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Old 03-28-2018, 01:06 AM   #21
4 Rivet Member
2017 27' International
Lake Havasu City , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 309
"Forget your onboard heater and buy an Olympian and your problems will be solved."

Cat heaters have many advantages: they're efficient, nearly silent, and use no battery power. But unless you live in a very mild climate, it's unwise to expect one to replace your furnace.

I used Olympian Wave catalytic heaters for many years in two different RVs--a 22-footer and a 27-footer. They can be a very useful supplementary source of heat, and in mild weather one of these may be all you need to take the chill off. But even an 8,000-BTU cat heater is not going to replace a 30,000-BTU furnace. Aside from the large disparity in heating power, a cat heater is strictly a radiant device--it only heats what it's pointed at, so its effect is very localized.

In my current 27FB International, instead of a cat heater I have a Dickinson P12000 marine wall heater. It has about the same rated BTU output as an 8,000-BTU cat heater, but spreads it around much better, thanks in part to a small, quiet, extremely power-efficient fan (draws half an amp, compared to six amps for the furnace). And unlike a cat heater, it doesn't require you to open a window or vent, because it draws in its combustion air from outside via its coaxial stovepipe, preheating it on the way into the rig. The P12000's firebox is sealed and doesn't emit fumes or gases into the RV.

The drawbacks are that it's much more expensive than a cat heater (for one thing, it's entirely made of stainless steel), and it requires running a 3" stovepipe through the roof. It's certainly not for everyone, but I enjoy my P12000 very much as a supplementary source of heat. I still use the furnace on cold mornings, though. It's hard to beat 30,000 BTU of hot air ducted to every room in the trailer.
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Old 03-28-2018, 10:44 AM   #22
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1974 31' Sovereign
Salt Lake City , Utah
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2
Years ago I had 2 hunting buddies and as a group we purchased a good quality catalytic heater to use for duck hunting in a boat. It was a great heater but I can not remember the brand. Those two friends went deer hunting and used the heater in a heavy military surplus tent. They were both found dead the next day. Since that time I have had many nightmares and thoughts of how this thing happened. If you must use this type of heater be sure you have good ventilation.
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Old 03-28-2018, 11:31 AM   #23
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 653
Curious how those using catalytic heaters solve for freezing tanks in that sub-freezing temperature range the OP mentions. I can imagine that it doesn't take many consecutive 24-hour period of below 15-degrees for the tanks to become a real issue. Are you somehow bypassing the heat circuitry to just use the furnace to circulate air into the tanks?
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:38 AM   #24
1 Rivet Member
2018 27' Flying Cloud
Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by SilverHouseDreams View Post
Curious how those using catalytic heaters solve for freezing tanks in that sub-freezing temperature range the OP mentions. I can imagine that it doesn't take many consecutive 24-hour period of below 15-degrees for the tanks to become a real issue. Are you somehow bypassing the heat circuitry to just use the furnace to circulate air into the tanks?
That was my question exactly....our furnaces number one job is keeping our pipes from bursting. We rarely turn it higher than 60 and use warm clothes, heating pads and a tiny ceramic heater for our bodies. I wish we didn't rely on it when it got below zero we went through an entire tank of propane in one day. $$$$$

That is a horrible story about your hunting friends. I don't want to mess around I'm nervous enough already
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Old 03-30-2018, 12:02 PM   #25
2 Rivet Member
1969 29' Ambassador
Post Falls , Idaho
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 22
While I can appreciate that you prefer your very expensive marine heater, many of us don't want to spend that much nor do we want to have to cut holes in our RVs for a stove pipe.

You contend that the Olympian Wave heaters put out 8000 BTUs and are radiant. There are three models of Olympian Wave heaters that have different BTU outputs. Each has a three level mode, low, medium and high settings.

I currently have a 34 foot Silver Streak trailer (1976) that I bought in 2000 and live in full time. Before that I started out in a 25 foot Silver Streak purchased in 1986 which I also lived in full time. In between I bought a 2008 42 foot KZ toy hauler that was super deluxe with three ACs, three TVs, a 12 foot diamond plated garage. and on and on. I gave it up and went back to my Silver Streak.

I live in North Idaho where temperatures level out near 32 degrees daytime and dip into the 20s and teens at night with a cold blast each year for about two weeks that can take us down to single digits or even negative numbers.

My water heater (Suburban 16 gallon) is running on electric and won't freeze. My Pex water lines are wrapped with foam insulation tubing and, where possible i use some pink fluffy insulation. When it stays below freezing for more than a day my hot water will freeze up and eventually my cold lines will also stop running. If I run my water lines frequently I can prevent them from freezing. The big problem is over night unless I wake up and turn on some faucets. I have no qualms about taking spit batch or using water from a five gallon container in the kitchen.

