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Supplemental Heater - Which, How?


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I've read through several of the threads on vent free heaters. While I'll keep using my electric cubes with hookups I really like our portable Dyna Glo (Mr Heater Buddy predecessor) except for it using disposable tanks. Seems like a 'warmer' type of heat and really helps when the cubes have a hard time keeping up.


In fact I'd plumb it in to the house line if I could figure out how to remove the regulator from a 1/4 male threaded fitting - there is no give at all, its like its welded in there. Any suggestions welcome.


But failing that, I've read with interest discussions on the various heater options out there. Looks like the bigger Buddy heater with a fan and low pressure connection is a good value per BTU. But I know lots use and like the Olympian Catalytics - is there a good reason to pay $150 or so more (depending on size) to get one?


I understand about the high altitude (Buddy won't work - the DynaGlo doesn't at 8,200ft ) and front temp (Buddy can burn) but is there something else? We would tend to use it mainly in the winter desert at lower elevations and haven't had issues with anything (including us) get burned by the DynaGlo.


Another question - with a larger heater will the furnace still kick in to get heat to the tanks? Hasn't been a problem with the DynaGlo. Guess I could turn a bigger one down low - to approximate a smaller heater - which takes me back to getting that regulator off so I could use it with the low pressure house line.

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Another question - with a larger heater will the furnace still kick in to get heat to the tanks? Hasn't been a problem with the DynaGlo. Guess I could turn a bigger one down low - to approximate a smaller heater - which takes me back to getting that regulator off so I could use it with the low pressure house line.

Any time you use a source of heat that is large enough to pride the heat needed to keep the interior temperature at or above the set point of the thermostat, the furnace will not turn on at all. If the heater used is not enough to make up for all heat losses in the RV, then the furnace will turn on whenever the interior temperature falls below the thermostat set temperature and it will run until the sett temperature is reached, then shut back off. It isn't a factor of what sort of heat you are using but of how often the thermostat calls for heat.


The result is determined by the amount of heat being supplied compared to the amount required. Turning down a larger heater would result in the same thing as using a smaller heater.

Good travelin !...............Kirk

Full-time 11+ years...... Now seasonal travelers.
Kirk & Pam's Great RV Adventure



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The only issues with un-vented heaters are CO and moisture, you need a fair amount of air flow to keep up with both and that really hurts efficiency.


Brick heaters are 100% efficient but as you mentioned they are not going to give you a warm fuzzy heat. You could switch to a radiant type electric heater but then you have a higher fire hazard and the same clearance issues you face with a propane heater.


A couple quick examples:


Low intensity radiant heat: http://smile.amazon.com/DeLonghi-HMP1500-Mica-Panel-Heater/dp/B005MMN75G/ref=sr_1_1


Gives more of a fireplace experience: http://smile.amazon.com/Optimus-H-5511-Infrared-Quartz-Radiant/dp/B00EOSNGPA/ref=sr_1_2


If you need just a bit of heat to supplement your furnace: http://smile.amazon.com/VonHaus-Ceramic-Flat-Panel-Heater/dp/B00ZIOSXC0/ref=sr_1_5?


Amazon has a pile of heaters and better reviews of them so you can get something you are happy with.


One warning if you have an MSW inverter be very careful about plugging into an outlet connected to it, many electric controllers die in a few seconds under MSW power so a short glitch can toast the controls.

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Sell a customer a Linux computer and you'll eat for a day.

Sell a customer a Windows computer and you'll eat for a lifetime.

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Many like the catalytic heaters but they need to be kept clean. Usually they need to be covered to keep the dust off or the pad will fail prematurely. Even when kept clean the pad or heater will need to be replaced every few years. The brick and blue flame seem to last longer but high altitude may not allow operation at all. Many of the blue flame and brick heaters are available with a thermostat of sorts to control the heat. The blue flame we had in our houseboat even changed the burn rate if the temp was significantly less than the thermostat setting. The thermostat models use a pilot flame.


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I have been using an Empire blue flame heater for nearly fifteen years with no problems. http://www.empirezoneheat.com/ehs/index.php?view=vent-free-radiant-and-blue-flame-heaters


I like it due to the thermostat letting me determine what the temperature is. Previous catalytic heaters only had a LOW-MEDIUM-HIGH settings and were always ON.


Granted, one needs to be aware that carbon monoxide and water vapor are byproducts of propane consumption. I ALWAYS keep a window and ceiling vent opened a crack which I believe you should do regardless of heater use. Helps to keep humidity down from showers and cooking.


If you have single pane windows you will get some condensation on them in cold weather (below 40 or so). I have dry camped at temperatures down into the teens and never had a problem with water or storage bays freezing up - granted, daytime temps were usually back above freezing. Extended temperature below twenty degrees all day and night might result in some issues but I DO NOT plan to remain in those conditions!



USN Retired
2002 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom

2012 F150 4x4

2018 Lincoln MKX

2019 HD Ultra Limited


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If you have hookups (electricity) you might look into adding a electric retrofit into your existing furnace

I've always been a tinkerer and a fixer...

So what better way to stay active in my retirement than to buy an RV...

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We used a Empire propane heater for 16 years while full-timing. We absolutely loved it - very economical and a constant warm heat, not like a furnace which goes on and off. We never slept with it running though and besides, we like a cold room for sleeping.

Full-timed for 16 Years
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Motorhome
and 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th Wheel

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we started out using the furnace in our 5er but when we ran out of battery at 3am one night at -7C we started to rethink. We bought a Mr Heater big buddy with a 20lb tank and love our heater. It will war the rig (322qbs) up to livable in about 45 minutes, less if I use the built in fan. I got a cheap 6volt converter that plugs into our 12v system and wired this to the contacts behind the battery compartment. Just remove 4 screws and the connectors are easily accessed. Much cheaper than the wall wart they wanted an arm and leg for. We dont run the heater on overnight but we will turn the furnace on with the thermostat set at 50F if outside temp gets below 20F. So far this is working for us

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We have two 1500w ceramic heaters that work great for us. One of them oscillates, the other stationary. And since where we're staying for the winter doesn't meter the electric, it's a win for us.

Fulltiming since 2010

2000 Dutch Star

2009 Saturn Vue

Myrtle Beach, SC

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I have a small class C and use




We camped on the coast the last week of the year and the temps dropped into upper 20's overnight and this kept us warm over night.


It did not help to keep the outside hose from freezing though, I for got to un-hook it :wub:


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