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!