Coleman heaters

9:35 p.m. on January 20, 2008 (EST)
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Has anyone used these Coleman heaters that run off those standard 16.4oz propane cylinders and can be used in a tent. I would like to have a heater when going on car-camping vacations where luxury can actually be a priority. If you have used them, how efficient are they and what kind of warmth do they deliver?

10:32 p.m. on January 20, 2008 (EST)
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I have one of their less expensive stoves that runs off of their standard fuel cylinders, and it is pretty efficient. I also have an older Coleman heater that runs off of their liquid fuel. However, I would never want to use either inside the tent. I am way too scared of all of the emissions. Plus, on my stove, Coleman strongly recommended not using it in the tent due to carbon monoxide. I would be interested in finding out how they got around it with the heater you're talking about.

11:07 p.m. on January 20, 2008 (EST)
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Carbon Monoxide is a very real concern. I would not advise the use of any heater in a tent unless there was a LOT of ventilation. If you think about though, you would probably stay warmer by closing up your tent and putting on an extra layer, than you would with a heater and your tent open.

Never, and I mean never, use a gas type heater in a vehicle.

7:29 a.m. on January 21, 2008 (EST)
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I have one of the big asbestos dome shaped Coleman heaters that runs on the coleman liquid fuel.

I used it one winter inside a 12 man canvas tent with four people inside (the kind with the external aluminum frame).

Good lord, that thing heats up a tent quick!

We kept getting too warm and repeatedly had to put the heater outside until the tent cooled down.

Ambient temp outside the temp was about 14 degrees F.

Now that I live in Florida, I still keep that heater in my attick. During the winter, You never know when the power will go out and that heater could heat up a room as well as a kerosene heater could.


2:41 p.m. on January 21, 2008 (EST)
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Coleman does say it is safe to use indoors or in a tent, a statement that they would not make unless some serious testing had been done (I hope at least). With that being said, this does NOT mean that emissions are not of concern or that there is really any less danger. However, my tent is very well ventilated (being a three season tent) and I would use it mostly has an ambient heat source, not a way to fully warm a tent. I am looking at the Coleman SportCat and ProCat(?) heaters.

7:04 p.m. on January 21, 2008 (EST)
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I just realized I put this question in the forum.

7:01 a.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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I'm really surprised. Coleman recommends a minimum fresh air opening of 6 sq. ft. when using the Sport Cat in a tent or indoors. Me, myself, I wouldn't use it in a tent. Just my opinion.

Something to think about:
To quote a fire captain I once had, while teaching about carbon monoxide poisoning in homes with kero heaters:
"When you sleep, your respirations are slowed to half. You are, basically, half-way to dead. You don't want any further help to finish the job."

Also, I wouldn't want to risk accidentally touching any of my expensive nylon anything (tent, bag, clothing, etc.) to the heater and ruining it.

7:12 a.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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Please reconsider you decision to use a heater. The following is from the CDC website. I know it's long, but it's worth a look. The Editorial Note is of particular importance here.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Deaths Associated with Camping -- Georgia, March 1999

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, nonirritating gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. CO exposure is responsible for more fatal unintentional poisonings in the United States than any other agent, with the highest incidence occurring during the cold-weather months (1). Although most of these deaths occur in residences or motor vehicles (2), two incidents among campers in Georgia illustrate the danger of CO in outdoor settings. This report describes the two incidents, which resulted in six deaths, and provides recommendations for avoiding CO poisoning in outdoor settings.

Cases 1-4. On the afternoon of March 14, 1999, a 51-year-old man, his 10-year-old son, a 9-year-old boy, and a 7-year-old girl were found dead inside a zipped-up, 10-foot by 14-foot, two-room tent at their campsite in southeast Georgia (a pet dog also died). A propane gas stove, still burning, was found inside the tent; the stove apparently had been brought inside to provide warmth. The occupants had died during the night. Postmortem carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels measured 50%, 63%, 69%, and 63%, respectively, in the four decedents (in the general U.S. population, COHb concentrations average 1% in nonsmokers and 4% in smokers [3]).

