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Thread: Emergency cabin heat when power is out

  1. #1

    Default Emergency cabin heat when power is out

    Hello,
    I'm looking for suggestions:
    We built a cabin two hours north of Anchorage, it is 20x28 with a full upstairs (gambrel barn roof style). We are on the edge of the grid and have electricity. We have running water inside with a kitchen faucet and shower, food, liquids, refirdg, etc..we have a Toyo and keep the place 50 degrees all winter by using the Toyo therostat. A monitor has failed twice and a power outage with the Toyo once caused us to replace broken pipes two or three times and clean up exploded sodas and other stuff.
    I want to install an emergency heat source, probably propane. The top floor is isolated and doesn't need heat. We need a way to keep some kind of heat on if the Toyo fails due to failure or power outage. I'm thinking a propane heater with a large bottle that is indoor safe. A caretaker comes by every 4 or 5 days to check on things in trade for a shower. Do you know of a propane heater that has a thermostat and would automatically come on by itself if a certain low temp is reached? All that I find must be manually lit. We need something that will turn on automatically when we are not there and produce heat without electricity for 4 to 5 days in case the Toyo fails or electricity is out. We welcome any ideas. I can't find a propane heater that will come on by itself. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Member JR2's Avatar
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    My dad has a propane fire place that he uses in his house in Ninilchik for the same reason. Has a pilot light so no electricity to make light.
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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Or go the other direction with this. Solar panel to a battery bank and an inverter. Your own power system. Thats how many off the grid run their toyo's. But even then you could have a freeze up should you have a failure somewhere along the way. Just another option.

  4. #4

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    You already have heaing oil for the Toyo heater. So why not consider a drip oil heater that requires no electricity and can be plumbed into your current fuel source.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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    drip oil heaters do not light automatically when I'm gone

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    Member Derby06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JR2 View Post
    My dad has a propane fire place that he uses in his house in Ninilchik for the same reason. Has a pilot light so no electricity to make light.
    What he said. Just set fireplace thermostat temp 5-10 degress below the Toyo set temp.
    Computer keeps freezing up and this is my third attempt at posting; hopefully all three attempts don't suddenly appear....lol

  7. #7

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    Since you have a caretaker in the area you could install a low temp alarm with a battery backup that would call you and your caretaker then you could deal with the problem.

  8. #8

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    Thanks for the ideas......I'll probably go with an indoor propane unit with a pilot so that it will come on when electricity fails (I do wish there was one that did not require the pilot to be lit at all times).
    Good idea with the solar panel also, but propane would also protect against the Toyo failing for reasons other than power outage. Someone told me that there was a shop in Anchorage with folks who are really smart about this kind of stuff. Anyone know who they are?

    Mr Heater tech support said there automatic heaters come on at 62 degrees (lowest setting). Anyone know of a unit that I can set to come on at 40 degrees? I don't want to pay to keep the place 62 degrees for weeks at a time when I'm not there.

  9. #9

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    ABS Alaskan does alternative energy and power stuff, I believe it's on Potter Rd.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  10. #10
    Member Music Man's Avatar
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    Suburban Propane
    Anchorage, AK
    1200 E Whitney Rd
    Anchorage, AK 99501
    Toll Free: 1-800-PROPANE (800-776-7263)
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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  11. #11
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    Our cabin has a propane heater in it. The propane place in Wasilla gave me some information on it and the lights when we first got the cabin. It doesn't need power to work. Our RV trailer has a propane heater in it that runs off 12 power. You might be able to find a bad trailer with a working heater/thermo in it for cheap. A new RV heater would be RV$$$!

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    We have a similar set up in a similar location...I haven't tried this yet myself, but I wonder if you could put in one of those battery-back-up things (Universal Power Supply) that people use for computers. When the power goes out, the battery-back-up stays on for long enough to keep things running and warm (like a day or two?...I don't know). Ours is a Oil Miser OM-22, pretty sure it's low power use. I might just kill the power for a day and see what happens if I try that...

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    There are a ton of stoves out there I would suggest a DV freestanding gas stove. Put it on a TSTAT and walk away is the only way to go and not worry about it. You can DV right outside a wall and they are approved for bed rooms per say.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Music Man View Post
    Suburban Propane
    Anchorage, AK
    1200 E Whitney Rd
    Anchorage, AK 99501
    Toll Free: 1-800-PROPANE (800-776-7263)
    We bought a propane heater from these guys to back up our wood stove since that is our primary heat source. What a joke, the pilot on that heater is like a little jet engine that sat and sucked propane 24/7, then when we really needed it during a cold snap and we gone for a few days, the pilot died and we got to replace most of our plumbing fixtures. All I'm saying is that buying a propane appliance from the company that sells the propane doesn't seem like the smartest move, in hind sight. It was an Empire brand heater, one of the low efficiency, non electric, direct vented models. It's sitting in a shed and every time I look at it reminds me of getting hosed out of 700 bucks.

  15. #15
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Using a freeze alarm that dials your phone is a great option. My dad sets his at 40F and that gives us several hours (even at really cold temps) to get to his place and fix the issue.
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