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Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:14 am    Post subject: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

did some fooling around with a new Buddy heater in my van. have a CO detector in the van that reads in PPM and this model seems quite sensitive as my garage wall mount one responds very quickly when backing the car out of the garage.

so. set the Buddy on high, close all the doors and windows, watch CO detector thru the glass. nothing happens right away so i do other stuff. the Buddy has an O2 sensor feature that extinguishes the heater if O2 levels drop. this feature works by having an additional thermocouple right at the base of the flame. as O2 levels drop, the flame base moves away from the jet nozzle for the pilot, the O2 thermocouple goes cold and extinguishes both the heater and pilot. in theory.

after about 1.5 hours, i checked on things. forgot about it actually or would've done it sooner. heater had extinguished itself, CO level on the detector never went off 0!! so, it appears the 02 level sensor feature does indeed work and the heater doesn't put out much CO.

and then there's the fridge. had the van in the garage, which is admittedly a very air tight 22'x36'. fridge just set on pilot with thermostat on minimum. close up the garage for the day about 4pm. about 10pm that night i hear a beeping from inside the house (detached garage). garage CO detector alarming at about 170ppm just from the pilot being on!!!!

-dan
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Red Beard
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

That is really interesting, and strange. I know that when I tried to use the buddy heater, even with a slider window all the way open, I got headaches fairly soon after lighting it. Oddly, using a propane camp stove inside with a vent window open doesn't bother me at all. I wonder what it is about the buddy heater?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

That bit about the oxygen sensor is interesting. Red Beard, any chance you have experience with issues like headache at higher elevations? I have a Buddy for a workshop, but its not very well sealed up, and I don't have either of the issues that have been mentioned. The big issue I have is the moisture buildup. Its wicked wet on the single pane glass and non-insulated garage door panels...
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:57 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

there's an odor with the Buddy that i don't notice as much just running the propane stove. might have something to do with the catalytic action of the ceramic grid. i have to try the stove and see what the CO detector does. my guess is that it will alarm VERY quickly. i've seen house CO detectors alarm using the gas range.

-dan
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

A friend I know fell asleep with his buddy on, the slider window cracked maybe 2 inches. Woke up 3-4 hours later the buddy still running. No mention of headaches. Very dangerous.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

Quote:
I know that when I tried to use the buddy heater, even with a slider window all the way open, I got headaches fairly soon after lighting it.


Same experience.

Quote:
The big issue I have is the moisture buildup.


Same experience. Two nights camping and really only using it one evening while playing cards with a buddy, found a puddle on the floor from moisture running down the inside of the windshield the following morning. Two people sleeping in a van in a wet PNW winter probably added to the moisture though.
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

i'm not sure that is so dangerous. the O2 sensor feature seems quite sensitive and it is CO that will kill you quickly and without outward symptoms. the body has better tolerance for reduced O2 levels and compensates with faster/deeper breathing, coughing, waking up out of breath, etc. not medical advice but i'm more comfortable actually seeing the Buddy extinguish itself.

-dan
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raoul mitgong
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

To me, this recurring topic is not too different from buying a $100 handgun, marveling at the safety switch, then putting it to my head and testing that cheap, mass produced safety switch.
Not me or my family, nope.

-d
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

bobbyblack wrote:
Red Beard, any chance you have experience with issues like headache at higher elevations?


Sealevel
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DanHoug
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

Roul - i tend to agree with you. i really don't think i'd be comfortable with any non-vented gas appliance running while i sleep. however, it is good to know that #1, it didn't produce very much CO, and #2 the O2 deprivation sensor does indeed work. so, good info to know and makes me more comfortable to use while i'm in the van.

but sleep with it on... i'm probably not there.

-dan
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 2:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

There's no way in Heck I'm trusting our lives to some $2 sensor!

At the first U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis, four buddies came over from Europe. They rented a large motorhome and turned the heater on. They never woke up.

Wake up my friends, death is permanent.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

raoul mitgong wrote:
To me, this recurring topic is not too different from buying a $100 handgun, marveling at the safety switch, then putting it to my head and testing that cheap, mass produced safety switch.
Not me or my family, nope.

