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Cheap/tiny alternative heat for a tiny camper ???  RSS feed

 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Howdy Folks.
I've been living in a tiny, ancient camper for around 7 years now, and just use a small electric heater.

It'd be really nice to have an alternative like a really tiny rocket mass heater, especially seeing as there's lots of sticks to be had right outside the door.

A while back I put in an on-demand propane water heater and it's a bust because it is really fussy about staying lit; but it already has a small stovepipe through the wall.
I'm thinking if there's any way to replace it with a teeny-tiny RMS that would be great.

Any ideas or pointers for me ?

Thanks.

EDIT:
I used the word 'cheap' as a way to avoid explaining being broke as a result of being sick a long, long time - my bad, I should have included more info and I have added more info further down after realizing this. Sorry.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Posts: 1441
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Google 'passive solar heater window box' and you will come up with a bunch of plans. I am including a link to the plans on Mother Earth News. They published this eons ago but now every one has a plan. One of my coworkers made it using soda cans that he salvaged from the break room at work and he said it worked great.

I have been wanting to make this forever and just haven't gotten around to it - but I'm moving it a little higher on my priority list.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/1977-09-01/Mothers-Heat-Grabber.aspx


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heat grabber
 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Thanks for replying Jeanine Gurley.
Without boring you terribly by getting too detailed - probably the main reason I can make do with just a very small electric heater is the solar gain from my existing setup.
That having been said, unfortunately there isn't any way I could add one of those here.
Getting a small amount of heat by just burning sticks would be ideal if it can be made small enough though...

Thanks.
 
d tei
Posts: 7
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hagrid small wrote:
Getting a small amount of heat by just burning sticks would be ideal if it can be made small enough though...

Thanks.


Not exactly cheap. But will do what you want safely.

http://www.lfsmarineoutdoor.com/dickinson-newport-solid-fuel-heater.html?gclid=COSo0P7QzLMCFQf0nAodM00ALg

Or, if your cheap, creative and like a little danger.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwswJ4IObEU

>

 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Howdy Folks.
My initial idea was to spare the boring details, but I guess that's a bust...

I haven't been living in a tiny, 50+ year old camper for the past 7 years out of a starting choice, it began due to life-threatening illness and being completely, absolutely dead broke.

Any $ I had (if at all) was used for healing things, food, and handing my generous friend (whose back yard I live in...) some 'rent' as possible.
Part of that 'rent' has covered my use of the small electric heater, phone & water here.

My teeny camper, space-wise only resembles this a bit:

(Only I think his space has more floor than mine does...?)

And one last seriously important detail - my ancient, tiny camper is under a big, dark green tent, all the way to the rear of the property, at the base of a huge hill (whose top is lost in the distance in the trees) and beside a stream that is 6-10 feet wide.

The tent provides both insulation and some solar gain in the cooler months here in Vermont.

Given that my interior space is absurdly small, I'm thinking maybe if I could make something like the 'portable' rocket mass heater and place it OUTSIDE, between the camper and the wall of the tent, that would work best.
And of course a rocket mass heater would be ideal because there's lots of sticks to be had right outside the door (well, flap is more accurate...).

I'm thinking these are at 2 extremes, neither of which is a good fit for me:
http://www.lfsmarineoutdoor.com/dickinson-newport-...lid=COSo0P7QzLMCFQf0nAodM00ALg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwswJ4IObEU


But I do thank you for the reply and the efforts in being so very helpful.
 
David Konkle
Posts: 2
Location: NW Arkansas
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While a rocket mass heater would be a very efficient way to burn wood, getting the mass to radiate the heat into the camper might pose a problem.

Small, old campers are notoriously drafty, the most bang for the buck is usually by spending your time insulating as well as you can before spending any money on adding more heat. Adding insulation is a one time thing, instead of gathering wood all the time (and eliminates concerns with a fire in a small space).

Everything you can do to seal up drafts and add insulation pays off quickly. A little caulking and duct tape usually go a long way on campers. Stuffing newspaper into cracks and adding insulation to the roof, walls, and floor would help if feasable. Heavy curtains over the windows at night helps a lot. (1" blue foam makes excellent removable panels to cover windows at night)

a couple of sheets of foam on the roof covered with a tarp or polyethelene then weighted down with something heavy is a pretty common fix for heat escaping through the thin roofs on campers (but a bit unsightly if that is a concern) along with some skirting or straw bales to keep the wind out from under the floor.

Many times you can get the materials to insulate very cheaply or for free by scrounging them.
 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Oh dear !!! (Another oversight of mine, I guess.)
David Konkle wrote:While a rocket mass heater would be a very efficient way to burn wood, getting the mass to radiate the heat into the camper might pose a problem.
Many times you can get the materials to insulate very cheaply or for free by scrounging them.