Reported by: R Wheeler, Covington; MA Koponen, MD, Georgia Bur of Investigation; AB John-son, MPH, PJ Meehan, MD, District 3-4, Newton County Health Dept, Covington; SE Lance-Parker, DVM, KE Powell, MD, Div of Public Health, Georgia Dept of Human Resources. Environmental Hazards Epidemiology Section, Health Studies Br, Surveillance and Programs Br, Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Br, Div of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, National Center for Environmental Health; Div of Applied Public Health Training.

Editorial Note:
On respiration, CO binds to hemoglobin with an affinity 200-250 times greater than that of oxygen, forming a COHb complex (4). The principal toxic effect of CO exposure is tissue hypoxia because COHb is less efficient at transporting and delivering oxygen. Poisoning symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, and nausea, usually are seen at COHb levels of greater than 10% in otherwise healthy persons (2).

During 1979-1988 in the United States, from 878 to 1513 deaths per year were attributed to unintentional CO poisoning (1). CO poisoning has been reported in many different settings, including homes (5), automobiles (6), and indoor arenas (7). The findings in this report demonstrate the danger of CO from portable gas stoves and charcoal grills, specifically if placed inside a tent or other confined sleeping area. In the United States during 1990-1994, portable fuel-burning camp stoves and lanterns were involved in 10-17 CO poisoning deaths each year, and charcoal grills were involved in 15-27 deaths each year (2). During this same time, an annual average of 30 fatal CO poisonings occurred inside tents or campers (2).

Evening temperatures often drop unexpectedly, even during warmer months of the year. Campers who are unprepared for colder weather may overlook the danger of operating FUEL BURNING CAMPING HEATERS, portable gas stoves, or charcoal grills inside tents and campers. Camping stoves and heaters are not designed to be used indoors and can emit hazardous amounts of CO, and smoldering charcoal emits large amounts of CO. Inside a tent or camper, these sources produce dangerous concentrations of CO, which becomes even more dangerous to sleeping persons who are unable to recognize the early symptoms of CO poisoning.

To avoid hazardous CO exposures, fuel-burning equipment such as camping stoves, camping heaters, lanterns, and charcoal grills should never be used inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter. Opening tent flaps, doors, or windows is insufficient to prevent build-up of CO concentrations from these devices. When using fuel-burning devices outdoors, the exhaust should not vent into enclosed shelters. Warnings about the potential for CO poisoning should be stated clearly in the owner's manual and on labels permanently affixed to portable stoves. In 1997, changes made in the labeling requirements for retail charcoal containers* more clearly conveyed the danger of burning charcoal inside homes, tents, or campers. Rather than relying on fuel-burning appliances to supply heat, campers should leave home with adequate bedding and clothing and should consume extra calories and fluids during the outing to prevent hypothermia. Continuing efforts to educate the public by organizations that promote outdoor activities or operate camping areas also should decrease camping-associated CO poisoning.

10:13 p.m. on January 22, 2008 (EST)
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I know the risks and how to avoid them. But thank you.

6:59 a.m. on January 23, 2008 (EST)
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If you find a good deal on a heater, Please let us know.

Some of us use them, like them and have managed to survive.

Don't people climbing Everest use their stoves inside a tent?

Man, someone go up there and tell them to knock it off.

6:58 p.m. on January 23, 2008 (EST)
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I'm sure you all are very careful, experienced outdoors folk. But.....check out this link. There is a lot of info to digest, but I was particularly interested in the tent and snow shelter diagrams. There's even one that shows how cooking in a vestibule can be dangerous.


From a recent issue of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, some very important information for avoiding deadly carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in tents.

Case reports verify that CO poisoning within tents and snow caves is a real problem. It is potentially an even greater problem at altitude because of the multiplicity of risk factors for CO toxicity. Despite multiple anecdotal reports of climbers perishing from CO poisoning on Himalayan peaks circulating in climbing circles, the danger is not widely recognized.

(Did they just refer to the Himalayans? Oh, what's the name of that big mountain in that range? Oh yeah, EVEREST.)

