What is a Gas Catalytic Heater?
It is a heater than runs on propane (LPG) that produces radiant heat. Using a catalytic pad, heat is generated by the means of a flameless catalytic combustion process. Radiant heat (or energy) is transmitted through space and the energy is released when it strikes people or objects. This is how the sun heats things up. This is different from a forced air heater that draws cold air into the furnace and heats the air, sending warm air back into the living space.
Because a forced air heater moves large amounts of air with an electric-powered fan, it can heat quicker than a catalytic heater. For camper owners who are using a battery bank to power their furnace, catalytic heaters are desirable because they use no electricity. Additionally a catalytic heater uses about 25% of the gas the same BTU rated forced air heater will use.
Wave 6 Specifications
- An ideal primary or secondary heating source
- Wave heaters operate on low pressure LP gas, and can be wall mounted or used as a portable
- Equipped with a safety shut-off valve to help prevent accidental non-ignition fuel discharge
- Adjustable from 3200 to 6000 BTU per hour
- No electrical drain or battery connection
Unlike our newer 2005 Fleetwood Niagara camper, which came with a forced air furnace when it is really cold we turn on our furnace to quickly warm up the camper. But our Starcraft did not come with a heater, and there was not enough room to add a forced air heater. So we installed a Wave 6 catalytic heater. It worked so well that we added a larger Wave 8 heater to the Niagara to supplement the forced air heater.
The Wave 6 can be used as a portable heater using the optional leg stands, can be mounted directly to a wall, or can be recessed into a wall or cabinet using the Recess Kit from Olympian. We elected to mount our Wave 6 in a cabinet wall using the Olympian Recess Kit.
Hose Connections for Heater
Unlike the Wave 8 in the Niagara, which is portable, we had to run a permanent, dedicated copper gas line to the Wave 6. All fittings were double flared.
Cautions and Warnings
Because catalytic heaters consume oxygen, you must vent your trailer!! This means it consumes are and you must provide an adequate flow of fresh air into your trailer. For a trailer, this means you must provide 24 square inches of ventilation. We open our 9” X 9” roof vent about 1” and our door window about 1.” The vent on the Starcraft is smaller than the standard 14″ X 14″ roof vent found on most campers. This venting for the heater is more than adequate. To be honest, there is enough air leakage from the tenting that this venting may not be necessary, but it is not worth risking our lives.
Required Minimum Clearances from Combustible Materials
- 4 inches from each side
- 4 inches from the floor
- 18 inches from the top
- 30 inches from the front
- Zero inches from the back
Since a tent trailer is not insulated, in winter when temperatures drop below freezing we insert Reflectix panels in our windows. This helps quite a bit and takes very little time to do. When the Reflectix is not in use, the panels are stored under our bunk mattresses.
The Olympian Wave 6 works well with a small trailer like our 8 foot long Starcraft Meteorite. But for anything much larger you will be much happier to spend a few extra dollars and get the larger Wave 8 model. Here are a couple links to the Wave 8 we used in our 2006 Fleetwood Niagara tent trailer and our 2014 Eclipse Milan 26RLS.