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Old 12-15-2014, 09:38 AM   #1
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Is using the furnace while we sleep dangerous?

My brother-in-law, owner of an SOB, says I should not use the furnace as it runs on propane while we sleep due to possible carbon monoxide leaks. He says to buy a small electric heater. The AS has a propane leak detector but not yet a CO leak detector. Does anyone use a portable electric heater instead of their furnace?
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:49 AM   #2
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My brother-in-law, owner of an SOB, says I should not use the furnace as it runs on propane while we sleep due to possible carbon monoxide leaks.
As long as your furnace is in good working order, it is every bit as safe as a natural gas furnace in your home. Maybe even safer. The key feature of an RV furnace is that— just like the water heater and a Dometic refrigerator— the fire is outside the trailer. Heat is transferred to the interior air through a heat exchanger, and no propane exhaust comes inside the trailer except through a window.

If you feel the need to crack open a window for air exchange— to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide, not carbon monoxide— then open a window on the opposite side of the trailer, so that the chance is minimized that propane exhaust from outside will come in through the windows.

And of course make sure your carbon monoxide, smoke, and LPG detectors are all in good working order.

But the potential for carbon monoxide buildup is why you should not use your propane stovetop or oven as a heat source overnight, because for those the fire is inside with you.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:56 AM   #3
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Battery-powered CO detectors are cheap and easy to install. Available at Home Depot. We have three of them in our Airstream, since we're still using the original furnace and it's pretty old (although thoroughly checked-out).

An electric heater has the advantage of running on power you've already paid for as part of your RV hookup rental instead of propane you have to pay for elsewhere.

Standard fire safety precautions regarding electric heaters should be followed carefully!
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:00 AM   #4
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:00 AM   #5
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Run ours a lot in both SOB MH and AS. Have two CO2 detectors. Never had an issue. If still concerned open a bedroom window slightly,
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:20 AM   #6
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We use the furnace without concern when boondocking, but prefer the Dyson electric heater (se Avatar) when with external power. It's quieter and keeps the heat more even and right where you set it. Good down to near freezing outside, then need the furnace.

The Airstream has smoke/CO1 alarms. We always crack the bedroom roof vent enough to control condensation but I doubt that is protection from carbon monoxide in the trailer, so it's important to maintain the detector(s).
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:10 AM   #7
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Being in a mild climate and having heat pumps we don't get to use the furnace very often. I have used the furnace on 3 trips and didn't worry about it. It sure is warm and cozy. I think campers are so drafty anyway that we are getting enough fresh air.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:13 AM   #8
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I was visiting friends in their home Saturday evening. They had an Eden Pure endorsed by Bob Vila they bought mail order. It kept their 25' x 25' den very warm and toasty and it does not get hot to the touch. I want to see about getting one for the Airstream. Maybe they have a smaller size, as this one was quite large. It would go under the dinette so it wouldn't be in the way.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:28 AM   #9
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I was visiting friends in their home Saturday evening. They had an Eden Pure endorsed by Bob Vila they bought mail order. It kept their 25' x 25' den very warm and toasty and it does not get hot to the touch. I want to see about getting one for the Airstream. Maybe they have a smaller size, as this one was quite large. It would go under the dinette so it wouldn't be in the way.
Watts are watts, there's no magic in Edenpure or "Amish Heater" or whatever. The Dyson everyone raves about is probably only more pleasing because it has a proper thermostat and perhaps different airflow characteristics than most. Other than the quality of the thermostat and differences in sound (fan vs. convection, loud fan vs. quiet, etc) you're going to get a very similar amount of heat from any 1500w electric heater.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:32 AM   #10
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We leave our furnace on at night, but lower the thermostat to about 60F. If we're on shore power, we'll supplement with a 1500 watt heater.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:41 AM   #11
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If you camp with nights below freezing temperatures, a good reason to leave the furnace on is because it heats under the floor where the pipes are located.

We travel with a small electric heater that we use on cold nights where we have hookups, but the furnace is pretty much it for boondocking.

Like the others have suggested, it is important to make sure the furnace and CO detectors work properly. Also, you can leave one of the roof vents or windows open just a tad for ventilation.

We also keep the thermostat at a low setting, and pile on extra bedding during cold nights.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:53 AM   #12
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Should be very safe, but just like at home, don't use it without a functioning CO detector.
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Old 12-15-2014, 12:00 PM   #13
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Watts are watts, there's no magic in Edenpure or "Amish Heater" or whatever. The Dyson everyone raves about is probably only more pleasing because it has a proper thermostat and perhaps different airflow characteristics than most. Other than the quality of the thermostat and differences in sound (fan vs. convection, loud fan vs. quiet, etc) you're going to get a very similar amount of heat from any 1500w electric heater.
Agree...and IMO, the Dyson "magic" is the way they move the air throughout every (rounded) corner of the AS, without a chilly draft. Watts is Watts.
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Old 12-15-2014, 12:13 PM   #14
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I like to use the furnace when ever possible. It does a better job than several space heaters that become trip hazards at night when heading to the bathroom. And then there is that old saying "if you don't use it you loose it" and that goes for things mechanical also.
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