-d


Perfect description of this Darwin activity.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

This is the first I've heard of anybody being reluctant to sleeping in the van with the buddy on. Myself, and a handful of other Vanagon owners I know use them, and also sleep with them on when needed. Of course you all have me freaked out a little bit now. We slept with ours on almost the entire night, 3 nights straight at Descend on Bend.

I would have both sliders cracked, as well as 2 windows in the pop top cracked.

The moisture is my biggest annoyance.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

I used to use our buddy heater alot as I was sleeping in marina parking lots for work often.

I would start the night with a full bottle of propane and wake to it empty with the buddy off. I think a bottle would last 5-7hrs. Most nights the bottle would almost make it the entire night.

Sometimes I had the westfalia top up other times I did not. Sometimes I left a slider cracked other times I did not.

I never encountered headaches and my buddy never turned itself off unless it ran out of gas. This was over several years around Puget Sound with quite a bit of use. I was happy with the warmth it provided.

What I found intolerable was the intense moisture buildup throughout the van whether a window was cracked or not.

The last time we used it was during a New Year's Eve razor clam dig on the coast. It was below freezing outside. The buddy did its job and kept us warm most of the night but in the morning all windows were frozen on the inside with a ridiculous amount of ice. That was a wrap for me. I do not need to be adding moisture to the inside of my panels. I bought a propex but still have not had the time to install. I may use the buddy one last time this weekend but after that it's staying in our boat but only due to moisture.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

Has anyone tried a product like DampRid moisture absorber to suck up the humidity. It is a good heater otherwise and I used it all the time but rarely overnight. A few hours in the evening and warming the van up in the morning, it didn't seem to cause any moisture problems.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

I'm curious how much fuel we'd have used in our 50 months on the road, what that cost would have been, and how much environmental impact that would have caused... compared to the cost of a good sleeping bag, elimination of moisture, and complete eradication of any potential danger.

Does anyone know how much toxins one breathes in a night of using a heater? Nothing is 100% clean.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:26 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

E1 wrote:
I'm curious how much fuel we'd have used in our 50 months on the road, what that cost would have been, and how much environmental impact that would have caused... compared to the cost of a good sleeping bag, elimination of moisture, and complete eradication of any potential danger.

Does anyone know how much toxins one breathes in a night of using a heater? Nothing is 100% clean.


Burning one pound of propane at night is about the same amount of fuel as one car driving 5 miles, so you are breathing less than you do in traffic

There are about 5000 CO poisoning incidents a year in U.S. And 500 fatalities.

You are crazy to sleep in an enclosed space with any combustion source, regardless of safety devices. 18 inches of ventilation can easily be compromised by a vehicle parking next to you, wind currents, etc.

Heat the car up, shut it off gas heat. Use electrical resistance heat for sleeping.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 3:40 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

Using the argument that "I did it and I'm fine” is not a good one at all.

Yep, you were lucky, possibly above average even.

To take such risks is completely fool hardy and short sighted, like putting a generator in your garage when the power goes out!

Do not put your life at risk or the lives of those with you that are trusting you to keep them safe.

The statistics of death are too real to ignore. On the plus side, these are much better than the emissions and lack of safe guards from your propane stove.....

Use it to take the chill off, shut it off and go to bed.

Dave
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:45 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

Alright. Its quite obvious the point of this thread was for OP to share experiment results.

What I have got out of this thread is the fact that $100 could separate myself between life and death.

That being said - I'm going to buy a CO/propane detector.
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This should match a brown interior right? Also, where is the best place to flush mount this at? I was honestly thinking about the 'gutter' tray above the closet door in my Westy. I would not like to drill into the original cabinetry.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:48 am    Post subject: Re: Buddy heater, fridge, O2 and CO levels Reply with quote

I think you want it low to the floor. Double sided tape? I don't think its dangerous to use. Turn it on for a bit, warm up the van, get under the covers, turn off and you are good.
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