Question for anyone who knows about propane "Reddy Heaters" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Unbelievably the retailer and the manufacturer cannot tell me how many hours of heat 20 lbs of propane will last for a medium setting (or any setting, for that matter). It's like buying a car in a fuel crunch without knowing the mileage it gets.

If anyone has experience with a this type of heater, I have a 40 to 80k btu range which can heat up to 1900 sq ft. It is a mid range $139 unit.

Any help would be appreciated.

-- C Deitchman (, December 07, 1999


I believe these are to be used only in an outdoor setting or at least a partial enclosed work area because of the hazardous fume build-up possiblity.

-- PJC (, December 07, 1999.

Northern tools has many propane heaters in their winter catalog. As I look at it now, they have a propane heater which generates 15,000 to 25,000 BTU's. That model runs for 17 hours on a 20lb tank (I imagine they would use the most efficient setting for test). Just guessing, you're likely to get maybe 8 to 10 hours on 20lbs with the 40,000 BTU setting. If you crank it way up, you'll get much less time.

-- Dale (, December 07, 1999.

40K btu setting: 10 hours

60K btu setting: 6.75 hours

80K btu setting: (drum roll please....)5 hours.

This assumes the tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane (a standard 20# BBQ tank) and the tank is 60 degrees.

You get about 90,500 btu out of a gallon of propane.

one last note: "Reddy Heater" is a brand name, not a type of Heater, but most "Reddy heaters" I have seen in the range you describe are the torpedo-style with a flat tank on the bottom and very short pig-tail electrical lead for 120vac at the back.

Just make sure you have electricity to use this.

-- plonk! (, December 07, 1999.

DO NOT use this type of propane heater indoors, period, or you and your family will die of Carbon Monoxide poisoning and suffocation from lack of oxygen. Check out the "Glow Warm" type vent free wall heaters avaiable from Harbor Freight or Northern. These can be safely used in large rooms but not bedrooms or bathrooms. I am using the 25,000 BTU Infared unit at low setting in my 1200 sq ft home and with outside tempuratures in the 45-55 deg F range it holds 65-70 degrees inside at low setting of 5,000 BTU. For rate of fuel use: 1 gallon of propane, 4.25 lbs, is equal to about 80,000 BTU's. Interestingly all Hydrocarbon Fuels contain about 20,000 BTUs per LB. 6 lbs/gallon of gasoline = 120,000 BTUs/gal, 6.9 lbs/gallon Diesel oil = 140,000 BTUs/gal. Given about 90% efficency of combustion to actuall heat delivered a 72,000 BTU's per hour would be 1 gallon per hour. At a 5000 BTU setting you would be burning just over 1 cup or 8 fluid ounces of propane per hour. 24 hours X 1 cup equals 1.5 Gallons of propane per day at 5000 BTU per hour.

-- Douglas V. Dorsey (, December 07, 1999.

This link may also be of interest. Because propane has to vaporize, there is a limit as to how many BTU are available from a given size of tank. For example, at 0 degrees F the maximum BTU from a 20 lb tank is 36,000.


-- John (, December 07, 1999.

Coleman now makes a catalytic heater element, which screws onto the top of small propane cylinders, that is approved for indoor use. The box says, if I remember correctly, 8K output (but don't quote me, on that part). I saw it at Home Depot. Haven't had time to do more research on the item, as far as how well it lives up to it's claims.

-- Bokonon (, December 07, 1999.

Some time ago, I did some research on the web before buying a radiant propane heater (as an occasional Y2K emergency source of heat if the temperature drops to 30 below or so and the wood stove can't maintain heat) and came up with the following ...

Clean burning propane doesn't produce carbon monoxide, just carbon dioxide. However if the flame is not clean burning, some will be be produced, so it is important to have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in the same room and to NOT use the heater when you are sleeping.

It does consume oxygen from the room and will also increase the carbon dioxide level, so it is important to have good ventilation for this reason alone, as well as getting rid of any unexpected carbon monoxide.

I am quite sure this information is correct, but for your own peace of mind, you must do your own web search to verify that I remembered everything correctly.

-- John (, December 07, 1999.

Coleman makes two types of propane heaters for indoor use. One is called the "Top Cat" while the other is called the "Black Cat" Both are in the 3000 BTU range. I have seen prices ranging from $36 - $44. Both use the small Coleman cylinders(approximately 16 ounces)I have been told by Coleman that a small cylinder can be used for approximatly 8 hours. Hope this helps!

-- Ruth Edwards (, December 07, 1999.

I have tried the Coleman Black Cat heater. It does not put out much heat (less than a small electric space heater) but could make the difference in an emergency when no other heat source was available. I got it because after much searching it was the only portable propane heater I found that is approved for indoor use. If it was your only source of heat I would recommend getting several.

-- A Programmer (, December 07, 1999.


That heater is much too big for your propane supply - it will suck down the 20 lb tanks. Plan on a 20 lb tank having 360 kBTU. So, at an average run rate of 60 k BTU/hr, that heater will use a tank every six hours. Even at its minimum safe burn rate, it will still use more than two tanks per day. Get a bigger supply or a smaller heater.

Here are some options:

Get a smaller (8-22 kBTU)heater. Plan on heating just one room. The most economical heater (and a bit risky) is a radiant heater that attaches to the top of the tank. More elaborate ones will work fine, but are bears to install.

Or try a kerosene heater. Kero is generally cheaper than propane and more compact to store per BTU. The heaters are simple to set-up and use. They can be smelly, though.

In any case, go out and buy yourself several pairs of expensive medium and expedition weight underwear, good coats, wool socks, boots, balaclava (no, not the greek desert), hat, and gloves. Stay dry and dress in layers. Rely on a heater only during the roughest part of the long winter nights. The clothes will be cheaper and last far longer than any fuel should the worst come to pass. If Y2K is all a dream, then you will still be glad you have the warm clothes.


-- Uhhmm... (, December 07, 1999.

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