Ventless heaters


I recently was given a MR heater Buddy heater. I love the quiet heat, but have concerns about ventless. I do run CO detector and the unit has auto low O2 shutoff.

What other battery free heaters make sense for use in a camper?

the Blue flame units that I've read about dont work at higher elevations.


matt s

I put one very similar to this in our camper. Direct vent and no power needed. Mechanical thermostat with pilot light, no fumes inside and only have to poke one hole in the wall. The outside exhaust/air inlet only stickes out an inch or two. Works great for us going on three years now. It heats via conduction so I added a trucker fan in the camper to help move the heat around. I ran it through a rheostat or potentiometer (radio shack for a buck) so I can turn the power way down. I've run it for days without draining our one deep cycle battery.



Aspiring overlander
The Platinum cat heater is probably the state of the art for vented heaters, uses a tiny fan to bring in fresh air to sustain the heat reaction.

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Nice looking heater, but it costs more than my camper! Itd be the single most expensive thing in it, barring my skis or the occasional lap top.

I love the idea of it being vented, and the fan on a rheostat sounds smart as well. I was thinking about a tiny fan from an old computer, but plug and play is good.

What other option are people using? Is there something portable, that could still get vented, then just cover the hole when not in use?


As long as you never run it while sleeping, the ventless units are perfectly safe. The buddy heaters are great, especially if you put it somewhere where you can turn it on in the morning without getting out of bed. Vented, battery free units exist, but pricey. I know you wanted to avoid batteries, but another inexpensive option is a used RV forced air furnace. A 12000BTU unit pulls about 2 amps while running, has a thermostat, and electronic auto ignition. VW guys have installed them in vanagons, they're safe and convenient, but do need 12VDC and a permanent/semipermanent installation.


I do have a fully functional built in original furnace. It keeps the camper warm, but it is loud and the t stat is finicky, and it kills the battery during the course of a cold weekend.

I've run the Buddy heater, on low, the last few times overnight. Is this really unsafe? I have a CO detector, and it has a low oxygen shut off, and there are no shortage of leaks in the camper, providing make up air. Is the safety issue from off gassing or O2 consumption?

Thanks. I really don''t want to kill any member of the family, let alone all of us!


Expedition Leader
Interesting, prohibited for sale in MA.

Safety Note: Any fuel burning ventless appliance needs adequate air exchange to replenish Oxygen and remove products of combustion. Standards require at least a 1 square inch fresh air opening for every 1000 BTUs of propane used by any appliance. Replacement air (oxygen) is provided best by two vents, one low on an outside wall and the other high on another outside wall.


There are also the Olympian Wave heaters (Wave 3, Wave 6, etc), which will work at higher altitudes.

Is it safe? Nothing is perfect but I sleep with a Wave 3. I also over-vent, which may defeat the purpose of a heater, but that's the only heater I've got. I think you just need to pay close attention to your venting, and how things might change when you're asleep -- will snow pile up and cover your vent, etc?

If your CO detector has a numeric display that shows how much CO is present, I've found it helpful to experiment with different venting setups and watch what happens on that display (ideally when I'm not in the camper). My understanding -- which could be wrong, so verify for yourself since it's your life -- is that the Wave produces CO when it malfunctions, usually as a result of low oxygen. If that's true, then any number above zero on my CO detector tells me that the current venting setup is not adequate. There's not enough CO in there to kill me or set off the alarm, and there's still enough oxygen to stay alive... but things are headed in the wrong direction if there's any CO at all.

Edited to add: I also realize that some people refuse to sleep with an unvented heater, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. People have died and you have to be very careful.


Sounds like there is too much at risk to have the family sleep ventless.

Aside from the 500$ plat cat or the 700 $ propex, what other options exist for venting?

Is there a radiant tube style like you see in a garage ceiling that would only require a small stack out the roof or better yet side wall so it could be kept on the floor?


I believe all those garage heaters are also requiring a minimum fresh air makeup if you read their directions as well.

Off hand the plat cat and propex are two of the main ones I know with really low draws. The route I'm going is the Atwood 8012, its a front discharge only heater and uses a less powerful fan (thus the reason for front only discharge and no ducting) and is supposed to pull 1.8amps verse the 3.4amps of the other models.

But heat is only half the equation, what are you working with in terms of retaining the heat?


The Atwood looks like it would fit right in my existing spot, but at $500 it is not an upgrade I am keen to jump on.

I got a second CO detector that has a digital read out and increased the vented openings. It is so much more pleasant than running the furnace, as long as you wake up!


New member
Catalytic heater venting

. It is so much more pleasant than running the furnace, as long as you wake up!
I have a FWC Hawk that has a built-in furnace. It's noisy and uses up the battery. It's so loud we can't watch a movie on the laptop when it cycles on and off. I plumbed in a Wave 3 which we use instead. It's silent and uses zero battery. I crack the bottom turnbuckle port an inch or so, and do the same with the fan lid up top. I leave the Wave running on low overnight (there's no tstat, just hi/lo/off). We wake up every time!!! CO2 and CO detectors have never gone off.

Another commenter here makes a good point about retaining the heat. I did a home-made reflectix liner, which velcro's to the factory velcro strip around the top of the soft sides. We've camped in 11F and 15F temps on different trips and have been comfortable. On the coldest trips we put reflectix over the windows.

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Any idea what an Olympic 6100 is worth? It's off a mid 70's Alaskan. Thinking about picking it up but not sure the value.