Propane heater question

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I have been in houses under construction where the space was heated by a propane torpedo type heater (salamander). Generally, there is an unpleasant odor associated with these. Question is ....is the smell only with some devices or do all propane salamander heaters stink. I am preparing to build a boat in an unheated boathouse and have been thinking of buying a propane salamander. Thanks for input. Dave
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Fri, Jan 12, 2007, 2:24pm snipped-for-privacy@suscom-maine.net (Dave W) doth query: I have been in houses under construction where the space was heated by a propane torpedo type heater (salamander). Generally, there is an unpleasant odor associated with these. Question is ....is the smell only with some devices or do all propane salamander heaters stink. I am preparing to build a boat in an unheated boathouse and have been thinking of buying a propane salamander.
I've only limited experience with 'em, and that was a long time ago. Plus I don't really recall if propane or kerosene was being used - however, inclined to believe it was propane. I didn't get any smell. You sure they weren't using kerosene? And, what do you mean by "generally"?
JOAT I do not have the huge amout of faith needed to be an Atheist.
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The one I have has no odor. It is proclaimed to be 99.9something% efficient and needs no venting. Mine is a 30K Btu Reddy heater. I do, however, get an odor if I try finishing in the open flame heated shop. The fumes from the paint or poly go through the flame and will smell.
The older kerosene heaters had a smell to them. New ones are better
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If you have CLEAN, FRESH Kero - and keep the heater wick clean {'burned off'} you should have almost no odor.
Propane is similar to 'home use' gas - there is ordinarily no odor associated with it's combustion. What you smell - when you are using 'solvent based' materials - is burned & partially burned hydrocarbons. This is one of the reasons I prefer H2O based finishes when I do work in the house.
The other problem with Kero {and possibly Propane} is the production of water vapor. I know it plays havoc with steel tools. Depending on the amount of use, temperature, and area of confinement, it may also have an effect on your epoxy.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

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Dave W wrote:

I use a torpedo type propane heater to get my shop up to a comfortable temperature quickly, then turn it off and use a propane infra-red heater plus a 220 volt electric heater to maintain temperature. I'll crank everything up in the morning and go back in the house for breakfast while the shop warms up. Sometimes when I first enter the shop after breakfast, I can detect a faint propane smell, but it's not bad. I don't even notice it after the first whiff, and it's never caused any headaches or anything. I have a carbon monoxide detector in the house, and I took it out to the shop for a couple of days. The CO never even registered on the digital display.
I've been very happy with my heater combination. The only complaint about the torpedo heater is that it's fairly noisy, and you can't really back up to it to get warm. I'd highly recommend an infra-red too if it's in the budget.
DonkeyHody "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas Carlyle
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DonkeyHody wrote:

Investigate propane shop heaters more , there are much better solutions than the torpedo heater.
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Dave W wrote:

Propane (LPG, with stenching agent) stinks. Kerosene salamanders smell. Burned propane should never smell and burning kerosene might not smell if it's in a small and well-trimmed wick heater.
If it's really propane and it's smelly, then I'd be worried. You've either got a gas leak (that distinctive odour of weasels) or the combustion isn't working right and it's propbably poisoning you with carbon monoxide too.
OTOH, I still don't like this sort of heater in a workshop because of the moisture they produce. English winters are wet enough already!
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Dave W wrote:

That I recall I have never seen a propane torpedo/salamander heater designed for indoor use. A quick "Google" search shows them all to designed for outdoor use as well.
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Kind of expensive to heat the atmosphere isn't it?
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Depends on whether you been working in outside in January. Worth every penny when it is 20 or lower to have one pumping hot air out into the fresh air.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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Last time I had to work outside, heat was often provided by an M1 Abrams tank. You can feel good in knowing that you helped pay to keep me warm.