I don't let my waste tanks fill up or they will freeze and I would have to wait until spring for them to unfreeze. Both waste tanks (black and gray) are covered by the aluminum skin on the bottom of my trailer and not accessible to put a heating pad on them. When I park long term (years) I sometimes skirt the trailer with plastic sheeting to block the cold. I could put a heating lamp under the trailer, but never have, although I used to put one in my full sized washer that was outside for a time to keep plastic parts from bursting which got expensive.

I have removed most of my cupboard doors and remodeled the trailer a good bit. Even re-paneled the front room and put Reflectix and foam board insulation in the walls where I could. I keep Reflectix in the windowa during the winter (a major part of insulating against the cold).

I have used a kerosene fireplace type heater in the 25 foot SS then switched to the Wave 8 Catalytics and have used those ever since, even in my deluxe trailer which would have been usurious to heat using the Suburban that was in it. I only heat the rooms I need to and wear clothes as needed and am quite comfortable as one becomes acclimatized to cold temps when you live in cold zones. By Feb-March I start wearing shorts and a T shirt.

My Wave 8 will cook me out at temps near freezing if set to the high setting. I usually set it on low to conserve propane and use an electric blanket and electric mattress pad. I spend most of my days laying in my bed watching TV and using my computer being 73 and retired, but do go out to the market, shovel snow or use my snow blower or make a run to the dump, etc. and am quite comfortable all winter. The most uncomfortable time is in summer when the trailer will get quite hot, but I use fans almost all the time, even in my car and seldom use the AC unless it gets unbearably hot and then only to cool the trailer down for short periods.

Depending on where I place the Wave 8 in the main living area, I sometime use a large stand fan to keep the heat from rising and blow towards the floor. I have a tower fan in the bedroom area to cool me down when the heat gets to be too much. (I have to have the air moving on me!) I have a second Wave 8 that I put in the rear bathroom, but rarely use it. With two Wave 8s on I roast like a turkey.

I recommend that people have at least two Wave heaters in the models appropriate to the area they are placed. A Wave 3 in the bathroom seems wise and a Wave 8 in the main living area.

Airstreams aren't any different than my Silver Streak and aren't designed as well and are way overpriced for what you get. I have an older '69 Airstream that I gutted and turned into a storage trailer and workshop so I know how they're built from top to bottom and they are nothing but an airplane fuselage with appliances and cupboards built into them and not insulated well at all.

Living in trailers requires you to adapt your life style to avoid wasting money on propane for heating which is getting to be quite expensive and may become prohibitive if not unavailable in a crisis.

I'm thinking about building a small wood stove. Many people have wood stoves in their trailers (one is a Silver Streak just like mine) that live in Alaska, but they take up room and require insulating around and under them, but avoid the propane problem.

All in all, I find no reason whatsoever to use any current onboard propane heater that comes with RVs today. They are meant only to warm up trailers for short periods while people use their RVs on week ends or short trips even though more and more people are having to resort to living full time on the road due to the current economics of our economy. Those heaters will run through a ten gallon tank over night while my Catalytics will run for almost two weeks on a 25 gallon tank.

Many full timers have lots of creative ideas about how to economize on all facets of trailer life, stationary or on the road.

If many of you Airstreamers are wealthy enough to afford to buy an Airstream and keep fixing the problems you have at the exorbitant prices repair facilities charge for simple problems you could, and should, fix for yourselves, then you probably can afford a fancy marine heater like you have. More power to you. It's great to be wealthy. I was once. I've been rich and I've been poor and rich is better. However, life is unpredictable and you need to know how to cope with lean times and be content too.

I am.

My best to you all.
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Old 03-30-2018, 12:46 PM   #26
2 Rivet Member
1969 29' Ambassador
Post Falls , Idaho
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 22

I have used my Wave 8s for over 30 years and have NEVER had to open windows or do any type ventilation as my trailer appears to have a good deal of air leakage and the Wave 8s are EXTREMELY EFFICIENT!

Nevertheless, it is important to always have sufficient air exchange in your trailer to avoid condensation and any carbon monoxide poisoning that could be present. Having a carbon monoxide monitor is NOT to be relied on as many don't get triggered either fast enough or go off for no reason. Same with propane detectors which should be installed low as propane is heavier than air and creeps along the floor until it finds a spark or pilot light.

As pointed out in my earlier post, I had a bad experience with an older gas type catalytic heater in my van many years ago even with a cracked window, so I know how easy it is to die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Just look at how that family died down in Mexico recently in a rented room from what they think was some type of gas poisoning.
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Old 06-04-2018, 11:46 PM   #27
2 Rivet Member
1973 23' Safari
Sacramento , California
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 21
You might have a problem with "mud-daubers" they are little wasp like creatures that crawl into your outside vents. I just had a issue with our older Airstream and was lucky to find the hive just inside the incoming air vent. You might want to check by removing the outside grate. Good Luck!
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