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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Installing our new Olympian Wave 8 catalytic heater

Steveio has been doing upgrades to our motorhome to ward off his winter doldrums.

This is something he wanted to do for some time.  He had the opportunity to purchase a new catalytic heater at a great price.   They normally run $400-500, and he got it for less than half that price.  This is a Wave 8 model from the Olympian heaters from Camco. 

We do not like to use the big propane furnace that comes installed in most RV’s.   Not only is it a waster of propane, but the blower unit really drains down the battery bank fast.  Unless you are on shore power hookups, it really isn’t a good appliance to be using for the type of boondocking or rustic camping that we do.

The big furnace ducting on our motorhome is very inefficient and poorly planned. One duct actually goes OUT of the basement area, loops down through an open wheel well on the driver’s side with flexible hose, and then back IN again into the rig to heat the back bedroom.  Needless to say, the air flow is almost non-existent at the bedroom vent, and even shutting down the vents in the front portion of the rig doesn’t help much either.  The only time the big propane furnace would be needed is to keep the basement compartments heated in subzero temps, to prevent that holding tanks and water lines from freezing. 

So, in not wanting to use the big LP furnace, we first did what most RVers do…  we called on a buddy… Mr. Buddy!

In the past, we had piped in an extra propane line through the basement, over to the passenger side of the rig, up through the cabinet that is under our table (it contains the extra leaves for our table)  …  and added a shut off valve and flexible propane hose.  Onto this hose we would hook our portable Mr Buddy heater.   Because the Mr. Buddy can operate on high pressure propane tanks, it has a built in regulator.  But so does the propane line in our rig.  Guess we were being *double regulated*  hee heee   We needed to alter the Mr. Buddy by removing it’s built in regulator to let both Lo and HI settings work in our rig.

This setup has worked great for us for three years….  but …..  it is always either setting right on the table in the way… or setting on the floor on a metal cookie sheet while a certain dumb collie walks by and lets her tail get singed on it!   Burning dog hair ---- ewwww stink!  

These heaters are safe for RV use, but cracking open a window or vent is a must, as they do deplete the oxygen levels over time in a sealed rig. 

Our blogger buddies, Janna and Mike,  http://tinteepeelogcabin.blogspot.com  have a motorhome similar to ours.  They just invested in a new heater while out west and installed it in a good spot on the wall next to the table.  Soooo our brains were thinking:  “Why can’t we do that too?  We already have the propane piped over there!”   

Steveio started hunting and found a great deal on this one.  It’s different than theirs is, but we used the same idea and the same spot.  Our rigs have a lot of windows, which is nice, but very little wall space.   This is about the only spot that would work for such an installation.

Now… my guy has a *thing* about using templates.  He HATES them! But lo and behold, look at this:

seems Old Dogs CAN learn New Tricks?   
 heh heh

He also hates instructions… so on any project we do, I am frantically reading before he jumps way ahead and does something he ain’t supposed to do yet….

We got the unit mounted correctly and decided we would later also remove the flip down step cover.  (you can see the step cover in the above photos below, the wooden structure in the lower right hand corner that is between the wall and the door)

In the UP position, it’s a grab bar on the stair side and locks into place in vertical position along that wooden brown board you see next to the door.  In the DOWN position, it’s a carpeted cover to prevent folks from falling into the stair well of 2 steps down when the unit is parked.  (we never use it in the DOWN position)   So we will remove this another day and tuck that carpet edge along the brass strip surrounding the stair well opening.

Okay… back to the Olympian installation….  here Steveio is flaring the copper pipe and drilling a hole through the cabinet to let the hookup attach to the heater. 

I got to make sure it was *level*  and he did the testing of all the flare fittings for leaks.

We later added a "sediment trap" per manufacturer's suggestion.... 

It lined up pretty well! 

We lit ‘er up and filled the motorhome with heat in no time flat!   It was 28 degrees when we went out there, and in no time we were up to 57 degrees!    Now to put away all the tools (and we later removed that step cover)

We also made a vinyl protective cover for dust and debris.
I sewed little magnets around the edges
and it just clings into place. 

Stay tuned: our next modification up our sleeves is four 100 watt solar panels installed once the sun shines and the snow melts and we can get up on the roof!


  1. Those types of heaters work great. We have had our Legacy Blue Flame for 3 years now & totally love it. Can't even remember the last time we had our wasteful furnace running.

  2. nice looking install, looking forward to the install of the solar I bet

  3. See Karen --

    Usually using templates and reading instructions will immediately get your "Man Card" taken away.

    It is in the super secret rules!

    But there are exceptions -- and this is one of them!

    Great addition to the MH!

  4. I would love to have one but we literally have no wall space that wouldn't be in the way of a slide and my DH also doesn't have the wherewithall to put it in.

  5. Great pictures! I hope my man can be that handy in the years to come. (NOT). Great setup.

  6. I am not letting Peggy read this. Steve is just killing me with his "handiness" lol. Somce of us just have to watch and marvel.

  7. Thanks everyone! and Charlie... if you go back to my first month of posts.. there is a whole slew of motorhome modifications we made. Shhhh don't show Peggy! But you might come up with a few ideas to try.... LOL

  8. Perfect heater for your place. I think that is fit for my new condo too.

    Deirdre G

  9. Hi, we used to live on a boat and had a catalytic propane heater... i loved it, but we had to drill thru the ceiling of the boat to vent it, don't you have to do that with these? i totally neeeeed to lower my propane and electricity costs, i need one of these, we have a wall with a mirror on it, but the bathtub is on the other side, maybe one of those mr buddy things would be better, but you say you have to keep a window open? how wide? coz it's cold up here in canada lol

  10. I wonder if a tee could be utilized off an atwood stove/oven in our 5ver and a line run about 7 ft. to a spot under the utinsel drawer in our 2011 cougar.

  11. I wonder if a tee could be utilized off an atwood stove/oven in our 5ver and a line run about 7 ft. to a spot under the utinsel drawer in our 2011 cougar.

  12. I have a wave 8 heater and it is a piece of shit. I have tried to get a new pad for it. It seems I need to send it back to the manufactor. I figured by the time I add up the cost of shipping , the pad and the service charge, I may as well buy a new one. My plan is to take it to the gun range and ventilate this piece of shit.


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