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Old 05-30-2015, 11:10 AM   #1
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Big Buddy Heater With A BIG LEAK!

I've had this Big Buddy heater for about three years. It suddenly started leaking propane (from disposable bottles) when the control was set to off! It'll leak two full bottles in about eight hours. We found out it was leaking because it set off the propane detector under the table where the Big Buddy was stored. Leaks enough gas to blow us over the next mountain! There was a recall of Big Buddies several years ago for this problem, but evidently mine is a "newer" model and not covered. I've written the company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission and will post what they have to say.

This is my second Big Buddy. The first (naturally just out of the one year warranty) refused to stay on even after replacing parts the Bug Buddy factory told me to replace. While they sure do heat well they don't seem to last very long and there is evidently no way to have them repaired! This last problem is dangerous beyond belief so check yours out and store it near a propane detector!

I've also had a smaller Buddy heater for fifteen years with no problem. Maybe I'll just get a couple of them...? What's your experience?
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:59 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by DumOleBob View Post
I've had this Big Buddy heater for about three years. It suddenly started leaking propane (from disposable bottles) when the control was set to off! It'll leak two full bottles in about eight hours. We found out it was leaking because it set off the propane detector under the table where the Big Buddy was stored. Leaks enough gas to blow us over the next mountain! There was a recall of Big Buddies several years ago for this problem, but evidently mine is a "newer" model and not covered. I've written the company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission and will post what they have to say.

This is my second Big Buddy. The first (naturally just out of the one year warranty) refused to stay on even after replacing parts the Bug Buddy factory told me to replace. While they sure do heat well they don't seem to last very long and there is evidently no way to have them repaired! This last problem is dangerous beyond belief so check yours out and store it near a propane detector!

I've also had a smaller Buddy heater for fifteen years with no problem. Maybe I'll just get a couple of them...? What's your experience?
Running units of this type inside your rig is begging for trouble or death, I am totally against any devices like these being used indoors. Explosion, monoxide or low oxygen is always a great concern with them.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:15 AM   #3
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Bob, Any idea where the internal leak is, or what they are replacing/fixing as part of the recall?

I modified mine several years ago so I can use the coach LP system rather than the 1 lb bottles.

I installed a "T" inside the Mr Buddy's low pressure tube and put a connector on the back of the Mr Buddy. I then plumbed a valve, 10 ft hose, and a quik disconnect in the MH LP system. I plug the hose into the back of the Mr Buddy.

I may go back into it and re-modify to completely do away with the bottle connector, the internal regulator and the "T" I installed, and just route the low pressure tube directly to the connector I installed on the back.

We use ours extensively and is our main heat source during the winters.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:31 AM   #4
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Bob, Any idea where the internal leak is, or what they are replacing/fixing as part of the recall?

I modified mine several years ago so I can use the coach LP system rather than the 1 lb bottles.

I installed a "T" inside the Mr Buddy's low pressure tube and put a connector on the back of the Mr Buddy. I then plumbed a valve, 10 ft hose, and a quik disconnect in the MH LP system. I plug the hose into the back of the Mr Buddy.

I may go back into it and re-modify to completely do away with the bottle connector, the internal regulator and the "T" I installed, and just route the low pressure tube directly to the connector I installed on the back.

We use ours extensively and is our main heat source during the winters.
My "guess" is the leak is at the on/off value. I have not done anything to find the leak as I am hoping Bug Buddy will want to look at it. As you know there isn't much room in there to do much. Besides, if it gets "fixed" I'll still never trust it in my RV again. Too freakin' bad because it did a nice job of warming the RV first thing each morning! I'll just need to find a better way! All we need is a quick heat for a very short period of time. We leave the vents open and even the door so the dogs can go in and out. Maybe I just need to get Bette to get out and start the camp fire? ( good luck with that)
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:35 AM   #5
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Step 1: Remove bottle
Step 2; Contact the manufacturer.
You may need to send them a couple bucks (Like 20) but I found 'em real good when I had to call them.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:52 AM   #6
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I have a recently purchased big buddy. It has a low pressure quick connect inlet in addition to the bottle connections with regulator. I am using this quick connect with a hose connected to the coaches propane tank, just after the regulator at the tank
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Old 05-31-2015, 12:51 PM   #7
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Step 1: Remove bottle
Step 2; Contact the manufacturer.
You may need to send them a couple bucks (Like 20) but I found 'em real good when I had to call them.

I did write to them and will post their reply.
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Old 05-31-2015, 05:17 PM   #8
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vince, what model is that you bought?

Sounds like the mod I did to mine. Here is the link I did this many years ago so I could hook it to the MH LP system

http://toyotamotorhome.org/forums/in...showtopic=4328

..
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:37 PM   #9
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Avoid Unvented Gas Heaters | GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

I am not a fan of ventless heaters. They are illegal in ALL of Canada, many states and other countries around the world. They are meant as a decorative appliance, not really a heat source. And certainly not a PRIMARY heat source. They do put products of combustion into the air so you need to be very careful when operating these appliances.
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:23 AM   #10
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Mentor;

Right on. If a person is not comfortable using a ventless heater, then they should not use one.

Odds are, the operator will not take the time to learn the particulars of operation, or, the operators lifestyle may not fit with the actions required to operate a ventless heater safely.

