Excessice Propane Usage in Camco Wave 3 Heater - Fiberglass RV
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Old 03-19-2021, 07:07 PM   #1
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Name: dave
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New Mexico
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Excessice Propane Usage in Camco Wave 3 Heater

First use of Wave 3 heater used excessive propane.
I started out with a 1 gal cylinder and was shocked that it was done in 3 nights. I thought I had screwed something up so I bought a new 5 gallon tank (15 pound actual propane fill weight). Usage rate turned out to be the same with the brand new tank.
With the new tank, I compiled times of usage and assumed first 10 minutes of each usage on high (3,000 btu/h) and remaining time on low (1,600 btu/h). Total calculated usage = 84,900 BTU.
Used a total of 3.7 pounds LPG from brand new tank.
At 91,500 BTU/gal of LPG we should have used less than one gallon. This works out to an efficiency around 30%. We had redundant CO detectors and propane detector, no problems. Hose and regulator were brand new and I checked for and found no leaks.
Ive read these heaters should go almost 60 hours on Low on a Coleman 1 lb cylinder yet we used 3.7 lbs for 50 hours on low and 1.5 or so on high.
Any ideas? Im thinking this or the regulator could be defective, should I return and try again? Is there any way to check the equipment?
We really loved the heat and quiet but this fuel consumption seems crazy, worse than the Suburban.
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Old 03-19-2021, 11:34 PM   #2
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For reference, our Martin catalytic heater, running on low (1,500 btu's according to Martin) uses a 1# cylinder in about 10 hours. 1# of propane has 21,591 btu's, so apparently we're using about 2,159.1 btu's an hour, not 1,500 like Martin claims for the low setting. Since we also have two CO detectors and the one never registers over 15, plus it sits about a foot away from the LP detector, it's putting out more heat an hour than advertised rather than having a poor efficiency. If the efficiency was only 30% than either the LP or CO detector would be easily going off.

We're happy with our Martin.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 03-20-2021, 08:49 AM   #3
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Name: dave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
For reference, our Martin catalytic heater, running on low (1,500 btu's according to Martin) uses a 1# cylinder in about 10 hours. 1# of propane has 21,591 btu's, so apparently we're using about 2,159.1 btu's an hour, not 1,500 like Martin claims for the low setting. Since we also have two CO detectors and the one never registers over 15, plus it sits about a foot away from the LP detector, it's putting out more heat an hour than advertised rather than having a poor efficiency. If the efficiency was only 30% than either the LP or CO detector would be easily going off.

We're happy with our Martin.

Enjoy,

Perry
Thanks much Perry, I was using the conversion for gallons rather than pounds, too tired last night! So, now it works out that we actually got more BTUs than we should have by about 5% but that's totally reasonable given measurement or valve variations, my heater probably puts out a little less than 1600 btu/h which is fine.

The thing I read on another forum, which is totally bogus (and did sound too good to be true) was that you'd get 57 hours of run time from a single coleman 1# cylinder. Clearly that was an incorrect calculation based on the incorrect conversion that I was also guilty of. Thanks for replying so I could clear this up.
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semievolved View Post
Thanks much Perry, I was using the conversion for gallons rather than pounds, too tired last night! So, now it works out that we actually got more BTUs than we should have by about 5% but that's totally reasonable given measurement or valve variations, my heater probably puts out a little less than 1600 btu/h which is fine.

The thing I read on another forum, which is totally bogus (and did sound too good to be true) was that you'd get 57 hours of run time from a single coleman 1# cylinder. Clearly that was an incorrect calculation based on the incorrect conversion that I was also guilty of. Thanks for replying so I could clear this up.
I thought you might have misread something.

I forgot to mention we use Flame King DOT approved refillable cylinders. I think many times I don't get the entire 1# replaced, so perhaps it really is 1,500 btu's. Either case, we're happy!

Since Covid-19 Flame King cylinders are almost impossible to find. They sell out immediately.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:50 AM   #5
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Name: Michael
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Propane consumption can vary greatly and this variation doesn't necessarily mean a problem with your appliances. I carry two 20lb tanks. A single tank does me for months boondocking during the summer when the furnace isn't used. Later in the season I can go through both tanks in a week or less.
Gas plumbing can leak over time and even small leaks can vent significant gas over time. If you don't have a portable propane sniffer you can use a soap/water solution to check for leaks starting at the tanks and working from there. Propane also contains mercaptan, an odorant to indicate gas leaks so you can often smell a leak.
I'd be more concerned about ensuring no gas leaks than propane consumption.
The 1lb cylinders are fine for a propane torch but not much else.
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Old 03-20-2021, 12:15 PM   #6
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Name: dave
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
I thought you might have misread something.

I forgot to mention we use Flame King DOT approved refillable cylinders. I think many times I don't get the entire 1# replaced, so perhaps it really is 1,500 btu's. Either case, we're happy!

Since Covid-19 Flame King cylinders are almost impossible to find. They sell out immediately.

Enjoy,

Perry

Thanks Perry, I am curious how you know those cylinders are full (80%) when you refill them? I refill my tanks but they all have valves that start spitting when they hit 80% so you know they're full and can't add past that. I use a scale as a safety check. But, how do these work for refilling and what's different than the Coleman standard issue?
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