Catalytic Heaters

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tripper

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I have 2 vintage Olympians in 2 rigs, both going strong 10+ years. Everything tx2sturgis said is spot on. On both of mine I have a fresh air inlet just below the heater, as they consume oxygen + very minimal carbon Monoxide. With a good air inlet they burn extremely clean. You should have a small air outlet too but both my dogs are drafty enough that it isn't needed, the fresh air inlet just below it is tho. In very cold weather I run it on low all night. My experience low will add about 25 degrees to my rig and high about 40, if course very rig dependant but both of mine are bigger than a van. Uses very little propane too. I use 5 gallon propane bottle. I have never had a problem with both of my Olympians.
20221024_082807.jpg
 

GoingMobile

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Thanks again for the replies, input. Still waiting on the propane hose I need to hook it up and try it. My two easy to open fresh air sources are my two roof vent fans. The front windows rolled down a bit too, but I usually have an insulated curtain separating the cab from the living space when temps get more extreme. It sounds like from what some are saying it burns better with a close source of fresh air, which I'm not sure a roof vent fan will readily provide with the heater on or near the floor. The space I'm thinking of setting it out at is near the side sliding door. There is that recessed step area and I'm thinking I could make a vent on the vertical surface of that I could open to have fresh air enter just below where I place the heater.
 

maki2

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Some people put fresh air vents through the floor. They do that because on hot days the air underneath is cooler as it is always in the shade.
 

LargeMarge

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... fresh air vents through the floor. They do that because on hot days the air underneath [tends to be] cooler...
.
re -- floor vents for ventilation
.
1990s.
Sacramento, California.
The utility company PG&E engineered and built a demonstration home using:
* 2x6 walls instead of 2x4 for more insulation
* clerestory windows facing the south-west for winter solar gain
* concrete floor stained to accept that solar gain, then release it overnight.
For a couple-three years, the home was open for tours.
.
In each room, the home used paired wall-mounted foot-square vents near the floor and ceiling to encourage a convective exchange of room air.
These were open to the outside.
During a hot evening, those paired vents could be opened to pull cool air in through the lower vents to replace warm air automatically escaping the upper vents.
A bonus:
* the cool air flowing over the floor attracted/absorbed human body warmth, giving the sensation of a much cooler environment.
.
Any evening to accelerate the summer air exchange, the highest point in the great-room had a wall-mount 'whole-house' fan.
Process:
* open the lower vents so cooler outside air could enter, then
* switch ON the whole-house extractor for an instant refresher!
.
During cold weather, the vents latched closed with a substantial seal to eliminate drafts.
.
As I recall, each vent used multiple layers of sturdy screen material to discourage rodents and the snakes pursuing them.
Probably a good idea.
.
.
I dutifully scoured the WorldWideWeb for snaps or diagrams... to no avail.
 
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LargeMarge

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... waiting on the propane hose...temps get more extreme...vent on the vertical surface ... to have fresh air enter just below where I place the heater.
.
a)
For hardware such as a propane hose, browse your local-owned family-operated home-improvement center or RecreateVehicle repair.
In my experience, they are happy to share their knowledge.
.
b)
There is 'extreme', and then there is 'more extreme'.
"Moderation is for monks"... attributed to Robert Heinlein.
.
c)
1) We prefer the heat to linger near our tootsies, so no vent near the floor.
2) We like the visual indicator of the open windows (we mounted our windows at our eye-level standing inside).
.
.
For an introduction to our rig with plenty of portraits, plus our reasons for our decisions... including heaters and vents:
 

GoingMobile

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I currently live in Mississippi in the southeast US teaching at a university. A miserably hot and humid climate. For a large part of the year people run air conditioners. I've visited a few older houses built before AC. They have windows close to ground level to let in cooler air, high ceilings giving the hot air a place to rise, and some sort of escape vent/window at the highest point. The old houses also have large shaded and often screened porches. Some have sleeping porches. Designed to survive an extreme climate. The houses built after AC was invented are just awful, low ceilings, small windows, no porches, and become totally useless miserable places if you lose power. I'm looking forward to hitting the road and heading west when I retire in May. But the concepts mentioned in that model home make sense. I'm thinking I'll do a low vent that I can open and close, and then a window up on the sliding door I can open, and to see the view when I can't keep the door open.
 

Carla618

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Anyone remember the old Coleman catalytic heaters from decades ago? My dad had one and I kinda remember they were a little scary to light. But I was young.

Anyway, I was thinking of grabbing one to try out. They are pretty cheap... like $30 tops (unless you want perfect condition and still in the box).

Any safety tips for me?
 

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GoingMobile

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Anyone remember the old Coleman catalytic heaters from decades ago? My dad had one and I kinda remember they were a little scary to light. But I was young.

Anyway, I was thinking of grabbing one to try out. They are pretty cheap... like $30 tops (unless you want perfect condition and still in the box).

