Our Recent Experience with Portable Propane Heaters
Whether you live in a city or remotely, there is often a time where a reliable space heater comes in handy, – arguably, when its cold enough and your main heat source is not enough or not working, it becomes a device that can make an unpleasant day bearable. When you live in the wilderness and a long way from a hardware or department store, it is a good idea to have a space heater before you need one, because when you live remote, your options are more limited and supply is often exhausted when a storm approaches, – not to mention, if you live as far out as we do, you have dirt roads that easily become impassable or at least unpleasant during snow and rain storms.
Due to some recent experiences with new space heaters, I thought our experiences with two brands may be worth examining. We had a Mr. Heater Big Buddy that we bought last February (2018), mostly on a whim due to a clearance sale at our local Wal-Mart, we used it a few times and found it a little finicky, sometimes difficult to start, but generally pretty reliable. It being so late in the season, we didn’t have much time to evaluate it last year.
This season, which began in late October 2018, we promptly learned that what began as fussiness and a tendency to be difficult to light became a tedious challenge to light and keep it lit. I am not sure what the problem was, but I tend to think it was the carbon monoxide safety switch or valve, perhaps set too sensitive. After a month long series of exchanges with Mr. Heater customer service, who were always pleasant enough (if you could get them on the phone), we sent our “Big Buddy” back and once it arrived at their address, they promptly sent a replacement. The current replacement works flawlessly for the last two months, very reliable and pretty darn handy with our rather harsh winter this year. So far we have zero complaints with the replacement (same model).
Dyna-Glo verses Mr. Heater
While our experience with Mr. Heater worked out about as well as can be expected (they could work on customer service), the same can not be said with Dyna-Glo. When our “Big Buddy” started to get especially ornery and unreliable, we did what most people do that live rather remote, – we went to Wal-Mart and our local Ace (the only options in a small town). To our surprise and disappointment, Mr. Heater products were no longer carried at Wal-Mart, their replacement being Dyna-Glo as the sole option small store. At the time it looked cheaper (poorly made) and cost less, but the main reason for trying them was the nearest retail store (Lowes, Home Depot and Tractor Supply) that had options were a 100 mile round trip, so we gave Dyna-Glo a try. That was a mistake…
I never got that Dyna-Glo HeatAround 360 to run, never came close to lighting and I wasted a couple hours of my life trying… eventually, never one to give up a bad idea early, we went back to Wal-Mart and exchanged it for another. But just to be safe with a storm on the way, we drove to a larger town that had a Lowes, Home Depot and Tractor Supply and after examining the options bought a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy just to increase the chance of one working. We were quick to confirm that Dyna-Glo makes a poor product, considering how poorly it works, also grossly overpriced.
While our replacement Dyna-Glo HeatAround 360 does light and does run, it takes far more effort and dozens of attempts to get a heater to light. Typically, I have to take it outside to light and it helps if you do not exhaust the propane tank between lightings. I am near certain the problem is an overly sensitive carbon monoxide switch, if you have any heat source running inside, forget about lighting it indoors. Once lit outdoors, turn it on before bringing it in and carry it to one spot, do not move it around too much and do not turn it off, because it won’t start easily. If you leave it alone running, it will generally stay on until exhausted, which is twice as fast to run out as a Mr. Heater.
Our Mr. Heater Portable Buddy works flawlessly, not a single problem in a couple months of routine use, – easy to light and pretty darn handy, you can move I around and if it kicks off (due to tipping) it starts easy. Once we received our replacement Mr. Heater “Big Buddy” under warranty, it has worked flawlessly also.
All things considered, Mr. Heater makes a good product, reliable, safe and for a good price. Customer service was difficult to get a hold of, but generally returned calls if you left a number. In the end, they honored their warranty and sent us a new replacement which has worked flawlessly. We can recommend their products.
They should change the Name of Dyna-Glo to Don’t Wanna Glo!
We will never again buy a Dyna-Glo product, also disappointed that Wal-Mart carries them “exclusively” now (at least locally).