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Easy Catalytic RV Heater Mod Takes the Chill Away

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

Summer is almost here but don’t ditch your RV heater just yet. Check out this catalytic RV heater mod that one full-time RVer designed, especially if you’re headed to the mountains where nighttime temperatures can turn your toes to icicles. It’s the perfect ticket to ultimate warmth on a comfy camping trip.

This little catalytic heater warm ups your whole rig.

Easy catalytic RV heater mod
Christopher Clark

Catalytic RV Heaters Offer Safer, More Efficient Warmth

Meet the 12V DC propane powered Platinum CAT! heater. Manufactured by A&L Enterprises in Tumwater, Washington, this compact, catalytic gas heater runs on natural gas or propane and may be safer than the built-in furnace found in most RVs.

These catalytic heaters are becoming a de-facto choice for smart RVers who want to save money on fuel and eliminate the risk of fires inside their rig. A typical RV furnace heats your motorhome or travel trailer with an open flame that produces sustained temperatures over 1200° F. Catalytic heaters, on the other hand, utilize a flameless platinum-based chemical reaction to ignite the heating process, which is safer since the heating process only needs to reach 750° F for effective operation.

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Another reason why catalytic heaters are so popular is their ability to generate more efficient “radiant heat” from the catalytic combustion process.

Similar to how the sun heats the planet, radiant heat is electromagnetic wave energy that travels any distance until it is absorbed or reflected by matter. Instead of attempting to heat the space inside your RV, it first heats people and objects, which then heat the air inside the RV. And although catalytic heaters sound like they might be energy hogs, the CAT! only needs 5 amps to start the heating process and less than 0.5 amps to keep it running.

Like all catalytic heaters, the Platinum CAT! heater emits far less carbon monoxide than flame combustion heaters, but should still be vented to the outside of the RV for safety. This unit features a ventilation kit that comes with everything you need including a 3′ long, 1.5” inner diameter flexible exhaust hose, vent terminal and mounting hardware.

Check Out This CAT! Heater Mod

You’re looking at the back of the 3P12 CAT! Model purchased by Christopher Clark. The 3P12 heats up to 100 square feet with a 3000 BTU output from a body that measures just 12″ wide by 14″ tall.

A heated RV . . . with this propane bottle?

Easy catalytic RV heater mod
Christopher Clark

Instead of permanently mounting it to a wall, which is what most RVers do, he built a wood base for his CAT! heater to make it freestanding. But don’t worry, the wood base won’t catch fire because the heater’s design keeps exterior surface temperatures so cool that even a baby can safely touch the warmest part of it without harm.

The freestanding base lets him aim it in different directions as needed, whether he’s in the main living area or in the back bedroom of his Class A motorhome.

I like most the precision of the unit, both with respect to temperature control and with the vent (rather than just having an open window, it actually pushes the low-oxygen, high humidity air right outside.

For even more versatility, he opted out of tying it into his RV’s propane system the way most RVers do. Instead he uses a standard bottle of propane camping fuel, which he can refill from his RVs propane tank. Since the 3P12 CAT! uses only 1/8 pounds of fuel per hour (giving it 34 hours per gallon of fuel), one bottle goes a long way.

The primary modification I made was to add a pressure control, allowing the use of the little 1-lb tanks for portability. Then I also added a 15-foot exhaust hose and made the power cord terminate with a 12vdc plug so I can plug it into any 12vdc socket.

Learn more about the 3P12 CAT! by visiting

RELATED: 3 Portable Propane Outdoor Campfires. Ideal For Burn Ban Locations

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