It’s winter in the camper. The cold weather got here before we could prepare for it and our propane usage has increased steadily as the weather got colder. We went from using one 30 lb propane tank a month in the summer to using one tank every two weeks in the fall. With the temperatures dipping into the 30’s at night, we just couldn’t afford using one or more tanks a week. We’re paying about $30 to fill a tank at the local hardware store, and that adds up quick. It was time to find an more efficient solution.
Google was our go to solution finder, it seems we needed a n LP catalytic heater. We decided to go with the Camco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater (affiliate link ). There are plenty of forum posts raving about these heaters, we didn’t need much convincing at this point.
Reasons we decided to buy and install this heater.
- No electricity. I don’t know when we will get a generator, or when the solar system will be installed. Winter storms are unpredictable so electricity is not a given. It is perfect for boondocking , which we plan to do allot of in the future.
- It sips propane. It’s suppose to be 98% efficient. The heater that came with the camper is closer to 60% efficient.
- It doesn’t have a fan. Our camper heater has been making this awful squealing noise. It’s been so bad the owner of the property asked us how much propane we use because he can hear the heater cycling all night
- .Minimal tools required. For the total install I used a Cordless drill (which I own), Flaring tool Kit (borrowed), pipe cutter (own), two adjustable wrenches (own), leak detector (bought)
I wish I could say the install was a piece of cake, and anyone could do it, I can’t. With my neck and upper back issues, this install was a nightmare. If you have ever used a flare tool before, go for it. That being said, things did not go as planned.
Things went wrong.
- I chose to T the propane line underneath the fridge, which was the best location for running lines. With my back the way it is this was miserable. Contortion is not one of my strong suits anymore. Because of my aches, this install took way longer than it should.
- I overestimated the bending ability of a 3/8 copper tubing, resulting in two unnecessary holes in the wall.
I thought home depot would have everything I would need. I was wrong. I should have used a local plumbing supply place, the parts were less expensive at the plumbing supply.
- I didn’t draw out all the connections I would need. Meaning extra trips to the plumbing supply store. Ultimately my lack of planning delayed the final install by about a week. I would finish one connection, then realized I didn’t have the next piece to continue.
- I didn’t read the included instructions. I read some online. The first place I mounted it didn’t have anywhere near the clearance it needed. If I hadn’t smelled burning plastic I would have burned the camper down. Always read instructions that come with the unit. The only other place it could go was on the bathroom door. Meaning I now needed to buy a flexible propane line. Its kind of bulky and ugly. So I will be modding this system soon.
- Where the unit is, is really close to the fridge. It was the only safe spot we could find ,out of reach of the ferrets. If pets are not an issue I would definitely recommend mounting it close to the floor. So far having the door slightly ajar has kept the temperatures down on the fridge door. I will be looking for something to put on the fridge door to reflect the heat /insulate the door.
I shaved about three inches off the top of the door to allow the the heat to pass into the bathroom, where we have the vent cracked.
I’ve been keeping track of what the outside temperatures what setting we have the heater on, and how comfortable we are. I hope this will help us make better decisions on what setting the heater should be on based on outside temps. I’ve also marked whenwe change the tank, to see if this heater is saving us money, and how much.
These links helped me get my head around the install.
goes through the install of a catalytic heater with photos
installation of a wave 6 using gas lines behind the stove.
Shows an alternative way to tap in.
Have you done this mod? Did you do it yourself or have a professional do it? Try to stay warm!