Experiment: running Buddy heater on pilot only

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frater secessus

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I really love my Buddy portable but it puts out a ton of heat, even on Low.  And even if you trick it into going lower than Low by pushing/courterrotating the knob.

So today I started it up and placed it under my desk running on the pilot light alone.  After 10 minutes the top of the cage was too hot to touch for more than a few seconds.  The top of the heater was 115F at the warmest spot.  The ceramic element was 200-400F at the bottom above the pilot and about 90F at the top.  Due to the angle of the pilot flame the left side of the heater gets hotter than the right.  Would be neat to see an infrared video of it running like this. 

I would say the overall feel would be that of a small electric heater on the lowest setting.  Or the power supply exhaust on a crunching PC.   It's a small but noticeable difference here at my desk (really a long folding table). The bottom surface of the desk is 12F warmer over the heater.

Some googling suggests the pilot light is putting out 300-500 BTU/hr.  So a 1# bottle should last 24-48hrs of constant running.  

I encourage folks who already own a Buddy or other propane heater to try this experiment on your own. It could be another tool for your boondocking toolbox.  Maybe heat the camper on Low then back it down to the pilot?
 

minimotos95

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When I was in my van I generally left it on pilot when I was awake and not running high or low, it does put out heat, in an insulated van I think it would be very viable just to maintain the tempature you reach using low. My uninsulated van I still had to kick the heat on but already having it on pilot made it a bit quicker to start putting out it's full power.
 

rvpopeye

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With temps going into the single digits above and below 0 for the next few nights . I'll be exploring the other end of the heater settings. But your experiment may have merit if it ever gets warm here??
 

frater secessus

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Thanks for the field reports, guys! I love to learn from the experience of others.

And stay warm, popeye! That's some serious cold there...
 

Gadget728

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It's 6° F in Central Kansas this evening. I decided to make the Van bed up with fresh washed sheets & blankets. I took my Buddy Heater with me, started it on Low but decided to bump it up to high so I could take my jacket off while working. Within 10 minutes it was comfortably warm, but noticed my windows started to sweat big time, so I shut everything down for the night.
When I get to more agreeable weather, I'm going to try the pilot light only. Thanks for the idea.
 

VanGrrl57

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I will try it when it gets to be more agreeable weather up here. Thanks for the suggestion.

VanGrrl57  :)
 

Mermaid

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ohhh... thanks for sharing!

I just posted in the newbie forum that I am wondering if the buddy would scorch my ceiling on the lowest level, since I dont have 30" room. But maybe with just the pilot going it would keep me from freezing (20s at night, 30s during the day) AND from scorching the van.
 

rvpopeye

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I didn't have space to give mine 30" clearance in my truck camper.
I put the heater on the floor and just painted everything white and it didn't absorb the heat!

In your situation I would try it on the floor on low and feel things to see how hot they get.
That close to the ceiling is pushing it.
But , again feel things to test how hot they get. The pilot only might not heat the ceiling too much??
And if just pilot works for you ,,call it lucky as your propane will last a long time!!
 

bullfrog

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An air bake cookie sheet with 1" of air space above it makes a great heat shield. They are sold at Walmart baking pan section and a screw with a couple of 1/2" nuts at all four corners is all you need. Mine was several 100 degrees on the heater side but only 85 degrees on the ceiling side.
 

mjbeam

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I know this is an old thread but I have an idea I'm thinking about trying.

I bought this thermostat on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D121Q9Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I'm thinking it should be fairly simple to wire this thermostat up to some sort of actuator (linear or rotational) that turns the knob on the Heater Buddy back and forth from the Pilot setting to the Low setting based on the temperature.

I have plenty of small servos, motors and solenoids laying around as I used to play around building robot arms. I think a small aluminum frame to hold the parts could be mounted to the Heater Buddy housing pretty easily. Before I start on this though I thought I would check in and see if anyone else has already built something like this? Don't want to re-invent the wheel if someone has already done this.
 

Almost There

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I admit that adjusting the Mr. Buddy from pilot to full heat then down to low can be a bit of a PITA while you're trying to watch a movie or play on the laptop etc. but really, it's not THAT big of a deal.


Before you go spending either a lot of time or money (or both)on putting in an automatic thermostat, please spend some time thinking about the wisdom of running a non- outside vented heater while you are sleeping.

Actually, I'd rather beg you NOT to run the Mr. Buddy if you are planning on sleeping. Better to invest in warmer bedding/sleep clothes than risk not waking up.
 

mjbeam

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Almost There said:
Actually, I'd rather beg you NOT to run the Mr. Buddy if you are planning on sleeping. Better to invest in warmer bedding/sleep clothes than risk not waking up.

I don't run a heater when I'm sleeping. I work in my van 12-13 hours a day on my laptop. I run the heater in the winter, but it is a PITA turning it on and off all the time. It probably only needs to run on a 25% duty cycle most of the time because it puts out way too much heat for this small space.
 

highdesertranger

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while I have no doubt you could give it a good shot, I have to question modifying the heater to do something it was not designed to do. why not just get a heater with a thermostat? highdesertranger
 

mjbeam

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Cars, vans, and cargo trailers aren't designed to be lived in either, but we modify them to fit our needs. I already have the Heater Buddy and the other parts so I figured I'd make a few changes to it.
 

mjbeam

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I've been manually turning the knob back and forth on the heater every winter for over 3 years and I haven't even died once. I'm not sure how automatically turning the knob will increase my chance of death.

I'm not sleeping with the heater on. I am working (programming) on a laptop with the heater a few feet away. It gets way too hot and disrupts me from what I'm working on so I turn it down to pilot only, then it gets too cold and disrupts me from what I'm working on so I turn it back up. I'm hoping that this will reduce the number of disruptions while I'm working.

Yes, I could spend a few hundred dollars and several hours installing some other sort of heater that has a thermostat, but I was going to try this first and was just checking if anyone else has already made something like this successfully. There are no services where I am working and I only have 200Ah of battery so I can't use a cheap electric heater with a thermostat.
 
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