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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Ventless Propane Heaters
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AdkAlpi
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 07:51
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Just a question for all of you out there that have a ventless propane wall heater. Are they safe? Are you placing a vent below and above it for fresh air from the outside?

AdkAlpi
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 07:53
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Looking at something like this as backup just in case the wood stove goes out at night or I'm out snowmobiling.

URL

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 09:22 - Edited by: FishHog
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I ran one for 10 years with no issues. CO needs to be respected, but there are lots of safety features built into these and people are not dropping dead from them all over the country despite what the paranoid people will tell you.

The downside is they add a lot of moisture.

Definitely have CO monitors in your place but you should have them anyway.

I never worried about venting, but the place I had leaked a lot so it had good natural venting.

You will read and be told how dangerous these things are, but the reality is if used properly they are very safe which is why they are allowed.

I went direct vent in my new place due to the moisture issues, not due to safety.

AdkAlpi
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 09:27
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That's what I thought. Rather not have the added moisture though. What did you end up going with? How much it run you? Running off a 100lb tank?

jhp
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 09:35
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If you are expecting it to kick in on its own and run for an indefinite amount of time while you are already asleep...I would not recommend it.

There are a bunch of them out there and they all work fine and people don't have issues - hell I have one myself, but that is quite a risk to put on yourself. I don't let mine run when I'm asleep or even if I think I'm going to catch a nap in the chair. They also dump a ton of moisture which on its own is annoying enough to not want to run it more than a couple of hours.

Yes it will cost more but get a vented unit for peace of mind, or if you have the option put in a 240v electric unit.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 10:54
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Added moisture when a ventless heater is used as a prime source of heat is a big downside. The CO risk is something I'd rather avoid altogether, no matter how many CO detectors I have. I also just do not like the idea of breathing whatever the other byproducts of combustion might be. In theory burning propane only produces water and CO2. If theory was perfect in real life we would not have to be concerned about CO. If there are other "things" in the propane, what happens to them when burned?

DV is simply better all round.

Is there grid power available? I love split minis for both heating and cooling. That can be done on soalr electric as well if the system is designed for that, and the building is energy efficient.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 10:55
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Air is 21% oxygen. Ventless propane heaters need oxygen to burn the propane. As you slowly get brain damage...

mj1angier
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 11:17
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I am in the Fish Hog camp on this one.

I have used them in different camps over the years without any problems.

We have on in our new cabin that has thermostat and we sleep fine at night. But I also have CO alarm and a vent and creak a window.

The O2 shut off in system works very well- we used a .mil com trailer at one camp at it was so tight it would cut of unit, had to add some vents to cabin.

The moisture is the one downside, but I live in the south so it's always moist!

Fanman
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 12:56
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Didn't we just discuss this?

Any heater whose manufacturer has to warn you to leave a window open and don't use in sleeping rooms, I'll pass...

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 12:57
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Told you there would be paranoia.
The O2 censors are very sensitive. Just running woodstove can cause mine to trip.

Trust me you won't be getting brain damage from lack of O2 running one.

When I first put mine in I worked for a company that had air quality testers for Health and Safety reasons for confined space entries. It never so much a showed a reading let alone alarms. My propane lights on the other had would send the thing into fits.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 14 Jan 2020 18:41
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We were just talking about this on our way home from the cabin. We have used a ventless heater every morning for the last month or so. We bank the stove at night but it really doesn't put out a great deal of heat at night, so.... we get up every morning with the cabin at between 40* and 50* . We open the stove then light the ventless propane heater. We let it burn for a hour or two until both the woodstove and the ventless heater have brought the cabin up to around 65* then we turn off the ventless propane heater.

We have not noticed ANY ISSUES with moisture. I know this is a concern people bring up but keep in mind wood heat is a super dry heat so if you are not using the ventless heater for primary heat IMHO the ventless propane heater just adds much needed moisture into the air.

YMMV

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 08:43
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As with almost anything.."I haven't had a problem." Is not saying it's good.

Get a bigger wood stove, a vented heater or even a propane wall furnace.

Any heater that size will need a 100lb tank. Generally a 100lb tank is good for an appliance that needs 75kbtu input.

Saving a few hundred bucks vs possibly not waking up ever again is not something I would be messing around with. There are a whole bunch of wood stoves out there that can burn through the night.

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 09:31
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Quoting: Brettny
As with almost anything.."I haven't had a problem." Is not saying it's good.


to each their own. But as with anything, we take precautions to mitigate the risks. There is risk in everything. If all the safety features built into the unit along with additional CO monitors don't make you comfortable, then don't use one.

But those are very acceptable risks to some. The fact that you haven't had a chimney fire in your woodstove doesn't make it safe either. But again we understand the risks and take precautions.

Again, people aren't dropping dead from ventless heaters across the US.

Not understanding something is no reason to bash it. They have their place for some, and others chose alternatives. Just like some people won't fly in an airplane. Their choice, but I'll take the risk as its minor.

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 09:43
Reply 


Quoting: Brettny
As with almost anything.."I haven't had a problem." Is not saying it's good.


Agreed.... but unwarranted fear and condemning a product or device ...."because I think it's unsafe" is just wrong... back it up.

Let's see what the folks make their living building these heaters say...

"The ANSI standard for vent-free gas products is a document of 119 pages, and includes 33 separate tests that each product must successfully pass before approval to be marketed."

"The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has stated that it is not aware of any documented incident in the CPSC In-Depth Investigation (IDI) database of fatal CO poisoning associated with an ODS-equipped vent-free gas heating product."

