Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

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dlb
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Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by dlb » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:19 pm

We're looking for an easy way to heat our cabin in cold weather (we have a small propane camper furnace in there but the cabin is too big for it when it's below 10 degrees C). So I looked online and read lots of good reviews of little portable Mr Heater 'Buddy' propane heaters where people used them in tents, cabins, RVs, garages, etc. I didn't see anything to the contrary saying "DO NOT USE IN ENCLOSED SPACES" but when the thing showed up here, that's one of the big cautions in the directions for it.

I feel like with so many other people using this thing in enclosed spaces and not dropping dead of carbon monoxide poisoning, it should be fine but with the stakes as high as life and death, I wanted to get the thoughts of the fine folks here.

I should note that we already have a carbon monoxide detector in the cabin because of the various propane appliances we already have in there.

This is the heater unit in question:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Mr-Heater-9 ... /205527178

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by The Professor » Tue Jan 28, 2020 2:27 pm

Lots of car campers use that heater. If you're comfortable gambling that you won't suffocate, I'd say go for it. Otherwise, maybe look for a wood stove or a diesel heater.
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Mattel » Tue Jan 28, 2020 3:23 pm

I"ve been thinking of getting one for my Vanagon.

There are various small diesel heaters that vent outside that a guy from youtube 'living the vanlive' had a cheap chinese one that he installed in his westfalia seemed to do the job. just an option
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Petros » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:45 pm

two brothers installed a diesel heater in a Tercel4wd and took it on a road trip through Yukon and Alsaska in the winter, camping along the way. it is somewhere in the archives on this forum. they had the exhaust go out the rear through the rear quarter window.
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Mattel » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:35 pm

Previous: 83 Tercel SR5 4wd, 84 Tercel SR5 4wd
88 Corolla 4wd Wagon 5speed, All power options, Fact Sunroof, Diff Lock, 14" SX Alloys, Hankook Tyres, 4afe, King Springs, Upgraded Headlights, Full Synth oils, Tow Bar, 210,000kms

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by dlb » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:59 pm

Thanks matt, I checked that vid out but also found a lot of people on youtube asking the same questions as me regarding CO and using this heater inside. Looks like it should be fine.

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by The Professor » Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:38 am

Mattel wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 3:23 pm
...a guy from youtube 'living the vanlive'...
I love that guy's channel!
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by BlackStraw » Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:46 pm

Great looking cabin! I've been using something very similar to what you have, a Coleman ProCat catalytic heater….was very difficult to find in Canada, had to order it from a Costco website. There must have been some regulation change about 7 years ago, because this type of heater used to be readily available on store shelves in various brands, and then they weren't.

I had a really hard time trying to research the same thing, as in "are these damn things actually safe to use in an enclosed space like a camper"? Lots of sources saying absolutely fine, and lots of other sources saying guaranteed death. What was really fascinating was that I found some online manuals for the Buddy heater, exactly the same model number and physically identical construction - but the USA manual and packaging says okay for indoor use and the Canadian instructions and box say "outdoor use only."

I use the ProCat inside a 13' fibreglass Boler camper in cold weather and love it. Quick heat, nice and quiet, can bring the whole contraption outside and put it under the picnic table to keep your feet warm. As best as I can determine, catalytic heaters will still produce a SMALL amount of carbon monoxide, but with a bit of venting, a CO monitor and common sense (ie. don't try and use it sleeping in a small car with the windows sealed tight), I am satisfied with the tiny level of risk.

One downfall though of this type of heater is that they will create extra water vapour and humidity in the air. No big deal if you're in Arizona, but when the outside humidity is 95%, it's real difficult to get it down again to comfortable levels again without a wood stove or compressor-driven dehumidifier.

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by splatterdog » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:06 am

Vented is always best but Buddy heaters are widely used in ice fishing shelters, along with their unvented wall mount equivalents. The one you got is what I use in my new "house". viewtopic.php?f=6&t=14945. I also have the Big one for my larger tent shelters.

