Cold Weather RV Lesson #2 – Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Model No. MH18B

IMG_1858A year ago I rated Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Model No. MH9BX UNACCEPTABLE. I still stand by that decision. BUT… this bitterly cold January has made me make some concessions.

I had looked towards the line of Olympian Wave Heaters as perhaps a more attractive alternative. Using a platinum pad they claim to be more efficient but they are much more expensive.But the final factor in my decision were reports that the lifetime of the platinum pads could be shortened if contaminated by particles such as dust. When you live in a motor home that was built in 1988, there is plenty of dust around. Replacing the pads is almost as expensive and buying a new heater. To me, that was a deal breaker.

So enter the (Propane powered) Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Model No. MH18B. I purchased mine from Lowes (Their model is branded “Tough Buddy” and it is yellow) using a price match from Northern Tool. Setup as follows:

Heater     $119.99
Fuel Filter  $9.98
12′ Hose    $29.99

Make sure you get the filter and the correct hose. They are usually displayed on nearby shelving. Ask if necessary.

Per manufacturer:

* Designed and approved for emergency indoor & outdoor use
* Automatic low oxygen shutoff system
* Accidental tip-over safety shutoff
* Heats up to 400 sq. ft.
* Connects directly to two 1 lb. disposable cylinders or to a 20 lb cylinder w/optional hose
* CSA certified
* 4500/9000/18000 BTU settings.
* Built in fan powered by batteries or optional AC adapter. (I found this fan pretty useless)

*** Of course, READ THE MANUAL and FOLLOW the MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS (especially about ventilation).***

My conclusions. When it got down to -4 F and the power went out for 8 hours we stayed toasty warm. It was probably the only time we will run at 18000 BTU continually. But is got the job done. It gets HOT in front of the unit. So you must keep kids, flammable object and sneaky heat loving chihuahuas away.

Our sewer live froze, the water lines to the kitchen froze, but we stayed toasty warm without using electricity. We DID run a Fan-Tastic Endless Breeze 12V Fan behind the unit to help move the air around. So we did use “some” electricity.

You still must be careful using the built in electronic igniter because initially there will be some flame roll up from the pad. But on this model the controls are on the right hand side and the pad is on the left hand side you are slightly further away from that initial flame. I still think the control knob is a little sticky, but it has not locked up on me like the other one did.

1lb tanks are useless. You will need a 20lb tank (And another for a spare). How long they will last depends on what setting you are using. There is no thermostat so you are either on or off – manually.

But at the end of the day (or night), this time, Mr. Buddy saved our asses. Or more accurately kept them warm.

Disclaimer. I am not a testing lab. Half the time I can’t even remember what I had for dinner two days ago. These are my observations based on my experiences. Use them a resource along with other resources in coming to your own conclusion and decisions.


Note Sneaky, Heat Seeking Chihuahua


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