"In 1980, the ANSI standard for these products was revised to require each unit to be equipped with an oxygen detection safety sensor (ODS). The ODS is remarkably equivalent in function/reliability to what a circuit breaker is to electrical current. The ODS automatically shuts off the unit in the unlikely situation that carbon monoxide is elevating and there is oxygen depleting in the vicinity of the unit (regardless of the CO source)."

"Some parties began asking whether vent-free gas heating products generate enough water vapor to raise indoor relative humidity levels high enough to foster mold growth. Again the industry commissioned independent research to answer this question.....The research study concluded that, “for the vast majority of homes in the U.S. (99%), vent-free gas heating products DO NOT generate enough water vapor to raise indoor humidity levels high enough to foster mold growth”. Furthermore, the findings indicated that greater emphasis should be placed on other factors that can cause humidity levels to exceed mold formation thresholds such as aging homes, outdated construction, poorly sealed or leaky windows, wall insulation, insufficient ventilation and maintenance of air conditioning systems. However, if a home is showing any signs of excess moisture, a vent-free gas heating product should not be installed until the excess moisture problems re eliminated. "

If you are really interested in the safety/environmental concerns about using a ventless propane heater.... read the linked article and follow up with the agencies who deem them safe to see why.

It just seems wrong to keep perpetuating old myths pertaining to ventless propane products without research results backing up the negative claims.

Could you use one for the primary heat source...yes you probably could but I think we could nearly all agree we would not... but that is not what the OP was asking about... he wanted a heater that could come on in the early hours if the woodstove wasn't putting out heat.... and something to keep heat in the cabin if he were out for part of the day. A ventless propane heater would fit his needs well.

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 13:37
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good summary and logic Nobadays.

The other good positive on these things in that 100% of the heat they generate goes into your place, as opposed to direct vent that vent a lot of heat.

If your lugging propane into your place that can be a concern.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 14:13
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Quoting: Nobadays
Let's see what the folks make their living building these heaters say...


That could be looked at the same as believing Boeing when they said the 737 MAX was safe and that pilots only needed a 1-hour refresher on a tablet/computer. Or that the makers of oxycontin were right when they claimed it was a safe non-addictive drug, etc. etc.

Quoting: FishHog
The other good positive on these things in that 100% of the heat they generate goes into your place


Not quite. While the flame burns with over 99 percent efficiency not all the heat is available. Approximately 9.6 percent of the heating energy available in gas comes from burning the hydrogen which produces water vapor. To recover this heat, the water must be condensed. With an unvented heater, the water vapor condenses on room surfaces, which increases the potential for wood rot, peeling paint, plaster failure, and mold growth. To prevent wet windows and walls, the vapor must be prevented from condensing, reducing the maximum efficiency of the heater to 90.4 percent.


If these un-vented heaters are such a great thing why do they come with warnings like the one about leaving a window open a bit? That always bothered me... it's a heater and I'm supposed to have a window open to the cold outside air? That lowers the overall efficiency, does it not? I once saw a warning on one that it was only supposed to be used for up to 4 hours at a time, and never as a sole source of heat.

Gotta remember, you can always find a source that will back up what you want to believe. Doesn't make what you want to believe true though.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 14:14
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And with that, I'm not going to say another word unless someone asks me a specific question on the matter.

FishHog
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 14:29
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Quoting: ICC
If these un-vented heaters are such a great thing why do they come with warnings like the one about leaving a window open a bit?


Mine never had that warning.
Again not for everyone but a viable solution for what the OP is asking about. Different solutions for different problems, and for different people.

Like most things in the world there is not only one solution for a situation.

AdkAlpi
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 14:30
Reply 


Thanks for all the info guys. I may just go with the ventless and use it during the day only or have it as backup when I'm gone for the day. I know I'll get alot of flac but when I had my first camp I used the kerosene forced air blower when I first got into camp. Went from 20 degrees to 65 in 10-15 mins. Was nice not waiting until the stove really heated up. Eventually I'll upgrade to one of those propane wood stoves that vents out directly and looks nice. Just can't afford buying a wood stove and propane direct vent stove all at once. This camp will be off grid otherwise I'd snagged a cheap rv heater and run it.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 16:54
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Quoting: Nobadays
We have not noticed ANY ISSUES with moisture. I know this is a concern people bring up but keep in mind wood heat is a super dry heat so if you are not using the ventless heater for primary heat IMHO the ventless propane heater just adds much needed moisture into the air.


That's because you are running the wood stove at the same time. Unless it is rigged for outside combustion air, the wood stove is pulling air from inside the cabin and the moisture from the ventless heater along with it.

If you are just running a ventless heater with little air exchange with the outside, you'll start to see widows fog and other things if it is very cold outside.

mj1angier
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 18:26
Reply 


Yall like there never been anyone die from a wood heater/ stove.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 20:11
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ADK you should really download and read the manual before you buy that heater. It says if your building has a vapor barrier you need to vent it...vent the building that is.

spencerin
Member
# Posted: 15 Jan 2020 21:21
Reply 


If properly sized and applied, with safeguards in place, you'll be fine. Your concern will then be about H2O, which even then may or.may not be a problem.

AdkAlpi
Member
# Posted: 16 Jan 2020 14:25
Reply 


If I put one in I'll be throwing vents in. Thinking for the time being it'll be just the wood stove. Have a lot of things to do in a short time frame once the camp is built before the cold temps roll in.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 16 Jan 2020 22:12 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
Reply 


I personally would never use a ventless propane heater.
Yeah, I know it’s cheaper.
I’m not risking my life.
I don’t give a darn what the manufacturers say. I don’t trust them.
What really pisses me off about these heaters are the people that use them with pets or children present.
Innocent and trusting YOU to keep them safe.
I’ve already read enough news stories about families that never wake up.
Those parents.....

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