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Vanagon and propane heater
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diver110
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:37 pm    Post subject: Vanagon and propane heater Reply with quote

Well, I was not even thinking about a Vanagon, just a Eurovan, until someone the Eurovan sucks off pavement, and I would like some ability to get into nature, though I realize this is no Jeep. But then I read the Vanagon does not come with any kind of camping heater. That is a big problem for me, as I often would be out where it is cold. Can I get some feedback on putting some kind of propane heater in a Vanagon?
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Lotek
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to The Samba.

Many options, here's one:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=155324&highlight=propex
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shepherdsond
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

diver110,
The vanagon Westfalia does not have a factory heater option but many people have installed propane heaters. The most popular option for an installed heater is the Propex heater and if you do a search you will find lots of information about this on TheSamba(see previous post). They cost in the region of $750 to install yourself (as I have done) but I have no idea how much someone would charge to install it for you if that's what you want.

The Eurovan camper is in some ways a more sophisticated and "complete" camper package for someone that does not want a "hobby" but it is not without its faults (lots of threads on that).

As far as off road goes, a eurovan can go most places a regular car can go (any well maintained gravel road for example) but a 2-wd vanagon has much more ground clearance (and more traction) and of course a syncro vanagon is in a different world in this respect.

Of course a lot depends on the skill and confidence of the driver, I know a eurovan driver (Bill) that pushes the limits with his van (which is lifted)...


Last edited by shepherdsond on Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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whynotvw
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have a propane tank already then you could go with propex. $700 If u need the propane thank bus depot sells extra large ones for $250. I had to buy both for my vanagon. $1000 for both and about one day to install. Installed under the rear seat. installation wasn't that hard but time consuming.


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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have to say that a Coleman, or Mr. Buddy heater is the most popular source of auxillary heat in a Vanagon.
It's inexpensive, tosses plenty of BTU's, and is very portable.

Other than fogged up glass in the morning this is the best way to get some heat in your Eurovan.

You want to drop some mass doses of squid into your ride?
Go for an Espar or Propex auxillary heater.
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CQ
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
I'd have to say that a Coleman, or Mr. Buddy heater is the most popular source of auxillary heat in a Vanagon.
It's inexpensive, tosses plenty of BTU's, and is very portable.


The Mr. Heater Big Buddy worked great in the mountains last month... kept myself, wife kid and dog nice and toasty thru the night and cost just over $100 not bad...
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canasync
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know its not propane but I used a BN4 from an old type 2. A friend of mine has been fixing these things for over 30 years and he gave it a complete rebuild for me. I chose this route because I did not want to add a propane tank to my van. Also it has an impressive output of 16,000 BTU.

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westynova
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you sleep with the Mr Buddy running all night. Is it safe? I have one but I am reluctant to sleep with it on. It does make the van nice and toasty.
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Timwhy
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

westynova wrote:
Do you sleep with the Mr Buddy running all night. Is it safe? I have one but I am reluctant to sleep with it on. It does make the van nice and toasty.


I too have one and have not used it while sleeping in the van, that whole waking up
dead thing doesn't work for me. However there are people that do sleep while using
the heater buddy and they some how seemed to live. It's a personal choice?
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CQ
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

westynova wrote:
Do you sleep with the Mr Buddy running all night. Is it safe? I have one but I am reluctant to sleep with it on. It does make the van nice and toasty.


I did, it says it is designed to use in a tent, be it my westy is not at all air tight, or if you worry that much crack open the window. Ran it on low all night, Window cracked a little bit just in case ( the manual I believe will tell not to run it all night.) I went and bought a Carbon Monoxide alarm just in case though. I really dont want to wake up dead either.
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westyventures
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Wake up dead"

This is not possible, when you're dead you can't wake up.

This subject always dredges up memories of my graduating year in high school. A dear classmate was hunting with friends, sleeping in the back of his truck (with camper shell). He had a little propane bottle heater which extinguished itself in the night. This was in the days before real safety features like flame sensors. He never woke up. Crying or Very sad
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Volksaholic
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to Winter camp in my '58 Westy with a Coleman propane catalytic heater under the end of the Z-bed (it didn't come with a Z-bed... I pulled it from a '61 and changed the interior... for you purists... but I digress...). That heater didn't have any kind of safety shut off for anything but the thermocouple. I would crack the submarine hatch "pop top" about 3/4"-1" and, as far as I know, didn't suffer any brain damage.

The Mr. Buddy heaters will shut down if the O2 gets low or if they tip over... they're much safer. I can understand not wanting to test that theory... maybe get a CO detector or get the van toasty then shut it off. I haven't done any serious Winter camping since I got the Mr. Buddy heaters and the Vanagon, but my little brother and his wife have done some very serious cold weather camping in their Eurovan MV with their Mr. Buddy heater, and they're a couple of the most alive people I know.