However, If the operator is willing to take the time to learn the facts about ventless heaters and their lifestyle allows them to mitigate known operational issues, then the operation of a ventless heater will be just as safe as any vented furnace.

I believe lifestyle is the main driver in the decision - With a standard vented furnace, simply turn the thermostat up / down.

With a ventless heater, The operator needs to manually turn it on/off, ensure proper air flow, ensure the heater is physically located in a safe location for operation, etc. These can be a pain, but the payback is 99.9% efficiency with no battery drain vs 35-50% efficiency with significant battery drain of a wall furnace.

..

Like their vented cousins, the manufactures of ventless heaters are building into their systems features that mitigate known operation issues. i.e. tip over shutoffs, low O2 shutoffs.

Plus there are several types of ventless heaters that the author of your article failed to mention that mitigated his concerns:

i.e. Catalytic heaters (i.e. WAVE 3) don't burn with a flame, therefore they don't produce any CO. The heat they produce is by catalytic action, not combustion. The radiated temperature is lower so this reduces the "ignition source" issues (I still treat it as an ignition source)

Also, powered ventless heaters like the Renni - Although I've never seen these installed in an RV, These are perfect for a home, especially if they are powered by LP instead of natural gas.

The powered versions burn at a higher temperature then then their unpowered cousins like the one shown in the articles photo. I would never use that one in a house, but they are great for a garage or barn. The higher combustion temperatures consume most impurities that are contained in natural gas (sulpher), and thus produce very little solid type particulates in the combustion gasses. LP is fairly pure so the Renni is a perfect fit for in home use, (Yes, I use one of these)
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Old 06-01-2015, 06:34 AM   #11
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I own a Big Buddy model and one of the smaller buddy's. I will be sure to inspect these units before I use again. I've used during power outages at home and never detected a problem. Purchased them back around 2008.
Thanks for sharing this information!


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Old 06-01-2015, 09:13 AM   #12
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Mentor;

Right on. If a person is not comfortable using a ventless heater, then they should not use one.

Odds are, the operator will not take the time to learn the particulars of operation, or, the operators lifestyle may not fit with the actions required to operate a ventless heater safely.

However, If the operator is willing to take the time to learn the facts about ventless heaters and their lifestyle allows them to mitigate known operational issues, then the operation of a ventless heater will be just as safe as any vented furnace.

I believe lifestyle is the main driver in the decision - With a standard vented furnace, simply turn the thermostat up / down.

With a ventless heater, The operator needs to manually turn it on/off, ensure proper air flow, ensure the heater is physically located in a safe location for operation, etc. These can be a pain, but the payback is 99.9% efficiency with no battery drain vs 35-50% efficiency with significant battery drain of a wall furnace.

..

Like their vented cousins, the manufactures of ventless heaters are building into their systems features that mitigate known operation issues. i.e. tip over shutoffs, low O2 shutoffs.

Plus there are several types of ventless heaters that the author of your article failed to mention that mitigated his concerns:

i.e. Catalytic heaters (i.e. WAVE 3) don't burn with a flame, therefore they don't produce any CO. The heat they produce is by catalytic action, not combustion. The radiated temperature is lower so this reduces the "ignition source" issues (I still treat it as an ignition source)

Also, powered ventless heaters like the Renni - Although I've never seen these installed in an RV, These are perfect for a home, especially if they are powered by LP instead of natural gas.

The powered versions burn at a higher temperature then then their unpowered cousins like the one shown in the articles photo. I would never use that one in a house, but they are great for a garage or barn. The higher combustion temperatures consume most impurities that are contained in natural gas (sulpher), and thus produce very little solid type particulates in the combustion gasses. LP is fairly pure so the Renni is a perfect fit for in home use, (Yes, I use one of these)
Sorry to burst the bubble but that comment is in error.
There is a reason why Canada, CA and many other countries do not allow these units.




It's dangerous to post incorrect statements. This from American Scientists working with the ANSI codes which control these devices.

http://www.cpsc.gov/pagefiles/103972/co03.pdf

ps: I am a retired ME
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Old 06-01-2015, 09:33 AM   #13
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Sorry to burst the bubble but that comment is in error.
There is a reason why Canada, CA and many other countries do not allow these units.

It's dangerous to post incorrect statements. This from American Scientists working with the ANSI codes which control these devices.

http://www.cpsc.gov/pagefiles/103972/co03.pdf

ps: I am a retired ME
Thanks for the link! While not the easiest read, I conclude that we SHOULD NOT USE IN A CLOSED ROOM! due to the oxygen depletion. Carbon monoxide is not the problem, oxygen depletion is. Crack a window!
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Old 06-01-2015, 09:46 AM   #14
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Thanks for the link! While not the easiest read, I conclude that we SHOULD NOT USE IN A CLOSED ROOM! due to the oxygen depletion. Carbon monoxide is not the problem, oxygen depletion is. Crack a window!
You need to keep in mind that as these units are used, they wear and with wear comes poorer combustion and with that comes the danger. Consider also that there are a lot of folks out there that will not use them properly and put their lives and the lives of others at risk.
The big problem is you do not know there is a problem until it bites or kills you.
As for boondocking heat, I have solar and 10 T105 bats and find that I can go 2 days without sun providing I use my energy frugally, but isn't that what boondocking is about. If you want to watch TV, stay home or go to a CG.
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