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Old 10-12-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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CO2 sensor question?

On my last two camping trips with the kids, the weather has been cold enough that I need to run the suburban propane heater intermittently throughout the night.

This past weekend, we were up at Rock Creek near Mammoth and overnite temps got below 32deg.

At bedtime (9pm ish) I set the thermostat on a low temp setting and that usually causes the heater to cycle on 4-5 times for 30-45min each cycle during the night.

While this routine leaves the inside of the van warm and comfy, on both recent overnighters the CO2 sensor alarm has gone off early in the morning (between 5am and 6am). Obviously, I want the sensor to function properly for safety reasons. But I'm curious what I can do so that it does not go off at all?

Should I open one of the windows for ventilation (in the penthouse or down below)? On cold nights I normally have all upper and lower windows shut to retain heat. But with 3-4 people alseep inside, lack of ventilation could obviously be a factor. The suburban vents to the outside of the van so I assume that is not a factor..........

I know many others here camp in cold weather and use the suburban heaters. Any tips to avoid setting off the CO2 alarm would be appreciated. And FWIW, the CO2 alarm is loud and does its job well.

Thanks

Rob


And totally off-topic, it was a quasi SMB convention up in Mammoth last weekend. On Saturday we spotted 8 different rigs around town.
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Old 10-12-2009, 01:50 PM   #2
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

We have used our Suburban heater quite a bit with no problems. We do always keep a window cracked to help let condensation out though.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:12 PM   #3
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

I wonder if it's not the house battery... We find that when our house battery is low, the CO detector beeps... (Actually, this saved our tails once as the warning that our alternator was bad, and we were able to get back to civilization before the whole van went dead and would've needed a major recovery effort!!)

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Old 10-12-2009, 04:31 PM   #4
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
We have used our Suburban heater quite a bit with no problems. We do always keep a window cracked to help let condensation out though.
Thanks. Next time I'll try it with a window open to improve ventilation.


Quote:
I wonder if it's not the house battery... We find that when our house battery is low, the CO detector beeps... (Actually, this saved our tails once as the warning that our alternator was bad, and we were able to get back to civilization before the whole van went dead and would've needed a major recovery effort!!)
I keep an eye on the house battery voltage and they were in pretty good shape. But good to know my CO2 alarm will sound if they drop too low!
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

I thought it was a CO sensor (carbon monoxide) not carbon dioxide?

Anyway, we never crack a window and have never had an alarm. If your voltage is too low the Suburban won't come on in the first place- a safety feature: not enough juice to run the fan, no flame. When I've had low battery I get an annoying beep. I imagine the real alarm sounds like the test, which would be impossible to ignore.

Carbon Monoxide is deadly. Cracking a window while running the furnace is not a bad idea. Cracking a window to mitigate an alarm is a bad idea.

I believe if the alarm is going off you should open the doors and exit the vehicle immediatly. You're not looking for a problem, you're getting fresh air before it's too late. The alarm indicates CO, which in turns indicates a malfunctioning furnace- a dangerous condition which can kill you and yours.

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Old 10-12-2009, 09:51 PM   #6
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
I thought it was a CO sensor (carbon monoxide) not carbon dioxide?

Anyway, we never crack a window and have never had an alarm. If your voltage is too low the Suburban won't come on in the first place- a safety feature: not enough juice to run the fan, no flame. When I've had low battery I get an annoying beep. I imagine the real alarm sounds like the test, which would be impossible to ignore.

Carbon Monoxide is deadly. Cracking a window while running the furnace is not a bad idea. Cracking a window to mitigate an alarm is a bad idea.

I believe if the alarm is going off you should open the doors and exit the vehicle immediatly. You're not looking for a problem, you're getting fresh air before it's too late. The alarm indicates CO, which in turns indicates a malfunctioning furnace- a dangerous condition which can kill you and yours.


Thanks.

I'll have the unit checked out. Not something I want to take a chance on.
R
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #7
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Jage is 100% correct! I would never crack windows in hope that it will be effective enough to keep you alive. CO is bad stuff and it don't take much to cause brain damage. I would suggest that you have a backup CO detector and see if it also triggers, but it's better to get to the root of the problem rather than take a chance. Don't make youself the Canery. Test it while not occupied if possible and then re-test it in the same conditions. I know that's difficult and up to you, but it would be irresponsible to not suggest that. Light ventalation without testing in a Haz-Mat operation it's considered....well, foolish. Then again I've done some stupid stuff in the field. Worth it with your family? NFW.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:40 PM   #8
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
Jage is 100% correct! I would never crack windows in hope that it will be effective enough to keep you alive. CO is bad stuff and it don't take much to cause brain damage. I would suggest that you have a backup CO detector and see if it also triggers, but it's better to get to the root of the problem rather than take a chance. Don't make youself the Canery. Test it while not occupied if possible and then re-test it in the same conditions. I know that's difficult and up to you, but it would be irresponsible to not suggest that. Light ventalation without testing in a Haz-Mat operation it's considered....well, foolish. Then again I've done some stupid stuff in the field. Worth it with your family? NFW.

No guinea pigs here! I had a similar idea and ordered a battery powered unit that will digitally display the peak CO level between resets. I'll run the heater overnight in the driveway and check the peak CO levels early in the morning. Facts will be helpful in knowing how to fix the problem.
Thanks
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:53 PM   #9
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
No guinea pigs here! I had a similar idea and ordered a battery powered unit that will digitally display the peak CO level between resets. I'll run the heater overnight in the driveway and check the peak CO levels early in the morning. Facts will be helpful in knowing how to fix the problem.
That's a great idea. You have a link?
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Old 10-13-2009, 08:02 AM   #10
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Re: CO2 sensor question?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMrider
No guinea pigs here! I had a similar idea and ordered a battery powered unit that will digitally display the peak CO level between resets. I'll run the heater overnight in the driveway and check the peak CO levels early in the morning. Facts will be helpful in knowing how to fix the problem.
That's a great idea. You have a link?
Here you go.

http://www.amazon.com/Kidde-KN-COPP-B-B ... B0007ZYU7C

Highly rated and reasonably priced.
R
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