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Author Topic: Emergency heat  (Read 7676 times)

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Offline DanG

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Emergency heat
« on: December 15, 2008, 12:32:59 PM »
Reading about the ice storm has got me to thinking about my parents' situation.  They have a small generator, but it isn't large enough to run their electric heating system.  There is a fireplace that has never been used, but Dad is on oxygen, so that probably isn't an option.  Does anyone have a suggestion for an elcheapo solution?  As it stands now, they would have to be evacuated if they lose power on a cold night.
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Offline Engineer

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2008, 12:54:29 PM »
That's a tough question.  No power means no electric heat at all, even space heat.  Oxygen means no fires, which rules out fireplace, propane space heat and probably a woodstove.  A large generator is expensive, but other than spending a lot of money on a different solution, may be the best alternative. 

Are they mobile enough to spend the night with a neighbor or friend in another community with power?  That evacuation may be the best solution.  Only other thing I could think of would be to confine themselves to one room and pile up a lot of warm blankets, but that's probably only good for a single night.  What part of the country do they live?

Offline Gary_C

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 01:12:07 PM »
Just having oxygen should not rule out any combustion equipment as the air around has 21 percent oxygen in it. It cannot really explode or burn as oxygen is not a fuel.

Probably the best alternative is the fireplace. It should have an insert or you will send too much heat up the chimney if you do not have good control of the draft.

Some people have survived here in Minnesota with those kerosene heaters, but they are smelly and you need to be concerned with ventilation of fumes. Some are approved for closed spaces, but still stink.

A small propane space heater may work if you can get one for unventilated spaces.

Is this Florida you are talking about?  ::)
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Offline sbishop

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 01:27:04 PM »
When I built my house 4 years ago, i had it wired for a generator and have a propane fireplace as a backup! Never had to use it yet but New England is just down the road!  :o

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Offline DanG

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2008, 01:52:14 PM »
Yes, they are in extreme Northern Florida..Tallahassee.  This ain't like Miami, it gets cold here.  So far this fall, we have had several nights in the low 20s, expect to see a few in the teens, and it occasionally dips into single digits.

My folks are old and getting somewhat frail, so whatever we do will either have to be very easy to work, or someone will have to stay with them.  They live in a large DW mobile home with a very open floor plan, so I don't think their 5500 watt generator can support enough space heaters to do much good.

I like the idea of a propane heater or converting the fireplace to propane.  My Dad has COPD along with athsma, so a  wood fire is not a good idea because of the smoke.  How hard and how expensive is it to install a propane log in a woodburning metal fireplace?  Would it put out enough heat to be worthwhile?
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2008, 02:02:26 PM »
DanG, my emergency and back up heat is gas logs in the wood fire burning fire place.  It does a good job, we have ventless, so the heat stays inside.  It cut my electric winter bill by a third.  There is a certain amount of "fumes" from the gas logs that may not be acceptable.  But it works.
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Offline ohsoloco

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2008, 02:10:01 PM »
Can't say it's all that cheap @ $400, but what about one of those Edenpure heaters?   They only pull 12.5 amps (1,483 watts), and work off of a 110v three-prong outlet.  Some of my future in-laws have one, and they really seem to like it.  You can just push it from room to room.

Offline Gary_C

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2008, 02:24:01 PM »
I think you can get a ventless portable kerosene heater for a little over $100. The main hazard with the kerosene heaters is putting the wrong fuel like gasoline in them.

For around the same price you can get a propane heater and run it off of those 20 lb cylinders.

I don't know anything about fireplace logs, but make sure you can burn them without opening the damper on the fireplace or the heat will go up the chimney.
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Offline DanG

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2008, 02:38:14 PM »
Ohsoloco, what does that heater have that makes it so pricey?  They already have an electric space heater that will make the bedroom inhabitable.

I like the gas log idea, so I'll be looking into that.  Now for another question.  I want to hook up their genset so they can use it without assistance.  I'm thinking of building a box for it in their garage with the exhaust vented to the outside.  Next step would be to run some circuits into the house and locate surface mounted outlets in strategic locations.  It has four outlets on it but I'm not sure if they are 15 or 20 amp capacity.  The longest run would be about 40 feet.  What size wire should I use?  I have a roll of 14ga on hand.  Would that be big enough?  
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
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Offline Tom

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2008, 02:42:44 PM »
The Gas Log idea sounds like a good one.  I wouldn't worry about he oxygen, unless he sticks the tube in the fire. It will make it hotter.

