Catalytic Heater Question: Do they smell? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-19-2008, 11:47 PM   #1
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Here's a question for Gina and anyone who has a "catalytic" heater, like Coleman's ProCat or the Olympian Wave, or Northstar Flameless Catalytic Heater.

I bought a "Portable Buddy" type ceramic heater as a temporary heat source for our heater-less Surfside trailer and to get a feel for how much heat I need in the trailer. Even on the 4000 BTU "low" setting (high is 9000 BTUs) the Portable Buddy puts out a pretty reasonable amount of heat that could easily heat the Surfside, but it also creates a kerosene-lamp-like odor as it operates. I'm wondering if the catalytic heaters do this as well.

(On a side note, the 4000 BTU setting on the Portable Buddy does a pretty reasonable job of keeping the 19' Scamp 5th wheel warmish. It could make the trailer pretty toasty if I set it on "high" and except for a very slight hissing sound it's absolutely quiet! It's major downsides are that it burns through propane cylinders at the rate of 1 per 8 hours and the kerosene-like smell it puts out.)

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Old 04-20-2008, 12:18 AM   #2
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I don't know about the Buddy, but I had to run a couple canisters thru both my Colemans before the smell "burned off"

I had about 5 mins of that smell with my Wave 3. I would imagine there is a certain amount of it that needs to burn off or change with time/heat before it stabilizes. I have heard similar complaints about the Black Cat Colemans from just about everyone that has them.

It does go away. Burn a pound or two outside on your porch to break it in before you are "trapped" with it on a trip.

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Old 04-20-2008, 12:24 AM   #3
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I have a portable Buddy that I used in my first Scamp. There was a slight odor the first time it was used. I used it on 2 other occassions and did not notice any odor.

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Old 04-20-2008, 02:14 PM   #4
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Just to be clear, although Camping World lists the Buddy series under Catalytic Heaters, they are unvented LP heaters with Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), not catalytic. Call Mr Heater to be sure.

Both kinds are equally safe AFAIK. Some of the Olympian models are also U-V ODS, not catalytic.

I have an Empire U-V ODS and I don't recall ever smelling LP, however, I plumbed in into the LP line for the range I'd guess you are smelling the minute amount of LP gas that escapes when the connection is made or broken. The odorant may linger and be re-energized when heated.
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:18 PM   #5
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We've used the Mr. Buddy all winter in the 13 Scamp. Don't notice any smell except when I first light it I get a bit of excess propane odor but nothing real noticeable.
We love it. Much like a little fireplace-good ambience. Never have used the High setting only the 4000 btu low setting and it makes the Scamp toasty in about 10 -15 minutes.
Scamp Owners International
2015 Escape 19 & 1997 Scamp 19
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:59 PM   #6
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My husband said when he ice fishes he doesn't notice a smell from the broken in ones. But the one we got for the trailer is like yours. Haven't really used it.

Please report back to us after you burn off a couple of canisters!

Thanks Greg for the good news. I hope Peter finds the same, then we will give it another shot.

By the way, could it be the small canisters? The guys fishing take big tanks. Their problem is when it is -20 outside they get rained on inside.

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Old 04-21-2008, 09:10 PM   #7
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What they should try is a vent fan taking out the hottest air up by the roof -- The hottest air carries the most water vapor. They are getting lots of condensation from the heater, the water in holes, the ice, their breathing and the vapors from the beer...
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