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Old 01-23-2007, 05:39 PM   #1
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Catalytic heater and kids?

Hi All,

I'm new here, what a great forum!

Im thinking of installing a catalytic heater in my '75 Tradewind. I have small kids and am concerned with them getting burned. Does anyone have one of these units? Do they get hot enough that I should be concerned with a small child getting hurt by putting thier hand on it?

Thanks, Matt

Whoops, I put this in the wrong caregory, but I think the damage is done...
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Old 01-23-2007, 05:50 PM   #2
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Yes. They do get hot - Damn hot. You might have to educate your kids not to touch. Of course if they do touch that might be all the education they need. My cat learned not to walk on the wood stove that way....
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Old 01-23-2007, 06:00 PM   #3
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Buttercup is right, they throw off a bunch of heat. On the 29 Palms trip Gracie our yellow lab stunk up the trailer when she put her tail into it. She never noticed
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Old 01-23-2007, 06:38 PM   #4
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not a good idea, as per the "heaters, heaters, heaters" thread my testing showed the temp at the protective grate to be 169F. Your kids withstand that?? I think not. but they are your kids.
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Old 01-23-2007, 07:07 PM   #5
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I have 3 kids (Grown now)

I have always had a fireplace or wood stove.

I had one accident where my oldest touched his hand on the glass of the fireplace. This was done in the presence of the other 2, they all learned.

I do think they can be taught, but you have to evaluate the likelyhood of an accident. Accidents do happen. Choosing a good location for the heater may help.

The catalytics are hot, but do have the metal grate over the front.

One concern I have is when camping you many times are far from treatment if your child gets burned.
I can tell you from experience that it is not a pleasant thing to go through.

My trailer doesn't have a very good location for a permanent mount cat heater, so I'm considering a portable unit.
Dave
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Old 01-23-2007, 07:29 PM   #6
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I'd go with the catalytic heater and teach the kids early. You'd be surprised how fast they catch on that the heater is hot.
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Old 01-23-2007, 10:45 PM   #7
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Boy, I sure wouldn't leave this one up to chance or the "experience will teach them" philosophy. They are in your charge and so vulnerable-- and the damage of a burn is way too painful and scarring. I'd go for a safer alternative until they're older.
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Old 01-23-2007, 11:03 PM   #8
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My Tradewind has a catalytic heater in the bathroom. I guess a PO decided that was the only spot to mount one. He/she was right. It does get pretty hot but out off the way of little hands and pet tails. I bought a portable Mr. Buddy Catalytic Heater at Camping World. I can place it up on a counter or the stove top. Works for us.
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Old 01-23-2007, 11:07 PM   #9
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Oil filled heaters

Please consider the 'Oil Filled' heaters as an alternative. I have several of these units when we cold weather camp. They are mobile, they heat REALLY well, and they are removable when the season turn more favorable.... Yes, they get hot but they are not in a class with open flame units. Plus, they are CHEAP!!! About $30 on sale at HD, Lowes, etc... Give 'em a trial run, ruturn if not your cuppa tea... Electric is cheap compared to the ER bills....

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Old 01-24-2007, 12:02 AM   #10
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Thanks all. I think I will not install the catalytic for now, as the kiddos are 1 and 3. When they get older maybe.

I will go for the oil filled as I already have one. Or I think this means I need to break down and repair my furnace

Thanks everyone! Matt
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Old 01-24-2007, 06:27 AM   #11
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Matt, A very important item that many overlook with our Airstreams is that, the furnace is the way that our Airstreams are made freeze-proof to be able to use them in the winter. The furnace has ducts that run down arounf the holding tanks, as well as having heat-loss ductwork run through all the cabinetry where there are water lines runnng. Now whether or not that last issue was designed or there by default is not the issue but rather that the warmth in these areas is a good thing.
Fix your furnace, and that way the Airstream is protected, your kids will have to find another way to learn the meaning of "HOT" and your billfold will stay fat for another day instead of repairing frozen things.
Oh, and by the way, for what it's worth, most of us older people (I'm 55!) learned to walk around the furnace grate , which was hot, naked, grill work, located right there in the middle of the hallway. Life's lessons aren't usually enjoyable, but almost always are necessary at some point.
Go with fixing the furnace.
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:01 PM   #12
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confused now (again!)

I have a 25' Tradewind. The PO had installed a catalytic heater by the front door. I thought this was so the trailer could be heated when not plugged in. So the catalytic and the furnace are for different applications? Doesn't the trailer have to be plugged in to run the furnace?
BTW, the grate is missing on my old catalytic heater. Any ideas how would I find a replacement? Thanks, Pam
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattstream
Thanks all. I think I will not install the catalytic for now, as the kiddos are 1 and 3. When they get older maybe.