WRT 2wd Vanagon having better traction than an Eurovan... that hasn't been my experience. I'm not even sure the Vanagon has more clearance... the Eurovan seems pretty good... but I've never measured it or checked the factory specs. I've driven my brother's early 2000's EV MV over an unplowed mountain pass during a March blizzard and it performed much better than I think my '88 Wolfsburg would. His has the later 6cyl engine... maybe the early 5cyl Eurovans weren't as good. In any case, I think either a Vanagon or a Eurovan would do well for you if you're careful about where you take it off road. Either will be better than a Dodge Caravan or any of the late-model Japanese offerings.

Paul
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CQ
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear about your friend, maybe it is a risk not worth taking, I would think having the CO sensor would make sure we survive in the case of anything going wrong. Mr. Buddy also says it has a oxygen depletion sensor, however nowhere does it state what it does, assuming shuts system off, like the tip over sensor. Also says you want to always have 16 square inches of vent (4.5"x4.5" opening ) to make sure there is enough air coming in. But manual does say in print.. 'NEVER OPERATE THE HEATER WHILE SLEEPING'. So not really sure, on this forum I have heard many people using while sleeping though.
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Jon_slider
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I very highly recommend the Propex from westyventures.com

I have very strong opinions against sleeping with a Mr. Heater buddy running. See prior posts:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4238382#4238382
There are 4 basic types of heaters.

1. They use propane, and get their air from inside the van, and their spent fumes are released into the van. They are not safe in a closed van, you must have an open window. They are not safe to sleep with in a closed van, because they consume oxygen and release carbon monoxide. The flame burns with yellow tips above 8000 feet, thats bad. Capable of 6500 btu heat output, very strong. Produces water vapor.

2. They get their air from a dedicated outside duct, and they discharge their spent fumes outside the van, thru a dedicated duct. You can sleep with these. There is no chance of contact with the flame source from bedding, and there is no chance of oxygen inside the van being used by the heater flame, nor does the heater exhaust enter the van. These units have thermostats, and will keep turning themselves on and off to keep the van temperature constant, not too hot, not too cold.. Capable of 6500 btu. No water vapor produced inside the van.

3. Catalytic heaters that get their air from inside the van, and have an afterburner technology that is supposed to permit more complete combustion so the combustion byproduct is limited to water vapor, in theory.. imo better than a ceramic/flame heater because more complete combustion, but still a risk of fire if bedding falls on it, and still a risk of using up the oxygen in a closed van while sleeping. Great for spot heat, hand and toe warming in the morning. Generally limited to 3000 btu or less, moderate heat.

4. Electric heaters, as used in the home, that require house current, often used in Canada where Westies come with really FAT power cords. Capable of 5000 btu output, does not produce water vapor, nor Carbon Monoxide.

Type 1 includes Mr. Heater Buddy, and any other branded heater that burns a flame on a ceramic core. Portable, fits in the closet. Cost about $80 US, uses 1 pound bottles.

Type 3 includes heaters like the Coleman Black Cat. Very portable, fits under the bench seat. Cost about 30-60 US, uses 1 pound bottles

Type 2 heaters include Propex heaters. They are expensive, $700 plus installation, plumbed permanently to the propane supply of the Camper, not portable. The only safe heat for a self contained closed van while sleeping..

Type 4 heaters are great for people who have access to shore power, they are safe to sleep with in terms of not consuming oxygen, and not producing waste gasses. Can be bought for $20

1500 btu will make a nice small spot heater, like a handwarmer under the table. You have to get real close.

3000 btu will create very nice spot heat, but is too hot to put under the table, and wont warm the whole van. You will not huddle as close to it as to a 1500btu heater, but it will only keep you warm if you stay close to it.

6500 btu will warm the whole van to 40F above outside temp. You wont need to huddle over it, in fact, it will make you back away.

I use a Propex, I also had a Heater Buddy Clone that I really disliked using, as the ski area base was at 10,000 feet. It made no sense to me to have to leave the window open, but if I did not the Heater Buddy Clone fumes smelled bad in the van.

I still use both my Coleman Cats, I have a 1500 and a 3000 btu model. I like to use the 1500btu model better. The gas lasts longer, and I like having it under the table..

so my recommendations are
Coleman Cat, the small one, for spot heat when its above 55F outside

Propex, when you really need the best.
Propex, for the serious snow camping

Just my opinions

==
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4222990#4222990
> dude i just bought a Mr. Heater Buddy Heater thing for 80 bucks

congrats
but, its not in the same league as a Propex because a Mr. Heater Buddy does not have its own intake nor its own exhaust. You must keep a window open when using the Heater Buddy, so its exhaust can escape.

try this test
turn on your heater buddy, leave it running for 10 minutes inside the van, while you are outside. Tell me if you dont smell something like gas when you get back in.

