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Old 08-07-2016, 12:12 PM   #1
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Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater

Camped at Taylor Reservoir, Colorado in mid June 2016, thick frost several mornings and in the 30's were typical over night. A two blanket and one sleeping bag cover nights.

NoResults of Salem, Oregon had a small propane heater that produced instant heat, compared to the Airstreams propane 'furnace', that needs time to heat the duct work, first. I find one on the internet that heats up to 400 square feet and prices in the $116 to $128 price range.

It is rare that we use the Airstream furnace. Not because of the propane, but the Off the Grid use of the batteries. It is more important to us that we have LED lights and water pump 12 volt power to spare, when camped. Maybe some power for AM Radio... for my entertainment.

Has anyone else used the Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater? Several propane canisters as spares and we might just find our mornings less... nippy. Thirty minutes after sunrise and we are toasty at 50 degrees.
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Old 08-07-2016, 12:31 PM   #2
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We use the smaller one (says it heats 200 square feet) in our Basecamp and it raises the temperature a degree a minute! Might be enough for a 23'-25' Airstream.

Propane catalytic heaters don't produce much CO, but they do consume oxygen so the manufacturer says it has a shut-off switch for when the oxygen level reaches the equivalent of 8,000' elevation. We have tested ours at 7,900' and 8,400' and it kept working. I expect it would become an issue at some higher elevation.

We love ours, wouldn't go out without it.
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Old 08-07-2016, 12:59 PM   #3
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Mr. Heater Buddy

Mr. Heater Buddy (the smaller one) is what we take when doing non-hookup camping in our local mountains. It is the perfect size for our trailer and works wonderfully and is silent! It brings happiness to our trailer when we wake on those cold mornings!

More details about how Mr. Heater Buddy works for us:

History Safari Express: Mobile-Friendly mountain happiness
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Old 08-07-2016, 01:06 PM   #4
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Unvented heaters that burn fossil fuels make a lot of moisture as they burn. I quit using my catalytic heater when I saw how much condensation was happening. I assume all that moisture also condenses inside the walls where I can't see it! I would think this is bad for my trailer but I admit that these heaters provide a lot of comfort. If I was boondocking a lot I would install a vented marine fireplace/heater.
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Old 08-07-2016, 02:18 PM   #5
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I use one in my enclosed snowmobile trailer to help thaw out the sleds it works good.
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Old 08-07-2016, 03:45 PM   #6
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This is the one we had at Taylor Reservoir:
I debated on getting the larger one, but am glad I didn't. This one provides more than enough heat. It is a struggle to light at high altitudes. We were over 10,000 ft last year and it was difficult to get going, but once it warmed up, it worked fine. Using a long lighter to start it worked better than the spark igniter. I thought I read about a high altitude version, but I can't find that now, so maybe I imagined it.
https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-F23...ortable+heater
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:57 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=Thalweg;1832152]This is the one we had at Taylor Reservoir:
I debated on getting the larger one, but am glad I didn't. This one provides more than enough heat. It is a struggle to light at high altitudes. We were over 10,000 ft last year and it was difficult to get going, but once it warmed up, it worked fine. Using a long lighter to start it worked better than the spark igniter. I thought I read about a high altitude version, but I can't find that now, so maybe I imagined it.
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Nancy said I was wrong, not seen in Thalweg's trailer.
See... men are not always wrong, just some of the time.

And yours was a smaller version! As soon as we return from Wyoming... I am getting one for the trailer! Makes the Airstream furnace seem tame.
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Old 08-08-2016, 11:07 AM   #8
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exhaust for catalytic heater

Like many in this forum, when away from power in the cold, I want heat without impacting the battery, and I have concerns about oxygen loss and carbon monoxide generation. I got a "wave 3" catalytic heater. I put a 'collection hood' over the whole top of the catalyst, and ducted that out to 'the space next to the back of the fridge' using a 1.5" copper pipe. My thoughts are that the copper pipe will help me pull a bit of the heat from the exhaust gasses. Generally 'not super tight' seals on the windows will allow enough make-up air to enter my 25' 1985 Avion. The tiny amount of additional heat added to the back of the fridge should not be an issue, as the heater is only on when the ambient temperature is rather cold.

There is also another option, which is a ducted catalytic heater with a powered exhaust extraction fan. It uses only a little power compared to the main heater, but the company has been out of business for several years, and the only source is a guy named "John" who custom re-fabs them out on the west coast (I think that is his name and location, but may be mis-remembering).
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Old 08-08-2016, 03:58 PM   #9
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Yay downer.bill! I've stared at my catalytic heater wondering if I could fabricate a heat exchanger that would exhaust the moisture and combustion byproducts to the outside without using electricity. I'd think that careful sizing of copper tubing could do this, just haven't got around to trying it; and it might take several tries to get it to work right. There are rumors of the power vent thermostat controlled versions being available again and I might buy one someday if the need arises. So far I've managed to stay comfortable year around by cobbling together a 20A 220V grid supply and a couple of 1500W ceramic heaters. I figure on average I spend about $100 per month on electricity so haven't put the time into finding a good boondocks set-up. If I come across a good deal on a water cooled generator like an old Honda 6500, or something a little smaller, I'd like to try making a heating system around that. I dream of having a furnace that charges my battery but I guess I'm weird!
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:21 PM   #10
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Ray -- I think the reason the smaller one may be adequate is that the Manufacturer rates them by "square feet", and we are trying to heat cubic feet. My guess is that they assume an 8' ceiling and our trailers are more like 6'.

So, when they say it heats 200 square feet, they mean (10X20X8) 1,600 cubic feet. The actual space inside a so-called 25' Airstream is 23' X 8' X 6' which is only 1,100 cubic feet.

By the way, we have not experienced condensation problems even while using them in the mornings at as low as 28 degrees outside. Maybe this is a phenomenon of camping in the drier West, or maybe it comes from being in an air-leaky Basecamp!
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:21 PM   #11
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I have the Big Buddy Heater. It's nice to have the flexibility of low or high heat. When to heater is on high it will heat up our 25' in short order. Then we turn it down to run with one side element operation. The high setting will consume a lot of propane, but we only use it for a short time. There is plenty of room for it by our door, and a window is left partially opened above it. It is a great asset. You can also order a direct from your tanks propane connection. We haven't found it is used enough to go to that trouble.
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:52 PM   #12
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I used the big buddy when working on the trailer in winter. Once it warmed up I had to put it on low to keep from overheating. So the small one probably would have worked well, just would have taken longer to warm up.
Most condensation I saw was on Windows. Not on the walls. Kept the vent and a window cracked for a little fresh air.
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Old 08-08-2016, 10:15 PM   #13
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We also have the 'Big Buddy' and find it very useful when we spend the night at a rest area (or whereever) on the way out of UT to warmer climes during our yearly Christmas holiday trips. We close off the front door to the bath and find it keeps the bath and BR toasty. We close off the BR and reverse it when we get up in the AM. We always crack a window just to be on the safe side. We have found this is a very efficient way to get some 'temporary' heat without running the furnace.
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:02 AM   #14
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Used one in my popup and and now in my 30' AS .. LOVE it ! leave a window slightly open and we have carbon monoxide doctor too.. Don't use when sleeping, just to warm up in the mornings.
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