Alternative heat source thoughts

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Southbound, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Southbound

    Southbound Monkey+

    So this winter we were hit with a storm and it knocked out the electricity, no surprise. Where the house is in the south it doesn't get that bad most years and so I never thought much about it. It is a typical urban setting in a quiet neighborhood all using heat pumps. Although it is unlikely to go without electricity for more than a day, what if? I started thinking what would I do? It has a fire place and I have 3 ideas for backup heat. I could buy firewood, it is expensive because it's brought in from afar. I could convert the fireplace to a propane fire log set, making sure it gets topped off ahead of a storm or find a pellet stove insert, and hope I can find fuel for it in the local area. I also have a portable kerosene heater but I don't care too much for it. Anyway I'm just curious of anyone's thoughts and experience with the idea.
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  2. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    What does firewood run in your area ? Here, a 1/2 cord "pickup" load of hardwood runs 60-75 bucks.
    Propane certainly is less messy, and stores virtually forever....likely that is the way to go if you're having to pay much for wood and it's only for a very occasional backup.
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  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Firewood storage can be problematic after a few years. The bugs will eat it, rot will set in, and your fuel won't be usable. I'd say go with propane. Whether you set up a fireplace insert, or some other arrangement, it'll be the easiest way to go. I'd just point out that if you go with an insert, the ambience of a real fire is eliminated.
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  4. Southbound

    Southbound Monkey+

    Firewood is about 100$ for a truck bed full of hardwood. I don't like the measurement system that is widely used. Sometimes I can get it cheaper if I pickup myself. I'm leaning to propane mostly because I want to install a tankless h2o heater at some point. Not to mention it's easier to flip a switch than go outside and bring in wood.
  5. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I'm in the same boat now, the last house I lived in was all set to usee electricity free heat, a 30,000btu mechanical ventless wall heater supplied most of our heat, then a gas stove to provide more if needed.

    I use my 9,000btu propane radiant heater on top of a 40lb propane tank.
    It should run for at least 8 days straight.
    Your cost would be $100 heater, around $90 for the tank and $30 to fill it.
    I use a 40lb tank because it puts the heater up higher than my dogs tails, otherwise a 20lb bbq grill tank would work fine and would be cheaper than a 40lb tank.
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  6. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    Boy! I have been gone a long time! Cut & split wood has increased in cost, significantly.
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  7. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    We were kind of afraid of that loss of ambience when switching from a big open fireplace to an insert, but find with the big glass door in it, plus the distance it sticks out from the fireplace face (has room to cook on top), plus the significant wood savings (gassifier stove), we don't miss it at all.

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  8. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Yeah....very few wood sellers around here have a clue what a cord of wood is. Mostly it's by the 'pickup load'....a completely ambiguous measurement (long bed, wide bed, short bed, thrown in, stacked in. ?? etc)(and often illegal way to sell wood depending on the State). If I was buying wood, I'd measure off a couple of metal fence posts in the ground for some portion, or full, cord and tell the seller 'THAT is what you need to stack it in....gimme a price, I don't care how you haul it here'

    A long, wide bed truck (call it 4.5' wide taking out fo the wheel wells x 8' long by 20" high) will hold about a 1/2 cord if stack in tight.....lot less if thrown in like most do.
  9. Asia-Off-Grid

    Asia-Off-Grid RIP 11-8-2018

    Although the home I stayed in had (electric) central heating, I chose wood to heat with during my stay there. (It had been about 15 years since I had been able to appreciate a fireplace / wood stove.) My buddy had a 1980 (I believe it was, anyway) model Vermont Castings - Defiant Encore wood burning stove. It kept the living / dining / kitchen, and master bedroom, toasty warm. As I recall, it was fairly efficient as well.
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  10. Wild Trapper

    Wild Trapper Pirate Biker

    Mr Buddy heater at walmart then get the adapter/hose for the 20# cylinder, actually you could go for a larger cylinder and longer hose so you could keep the cylinder outside, but then it would not be as portable. That would probably be all that was needed for emergency heat - enough to take the chill off without electric.

    People that live in their vans use the Mr Buddy heater. The heater gives off condensation but the van crowd usually open their vent and crack a window to keep the CO2 in control.
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  11. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    Is natural gas available in your neighborhood. It is normally much cheaper than Propane where it is available. Propane as primary heat is quite expensive, even here in Florida near Gainesville. An Electric Quartz Infrared space heater will quite inexpensively heat a room of 200-250 square feet. In the coldest winter I have seen here in Florida in the last 24 years, one of these will heat that size area for about $35-$40 per month. Multiply that if you are doing larger areas. just sayin ....
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  12. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    nat gas is superior in many ways where it's in the street already. However, the distribution (and local firing control) depends on power. There is also a certain vulnerability to the pipes themselves. (Yes, I know this, had a freeze thaw pipe joint separation in front of the house in Michigan.) That said, having propane as another defense in depth is not a bad idea.
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  13. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I moved into my home 3 years ago and it came with a propane fireplace. I don't know the specifics and don't have time to look it up right now but with the fan on (very necessary!) it will heat almost the entire house (1650sqft). The room it won't heat is a back bathroom thru the master bedroom, hard getting heat movement in there. What also helps is overhead/ceiling fans to distribute heat. I have a 250 gallon propane tank to feed and also runs my cook stove. In my opinion, wood fireplaces are nice, real nice and there isn't anything better than sitting by one with a drink in hand to relax and solve the world's problems but they suck as a heat source.

