Monday, December 12, 2016

Tent Heater, Propane

I need another propane tent heater and was going to purchase another one of the Coleman Sport-Cat’s. This week while online shopping I discovered Coleman stopped selling the Sport-Cat Heater that I already use and they’re not commenting about a problem, a recall or legal action at this time. What’s up? I don’t know! Naturally there are many product critical stories on the web but nothing with facts from reliable sources. So if you own one like I do, maybe it’s time to dispose of it just to be on the safe side.

This is the Coleman Sport-Cat Heater.

Reason I wanted to buy another heater?
Next December thru January 2017/2018, I plan on attending the RTR, “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous” in Quartzite AZ. A fulltime Vandwellers and RV’ers annual get-together.
In preparation for that trip I’ve been looking for a second propane tent heater to be used in my Ford FreeStar Van. The second one would be used for nights when it’s below 30f degrees.

Currently, I use the Coleman Sport-Cat Catalytic Heater with a single on/off setting of 1,500 btu’s and that will raise the temp inside the van 10-15f degrees’ when the outside night air is 45f degrees. The nice thing about this heater is it does run (I tested it many times) for 13 hours continuous on one, 1-lb. cylinder of propane. That’s great compared to running out of propane in the middle of the night and waking to freezing temps. At Quartzite, the temps can drop to 20'sf at night and I’m to old to be shivering all night so a bump up in btu’s is worth the extra propane cost. I was going to buy a second Coleman Sport-Cat to use on cold nights to get my btu's up to 3,000 which would be comfy. But until they resolve whatever issues they are having I’ll go with a Mr. Heater.

My choice for a new heater:
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater.

Cost: $60.00
Manufacturer Spec’s:
Indoor-safe portable propane heater for rooms up to 95 square feet.
Continuous odor-free heat for up to 5-1/2 hours.
45-degree heating angle.
Simple on/off buttons.
Uses 1-pound disposable propane cylinder.
Low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety.

Manufacturers instructions about how much ventilation is needed when operating this heater in a closed space such as my van:
“This heater requires a vent area of 4 square inches (example 2‰ x 2‰ opening) minimum for adequate ventilation during operation. Do not use other fuel burning appliances inside”.
In other words, if I open only my drivers window ¼ inch that is more than enough ventilation to be safe. HOWEVER, I DO USE A ‘CO’ DETECTOR IN THE VAN. I’M NOT TOTALLY STUPID and believe everything I read!

How Much Heat Do You Need Calculator:

You can calculate the amount of BTUs required by using the following method: Measure the space’s dimension to determine cubic feet. (Length x Width x Height = Cubic Feet). Subtract the outside temperature from the desired inside temperature to determine the temperature increase. If you have measured temperature in Fahrenheit, calculate the required BTUs with this formula: (Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase x .133 = Required BTUs) If you have measured temperature in Celsius, calculate the required BTUs with this formula: (Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase x .2394 = Required BTUs).


  1. Mike Coleman discontinued all its catalytic heater that I know of. I have a little Buddy it works ok but like the amazon reviews say it is hard to start the pilot and you have to hold it a while. I got the little buddy as a season clearance for 30$ If you haven't got it yet I would get the Mr heater for 80$ it has high and low setting. My sister in-law used one in her pop up last fall and it worked well.


  3. Mike,

    Maybe something to pickup for fishing? We fish in the cold and huddle close.

  4. I do like the compactness of the Little Buddy. This is for use inside my van and every inch of storage space is needed. We'll see, probably the next time I'm at the outdoor store I'll just pick one up.


Your thoughts are welcome!