxygen due to poor ventilation).

So the only benefit I see from this vent add-on is that it would pull fresh air in through loose windows, etc.. and that might help if you failed to provide adequate ventilation with a few windows and roof vent slightly open.

The disadvantage I see is that it requires power.. unlike the Wave heaters which are pretty much the same but don't require any power and don't have the vent which is of questionable usefulness.
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:23 AM   #46
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my wave 3 comes with 2 setting i run high at first then move it down to low! been in 18d temps with it!
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Old 02-18-2021, 09:36 AM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
The primary reason is that it can deplete the oxygen level in an enclosed space to a point that it is dangerous to life, and not because it releases carbon monoxide, etc. at a level of concern (at least not when it is properly operating.
Aren’t the two directly connected? Low oxygen in the combustion environment causes CO to be produced instead of CO2.

And won’t CO will kill you before the low ambient O2 level does? It attacks the oxygen in your bloodstream directly. To put another way, isn’t CO the canary in the mine, the small thing that is the first indication of a bigger problem?

With an open and relatively inefficient flame like a stove burner, you can get CO even when the ambient cabin O2 level is good due to micro-conditions around the flame. In my mind, that’s why the heater in this thread is a bad idea. Catalyzed combustion is extremely efficient and generally prevents CO formation as long as the ambient O2 level is adequate. Both require continuous outside ventilation to maintain the ambient O2 level.

That’s why a CO detector is an absolute necessity if any combustion is happening inside the cabin (or outside- like a generator- because the exhaust can get inside). Shoot, even your neighbor’s generator can set off your CO detector if conditions are right.
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Old 02-18-2021, 10:47 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Aren’t the two directly connected? Low oxygen in the combustion environment causes CO to be produced instead of CO2.
...
That is why I said when it is properly operating. If there is not enough oxygen for proper catalytic action then it is not operating properly. That is the primary reason for ventilation with these heaters. It is not to remove excess CO because there should not be more than a trace of CO. So as I see it the PlatCat vent is helping to supply oxygen by pulling outside air in from outside the camper though loose fittings doors, windows, or any ventilation you do provide.. it is not really venting anything harmful to the outside unless the catalytic action is not working right. Maybe that's a plus if you don't take care of the heater and/or don't provide fresh air.. but now you are tired to electric power again. Maybe not much power, IDK.. I didn't see stats on power draw.

And of course a CO alarm.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:15 PM   #49
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Name: Ray
Trailer: scamp
Indiana
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Originally Posted by k0wtz View Post
all that work take a look at wave heaters on amazon! they are cheap they work i have never used the furnace in our Scamp!


of course to head off complaints you must vent but if you look around in a travel trailer for the most part its pre vented!

Use my scamp furnace a lot works great. wsell provided mud dobbers have not nested there.
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Old 02-18-2021, 07:21 PM   #50
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Name: Michael
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Careful with the clay flower pots. Not only will combustion products not be vented to the outside but the pot itself may contribute contaminants to the air. This clay is a natural substance, dug from the side of a hill somewhere. It may contain things like heavy metals etc. which may be released by the heat.
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Old 02-19-2021, 07:37 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
That is why I said when it is properly operating. If there is not enough oxygen for proper catalytic action then it is not operating properly. That is the primary reason for ventilation with these heaters...

And of course a CO alarm.
Got it. Taken out of context your post seemed to be saying users should be more concerned about O2 than CO. From a safety point of view the primary issue is CO, and that’s why you install a CO detector, not an O2 monitor.

From an operational point of view, yes: maintaining an adequate flow of fresh O2 by following ventilation requirements prevents the formation of dangerous levels of CO when combined with approved design and regular maintenance of unvented propane appliances. Stovetop heating systems are hacks, not approved designs.