    Last Spring, I installed a wood stove because I have a lot of trees on the property which need to be cut so using them as a heat source BUT I kept that propane fireplace for emergency.

    I am convinced that propane heaters or a propane fireplace if combined with a fan will do one hell'va job and in the future I intend to pick up a Mr. Buddy which I can power off a 20 pound bottle just for emergencies.
  14. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Best aux heat source I know in New Hampshire is a good wood stove, but in this area for $225 a cord I can buy full cords of cut and split wet hardwood. That said, I have propane hot water and cook stove, 200 lb or so tank, and got a 30,000 btu blueflame heater from Tractor Supply for $199 that uses no outside electricity, battery ignition, and has a thermostat and oxygen depletion detector for safety and I have CO detectors for wood stove. I used an electric heater one year for the back area of my basement to keep the pipes from freezing, With surcharge, it was about 18 cents a kw and my 1500 watt heater cost 1.5 x .18 x 24 x 30 or about $195 for the month. The propane heater uses about 1 1/4 pounds of propane an hour so that is about 3 1/2 hours on a gal and I paid $2.80 a gal or about .83 an hour that gives about 6 times the heat of the electric, but the minimum cost is 83 cents an hour vs 27 cents an hour for the electric. That will never happen again as I insulated the area and the propane has a thermostat.. Here you can not legally use an un vented heater for your primary heat source, but your area may vary. One advantage of propane, no one outside your house will know it is in use, no wood smoke out of the chimney or its odor, and that's good for OPSEC.

    What kills you with any "commercial" fuel is operating the unit 24 hours a day for an extended period and don't end up looking at the monthly bill in total shock as I did.
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  15. Tempstar

    Tempstar Old and crochety

    Personally after using wood, electric, kerosene, natural gas, and even a pellet stove for a bit, I have settled on propane space heating to supplement my heat pump. It's clean, reasonably priced, stores for a lifetime and is always ready to use. Right now it costs $9 for a 20# refill, but this summer it will drop as low as $6. I plan to have 5-100# and 6-20# tanks fueled up for next winter. This will cost around $250 and should heat me all winter. When compared to a $200 per month power bill It's a no brainer. Also finishing up the tankless water heater install which will save even more.
    Right now a Mr. Buddy runs in the living room on a 20# cylinder and has carried us through the recent cold snaps on $27 worth of propane and saved us $150 on electric. By next year the blue flame will be operational for our winter heating but shouldn't cost a whole lot more to operate.
    Wood is messy and has to be vented, and in most installations draws in outside air from cracks in building envelope making it very inefficient. Pellets are less mess but still not ideal for me. Kerosene just stinks. Natural gas keeps you tied to "the man" who can curtail your usage with the flip of a switch. Just my opinions...

    "Propane is the fuel of the future"
    Hank Hill
  16. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Natural gas is only cheaper if you use a lot.
    Here the surcharge is around $350 per year. I could buy around 150 gallons of propane with just the surcharge money.
    A more normal $20 a month surcharge for in town would buy you around 100 gallons of propane per year.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
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  17. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    No matter what you are burning inside, you need to be sure that there is a source of combustion air. Bear in mind that the combustion products WILL build up inside.
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  18. Southbound

    Southbound Monkey+

    Natural gas is not , at least today, an option. The neighborhood that backs up to us has it. I have contacted the gas the gas folks several times and get the same story. They send out a questionnaire to the neighbors near us asking if they run a line how many would convert at least one appliance to gas. Thus far not enough people have said yes. Then the gas company calls and says they wont run it, but if I want to pay for the line to be run they would be more than happy to have me as a customer. Ok, how much I ask. about 14k. Sorry i'm in my late 40's and I will never be able to get that back in savings. So thanks but no thanks.
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  19. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I harvest my own logs and leave them logs till I'm in need of the wood . Saves the gas and keeps the bug population to a minimum ,also if I need the wood for something else it readily available. If I paint the end of the logs they last much longer .
    I have a serious surplus of fire wood due to mild winters I didn't expect ,
    Unfortunately I have only a fraction of very old cut wood and lumber that is not part of my processing that is pretty well dried out . it will burn but not without help.
    I use a very small wood cook stove for the whole house , Fans by the stove help circulate the heat and its comfortable in 30 degree weather here. One fan works off the heat of the stove. it's not great, but like a smaller solar panel amongst a large array , it is a contributor, and that's better than nothing.
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  20. Illini Warrior

    Illini Warrior Illini Warrior

    Mr Heater sells a cabinet unit of the combo Big Buddy and 20lb BBQ size tank - looks decent enough to keep out in display instead of stored - good for that 3 season porch or basement that needs a little extra BTU sometimes ....

    18,000 BTU Cabinet Heater
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