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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Big Buddy indoor propane heater
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Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 28 Nov 2015 23:55
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So Tractor Supply had all of the "Buddies" on sale and I picked up the Big Buddy for $99 today. I bought a 20 lb. propane tank, too, but since no one in town had the hose, fuel filter, and regulator I needed for it, I'll need to order those online to hook up the big tank to the Big Buddy. I picked up a couple of 1 lb. tanks for now.

Anyhoo, I read the instructions, installed the batts for the blower, attached the little propane canisters and away we went. There's an odor that's worrying me. I checked for a gas leak at the canisters and that's OK. The owner's manual says there's paint on the grid in front that may release an odor the first few times you use it. But my son said he thinks he smells propane. I smell something but I'm not sure if it's propane or a chemical smell from the paint.

Any advice? Anything else I can check?

littlehouseontheprarie
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 00:13
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Open your window about an inch and keep it close to the window.
Also buy a buy a carbon monoxide detector
Your life is worth the investment

Gary O
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 00:14
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the canister will give off a little 'fft' and emit a bit of propane (added rotten egg) odor when screwing it on

but that should dissipate

I'd check for proper seating of both

and when you get the hose, get what I call the outtie


I struggle with the innies, as they don't seem to readily thread for me

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 01:13
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Thanks, guys!

And will do. I have a carbon monoxide detector. Somewhere. It had to be relocated during a remodel and I didn't set it up again. Thanks for the pics of the setup, Gary, so I know what to buy!

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 05:16
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At first you smell the paint baking a bit but afterwards all you'll get is Co2 so definitely have your Co2 detector working. These are not meant as indoor heat in a building with people, while mine has a Co2 cut off thing, from what I understand, most models don't have that.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 07:21
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CO, not Co2... and the cut off is usually based on sensing oxygen depletion

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 08:56 - Edited by: razmichael
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Quoting: MtnDon
CO, not Co2... and the cut off is usually based on sensing oxygen depletion

Quoting: Steve_S
while mine has a Co2 cut off thing, from what I understand, most models don't have that.


At the risk of being repetitive or too picky, I want to expand on this a bit. Constant confusion (seen it in other threads all the time) between CO2 and CO - CO will kill you - very toxic. CO2 generally not the issue in this context (at least not directly). GET A CO DETECTOR!

As MtnDon states, the sensor some of the systems use is an oxygen depletion sensor that will shut the unit down if it is not getting enough Oxygen - thus going to start to produce CO. HOWEVER, this is not the only cause for a heater to produce to CO (and it might fail anyway) so, if your system has a Oxygen depletion sensor - GET A CO DETECTOR. Read the article posted at the bottom.

Julie2Oregon, you can check your fittings using soapy water around the connections and look for bubbles. In addition, you can also purchase a gas detector (or a combined gas/CO detector).
Combined Unit
A combined unit will need to be placed a little more specifically . I use a gas detector immediately below my propane wall heater where the line comes into the cabin and connects to the heater while the CO detector is a combined smoke/CO unit up the wall placed for smoke.

Really good article on unvented space heaters here
Unvented Space Heaters

cspot
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 09:33
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My little buddy heater does have a smell when it is burning. I use mine in a deer blind with windows open so it isn't an issue for me. I would check the fittings with soapy water and if you think there is an issue I would call the company.

DaveBell
Moderator
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 15:00
Reply 


Mine almost killed me. I gave it away and bought:

http://dickinsonmarine.com/product/newport-p9000-propane-fireplace/

Wilbour
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 16:58
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I have the little buddy and from what I recall it did have an interesting smell the first few times. Mine is just to heat the place up in the evening and first thing in the morning. Having a full sized tank attached would be too tempting to let it run for hours.

Basically in an enclosed space it's just to take the chill off. Next year I will invest in a direct vent heater.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 19:06
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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned how dangerous it is to have a 20 pound propane tank indoors.

Check out what it looks like when one blows. There are videos Online.

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 19:16
Reply 


Yeah, I did the soapy water thing to check the fit and it was fine. I think the smell was the paint thing and not a gas leak, aside from the small amount that escapes when you first light it. Today when I ran it, it's MUCH better.

The Big Buddy is safety rated for indoor use and does have that oxygen sensor/shut down feature. It's supposed to be meant for emergency use when power goes out, and for garages, cabins, workshops, etc. It puts out up to 18K BTUs and has a blower. I figured it would be good to have this weekend for our frequent ice storms and great at the cabin.