A propex can be left running overnight, while you are sleeping, and you will still wake up alive

A heater buddy should not be left running while sleeping, you might wake up dead

otoh, a heater buddy makes a great hand and toe warmer after skiing, and its totally quiet.. it will even boil water
link to prior rant about heater buddy, with pictures
http://tinyurl.com/ydulgdu
===
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=3581816#3581816
1. open flames in a closed space consume oxygen

A heater buddy may not kill you heating up your kitchen, there is a large amount of air in a house. A vanagon otoh, is another story.

I used a Heater Buddy Clone from Lowes at 10,000 feet. It STINKS of unburned fuel. Same at 8000 feet. Try this at those altitudes. Run it for a few minutes, exit the van, closing the door behind you. Take a breath of fresh air, then step back in and smell the air in the van. If that is not enough to make you NOT sleep with it running.. then.. let the Darwin Awards begin. I cant even stand the smell for more than a few minutes with a window open 4", which kind of defeats the heating up the van purpose.

I now have a Coleman Cat. It does not smell bad like the Heater Buddy at 10000 feet, but I would not sleep with it consuming oxygen in a closed space.

These heaters last 3.5 hours on high using the 1 pound bottles.

2. sleeping with an open flame consuming oxygen while you sleep in a small space without ventilation is likely to be unhealthy

3. IF the original goal is to run a heater while sleeping, Propex, or Espar, or any other heater that has its own intake and exhaust path to the outside is your friend.

As to the concept of running a heater in a vanagon while sleeping.. I find it problematic, and recommend down sleeping gear instead.

I have a Propex, which works well to warm up in the van while awake, but to me it seems a bit too noisy to sleep with, others dont mind.

And, before you ask, no, you wont be very effective heating your van in freezing temperatures, if you try to sleep with the pop top tent up. But if you do need to, I recommend the Fanchers pop top wrap.
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Volksaholic
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's true that a furnace-type heater with enclosed combustion is the best/safest solution, and is the only fool-proof way to heat the van and ensure you wake up. Unfortunately, it is a pricey solution for those of us who only need it occasionally.

It's interesting that you were able to get your Mr. Buddy clones to run at 8000 to 10,000 feet. My brother's experience with the Mr. Buddy brand name heater is that the O2 sensor gets very sensitive starting around 8000' due to the thin air and as you go up higher the heater will not run long before the sensor shuts it down. I don't have any idea how they're doing the sensing, but I wonder if the clones either do it differently or don't have that feature. I agree, though, that I don't know that I'd want to trust the sensor... I'd rather have a good warm bag, heat up the van, then shut the heater down and rely on the bag until morning when I can fire up the heater again.

Paul
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CQ
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just asked Mr.Heater on the low Oxygen sensor ansd this was the reply FWIW:
"The Buddy line of heaters is one of the only heaters of its kind to carry a certification that allows it to be used indoors. In order for it to carry that certification, the heaters are equipped with an OxygenDepletion System (ODS). What the ODS does it is meters the amount of oxygen being supplied to the pilot flame. If the Oxygen around the heater drops below 18% oxygen the heater is designed to shut off."

Just not sure if by the 18% around the heater what that means for a human/ dog is unclear.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CQ wrote:
I just asked Mr.Heater on the low Oxygen sensor ansd this was the reply FWIW:
"The Buddy line of heaters is one of the only heaters of its kind to carry a certification that allows it to be used indoors. In order for it to carry that certification, the heaters are equipped with an OxygenDepletion System (ODS). What the ODS does it is meters the amount of oxygen being supplied to the pilot flame. If the Oxygen around the heater drops below 18% oxygen the heater is designed to shut off."

Just not sure if by the 18% around the heater what that means for a human/ dog is unclear.

WRT data center fire suppression systems, I recall the oxygen percentage required to sustain human life is around 7%. That may not be correct, but I'm pretty sure that's what I've been told FM200 systems are sized to leave in the room in case someone's trapped in there.

I wonder if the clones don't have this feature so they just burn funny in high altitude or low oxygen conditions. I've got the single and dual burner Mr. Buddy brand heaters and I've had them shut down if I've been running them for awhile in an enclosed area.

Paul
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CQ
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more to my question about Oxygen % required.

Mr. Heater Reply:
"The percent of oxygen in the air before a persons breathing becomes labored stained would be around 12-14% and average Oxygen percentages at sea level is about 20-21%. The only down side to the ODS would be they can be very unreliable at altitudes above 5000 ft. Where the oxygen percentages can naturally drop below 18% Thanks for supporting our products."
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a mr. Buddy heater that I use in the cooler temps.

I also have a Nicro stainless vent mounted on the roof of my Westy.
I can't verify 100% that this is enough draw to keep enough air moving inside the Van to ward off suffication, but seeing as I'm still here to report about my findings of what I am using for heat & ventilation I think it works out OK.
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albiwan
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's always camping somewhere you can plug in (RV style) and plugging in a cheap electric heater....
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