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Little Buddy-type portable heater for Van?
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:31 pm    Post subject: Little Buddy-type portable heater for Van? Reply with quote

It seems like there have been a lot of newer entries in this little heater market and the newest gen also are indoor safe. So thought I'd ask as I ponder buying a Little Buddy heater if anyone's found a new generation of these anyone should consider?

I'm going to be camping in our tintop. So if theres one out there with a crude but functional thermostat I'd love to know. Otherwise, the Little Buddy series seems well done. I'll be designing a bracket for it, so it won't get bumped or be able to set something on fire, etc.

DougM
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purplepeopleeater
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know of a thermostat for one for a little buddy.

I have a flameless one made by colmen, it rocks!
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, too, like the Coleman -- I just don't use it when sleeping (like to wake-up).

I may have read that the auto-off feature on the Buddy (shuts off when low O2 is detected) may be a problem when camped at altitude (say, 9,000').

Perhaps someone has experience with that.
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Timwhy
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Heater Buddy has come in handy as of late, works as its suppose too!
The last few camping
trips it has made an appearance and kept my Westy Toasty-warm. I can't speak of anyting at
altitude, as I am at sea level but the heater works for me.

Here it is in action, sitting on my fridge.
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chojinchef
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Coleman BlackCat 3000btu catalytic heater. Works well, but I do not use when sleeping. Keep it close so when I awake, I can start it quick and get van to wife's comfort level quick (she has a 3 degree comfort window) Rolling Eyes

When I am plugged in, I have another little one that works well. I used it at Peace Abbey on low and it kept van very comfortable with skylight cracked open to release condensation.
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82WestyMan
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have one of these from Coleman but it looks like they don't make it any more. I only use it when it's really cold at night, I do always have a few of the windows cracked for ventilation. It does a great job. The best is warming up the van before going to sleep, turning it off and then the first time I wake in the morning, I start it up again and go back to sleep so its nice and warm in the camper when it's time to get up and have coffee. I guess my Westy isn't so airtight that CO is a problem
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

82WestyMan wrote:
I have one of these from Coleman but it looks like they don't make it any more...


Dang! You're right:

http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/detail.asp?product_id=5053a751&categoryid=3000

They have new versions (the BlackCat and SportCat) but those don't seem to have that battery powered fan that really throws the heat out to where you need it.
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chojinchef
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right about the lack of a fan, but that thing on the floor for a few minutes really makes a difference.
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davevickery
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had one of those. Pretty good option for safe occassional use. The low oxygen shut off works so you don't have to worry about using up your air supply. And the catalytic process doesn't create CO so it can't kill you. The low Ox shutoff is triggered at altitudes above 7000 feet because of the thinner air, so you know they work when it does that. I got rid of mine when I moved to Colorado and tried to use it in ski areas around 10K feet. It doesn't need a thermostat, it has various gas flow settings. If it is really cold, you'll have it on max anyway. The single 1 lb cylinder may just get you through a night on the lowest setting. I bought a 1 or 2 gallon tank that was great to use with it. The single buddy fits nicely between the front seats pointed towards the bed.
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BillWYellowstone
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bought the Heater Buddy, uses 2 14 oz cyl. Would work all night at low. The Little Buddy is I think 6 hours on low. I just left the pilot running, reach down and crack it to low when waking. I am at 7k plus, camp above and below. The altitude hasn't gotten me yet.
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Volksaholic
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assume you saw some of the other threads on the "Buddy" heaters and you're just asking for an update on what's available. I've got the "Big Buddy" and what they call the "Portable Buddy" (I thought that used to be the Little Buddy," but I might be remembering wrong). My brother has reported that at high elevation his doesn't stay lit well in his Eurovan... more susceptible to the low oxygen sensor. He does a lot more Winter and late/early season camping than I do. Someone on another thread says they've used a clone at 10K feet, but I don't know if the clones have the oxygen depletion sensor. Mr. Heater site says they're the only ones who have it.

In any case, I'm impressed with them. I don't know about the new Little Buddy heater, but the other two do a good job of shutting down when oxygen gets low and have a very sensitive tip shut off as well. I'd still be nervous about going to sleep with one running. I'm inclined to have a warm bag, heat the van well and shut the heater down, then kick it back on in the morning.

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theadventureneverends
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am using my Mr. Heater portable buddy right now on high. I believe it puts out about 9000btus on high it took about 4 minutes to get the westy toasty with the top down. I am on a pier in Seattle @0230 its cold out but not bad. I do have a window cracked but that's not needed.
Last winter while sleeping at marinas waiting for my next job on some very fridged nights it paid for itself many times over.
On very cold nights (low thirties) I would leave it on all night if I had the full night to sleep. I sleep up top. On high it will not last through the night I want to say the bottle would make it to about 0500. There would be a nice puddle on the rubber floor mat from the condensation around the bottle. I have the one bottle version not the small one but the middle of the three sizes I believe.
I am happy with it but a Propex will be purchased within a week.
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bluefirefly
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll be really concern about condensation inside the van, especially now after restoring our van with rust in almost every single seam.... in a 7 seater van, that means not many sleeping in....

