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Thread: Cabin heating question

  1. #1

    Default Cabin heating question

    I have a large barrel stove in my cabin, and it is challenging to regulate the amount of heat. Especially over night. I was considering going with an alternative heat. Looking for something to use once the cabin is heated up that will just maintian a good temp over night. Would still use the wood stove to bring cabin up to temp when I arrive at -20. Any suggestions? I see that you can buy a "vent free" propane wall stove very inexpensively where the "direct-vent" heaters are considerably more. Why is that??

  2. #2
    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    "Vent Free" systems are cheap, because they don't have the air handling systems to make them as expensive as a vented system. They're also not truly vent free, since they recommend opening a window to let out the moisture that burning propane makes, and the CO that burning any kind of fuel makes. I would NOT recommend one for a cabin AT ALL. They have low oxygen shut offs, so that when CO builds up to a certain level, they shut off... which means that they'll shut off just before they kill you.

    A vented heater is the only thing that I would sleep through the night with when it comes to burning propane.

    On the other hand.. have you tried sealing up your stove? My Blaze King would burn me out during the night with only an air intake damper. I added a flue damper, and used furnace cement to seal up any gaps in the metal at joints, etc. and now have a stove that will burn very low with just 2 spruce rounds lasting all night... That being said, I also have to keep on top of cleaning the chimney, since that's a creosote making combination, but it's better than burning propane all night.

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    Two suggestions:
    1-pack in some coal and let the wood fire burn down a bit and load some coal.
    2-Nordic stove, brings in combustion air from outside, not robbing in from you and on low it keeps my cabin's chill off. Diesel a much better btu per unit than propane you just need to get #1 fuel so on the coldest it won't sludge up.

    Coal would be the easiest as you already have the stove. I do not have personal experience with it but have talked with friends that do. Also the learning curve the it would take to get it just right..

    Good luck.

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    Try to stay away from anything with a fan unless you have over head power.

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    "Vent free" simply sends the exhaust gasses into the cabin instead of outside through a vent. If it burned perfectly, you get just carbon dioxide and water vapor. Any incomplete combustion makes carbon monoxide too which will kill you if the concentration is high enough.

    Even if it is only making CO2 and water, you don't want it. When you burn a gallon of propane, you create 4 gallons of water. If the heater is exhausting into your cabin, a lot of that water is going to find it's way into your walls - not good.

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    Member akriverunner's Avatar
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    how big is your cabin? you might be better off getting a good used woodstove that is tighter then a barrel stove that you can fill before bed and will last most of the night

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    I'll split the difference on the opinions so far. I think you should invest in a good woodstove that will regulate heat better. One with a thermostatic damper maybe.

    That said, I've used a "direct vent" propane heater (infrared) as a backup in my cabin and set it for about 50 F. When the stove lost its moxie while I was gone to work, the heater would kick on. Coming home from work to a cabin at 50 degrees is infinitely better than a cabin at 20 degrees.

    When it got -40 outside and the woodstove had a hard time keeping up, it would kick on. I had no complaints with it other than that it would create alot of condensation and frosting on windows if I got lazy and used it too much. Vented would be better for sure, but the vented ones are ridiculously inefficient.

  8. #8

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    Hey, thanks a lot for the info. I hadn't considered those things about condensation, and the fact that my barrel stove leaks like a siv.

  9. #9
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    [QUOTEWhen you burn a gallon of propane, you create 4 gallons of water.][/QUOTE] Actually the burning of 1 gallon of propane produces 1.64lbs of water or just under a quart... about the same amount of water vapor a human puts off in 24 hours if they are sitting still.

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    Get you a good air tight wood stove you will be amazed at the wood you will save and it will burn all night without cooking you.
    I have a good small wood stove and a mid size nordic stove When i get there and it 30 below i get the wood stove fired up light the nordic. Up to 50 deg in half hour. I am not shure how much fuel the nordic burns but its not much at all I fill my 50 gallon tank about once a year And i go to the cabin alot and spend quite abit of time there about two months a year or more. What i like about it is it needs no electric you can get a thermastat for it. say you want to leave a day or two its trustworthy It keeps my cabin about 60 deg on low at 10 below. I use it alot i turn it on at night when it gets below 0 keep it on low. The cabin is alway's toasty i like it a little on the warm side. Its nice to go out snowmachineing all day and come back to a toasty cabin without worrying if the fire went out
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