On another note.

Why don't you suggest that they pretend that they are 20 years old again and crawl into a comfortable double or queensized bed with 40 pounds of blankets on it.  Between the blankets and the extra curriclular activities, the esprit de corps may be sufficient to get them through the night.  Matter of fact, they might not want to get out of bed in the morning.  :D :D
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Offline bmill

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2008, 02:55:23 PM »
  Will a new or used rv propane furnace work?  I'm looking out the window at my 5th wheel and the thought hit me. It runs on 12vdc and 120, it seems to run along time on my propane bottles and I believe it kicks out 40,000btu. Maybe this is not a good idea, just a thought.
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Offline DanG

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2008, 02:56:19 PM »
 :D :D :D  Ya, that might work for a while...a very short while.  The old man is having enough trouble making it through the night in a hospital bed!
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline DanG

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2008, 03:02:06 PM »
  Will a new or used rv propane furnace work?  I'm looking out the window at my 5th wheel and the thought hit me. It runs on 12vdc and 120, it seems to run along time on my propane bottles and I believe it kicks out 40,000btu. Maybe this is not a good idea, just a thought.

That ain't a half-bad idea, bmill.  I actually have one of those but I don't know if it's any good.  Installation might be a little tricky though.

Another thought I had is putting a gas water heater in an outdoor enclosure, then pumping hot water through a heat exchanger in the house.  That would be a little more involved than the gas log, but would be cleaner.  Reckon how much heat it would generate?
"I don't feel like an old man.  I feel like a young man who has something wrong with him."  Dick Cavett
"Beat not thy sword into a plowshare, rather beat the sword of thine enemy into a plowshare."

Offline Tom

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2008, 03:07:07 PM »
Sounds like you are re-inventing steam radiators, Dang.  :D

I like the use of the fireplace. It is already engineered for volatiles.  Heaters, like electric space heaters and kerosene space heaters scare me in a home with young folks, much less a home with elderly who don't move to quickly, or not at all.

Steam heat would definitely be an option if you could put it together cheaply enough.  I like the use of the fireplace best.
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2008, 03:16:36 PM »
We heat the entire cabin, even in sub-zero weather with a ventless plaque infrared LP Gas heater. We have a carbon monoxide alarm for peace of mind, but in many years we have never had an issue. It doesn't need any electricity to run or light. but does have a blower if you want to use it. Has built in thermostat that also does not require juice.  I think this is it HERE
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Offline Radar67

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2008, 03:20:22 PM »
Well, Jeff beat me to the punch. We ran into the same problem a few days ago. I will buy one of the ventless propane heaters, tie it to a portable propane bottle and have it for back up at the house. My Mom has them mounted in her house and they put out lots of heat. No electricity needed.
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Offline srt

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2008, 04:06:15 PM »
I like the propane heater idea.  They might find they like it as well.

Here's another thought.  We often stay in my Grandparent's guest house.  It's a slab on grade concrete block building.  When it gets cold, it stays cold for a while.  We usually arrive after dark, and the heat's been kept on just enough so it won't freeze up.  Even when we turn up the baseboard hot water heat and build a fire in the woodstove, the back bedroom stays cold until about the next day.

We've found an electric blanket does a real good job during those nights.  I don't know how many watts it pulls, but I doubt it's over 1000.

Every time I go into the main house to eat, visit, or play cards with Granny, I have to start stripping down.  She's 90, and feels best when the inside temperature matches her age!

Offline Norm

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2008, 04:14:06 PM »
I'd upgrade to a heavier wattage generator and run some space heaters with it. Fuel is easier to get than propane and no worries of any fumes to hurt your Dad's lungs.

Offline Kevin

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2008, 04:26:19 PM »
Quote
What size wire should I use?

#14 is 15 amp and #12 is 20 amp, don't exceed the total wattage of the generator.
Bigger is better and shorter runs for least resistance just don't exceed the amperage of the breaker or the wire gauge.

Offline dolittle

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Re: Emergency heat
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2008, 04:56:48 PM »
I would install a vented LP gas heater that does not require electric.  No worries of fumes or refueling a generator every few hours.


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