Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 03:15 PM   #1
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 942
A way to heat the house

I bought a house in Ensenada, Mexico and as is typical there - there is no central heating system. It does get quite cold there during Jan and Feb, and I am too Americanized to suffer through it without some sort of heat.

Anything electric is out of the question, as the cost of electric is three times greater there. Propane tanks are what is used for most appliances.

I do have a small wood burning fireplace there but burning wood all the time is not too appealing to me. So I fugure my options are to:

1. Buy a small set of propane gas logs to use in fireplace and hook up to outside propane tank.

2. Buy one of these wall hung 28,000 btu heaters and hook up to propane tank outside.

3. Buy a second fireplace all inclusive unit with fireplace and logs and blower.
One that NorthernTool has is made by ProCom and only cost $500 for the whole fireplace unit (this leaving me with a wood burning fireplace as well)

Does anyone have any experience with these? Would the propane logs in the existing fireplace give off as much heat as a wall heater or a seconday fireplace/gas log unit with blower? I know about the carbon minoxide sensor needed for safety, and I would not use these at night while sleeping, only during the day while I was awake. I have been looking on the internet at all the possibillities and price levels, but no nothing about them.
__________________

__________________
modhatter is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 03:49 PM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
Re: A way to heat the house

We heat our house here in Bellingham exclusively with two natural gas-fired fireplace "inserts", a Regency downstairs and a Jotul upstairs. Propane conversion kits are available. Blowers send heated air into the room, but if we lose power, they still will burn and heat the room by air circulating by natural convection. They have ceramic 'logs' in their hearths that glow a little and tempered glass enclosures. Can't burn wood in them at all anymore. Each has a flue gas stack to the top of the chimney. One has a combustion air inlet that also goes to the top of the chimney. As far as the room is concerned, they are sealed. Very safe for CO leaks. They have remote control thermostats. Pretty neat.

We put modern double-pane windows in at the same time. We are quite comfortable.

If you go this way, be sure to size them properly. Estimate the heat load by the size of the area to be heated. Add a margin for cold air leaks.

Recommended.

We had gas logs in our fireplace in Houston, which retained the ability to burn wood. Fairly useless. Not recommended.

Ed

How do you like Ensenada? Well enough to buy a house there, I suppose. Any observations?
__________________

__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 03:50 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,614
Re: A way to heat the house

Very few fireplaces in modern homes are really designed to give off heat. They are almost always neutral or "heat losers" when operating. They typicaly give off very little heat to the room, and they send a lot of the already warm air from the room up the chimney when they are operting. The exceptions to this rule would be any fireplace that has an "insert" which circulates air around the firebox (with a fan) and blows it into the room.

I would not recommend any of the non-vented propane (or natural gas) heaters. They are often called "ventless" or ""blue-flame" heaters. No matter how clean they burn, you are deliberately introducing some carbon monoxide into your home. In addition, they dump a LOT of water vapor into your house, which is not good for indoor air quality and can cause mold/rot inside your walls and in your attic when that water vapor condenses on cooler surfaces there. These heaters are illegal in many places, including all of Canada. They are cheap, but not a good answer to your problem (IMO). Even where they are legal, the restriction is that they should only be operated a few hours per day. Is it only cold where you are a few hours per day?

A significantly more expensive but very effective answer to your problem is the "direct vent" heater. These can be vented straight through an exteror wall, and they take air in through a concentric tube in the same opening. Very straightforward instrallation if you have an exterior wall in the room you want to heat. Unfortunately, these cost about $1000.

Here's a good link with a discussion of these heaters. http://www.alsheating.com/

You could buy an insert for the fireplace you have, and turn it into an effective heater. If you go this route, one thing to be very careful about is proper venting. A masonry fireplace often is not a suitable vent for propane/natural gas appliances, since the relatively lower heat content and higher water content/acidity of the effluent leads to condensation in the flue and relatively rapid disintegration of the mortar. Some folks will be happy to install inappropriate appliances for you, and they won't be around when your chimney starts crumbling. A flue-pipe all the way to the top, like Ed's, is the way to go.

How about a combined heat pump unit? I know you said "no electricity" but it doesn't get too cold where you are, and these things do a good job of heating down to approx 40 deg F. You could use the same device to heat and cool your house. They use only electricity, and are much more efficient than resistance heat. If you have central A/C you could use the same ductwork. If you want to do this on the cheap, you could just buy a window unit--it looks like a big window AC unit, but it heats, too. If you want to go really cheap, you can usuallly find these as used equipment (they are typically used to heat/cool hotel rooms, and these businesses frequently change them all out at once, even if they are working fine).

Good luck!
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 04:00 PM   #4
 
Posts: n/a
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Very few fireplaces in modern homes are really designed to give off heat. They are almost always neautral or "heat losers" when operating. They typicaly give off very little heat to the room, and they send a lot of the already warm air from the room up the chimney when they are operating.
I disagree with this statement.

I built a home in Minnesota about 8 years ago and we have 2 natural gas fireplaces and a furnace. We only use the furnace in the mornings year round. Once the house is up to 67 degrees we turn on either the upstairs fireplace or downstairs fireplace and they will easily bring the temps up to 70. Then we shut them off. The fireplaces have blower fans, but we never need to use them. Keep in mind that this works just fine for temperatures down to zero degrees here in Minnesota and our house is 3600 square feet. The furnace never turns on. When the upstairs fireplace is running, I can go down to the lower level and the Temps are usually in the low 60's.

