Catalytic heaters, on the other hand, operate at about 98% efficiency in a flameless chemical reaction of propane gas and oxygen, require no electricity, cost just pennies per hour to use, are silent, safe, and run right off your rig's propane tank. But because they use volatile propane gas, if you install a catalytic heater permanently in your motorhome, fiver, or trailer, it should be done by a licensed RV or gas technician (in some states it may even be illegal to do it yourself).
However, if you make the installation non-permanent, it is an easy and legal job. Here is what I did:
- I purchased a tee fitting kit and installed the tee in my motorhome's propane line.
- I attached a flexible rubber, gas-use approved hose that went from the tee into the empty space behind the drawers in the galley.
- I then drilled a hole in the galley cabinet beneath the lowest drawer only large enough to feed the hose through.
- On the end of this hose I put a female quick-connect fitting and on the heater itself, an 18-inch hose extension with the matching male fitting. They snap together when I hook up the heater, and disconnect by pulling the collar back on the male end.
When in use, I pull the hose out through the hole. The fitting on the end keeps the hose from disappearing into the cabinet, and only the short end fitting shows when shoved all the way in. I allowed about six feet of extra hose so when I pull the hose out of the hole I can position the heater where I want it--it will reach the dinette in one direction and the door to the bedroom in the other. When the need for the heater passes with the season, I disconnect it, remove the legs, and stow it in a cloth bag in an outside locker.
Though it may be tempting to purchase a large heater, if it is too large, you may not be able to run it after your rig heats up since even the lowest setting will make the interior too warm and you will be faced with having to turn it on and off in order to regulate the temperature to your comfort level. A final note of caution, since these heaters require oxygen, they can suck the oxygen out of the air in a confined, closed space, so to be safe, open a vent or window slightly according to the manufacturer's recommendation--it doesn't require much, a quarter of an inch should be plenty.
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