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Old 04-17-2016, 09:08 PM   #1
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Austin , Texas
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Posts: 10
box with external vent for catalytic heater?

I have been hesitant to put a catalytic heater (wave 6, e.g.) in my Avion (25' 1985) due to concerns about breathing the oxidation products. Has anyone tried to put a 'duct free' radiant heater in a box with a glass front, or under a hood? Either approach would involve providing an external vent and likely an external air supply. I see you can get a 24" x 18" sheet of high temp tolerant glass; some bent aluminum sheet metal could be used. It would not have to be completely air tight, just able to capture and vent most of the combustion products. I welcome your thoughts, ideas, and experience. I also understand that this may trigger some strongly held beliefs, which may not all be in agreement, so I am grateful for the gentle and reasonable tone that is part of any discussion on this site.

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Old 04-17-2016, 11:23 PM   #2
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How about one of these?

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Old 04-18-2016, 06:14 AM   #3
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I would be less concerned about inhaling combustion products (like carbon monoxide) and more concerned about oxygen depletion.
I don't know if that would change your box design or not.
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Old 04-18-2016, 06:14 AM   #4
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Check out PlatCat heater online.
Al and Jean

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Old 04-18-2016, 11:07 AM   #5
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If you just want to take off the chill then I wouldn't be worrying about some CO2, water vapor and a bit of CO. I set the bedroom fan to run 'in' and open the living area vent about 1/2. That is more than enough to meet the standard for 22 sq in for passive vent area. I would never go to sleep with the catalytic running, but I routinely use it while sitting watching TV or making meals on a cool day. Personally I can't stand the noise of the furnace and it has such a large dead band in the thermostat that it is useless for anything but heating the trailer first thing in the morning
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:44 AM   #6
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I have catalytic heaters in both of my trailers. Never worry about letting them run all night while I'm sleeping. I sometimes forget to crack a window. Just about any trailer is drafty enough that one doesn't necessarily need to open a vent, but opening the bathroom vent is a good idea, I suppose.
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:20 PM   #7
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In the history of Airstreaming there has to have been thousands of Cat heater used. Mine for close to 20 years.While I do not leave it on while sleeping I have never heard of a problem from those that do.

Enclosing and venting this type of heater has got to reduce is effectiveness by more than 50%. These heater have a convective and radiant component. The glass would slash the radiant and the vent would exhaust most of the convective heat.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 04-18-2016, 03:46 PM   #8
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Palmer Lake , Colorado
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If you use the trailer at lower altitudes you can check out the marine LP heaters that boat owners install for overnight trips - but apparently don't work well above about 1500-2000' above sea level. They don't require electricity to run and from what I understand they do a really good job as a back up heat source when you are not plugged in. Dickinson (no relation) makes some models that look nice and I heard about them on the forum from people that are installing them in new Airstreams. They do require external venting and of course a source of fuel. We learned the hard way that, if you camp in the cold, you really do need an alternate heat source when camping even if you think you have electric. Having shore power may not always be the case. Power goes out at trailer parks too. And other things can happen like the time our inverter went out on us on a cold night (low teens F) in New Mexico and the furnace fan ran the battery down within 30 minutes. We now carry a Camco catalytic heater as a back up. We have a quick connect off the furnace to supply LP and the extension LP hose is long enough to place the heater most anywhere in the trailer depending on where we are while using it.
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Old 04-18-2016, 04:32 PM   #9
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1973 31' Sovereign
Middletown , California
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How about buying one of the newer ones that come with a built in power exhaust and can be used with a thermostat? They use little current and they were supposed to re-start production on these units. I don't think you could go wrong with one of those Dickerson fireplaces either. I tried an unvented catalytic heater and loved the way it heated but I'm sure the amount of moisture it adds to the air would ruin an Airstream over time from the moisture condensing inside the walls. I never could decide where I was OK with putting a hole for a vent so I ended up just resigning myself to situations where I had the power to use electric heaters. I'm sure a good powerless venting system could be fabricated for a catalytic heater and would be worth the hassle if you wanted to do it, but I don't think a box enclosing the whole heater would work. You would be better off with a fireplace type. I thought of fabricating a hood with a 2" chimney that mounted on my catalytic heater and exited out the roof thinking that would make a self powered vent but it would probably need a drain setup for condensation at least until the chimney warmed up. Never did that because I like to keep the bedroom above 45 degrees while I sleep so I had put an electric outlet controlled by a thermastat in the bedroom before I even had the catalytic heater. Quiet heat is a good thing!

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