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  • Energy Efficient Heater

    Hey All,

    So, we've just moved to a tiny house, and since it's already cold, I'm looking for an energy efficient portable heater - if there's such a unit

    The room is about 400 sq ft. and my budget is less than $100

    Does anyone have a good experience with any type of portable heater that they'd recommend?

    Your help will be appreciated

  • #2
    If you are looking for an electric heater, they all have the same efficiency of 1 (100%). Options are
    things like fan speed, max power, thermostat. They certainly are a heavy drain, pretty much using
    the entire capacity of one circuit. I do not trust these units around the house, over long time the cord
    and plug heat up, oxidize, heat up more, and eventually burn out. The arc produced by the failure
    can start a fire, I actually saw one jump a couple feet for a moment. Some here are located on a
    concrete floor surrounded by concrete basement walls, with special extra heavy duty outlets.

    The most efficient electric unit might be a smaller mini split heat pump, permanently installed, with
    ability to heat and cool for a wide (but not unlimited) range of outside temps. These could multiply
    the efficiency of the energy consumed by 3 or 4.

    Fossil fuel heaters are another option, quite powerful but impacting inside air. Bruce Roe

    Comment


    • #3
      Depending on how well insulated the space is (or is not), your $100 budget wound be most effectively returned by buying thermal underwear.

      You'll quickly burn through $100 in electric bills with electric resistance heaters - the only way you'll perhaps get close to solving the heating problem for that kind of initial outlay, but the operating cost in electric bills will quickly exceed the initial outlay.

      Comment


      • #4
        Given the small space, and cost constraints, electric heating seems like the only option (aside from long underwear). They do make small propane heaters which claim to be safe for indoor use

        Like this one:
        https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-F23...ith+thermostat

        BUT, I would be very concerned about the build up of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. I would not chance running it at night while sleeping. And you'll need a CO detector and smoke detector to go with it.

        Similarly, I'd be very leery of running a portable electric heater while away or sleeping. Electric wiring / circuit overload / fault is the leading cause of house fires after candles and cigarettes.

        A built in electric radiator (from a reputable electrical distributor) would be a safer bet

        https://www.amazon.com/Cadet-Manufac...ith+thermostat

        -Jonathan

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JSchnee21 View Post
          Given the small space, and cost constraints, electric heating seems like the only option (aside from long underwear). They do make small propane heaters which claim to be safe for indoor use

          Like this one:
          https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Heater-F23...ith+thermostat

          BUT, I would be very concerned about the build up of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. I would not chance running it at night while sleeping. And you'll need a CO detector and smoke detector to go with it.

          Similarly, I'd be very leery of running a portable electric heater while away or sleeping. Electric wiring / circuit overload / fault is the leading cause of house fires after candles and cigarettes.

          A built in electric radiator (from a reputable electrical distributor) would be a safer bet

          https://www.amazon.com/Cadet-Manufac...ith+thermostat

          -Jonathan
          Not having combustion going on in a confined space is always safer than having combustion going on in a confined space.

          That gives some advantages to electric resistance heat be it via heating air or water.

          The cost of electric resistance heat, whether it's accomplished by heating water and then heating the air in the space via convection, or electric resistance heating of the space via a combination of radiant heating of the walls and contents of the space and then convection heating of the air by pure resistance heaters will cost about an equal bundle of cash with a pretty strong likelihood of that amount quickly exceeding the initial cost of the equipment.

          How safe portable electric resistance heaters are is at least partially f(common sense of the user).

          Comment


          • #6
            What is your source of fuel? (e.g., electric, natural gas, etc) How much do they cost? How well insulated and sealed is this space? Do you need AC too?

            When it comes to converting electricity into BTUs of heat, all electric heaters are 100% efficient. What differentiates one electric heater from the other is the noise and the distribution of heat.

            As for the budget, you can either choose an electric or kerosine heater

            If you go with an electric space heater, I would think having a thermostat would go a long way to reduce operational cost and improve comfort. This link might be helpful:

            https://qualityhomeaircare.com/most-...space-heaters/

            Also, remember, be very careful with space heaters because they are the second leading cause of house fires

            Comment


            • #7
              I'd look on Craigslist etc, for a used direct vent propane wall heater - get one with a mV thermostat and you can use a cheap programmable thermo to save propane. I've seen them for sale a few hundred dollars when people are remodelling or tearing down an old place.

              Burning anything inside that has no vent is a safety and health no-no (like propane, kerosene etc.). Putting the vent pipe for a propane direct vent wall furnace through the wall is pretty easy with a jigsaw. If you use a non-vented propane heater even if it doesnt kill you with carbon monoxide, a product of propane combustion is also water, everything will be damp and smelly inside.

              Comment


              • #8
                As mentioned all electric heaters are 100% efficient. Buy a new electric heater at walmart and make sure it has a tip over feature that shuts it off. This might cost you $30.

                Now if its tiny house on a trailer chassis that is raised up off the ground and there is farm nearby, get a bunch of hay bales and put them up tight against the foundation. If there isnt a farm nearby, trash bags full of leaves work pretty well. The reason for doing this is many tiny houses are not built to code and usually by amateurs. Many amateurs don't realize that cold air gets under the floor and makes the floors cold. Cold floors are tough to deal with as heat tends to rise.If you are in snow zone, the other option is bank snow up against the gap.