Diagnosing CO poisoning in the early stages may be difficult because of the nonspecific nature of symptoms and (at altitude) their similarity to AMS. The masking of symptoms when subjects are sedentary exacerbates the problem, and these are likely to be the occasions when individuals are subjected to the highest CO levels, such as resting and cooking in tents for hours during inclement weather. All attempts must be made to prevent COHb concentration reaching dangerous levels. Some of the evidence on how to do this is well founded; some is fairly poor. Opportunities for research in this interesting and very relevant area are abundant.

Safety could be enhanced by the use of small portable CO detectors. We hope to see no more case reports of healthy, fit young people dying from an entirely preventable cause.

(This idea I like.)

Summary of risk factors (and proposed precautions) for carbon monoxide poisoning in tents:

-- Cooking (Avoid prolonged simmering, keep stove highly pressurized, use white pure fuels, use small diameter pans, use maximal blue flame and avoid low flames)

-- Yellow flame (Turn stove off, repressurize, relight, maximize tent ventilation for a few minutes)

-- Inadequate tent ventilation (Ventilation area at least 50cm2, CO egress port as high as possible, O2 ingress port as low as possible, higher risk in zero wind conditions)

-- Insidious onset of symptoms if sedentary (beware headache and fast heart rate, make regular trips outside to unmask symptoms, ventilate tent at regular intervals, ventilation does not have to be continuous)

-- Dehydration (stay well hydrated)

-- Snow holes tend to be worse than tents (beware of all of the above)

-- Hyperventilation (more exposure to CO)

-- High altitude

-- Tent icing and snow cover (makes tent less porous -- keep cleaned to allow air flow)

For more information, read the entire article:

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Tents—A Review
Simon Leigh-Smith, MBChB, MRCGP, FRCSEd (A&E)Wilderness and Environmental Medicine: Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 157–163.

And now, I'm done. Do as you see fit. Be safe, enjoy the outdoors! Where's my sled?

8:08 p.m. on January 23, 2008 (EST)
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You do like your cardon monoxide f klock. Anyone know of any other heaters that they have found to work well and are reasonably priced?

8:42 p.m. on January 23, 2008 (EST)
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Sorry, it's my fire department background. I've seen a lot. I guess it WAS bit over the top.

11:20 p.m. on January 23, 2008 (EST)
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Don't worry about it, it was good information. The only time I would use it in the tent would be if the door was open and for radiant heat, not to warm up an entire tent. This is why I feel safe using it in the tent, the ventilation would be more than adequate.

6:38 a.m. on January 24, 2008 (EST)
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"Don't people climbing Everest use their stoves inside a tent?"

That could be quite dramatic if they happened to have a leaking oxygen cylinder in the tent while cooking ....

7:24 a.m. on January 24, 2008 (EST)
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I'm betting A $1 they do cook/melt snow inside their tents. I think I even saw it on TV and on a stove advertisement.

Gotta believe it if it was on TV... it's a Pennsylvania thing.

12:34 p.m. on January 24, 2008 (EST)
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They undoubtedly cook and melt snow in the tent, the conditions at high altitude would make it impossible at times to do so outside. But maybe Texans and Pennsylvanians are the same when it comes to TV.

11:41 p.m. on February 11, 2008 (EST)
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Yeah. All cook-stove makers for example, advise customers to never use their product inside a tent. If they said anything else, and anyone died, they might be out of business. I think the same is true of candle lantern makers.

But in miserable weather, cooking inside tents for novice poseurs is standard practice, and probably less risky than ... What shall we say? Talking on a cell phone in your car? Take your pick of many possible comparisons.

For several years in early 1970s, as a young poseur, I made regular use of a very small, very poorly designed, kerosene stove inside a really tiny peeled-log cabin that I built with plank floor and five small windows.

It was necessary to clean chimney every three or four hours, which created a horrendous mess.

That thing cost $13, was very hot, intended for ice fishing shacks, a really lousy thing, basically, and probably quite dangerous if you didn't think carefully about the situation. I'm really glad I had it, a gift from my dear high school teacher, who purchased the thing on my advise for other purposes, then decided he'd rather not die from gas poisoning...

It probably should have been illegal. I assume the products discussed above are much safer.

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