Say Hello to My Leedle Fren’!
Originally posted 11/11/2012
Actually, Quartzsite seems to have missed the more extreme cold snap of a few nearby areas. My outdoor thermometer only got down to 43 last night, which is fine by me. The trailer interior at that point was 51 degrees. You may find it hard to believe, but without moving air, all you need to be very comfortable at that temperature is ordinary flannel PJs, a light wool blanket, and a classic sleeping cap that my daughter knitted for me upon request. She wanted to knit something, and I threw the challenge. Think Scrooge. So, she made it for fun, and at nearly three conical feet from bottom to fuzzy-ball top, it looks like an elf lost it, but works superbly. I just shouldn’t answer a knock at the door with it unless I’m carrying a wrapped present under my arm. Word.
But back to topic, after I answered the siren call of the bathroom at 3:30AM, I decided to live large and fire up the little heater to let it poop along on its low setting. By the time I got up, the room temp would be somewhere in the middle or high 60s. And so it was. This heater, recommended to me by my son after my initial choice proved worthless, is completely silent and is safe for indoor (unventilated) use – within reason. It has an oxygen depletion sensor that shuts it down if ventilation is too restricted. The setting of this is calibrated to an equivalent of 7,000 feet altitude, so the safety margin is pretty generous. The bad side of this is that it won’t light above this altitude, so if I were freezing in Flagstaff right now, I think I’d be holding my hands over the stove or firing up the camper’s very inefficient furnace.
There are two kinds of small propane cylinders that are used for hand torches, gas lights, camp stoves and the like. Tall ones and shorter, fat ones. They each hold about a pound. This Mr. Heater uses the fat ones, which screw into a fitting on the right side. I have a few of these cylinders, and found that down here, they are a precious commodity. They may be about $3.50 each where you are, but down here they pop for $5.50. That puts them at about twice the cost per pound of local bulk propane – propane in larger, refillable tanks like you use to fire your BBQ grill. Luckily, I have two options.
Mr. Heater sells an adapter hose and filter that lets you use a bulk propane tank for fuel. The proper way to do this, the approved safe way, is to locate the propane tank outside the trailer and run the 12-foot connecting hose through a hole and on to the heater. Naturally, I don’t do this. I keep the tank inside the trailer and 6-8 feet from the heater, which makes it especially important to make sure that neither of the connections leaks. It’s pretty easy to tell, but for insurance, I have a detector that senses both propane and carbon monoxide. It is calibrated to throw its alarm at 25% of any problem gas concentration. Right now, it’s working off the house batteries through a 120V AC inverter, but it can also be easily adapted to run directly off a battery, which uses a lot less power. I’ll convert it when I get the office solar circuit up and running, and can afford to heat up my 40W soldering iron.
The other option is to use 1-pound cylinders and continually refill them from the bulk tank. Each full tank lasts 3-6 hours depending on the heater’s setting. I have the fitting that will allow me to do this, but to get the small cylinder over half-full requires you to place the empty one in the freezer and leave the bulk tank in the sun to increase its pressure. Then, quick like a bunny, hook them up and let the small cylinder fill. I’m not real enthused about doing this, but it’s an option.