                There needs to be as much insulation under the floor as in the walls but many folks dont do that as they are trying to keep the height down. Putting hay bales or bags of leaves all the way around the base of the building will keep the cold air out from under the house and the ground temp is generally higher than the air temp. Go through any rural area in the north and most mobile homes are either banked up like this or have insulated skirting. Note that varmits and critters like to be warm also and will move in for the winter, not an issue unless there are cracks and openings up into the tiny house. Pull the bales in the summer as it can cause rot in warm weather.

                Also on a cold day walk around with a wet sponge and a bare hand and use your damp hand to detect any cold air leaks around doors and windows. Get a tube of caulking and deal with them.

                IMHO tiny homes on trailers should be built with decent insulation in the floors and electric radiant grid in the floors. This give warm floors and takes up minimal space.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by peakbagger View Post
                  As mentioned all electric heaters are 100% efficient. Buy a new electric heater at walmart and make sure it has a tip over feature that shuts it off. This might cost you $30.

                  Cold floors are tough to deal with as heat tends to rise.If you are in snow zone, the other option is bank snow up against the gap.

                  There needs to be as much insulation under the floor as in the walls but many folks dont do that as they are trying to keep the height down. Putting hay bales or bags of leaves all the way around the base of the building will keep the cold air out from under the house and the ground temp is generally higher than the air temp. Go through any rural area in the north and most mobile homes are either banked up like this or have insulated skirting. Note that varmits and critters like to be warm also and will move in for the winter, not an issue unless there are cracks and openings up into the tiny house. Pull the bales in the summer as it can cause rot in warm weather.

                  Also on a cold day walk around with a wet sponge and a bare hand and use your damp hand to detect any cold air leaks around doors and windows. Get a tube of caulking and deal with them.

                  IMHO tiny homes on trailers should be built with decent insulation in the floors and electric radiant grid in the floors. This give warm floors and takes up minimal space.
                  Actually, heat flows from where it is warmer to where it is colder. Air or most other fluids will move as f(temp. induced density changes) in a gravity other similar applied force fields when they are present.

                  I'd also support the idea as you mention of sealing and insulating. But do the sealing on the WARM side of the floor - the inside. Sealing on the outside of a cold(er) surface will retard the movement/diffusion of moisture and will trap that moisture in places that probably are not easy to get at, can't be seen and can get damaged by trapped/stagnant moisture over time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A vented wall heater would be best (search ebay for "top-vent wall furnace"). Most old pop-up or hard-side campers will have a small vented "Dometic/Atwood" propane heater (check craigslist for worn-out "as-is" campers... $100 for just the heater may be possible. Be _sure_ to seal the vent correctly.). If propane is too expensive, search "tiny house pellet stove" (a US Stove #4840 wall-mount pellet stove could work, but unfortunately costs $1200 new!).

                    Cheap ideas:
                    - warm-up the bed before bedtime with a hot water bottle (I use the 2 liter red rubber kind from a drugstore/$6 eBay) or electric blanket.
                    - Put an electric blanket on the floor and sit on the floor during the day (Korean style).
                    - Put a heater under the table, and make a tablecloth that hangs to the floor: when you sit at the table, you tuck the tablecloth around your waist and your legs and feet are kept warm (Japanese style).
                    Last edited by specialgreen; 11-08-2018, 12:55 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by specialgreen View Post
                      ....
                      - Put a heater under the table, and make a tablecloth that hangs to the floor: when you sit at the table, you tuck the tablecloth around your waist and your legs and feet are kept warm (Japanese style).
                      A heated fire fort. I can hardly wait for the incident report when this goes up in flames.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mike90250 View Post
                        A heated fire fort. I can hardly wait for the incident report when this goes up in flames.
                        Brings new meaning to the phrases "Fire in the belly" and "He's got the fire down below". Especially for the part about wrapping a tablecloth around your waist. Smoked junk !

                        Conjures up images of a bib for your gut. Also great for keeping your dinner off your junk, especially when learning how to eat with utensils.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                          Brings new meaning to the phrases "Fire in the belly" and "He's got the fire down below". Especially for the part about wrapping a tablecloth around your waist. Smoked junk !

                          Conjures up images of a bib for your gut. Also great for keeping your dinner off your junk, especially when learning how to eat with utensils.


                          In the posters defense, I've seen and done this while camping and sitting around the picnic table at night playing board games and consuming adult beverages. Indoors, maybe not...
                          2.2kw Suntech mono, Classic 200, NEW Trace SW4024

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by littleharbor View Post



                            In the posters defense, I've seen and done this while camping and sitting around the picnic table at night playing board games and consuming adult beverages. Indoors, maybe not...
                            Back in the day as a struggling student, I had a small (500 W) spot heater under my desk at home. That, hoodies and fingerless gloves allowed me to keep the thermostat at 62 F. or less during the winter in Buffalo, NY but over-draping (or draping over) things seems less than safe to me. Kind of like the tree hugger version of redneck engineering. Besides, it also slows things down when your pants catch fire.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J.P.M. View Post

                              Back in the day as a struggling student, I had a small (500 W) spot heater under my desk at home. That, hoodies and fingerless gloves allowed me to keep the thermostat at 62 F. or less during the winter in Buffalo, NY but over-draping (or draping over) things seems less than safe to me. Kind of like the tree hugger version of redneck engineering. Besides, it also slows things down when your pants catch fire.
                              All our camping friends have the Mr. Heater little buddy heaters. They really are great little heaters.
                              2.2kw Suntech mono, Classic 200, NEW Trace SW4024

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