There’s an open debate about how much CO is harmful. There's some evidence that long-term exposure to levels below alarm thresholds can have a cumulative effect on health. Probably doesn’t matter for short-term recreational campers, but full-timers, especially those that rely heavily on indoor propane use in cold weather, might benefit from a more sophisticated CO monitor.
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Old 02-20-2021, 12:43 AM   #52
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I can't think of anything that would cause the air inside a trailer to become oxygen deficient however carbon monoxide is another matter. There may be no safe level of exposure. The lungs absorb carbon monoxide 300 times as well as oxygen, so they will scrub it from the air even at low concentrations. The effects of exposure to higher levels as from motor vehicles are well known. Exposure to lower levels over time causes damage to the heart and major blood vessels.
The level of CO inside a unit shouldn't be any higher than it is outside. Aside from any potential health effects, a concentration higher than ambient indicates a source and sources can vary so they should be identified and addressed.
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:48 AM   #53
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Simpler, but inefficient and dangerous. What else does it have going for it?
Probably a bit more heat radiates outwards and more evenly, but the restricted airflow probably helps keep a richer flame that produces less CO2 and more CO.
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:56 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Defenestrator View Post
Probably a bit more heat radiates outwards and more evenly, but the restricted airflow probably helps keep a richer flame that produces less CO2 and more CO.

And, if it was such a great idea, don't you think the My Pillow guy would be flogging it on TV?
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:52 AM   #55
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teeny wood stoves

Some people are actually rigging up extremely small wood stoves in their fiberglass trailers. There are a couple of Youtube folks doing so. I would have to do a search to find them. One of the reasons was because of the humidity caused by propane.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:05 AM   #56
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Slim Potatohead built a pellet stove out of an ammo box. Seems to work quite well. He is in the process of installing in his new trailer.


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Old 02-21-2021, 07:11 AM   #57
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Hey guys, been a while. Went back to the dark side in 2015 but still pop in from time to time. We’ve owned two Scamps and a U-Haul camper. We use to use a Mr Buddy heater for extra heat. They have an oxygen sensor and are safe for indoor use. I used a 1lb Propane Adapter to easily refill 1lb propane tanks by way of a 20lb tank. Trick to refilling these 1Lb propane bottles is the turn the 20Lb propane tank upside down when refilling. After you get use to refilling, you don’t have to weigh the tank like the video shows. You’ll know by just the weight in your hand. And the neat part is at all campgrounds usually you can find these new/used 1Lb tanks thrown away. https://youtu.be/o7h4HVAJR9w
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:22 AM   #58
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Elsa Rhae and Barron installed a Cubic Mini wood stove in their 13 foot Scamp
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:29 AM   #59
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Yes! Slim Potato Head was one of the ones I was referring to using a wood stove. He is so creative. He used to have it in his Aframe trailer
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:47 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by kontiki View Post
Some people are actually rigging up extremely small wood stoves in their fiberglass trailers. There are a couple of Youtube folks doing so. I would have to do a search to find them. One of the reasons was because of the humidity caused by propane.
A sealed propane furnace adds no humidity to the cabin.

Water and carbon dioxide are the two primary byproducts of burning carbon-based fuels. Doesn’t matter whether you burn wood, propane, coal, or diesel fuel. If it’s vented to the outside - like a wood stove or a sealed furnace- it goes outside. If it’s not vented, like cooking stoves and portable propane heaters, it goes into the cabin.

One difference is wood burns very dirty compared to propane- lots of carbon monoxide and particulates in addition to water and carbon dioxide. Since it goes outside, it doesn't affect occupants of the trailer, but it does affect everyone around you if you're in a campground. IMO it's best left for boondocking.

In some parts of the country you may encounter burn restrictions due to air quality or wildfire danger. Restrictions do not typically apply to propane appliances.

With a wood stove you also have to consider where you’ll get wood. It cannot be transported out of the local region in which it was harvested, so you’ll have to buy wood (and cut it up really small) wherever you’re camping. Scrap untreated lumber is one transportable option.
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