I will go for the oil filled as I already have one. Or I think this means I need to break down and repair my furnace

Thanks everyone! Matt
I've got a catalytic...haven't used it in a few seasons, as I also have a 3 year old. same conclusion as the others....not yet. maybe later this year. He may understand at this point not to touch it intentionally; thing is, pre-schoolers (and toddlers even moreso) do a lot of stuff UNintentionally.

oil filled (or other) electric is great...when you have electricity. A "Mr. Heater" would be a great alternative if you need to boondock, as you can get heat w/o electricity, AND put it up on a counter or somewhere the young-uns can't touch it, and won't touch it accidentally.
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pamelake
I have a 25' Tradewind. The PO had installed a catalytic heater by the front door. I thought this was so the trailer could be heated when not plugged in. So the catalytic and the furnace are for different applications? Doesn't the trailer have to be plugged in to run the furnace?
BTW, the grate is missing on my old catalytic heater. Any ideas how would I find a replacement? Thanks, Pam
Hi Pam,

Both types of heaters do basically the same thing, except:
1. The furnace uses battery power for the fan, and propane to heat. The catalytic doesn't use battery power, only a smaller amount of propane - it's more efficient.

2. The trailer does not have to be plugged in to run the furnace, as long as your batteries will last through the night. They don't always last. This is why catalytic heaters are popular for boondocking.

3. You should be able to find a replacement grate from the manufacturer, or possibly an RV dealer.

Hope this clears things up some,
Dave
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:27 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pamelake
I have a 25' Tradewind. The PO had installed a catalytic heater by the front door. I thought this was so the trailer could be heated when not plugged in.
you can use the catalytic whether the trailer is plugged in to shore power or not.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamelake
So the catalytic and the furnace are for different applications?
no. they both heat the trailer. each has advantages and disadvantages. For example, (as someone mentioned earlier), if you have tanks below the floor, the furnace has ducting that blows warm air around the tank, to keep it from freezing. The heat from the catalytic doesn't get circulated like that; it heats solid objects with radiant heat; the objects then heat the air.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamelake
Doesn't the trailer have to be plugged in to run the furnace?
technically, "no". it runs on 12v supplied by your battery. BUT, it uses so much electricity, it can drain a single battery in one night. So unless you're on a very short outing, or you have a generator to recharge your battery during the day, you really don't want to be using it, unless you're plugged into shore power.
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Originally Posted by pamelake
BTW, the grate is missing on my old catalytic heater. Any ideas how would I find a replacement? Thanks, Pam
that might be difficult...depends on the make/model. I don't think they make the kind that I have in my trailer...might have to find a junker or find some way to fabricate your own.
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:27 PM   #16
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Pam,
Fyrzowt gave good answers. Be advised, the catalytic heater as will use more INSIDE oxygen than the furnace, as well as leaving carbon monoxide inside while the furnace doesn't.

Carbon Monoxide will KILL YOU.

Be sure to leave an ozygen source (window) open somewhere during the operation of it. The heat they put out is very good. When you light it, no great wall of flame will appear, but rather the red will begin to take over. If you have the original paperwork with the trailer, you should be able to find a paper with the manufacturers contact on it to be able to buy a grill.
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:34 PM   #17
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Thanks Dave!

I really didn't understand that the furnace would run on batteries! Good to know, especially if one is worried about the plumbing freezing. Little, by little, I am coming to understand this trailer of mine! Thanks to the forum! Pam
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:34 PM   #18
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the furnace doesn't use any O2 from inside the trailer; it gets its combustion air from outside.

the catalytic does NOT give off carbon monoxide, unless its running in a very low oxygen environment...which would also be bad. It does consume alot of oxygen, though. so you do need to keep a vent open. doesn't take much.

you should have a CO detector if you're using either one.
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:35 PM   #19
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Hi, Pam,

To add to what Doug said, the furnace also has takeoffs that go below the floor to heat the storage and waste tanks in freezing weather. The cat heater does not offer this protection when it's that cold.

Cats are often mounted near the front door to heat the front of the trailer. Cat heaters are better at warming people and objects than they are the air because a lot of their output is in the infrared. As for kids, I don't know. Yep, it's mighty hot near the surface, but it's one of those warm, warmer, hot, hottest, yikes! things that I suspect kids would pick up on and avoid. I'd worry more about rambunctiousness and having a little body slam into the grate of the running heater in play.

My cat heater is five feet away from my knees when I'm sitting in front of it on the gaucho. The directions say to let it run on high for ten minutes and then adjust the desired temperature. I leave it running in the low position most of the time.

I lalso have one of the little oil filled heaters I use in an 12x8x10 office space in our pole barn. I leave it on the 900 watt setting, and it's kept the place comfortably warm down to 20 degrees. They are about as safe as it gets. The only check is to feel the plug now and then to make sure it's not getting hot.

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Old 01-24-2007, 12:49 PM   #20
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Thanks to Chuck, Lamar, and Steelbird too! You all answered so quickly I didn't see all of the replies. This is all good information and possibly life saving! The first time I used the trailer I used the catalytic heater all night for 3 nights running (without ventilation). I understand now, that could be a mistake without having a vent or window open. I did see a thread a while back that discussed the safety of this. Some members said they never run their catalytic heaters all night even with ventilation. Lots to learn, but so fun. Thanks again. Pam
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