Any safety tips for me?
Does that run on Coleman fuel (white gas?) poured into a tank with a pump to pressurize like the old Coleman 2 burner stoves and lanterns?
 

Zerpersande

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Does that run on Coleman fuel (white gas?) poured into a tank with a pump to pressurize like the old Coleman 2 burner stoves and lanterns?
White gas is nothing more than unleaded gas. You might have to change the generator a little more often but I’ve always just used unleaded gas.

I had one of those heaters. Used it in a tent. But I don’t remember pumping it up.
 

wayne49

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Not unleaded pump gas aka "white gas".

https://thehikingauthority.com/coleman-fuel-vs-white-gas-whats-the-difference

"White gas burns way cleaner and burns at a lower temperature. So your stove will be easier to start , cleaner, and run way better than if you used gasoline. Gasoline will also damage the internal components of your stove. The additives used to make cars run smoothly will eat away at your stoves pump and fuel line."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coleman_fuel

"Historically called white gas, it is a liquid petroleum fuel (100% light hydrotreated distillate), composed of cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane, and pentane. [1] White gas was originally simply additive-free gasoline. This formulation is now rarely found."
 

wayne49

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My brother used a Coleman cat heater to heat his VW Microbus while driving in Minnesota winters. The air cooled VWs couldn't produce cabin heat in 20+ below zero ambient air.

If it doesn't come with instructions, search the web for the instructions.
 

Zerpersande

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Not unleaded pump gas aka "white gas".

https://thehikingauthority.com/coleman-fuel-vs-white-gas-whats-the-difference

"White gas burns way cleaner and burns at a lower temperature. So your stove will be easier to start , cleaner, and run way better than if you used gasoline. Gasoline will also damage the internal components of your stove. The additives used to make cars run smoothly will eat away at your stoves pump and fuel line."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coleman_fuel

"Historically called white gas, it is a liquid petroleum fuel (100% light hydrotreated distillate), composed of cyclohexane, nonane, octane, heptane, and pentane. [1] White gas was originally simply additive-free gasoline. This formulation is now rarely found."
As I said, I have always used unleaded. Had the catalytic heaters, camp stoves, and lanterns. All ran on unleaded gas. Never had a problem. Repeat NEVER had a problem. I don’t remember ever changing a generator or having a problem. Other than a good bit of rust on the camp stove. I‘ll admit my statement of ‘White gas is nothing more than unleaded gas’ painted with a broad brush. The major difference is that the white gas is composed of shorter chain hydrocarbons and thus more alkanes. This means that they burn cleaner, but so what?

Now, I have a gallon of Coleman for a lantern I keep for emergencies. I bought the stuff because IT CAME WITH A CAN I COULD STORE IT IN.

If you want to spend the money for white gas, knock yourself out. It bears stating againthat I used unleaded for years in stoves, heaters and lanterns (oh, and one of those smaller stoves that looks like the base to a lantern) for YEARS and never had a single, solitary problem.
 

Carla618

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Does that run on Coleman fuel (white gas?) poured into a tank with a pump to pressurize like the old Coleman 2 burner stoves and lanterns?
Yes, white gas or Coleman fuel (it says on the box). You have to give them 10-15 minutes to produce really high temps. They come with a snuffer.
 

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Spaceman Spiff

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Anyone remember the old Coleman catalytic heaters from decades ago?
.....
Any safety tips for me?

As I said, I have always used unleaded. Had the catalytic heaters, camp stoves, and lanterns. All ran on unleaded gas .....
I used these when I was younger. Older now and more careful about what I breathe. Only use propane fired appliances in my camper now.

White gas has a number of unhealthy combustion byproducts.
Unleaded gas has additives and its combustion yields almost the same byproducts as auto exhaust.
 

Carla618

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I used these when I was younger. Older now and more careful about what I breathe. Only use propane fired appliances in my camper now.

White gas has a number of unhealthy combustion byproducts.
Unleaded gas has additives and its combustion yields almost the same byproducts as auto exhaust.
Spiff, I've been reading the opposite about white gas... that it burns cleaner (and hotter) than propane. But I am only finding comparisons on camping/hiking sites. Not .edu or .gov sites.

Doesn't matter so much to me since I smoked cigs for 45 years. I quit April 4, 2022.

I try to recycle as much as possible and just wanted to know if the Coleman heaters had safety issues (before buying one).

Thanks.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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Spiff, I've been reading the opposite about white gas... that it burns cleaner (and hotter) than propane.
..... just wanted to know if the Coleman heaters had safety issues (before buying one).
Coleman fuel (a.k.a. white gas, generic name: petroleum naphtha) is a petroleum derivative (as is propane). World Health Organization lists propane as a safe indoor cooking fuel and afaik doesn't list naphtha.
Naphtha does burn hotter than propane.

Safety of Coleman heater:
Other than standard stuff (area around it clear of combustibles, don't touch when hot), the only thing I can add is do not let it run out of fuel. Roaring headache and bad taste in mouth results (don't ask how I know ☹️ ).
 
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