Thank you David.
Yes, the walls and roof and as much of the camper as I could reach are already externally insulated; I did that years ago and didn't think to mention it here.
The big tent also gets zipped up and holds a goodly amount of air statically inside it as well.
Draftiness is not my main concern here; I just want some much cheaper heat than the electric and it's OK if it heats the tent as well.

Thanks for replying.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3362
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Then put the mass bench UNDER the camper.

The heat will radiate up into the camper, even if it is insulated on the floor. Putting a skirt aroud it will hold more heat there so it radiates more into the camper.
 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Thanks, I shall do what I may in this regard:
R Scott wrote:Then put the mass bench UNDER the camper.
The heat will radiate up into the camper, even if it is insulated on the floor. Putting a skirt aroud it will hold more heat there so it radiates more into the camper.

Given that the camper sits in a tent in still air and is somewhat skirted already, I'm off to a good start that way.

Here's where this project stands right now:
- I've made the space beside the camper as ready as I can.
- Scrounged around for materials
- Searched quite a bit for construction details.

Materials on hand:
- A small stack of bricks
- An old propane fired 30gal. water heater carcass.
- A used-up ~20 gallon water expansion tank

And ALOT of sticks & garden waste that will burn nicely...

I've seen someone's idea of using 4" stovepipe for the inside/insulated flue and 4" flex tubing for the outlet.

I'm wondering these things, if anyone can help me out here:
- What is the practical length one may extend the outlet tubing to ? (Is 20-30' easily do-able ?)
- What size pipe is usually best to surround the 4" flue with so as to hold the insulation ? (6, 8, 10" ?)
- What advantage of using tamped-in vermiculite vs. the used fiberglass from the old heater ?

I can butcher up the old water heater any old way - even re-use it's built-in flue if that is a good idea, but I'd like some suggestions as to how best to do it because soon enough it'll be snowing regularly and I'd rather have it ready than to be still learning via trial & error...

Thanks.
 
allen lumley
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Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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H.Small : you have had over 400 hits from people who followed your thread and probably stop there because your situation is a little extreme and wood heat and old trailers and tents is/are bad combinations.
Before I tell you what a bad idea it would be to follow my advise and how broke I am -

Tell me more about the tent, dark green Millitary ? Size ? Read off Of white panel by the door? Are there collared smoke holes in the roof ?

assuming you could build a low thermal mass to park the trailer over could you then move that trailer ? - without taking down tent ? i.e. last time moved? , tires? small truck? how firm is the ground ?

How wet is the ground?, dig a hole how far down till you hit water? , how high above spring flood high water mark are you? !So we have to build your trailer a raised bed ! insulate to keep heat from being lost into the ground
While I have read of 3 different 4''inside diameter Rocket stoves I have not seen any pictures of them or their build , therefore i would not try any thing smaller than a 6''
To Build a heater with a drum installed inside the tent safely I would love to find a slightly larger drum ! Stacked rocks around the drum will re-radiate their heat longer and at a lower temp than the barrel as would a Trombe Wall !

In the future I may be on here irregularly, Try to find another site that asks a question similar to your next question, ask it there, it is not kidnapping a site - it's sharing ! Also you will get a response from someone that doesn't know your extreme condition, and won't be scared away ! PYRO - magicly yours , - Allen L.
 
allen lumley
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Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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- p.s. the dragon that lives in your rocket needs frequent feedings of small short very dry wood .
Until you have had a supply of wood 'layed up' for months you may be splitting all your wood down to kindling to dry it and then use it in the same 24 hr period !
G'luck Allen L.
 
hagrid small
Posts: 14
Location: mid/northern Vermont
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Thanks for posting a reply.

Wanting a smaller-than-usual and even less costly RMH is not an odd request; but getting answers about that idea can be very difficult.

Fortunately I have found a very helpful and practical man who builds these as a hobby and uses one in a (larger than mine) trailer daily.

All the problems mentioned just above (by allen lumley) are not my problems at all and do not require attention in my situation.

Getting fuel, exhausting the RMH through the tent, and/or moving the camper are not the issues which concern me at this time; knowing which things to buy vs. wasting money is my starting point in making the heater I desire with the camper staying where & as it is.

Once it is made, there are piles of dry fuel within easy walking distance - enough to keep me in sticks for several years.

Unless I run into some sort of snag as I build it, I now consider that I've privately & directly gotten enough info elsewhere/otherwise as to mark this query 'resolved'.

Thanks.
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