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Not a problem happy to do it.
Mark (sixoneeight) = 618
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On Fri, 12 Jan 2007 21:32:27 -0600, Markem

I disagree- having been out in the elements working for the past several years during the winter, it's been my experience that warming up at a heater or burn barrel just makes it worse when you have to go back out into the cold. Best solution is to keep moving as much as possible at all times and eat a lot of food.
That being said, it sure is nice working in a shop where the machines produce enough heat that we need to open the doors to keep it below 80* this winter.
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CW wrote:
> Kind of expensive to heat the atmosphere isn't it?
Check out the pro football games this weekend.
With the cold snap we are experiencing this week end in SoCal, might even see on in San Diego<G>.
BTW, they are not confined space heaters.
Lew
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My father used to change engine instrument senders on KC-135 and KC-97 aircraft, outside during winter nights, while stationed at Thule AFB in Greenland. Wearing gloves isn't possible while doing this.
It didn't matter how much it cost to heat the atmosphere during those repairs. <G>
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B A R R Y wrote:

I think it would be difficult to splice a fiber optics cable (human hair diameter) wearing gloves as well.
When we use salamander/torpedo heaters the unit is kept outdoors and the heat directed as needed into a well ventilated area. An example would be setting the unit about 5' outside an wide open garage door with the heat directed inside the garage.
When working in enclosed areas (manholes) we use portable propane heaters that have a heat exchanger and work in conjunction with manhole blowers to direct the heat.
http://www.pelsue.com/heatingAC/heatingAC/1690D.html
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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Kerosene in a salamander can stink quite nicely. Propane heaters as a whole generally don't. I remember the old kero heater we used on the farm. Stunk when you started it but was mostly odor free after an hour. I heat with 15KW electric. It is a dual heater setup so I can shut down one when the shop is warm and the second one is on a thermostat so that it just mantains 60F when I am in there. Also I just added a timer in the circuit so that I can set it to come on the next morning (or night) 1 hour before I go out to work. By the time I get out there, I can usually shut one off. (Yes I can make the meter spin really, really fast but is cheaper than NG and they were NEW & FREE) But before I added all of this, I used to heat with kerosene. I still use it when the temp goes below 10F. Just had to switch when the price of kero went nuts and it was costing me $12 to heat the shop for a day. And the village in which we live won't allow propane tanks out in the open. They have to be fenced in with something to hide them and they have to be mounted on concrete. Ruined my chance at putting in a good unit heater for next to nothing.
Allen

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On Fri, 12 Jan 2007 14:24:46 -0500, "Dave W"

It's been my experience that if you smell the propane from a torpedo style heater it's either almost out of gas or it's being used with too small of a propane bottle. Most of the larger tope dos recommend a 100lb bottle and perform much better with one. I think they are best choice if you need to get things heated quickly. Personally I hate having to use one while trimming a new home. The propane heat is not nearly as dry as the air from a furnace. Once the furnace kicks in you can see a lot of wood movement. It's something I'll warn a builder about.
Mike O.
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I heat with a propane heater in my gara... shop. I find that when the tank runs low, the pressure drops, the flame slows down and it begins to stink. These things are Ok when the tank is full but seem to lose efficiancy (creates monoxide) when fuel is low. Perhaps that's the stink your getting.
Pete
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On Sat, 13 Jan 2007 04:21:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@mts.net wrote:

Pressure loss can come from the tank freezing up as well- I don't recall that ever happening that I noticed with a 20# tank on a Remington jet heater, but depending on the amount of propane it's burning, a guy could have that problem.
The guy who helped me figure out how to build my forge suggested setting the tank in a bucket of water to keep the pressure up when running at high gas pressure. He's had his for about 12 years, so I figure he's probably found the best way to take care of the issue.
Also, FWIW, I ran a less powerful forge for a short time that was *not* efficient (no forced air mixing with the gas), and it set off the CO detector several times- there was no odor associated with that that I could detect, but it may have been because I was immersed in it from the time it started up, and was just used to it.
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