Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ready for Winter? Better get one of these!

With snowstorms already causing problems in the Upper Midwest and winter fast approaching its time to make sure you are ready in case power goes down.
Most of the basic Survival Emergency Kit material should be already in place. A battery operated AM radio, flashlights, plenty of batteries, first aid hit and of course food and water. Sheltering in place and avoiding any unnecessary travel is recommended but what can you do if the power lines are knocked out and you are looking at several days without electricity as temperatures drop? To make matters worse, there’s a good chance that you are stuck home and roads are closed. 

Ideally, you would have a generator already set up and plenty of fuel to power all your appliances and central heating until the lines are fixed.
The problem is that a generator big enough to get the job done in an average size house can be pretty expensive, and they do use a good amount of fuel too.
If what you want is to stay warm and heat up some soup and drinks you have other choices and that’s where kerosene heaters come into the picture.
Kerosene heaters have been around for over a hundred years and modern versions are still used as the main source of heating in places like Japan.

Kerosene Heaters have many key advantages for modern day survivalists:

1) Kerosene heaters are very efficient. Modern kero heaters are reputed to be 99% efficient, with a few liters of kerosene easily heating a small house or apartment for a week while the same amount of gasoline used in a generator may not even last a day.

2) They are affordable. You can sometimes find some of the old Perfection kerosene heaters in yard sales for little money and a modern and efficient radiant heater capable of heating 380 Sq. Ft. can be bought for 100 USd.
3) Kerosene is easy to store. Its not explosive like gasoline, and it doesn’t go bad nearly as fast when stored in a metal jerry can.
4) Some heaters can be used to warm up or even cook food with a pot or kettle placed on top of them.
5)A generator is noisy and needs outdoors space, making it almost impossible to operate in a condo while a kerosene heater can be used indoors safely and silently without any special installation.
A 10.000 BTU radiant heater will heat up a big room or living room and a bigger 23.000 BTU unit can heat up a small house. When buying a kerosene heater make sure you are getting a model that doesn’t require electricity to work. The latest state of the art kero heaters don’t even use a wick and are very efficiency, but they do need electricity to work.
6)A kerosene heater works on extremely simple, fool-proof and tough technology. They are still basically a wick that burns inside a metal unit.
This model is similar to the Corona I show in the video, and while it does use batteries, you can easily use it by lighting it with a match instead of using the battery operated ignition system.
A 23.000 BTU convection heater puts out a lot of heat. It does use over twice as much fuel and unlike a radiant heater it is not directional so it has to be placed in the center of a big room.

Using a Kerosene Heater

Kerosene heaters can save the day but they do require certain maintenance and care. 

First, you have to be careful not to spill kerosene when filling the heater’s tank. If possible do it outdoors or in a garage.

Kero heaters do produce a small amount of smell when turned on and when turned off. This can be dealt with by turning them on and off outside or just opening a window a bit when doing so. The smell really isn’t that bad and dissipates quickly. You just have to learn to live with it for a couple minutes. There’s no smell at all when the heater is running.
The wick of the heater requires special care. Old heaters use cotton wicks and you have to make sure to never burn them dry or you’ll ruin them, so make sure to turn it off before the heater runs out of fuel.
•On the other hand, fiberglass wicks must be run dry, burn until they run out of fuel, so as to burn the wick clean. Fibreglass will not burn like cotton but all the gunk and tar will burn away. Have at least one spare wick for your heater.

For cotton wicks, you need to trim the wick with a wick trimmer after a going through a few tanks of fuel.
•A dirty wick will burn less efficiently, cause more smoke and smell.
•Warning! A kerosene heater does not have exterior ventilation so you must leave a crack of a window open, especially in modern, very well insulated homes. Make sure you have a working CO detector as well before operating a kerosene heater. Dont be cheap about this. Your life is sure worth the twenty bucks or so a CO detector costs.

If you have to get by without power using only one kerosene heater you want to wear warm clothes( remember that a hat helps keep your entire body warm, not just your head) and maybe have the family sleep together in one big room where you operate the heater. The living room is usually a good choice. Close the rest of the doors so as to reduce the volume of air that needs to be heated and open a window about half an inch. While you need to be careful not to drop any liquids, some Convection heaters with a flat top can be used to warm and even cook food.
Make sure you have enough kerosene stored in blue containers to last you for at least a week, using the heater 12 hs a day.



Anonymous said...

Caveat : these heaters produce huge amounts of humidity (due to the hydrogen in hydrocarbons) which will condense everywhere and destroy your decoration. Not a problem if the alternative is to freeze to death, but still annoying and very uncomfortable to have dripping walls...

If you plan on renovating, a wood stove in the living room is a good choice. We kept the old wood/coal boiler in the house, the heating does not require electricity at all (thermosiphon). It was quite useful about 20 years ago when we got 2 weeks without electricity in the heart of winter...

Also if you use natural gas, do the gas company's pumps still run without electricity ?...

Anonymous said...

Often the cold comes with sunny weather. Not always but sometimes. When it's sunny but cold you can use some passive solar heating. No expense of fuel, no smell or noise to draw people, etc. And they can be made out of beer cans.

If nothing else it'll save the fuel for a rainy day.

Wabano said...

Remember, car gasoline, in storage tend to my generator right now need maintenance due to the carburation being full of jelled fuel, plus I toasted the starter trying too hard to remember, generator maintenance or you will not have power when needed!