That said, though, I'm still nudgy about running it a lot in the house. I have an open concept living room and dining room, a bit over 500 sq. ft., and put it in there to see how it was at taking the chill off the area. Excellent, actually. I cracked a window and ran it for about an hour.

I'll be glad to have the propane tank outside on the porch. My plan is to run the tubing through a living room window and have the heater on an end table in front of that window.

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 19:23
Reply 


Quoting: silverwaterlady
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned how dangerous it is to have a 20 pound propane tank indoors. Check out what it looks like when one blows. There are videos Online.


Because I don't have a 20-pound propane tank indoors. As I stated in my original post, I am using the little one-pound canister. I only purchased an empty 20-pound tank and have to order the appropriate tubing and parts to fit this heater.

ShabinNo5
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 20:31
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We have used the Big Buddy since 2009. We also have connected to 20/30/40 lbs tanks.

I agree that a CO detector is a necessary precaution. We used it to initially warm up the Shabin upon arrival and in the morning. It was always shutdown when we were sleeping. When running from an external tank we fished the hose out to the deck. In one instance it was snowing and the breather for the regulator became blocked, starving the Big Buddy, which affected the burn and set off the CO detector.

We still use our Big Buddy for quick warm ups.

Julie2Oregon
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 21:29
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ShabinNo5
Yes, good point, I'd be nervous having it going out there while I was sleeping. Glad to know it's still in service for you 6 years on!

I'm not going to be running it again until I get the hoses and such but that will give me time to get that CO detector back up!

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 29 Nov 2015 21:30 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
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Glad you are not going to have the tank inside. Phew. I have seen many people bring them indoors. That is scary.

LoonWhisperer
Member
# Posted: 30 Nov 2015 17:08
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Quoting: Wilbour
Mine is just to heat the place up in the evening and first thing in the morning. Having a full sized tank attached would be too tempting to let it run for hours.

Basically in an enclosed space it's just to take the chill off.


We have the Coleman BlackCat and use it in a similar manner. Short term back up when the wood stove inevitably dies out in the early morning. Works great.

BaconCreek
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2015 09:58
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Been using Big Buddy for 3 years now. Propane grill tank outside with hose through the wall. Works great for our 12x24 shabin. We have 2 CO2 detectors. Two different brands mounted in front and back of cabin.

MtnDon
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2015 14:35
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Quoting: BaconCreek
We have 2 CO2 detectors.


No you don't... you have CO detectors. As razmichael mentioned above, there is continual confusion over CO and CO2

bowtie1
Member
# Posted: 1 Dec 2015 17:42
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We Bought a big buddy heater this fall to use in the trailer at our property. One weekend using the small tanks we realized how expensive it was going to be using the disposable tanks so we bought the hose and filter for the 20LB tanks. We've used it all fall running the hose out a window to the tank. Even though we have two co detectors, I'm still not comfortable sleeping with it on. It would probably be fine since we have it running for hours during the day with no problems but just won't risk it lol. WE really like the heater for what it is, just need to use common sense when using it

groingo
Member
# Posted: 2 Dec 2015 11:25 - Edited by: groingo
Reply 


Having used un-vented propane heat for two years now and having the local fire department test carbon monoxide detectors with less than convincing results I simply leave the heater off while sleeping and bundle up at night.

The other thing I did was get a finger attached blood gas Oximeter to test your pulse and oxygen levels in your blood as well as I had it checked by my doctor for proper calibration, this gives you real time information and in the end I still refuse to use the heater at night because the end is simply going to sleep and not waking up.

Personally I am looking at alternatives to propane which are few but with the dramatic price jumps like we saw last year as well as poor quality where one 5 gallon tank gets you 18 days and the next 9....the hunt is on.

cman47c
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 09:44
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I have the same worries as I use a MR. Heater 20,000 BTU blue flame propane heater as well as sometime the Buddy heater unit to help warm up the cabin. I have 3 CO detectors but they only alarm at 70 ppm after multiple hours at that concentration. Until I get my vented propane heater, I bought a Drager PC 3500 handheld digital CO monitor to see what the realtime CO is in the cabin while using these heaters. It is interesting to note that at setting 1 on the blue flame 20,000 BTU, the CO reading maxes out at 6 ppm and when the Buddy heater is on that number goes to 16 ppm. I think a properly running blue flame is more efficient than the "plaque" model infrareds.On a very windy night recently with just the blue flame on all night the reading was at zero.

bobrok
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 10:00
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Quoting: groingo
get a finger attached blood gas Oximeter to test your pulse and oxygen levels in your blood as well as I had it checked by my doctor for proper calibration,


That is an excellent idea! Let us know how it works, ok?



