Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two is one.....

As most of you know, we heat exclusively with wood.  It is a wonderful arrangement - there is nothing more bone penetrating than wood heat.  However, it does have its down sides.

Our wood cookstove is very large, with a huge firebox.  We easily stoke the fire at night and let it simmer, ready to ignite into flames once the vents are opened in the morning.  This does mean though, that our house can be very cold first thing in the morning!  It is not at all unusual to wake up to temperatures of 52° or even 47° in the kitchen.  Sir Knight and I shiver our way through a pot of tea while the house slowly warms.  By the time the children get up, the house is usually a more tenable 60° to 65° - but those first few hours are most definitely invigorating!

One of the most challenging drawbacks of not having a backup to our wood cookstove is the inability to take short excursions away from home in the dead of winter.  Because a lack of heat would cause all of our pipes to break, we are married to "Little Shouse on the Prairie" during the coldest months of the year.

We have considered, off and on, alternative heating sources.  None of our options were particularly pleasing.  Nothing electric was viable.  Natural Gas was unavailable and we didn't really want to cut another hole in our perfectly good wall to vent a propane stove.  And then it came to us.  A vent-free propane heater.

A number of months ago, my brother built a get-away cabin and installed a vent-free propane heater that hung on the wall.  He plumbed it into his propane tank (drilling a hole less than 2" through his wall) and hooked it up.  He loves it!  It does a great job heating his little cabin.  It has an oxygen sensor (so it will shut down if it senses there is not enough oxygen in the air) and a thermostat, so that it can be set and will only light up if needed.  The cost was significantly lower than a direct vent model and it took up very little space.  After talking it over, Sir Knight and I decided a vent-free propane heater was the perfect alternative heat source for our little shouse.

Now, as much as my brother loves his little heater that hangs on the wall, I wanted something, well, a little more romantic.  The one that caught my eye was in the Northern Tool catalog and had rave reviews on-line.  Amazingly, I found the exact model I had been looking at on our local Craigslist and scooped it up for less than half the price of the  one listed in the catalog.  After picking up all parts necessary to hook up the stove (and too many tears to count - a long story), we were ready to fire it off.

Oh, what a beautiful sight!  Our stove lit right up and immediately began filling our living room with cheery heat.  Now, when the weather is cool enough to need to take the chill off in the morning, but not cold enough to need a fire, we have another option.  When the winter winds howl and the cookstove can't quite cut the cold, we have backup. If we run out of firewood as spring looms near, we can make it through.  Two is one and one is none!


  1. Enola Gay,

    It beautiful and very romantic too! Great choice, enjoy that heat girl :-)

  2. in the early 1990's we had a devestating ice storm in our part of the country (mississippi) that took out our electric for almost a month-at that time i had a woodburning fireplace that kept us warm quite well..what worried me was getting the firewood inside..i did not want to fall and break a hip or anything..anyway, i had a propane vent free fireplace logs put in. and puts out so much heat that you might break a sweat real, it is vent free but i still have all the stuff just in case i need to go back to using wood again. and the change out would not take a whole lotta time or effort to do so. when we put a new roof on our house we chose to use metal roofing..the roofers wanted to remove my chimney and told them they had better not..may have to go back to wood heat if propane gets much higher in price. anyway, just wanted to tell you how i worked alternative heat into my house and how to go back to wood just in case.

  3. Unfortunately, its not sold in California. I dislike saying this but as a native Californian...I hate this state. All the bogus "green" laws that have no common sense attached to them but purely big money makers for the greedy, the corrupt, and the mindless!

  4. Enola,


    You new heating setup looks cool 'er I mean hot.

    Im still blasting away the the Refrigerated A/C down here in 90 degree South Texas. It rained a few weeks ago and the mosquito's came out (thats why I have a 12 guage pump shotgun six feet behind me) Everythings bigger in Texas, including mosquito's

  5. Even with an O2 sensor I think I'd get a carbon monoxide detector just to be safe.

  6. I burn corn/pellets during the winter. I have a propane furnace but save about 1000 gal of propane by using the pellet stove. It always bothered me what to do in a power outage. So I, too, installed a ventless unit in the dining room. Not nearly as pretty as yours though!

  7. Its a beautiful stove...I use propane for heating...I would love having a stove likes yours...very nice...glad you could find one second hand and saved yourself some money...that's always a plus :) Blessings...enjoy your fireplace,may it keep you all very warm.

  8. I'm glad you posted on this-I've been thinking about getting one as backup-the only downside I see is that the exhaust is coming into the room with you(and increased humidity as well). The plain versions (fine with me) are around $300, and they seem like a really good idea. Sitting for a couple weeks sans power(or fillling a gas generator up daily-my generator would cost about $20 a day in fuel)make one of these heaters attractive. I've thought of having a couple gas lights installed in the living room as well(a gas mantle lamp is about as bright as a 100 watt bulb-a friend of mine has one).

  9. That must be why you were looking for 100 lb propane tanks when you stumbled on the Cenex with preparedness supplies.

  10. Enola,
    I do not know if you found a 100 gallon (400lb) propane tank or not, but we bought ours from the Home Depot in Coeur d'Alene. We used it when we lived in our 5th wheel trailer for 4 years.
    I always remember the Little House on the Prairie books and Laura writing about waking up to ice on the nails in the roof and at another time, their beds were covered with snow that had blown in thru the walls! Brrrrr!

  11. Wow, those are some amazing pictures! I really love this fireplace, especially that pine cone! :)