As the last post, a Propex will be better, but it is more like an investment comparing the price and job for it.

My 2cents
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, read all the threads with interest - great info on them thanks to the Samba crew. As to condensation, I'm installing a moisture barrier throughout the interior which will keep the condensation in the interior (bedding, carpet, luggage, etc) and reduce the problems with the inner body panels and back side of the seams others have experienced. We deal with this on our boat, which we open up in the morning and let air exchange and boat movement dry back out over the course of the day. We have spent as long as 6 weeks doing this and its a matter of paying attention to opening things up to manage the daily cycle.

It's worth stating my goal for a heater. Pretty simple, really. Just want to be able to keep the interior from freezing in temps down to just mid 20s or so - not crazy cold. We will be able to sleep fine if the interior is in the 30s/40s. Also would be great to be able to leave the van for a few hours while we snowshoe or similar and not have all liquids frozen on our return. So a low and long output is what I'm looking for. Doesn't need to be 55 degrees inside when its 30 outside.

DougM
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WAgrower
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://ventedcatheater.com/2.html

I'm about to put the 6p12 in my van. I have a catalytic fireplace in my apt that on it's med setting is about the same size and it heats our whole place! Can't wait to get it into the van as we have NO heat at all now...

The advantage of the Cat heaters is they are vented so condensation is less and there is an air flow so the CO build up is less. I will still be installing a CO detector in the van however!

Hope to start building the cab for it in a couple of weeks and was planning on doing a build thread.

Just my 2c after researching Cat heaters for a while.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the heater buddy that came with my van and its been very useful so far. With the top up and bed down it will keep the lower portion of the van in the 45-55 F range down to about 10 F outside. Of course YMMV depending upon the state of your insulation upgrades. For a tin top it will keep you much more toasty. Ive run a CO detector next to the heater and never seen any evidence of a problem. The small cylinder is only good for about 6 hours on low as others have stated, but you can easily connect to larger cylinders or tap into the vans propane as well. Propex or the like is on my list for sure but this works fine till then.
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IdahoDoug
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WA grower,

How much is the 3P model? THey don't have prices listed. Looks like exactlywhat I want.

DougM
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BillWYellowstone
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For those using the Heater Biuddy, (2 tank), where do you place it? I am thinking of a bridge between seats.

My wife is voting for a Propex, but I haven't told her the price. I think I will keep it our little secret.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WAgrower wrote:
http://ventedcatheater.com/2.html

I'm about to put the 6p12 in my van. I have a catalytic fireplace in my apt that on it's med setting is about the same size and it heats our whole place! Can't wait to get it into the van as we have NO heat at all now...

The advantage of the Cat heaters is they are vented so condensation is less and there is an air flow so the CO build up is less. I will still be installing a CO detector in the van however!

Hope to start building the cab for it in a couple of weeks and was planning on doing a build thread.

Just my 2c after researching Cat heaters for a while.


This model seems a really good idea, I installed similar one for sheds and there is no condensation (as I remember since the shed was full of electronic and related equipement, remote controlled) because if the exhaust, this is a good choice if you have room for it.
I'll be interested to know the price as well and it is nice of you to keep us informed with a build thread.

Thanks
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

> Just want to be able to keep the interior from freezing in temps down to just mid 20s or so - not crazy cold.

sounds like you are thinking of running the heater while you are sleeping. If that is true, you need a vented heater, not a Heater Buddy.

The Propex has all the features you want, including a thermostat. But it is loud enough to wake me up when it cycles on, so I dont use it when I am asleep.

The Heater Buddy works fine to warm fingers and toes while awake, but you have to keep a window open to be safe.

When I used a Heater Buddy clone at 8,000 feet, it made a yellow flame, and a terrible smell. I do not consider unvented heaters safe to sleep with under any circumstances. That includes Coleman Cat heaters, which I also own. The Catalytic heaters imho, are a better choice than a Heater Buddy. but beware the Coleman Cat's that have HOT metal parts unshielded around the edge.

My 3000 Cat has burned me several times, I dont like it. My 1500 Cat is well shielded..

You most definitely can sleep safely with a Propex running, if you can stand the noise. The propex has a completely enclosed fire box with outside intake and exhaust. And it has a thermostat.

There are also some very hard to find Espar gasoline models (model B1 I think), and they have thermostats. Sometimes on Ebay for about $500. The diesel version is more common, called a D2.

The advantage of the Espar is you dont use up your propane for heat, because it uses you gasoline tank.(your tintop would need a camper propane tank added). The Espar heaters are MUCH quieter than the Propex.

The propex is either ON or OFF, based on the thermostat. That means it is either totally quiet, or as loud as a hair dryer (louder than position 2 of the stock rear heater fan).

The Espar heaters turn themselves to lower quieter fan settings when the thermostat setting is reached, to maintain heat in the cabin, without sounding like a hair dryer.
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