I hope I'm not o/t with this, but:

One thing I've noticed with regularity is that our detector will spike at about mid 30s PPM and then always return to 0.

What causes the one-time spike?

groingo
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 12:21
Reply 


Quoting: bobrok
That is an excellent idea! Let us know how it works, ok?


I used it most of last season and test randomly now that I am comfortable with the fact that I have not been sick nor am I dead so something must be working right but in the end I will continue to look for a better way mainly because around here good quality Propane is hard to find and the prices are all over the map.

razmichael
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 12:57 - Edited by: razmichael
Reply 


Quoting: bobrok
One thing I've noticed with regularity is that our detector will spike at about mid 30s PPM and then always return to 0.


Not to get on a soap box but this points to one of the strange (and potentially dangerous) things about CO detector standards. Both the US and Canadian standards require a detector to not alarm until 30ppm. You may actually be seeing a spike in CO levels that sets off the detector. You would think that a digital display would show all values but this is not always the case - 0 until it hits 30.

see Standards and note the following:
"0 29 ppm The detector must remain silent. If it has a digital display, it
must show a zero reading. It may show the actual reading, but
only if the user presses a button.
30 69 ppm If the carbon monoxide level remains in this range for 30 days, the audible alarm may sound. If a digital display is present, it should show the actual CO level as long as it is 30 ppm or higher."

Stupid? I'd say YES. The same site shows the acceptable exposure levels - see an issue (as noted in the article)? Acceptable levels vary in different places. Health Canada provides the following max exposure guidelines:
"Short-term exposure: 25 parts per million (ppm) based on a 1-hour average
Long-term exposure: 10 parts per million (ppm) based on a 24-hour average"
Source see Health Canada. Other sources have even lower values for acceptable levels.

Bottom line - You need CO detectors but be sure you know what you are getting! The one article I provided the link above suggests getting the cheapest ones that meet the standard (so you are protected from the law) and then look for one that shows the digital readings no matter what it is.

EDIT: apparently the low alarm level has now be change - it is now 70ppm! I'm just reviewing the latest UL standard.

NorthRick
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 15:48
Reply 


Not really stupid as much as just trying to be realistic. If the detector is too sensitive it may "nuisance" alarm annoyingly often. Many folks dealing with a repeated obnoxious noise will simply disable or remove the detector. And now you have zero protection.

You really need to look at those detectors as alerting you to an acute concentration of CO. Something that will kill you in hours. Then there is the chronic problem - a concentration that will kill you over years or decades of exposure.

bobrok
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 16:04
Reply 


I'm thinking we need to have a new thread here b/c were stepping all over the o/t

Anyway, I found this URL that seems to apply in the US (???)

Now I don't have my unit to look at but it is one of those (maybe a First Alert, don't rremember) where it will sample every 30 seconds and display such that it finds, but if you press a button it will display it's highest reading since it was last reset.

This is where I get the 30s readout. Normally it's at 0, and I've actually removed the batteries to reset during a 12 or 24 period.

Oh, and IIRC my manual says that it will sound at 300 (not a typo) PPM

!!!!!!! That's a long way from 30 PPM.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 17:00
Reply 


I don't think we need to start a new topic. These heaters might say they can be used indoors. They really shouldn't be used inside because they are unvented. I know most of us are on a budget. I just need to ask. How much do you think your life and the life of your loved ones and guests is worth?

Spend the extra money and buy a vented heater.

bobrok
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 17:27
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Quoting: razmichael
You would think that a digital display would show all values but this is not always the case - 0 until it hits 30.


Mine shows values lower than 30. It's just that the mid 30s seems to be where it settles out as a high reading before dropping to 0.

I spend an inordinate amout of time (call it OCD) monitoring my CO detector as it is, but I'd literally have to sit in front of it 24/7 to observe what circumstances cause the 'blip' before settling back to 0.

naturelover66
Member
# Posted: 3 Dec 2015 19:08
Reply 


I would never consider using an unvented propane heater indoors.

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