As was mentioned, moisture will be a problem. The required ventilation along with a small fan for circulation works wonders though. The only thing I think will be a problem is maybe the Big Buddy would have been a better choice. Sometimes too much heat is just enough. Gets the cabin up to temp quicker too. The run time on low is also double with 2 cylinders and that one also has a quick connect port for hooking up a hose and large tank.

Many warnings are there due to idiots, not to mention it probably causes cancer in California also..

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Petros » Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:04 pm

hopefully your CO detector will save your life if the heater malfunctions.

Catalytic heaters should completely burn the fuel to create heat, CO2 and water vapor (none are harmful), but likely if it malfunctions or for whatever reason it does not work properly, incomplete combustion causes CO output. CO is oderless and color less, and highly deadly, and why you are not likely to notice any problem until it is too late. Venting is the safest way to go.
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by dlb » Fri Jan 31, 2020 9:44 am

We've decided to return the Mr Heater, but not because of CO concerns. The moisture of burning propane is the problem because the humidity is always really high up there already and we don't want to add a bunch more to it. I think we're going to go back to our previous plan of running an oil heater off of a generator. It's not ideal but it's easy, it will be dry heat, and we have an inverter generator that is pretty quiet, and we only need the second heater on the cold days we go there (which is rare -- we haven't been up there since September).

Thanks for all the input, everyone. Much appreciated!

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Petros » Fri Jan 31, 2020 4:43 pm

install a properly sized wood stove, the fuel is available nearby and is traditional, and requires very little maintenance or safety concern that is not well known.

it is what is traditional in bug out cabins the world over anyway.
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by dlb » Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:18 pm

Nah, I'm sick of wood stoves. I've used one to heat our house for the last 12 years and I'm sick of it. Last thing I want to do these days is keep a fire going while I'm on vacation trying to relax. Besides, the cabin already has a propane heater we transplanted from an old camper and it's fine most of the time. We just need something to supplement that heat every now and then so I think the oil heater should be a quick and easy solution.

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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by Petros » Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:57 pm

dlb wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 7:18 pm
Nah, I'm sick of wood stoves. ..Last thing I want to do these days is keep a fire going while I'm on vacation trying to relax.
LOL, I sympathize. I know of many that use wood to heat their how around here, they have the delusion that it saves them money. that may be true as far as out of pocket cost, but at what cost in your effort and time? lots of your leisure time ends up going to heat your home if you use wood. I had one guy try to convince me that wood is a good deal "because it heats you twice", once cutting and chopping it, and again when you burn it. I told him as far as I was concerned, the reason God invented propane was so I can just flip a switch to get warm.

the wood stove in our large home is too small to heat the whole house, we only use it as decoration. when we have guests we can enjoy the fire. Otherwise it is too much effort for daily use. when the power is out (that controls our propane heat sources) we will use the wood stove to keep the house above freezing, otherwise it is too much effort.
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Re: Mr Heater propane heater in enclosed space?

Post by dlb » Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:48 pm

Yeah, it's a huge investment of time and effort to find wood (with all the droughts and danger of wildfires for the last few years, most cut blocks have only been open for a week or two before being closed down again), then driving out there and to collect and process it, then bring it home and stack it. And that's not even the worst part IMO. What I'm sick of now is that each type of wood burns differently -- cedar burns hot and fast, fir burns hot and slow, alder and poplar burn fast but give little heat, etc -- and that if your darling wife doesn't care about what kinds of wood she is throwing in the fire, it will end up being way too hot and making the house into a sauna for the next 8 hrs, or the fire will go out by the time I get home. Really, getting the house to just the right temp and keeping it there with the wood stove requires a lot of attention, and I just don't have it anymore.

Plus I hate all the dust they create in the house, and all the pollution it creates. "Carbon neutral home heating" my ass. By that logic, fossil fuels are carbon neutral too.

I still think wood stoves are great to supplement electric heat when it's particularly cold out, and especially important when the power is out for days on end, but I'm finished with using it as our primary heat source.

And that's my rant on wood stoves. :D :roll: :x

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