The Fireplaces are sealed units with glass fronts and are more efficient than the furnace. Sitting about 10-12 feet in front of the Fireplace on a cold January night the temps are easily in the high 70's - very cozy.
__________________
  Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 04:30 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,614
Re: A way to heat the house

Additional info/ideas:
- The window-mount or through-the-wall heat pumps cost about $500 to $700. They typicaly use about 50% of the electricty of statndard electric resistance heating (depending on just how cold it is). Many of these units have a back-up "heat strip" which uses electric resistance heat when the oputside temps get below approx 40 deg F. Yes, it costs more money to heat that way, but I'll bet on those few days it gets that cold, you'd be willing to pay the $10 per day to heat your main room.
Here's a link to some of these units: http://www.airconditioner.com/ROOM_H...NDITIONERS.asp

One other thought: How is your water heated? If you are already using propane to heat your water (and especially if you have a high-efficiency propane water heater), it might be feasable to use your available hot water for a small baseboard/hydronic heating system in a room or two. That way, all te venting and CO problems are avoided (asuming your water heater is installed correctly). A typical domestic water heater is not designed to heat a whole house, but it could be used to pump a few thousand BTUs into a room. This option could be great, but is somewhat off the beaten path and would require a little work/experimentation on your part.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 04:55 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,614
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat

The Fireplaces are sealed units with glass fronts and are more efficient than the furnace. Sitting about 10-12 feet in front of the Fireplace on a cold January night the temps are easily in the high 70's - very cozy.
C-T,
If your fireplaces, using inserts but without using auxillary fans to aid the convective flow of heat, are more efficient than your furnace, I respectfully recommend that you buy a new furnace. The modern condensing furnaces have exhaust gasses so cool that PVC pipe is the recommended material for the flues. That is a good indication that they are transferring a lot (approx 95%) of the heat of combustion to warm the air of the house. If your fireplaces have exhaust gasses cool enough to vent through PVC--Then you've got some amazing stuff happening there.

But, I agree with your basic point-it is possible to have en efficient fireplace. But, most fireplaces I've seen in homes are not efficient. They are primarily to be looked at.
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 05:14 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Ed_The_Gypsy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: the City of Subdued Excitement
Posts: 5,292
Re: A way to heat the house

I agree with Samclem about how bad a typical fireplace (open, wood-fired, even with glass doors and hearth tubes with a fan) is. Most heat just goes up the chimney. It sure sounds like C-T has inserts.

Samclem is also right about venting. I mentioned that our inserts have stacks--these are insulated stainless steel round ducts up to the top of the chimney. One insert has a concentric combustion air inlet also to the top of the chimney. I don't think the folks who sold us these inserts will sell them without these ducts. I didn't imagine that someone would! You can also get a chimney cover with screen to keep out the rain and the raccoons, rats, etc. Also recommended.

Fireplace inserts require a power line and a gas line which require a small hole in the back of the old fireplace. modhatter already has a propane line through the wall into the house. I like this more than a big hole punched in the wall for the wall-mounted heater.

Ed

[edited kuz riter kant spel.]
__________________
my bumpersticker:
"I am not in a hurry.
I am retired.
And I don't care how big your truck is."
Ed_The_Gypsy is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 05:46 PM   #8
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,196
Re: A way to heat the house

You might think more about wood heating. That is, buy a small wood stove.

You don't have to be "burning wood all the time" -- if the climate is mild enough that they didn't even put in central heating, you can probably get by with one fire in the morning, and maybe one in the evening.

We heat our 2000 sq ft home here with wood only. Yes, it's a bother to bring in firewood, etc., but the gains in cozyness are immeasurable. For example, this morning, 59 degrees in the house, started up the fire, and sat in the recliner in front of it using the laptop. Cozy and warm. In an hour the living room is plenty warm (72), and the heat gradually makes it into the rest of the house.

Check out: http://Woodheat.org
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 07:31 PM   #9
 
Posts: n/a
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Very few fireplaces in modern homes are really designed to give off heat. They are almost always neutral or "heat losers" when operating. They typicaly give off very little heat to the room, and they send a lot of the already warm air from the room up the chimney when they are operting.
Good luck!
Again I disagree with this statement. If my house warms up during the day with just a fireplace running and the furnace does not turn on, then the fireplace is heating the house!
__________________
  Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 08:01 PM   #10
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Okanagan Valley
Posts: 805
Re: A way to heat the house

The problem here is that posters are talking about different things. The traditional wood burning fireplace is a heat loser, but that is a whole different thing from having gas fired fireplaces from the get go, or a gas fired insert installed in a traditional fireplace.

We installed gas inserts into old fireplaces in our Calgary house in the 90's and they did a wonderful job of heating the house (including blower fans and thermostatic controls). Newer houses have only gas fired fireplaces and I agree with C-T that they can heat a home nicely. If it can be done in Calgary or Minnesota in mid-winter, it can be done anywhere.

I would recommend a propane fired insert for the OP in his Ensenada home complete with a blower fan. Worthwhile to have thermostatic control as well for the extra few dollars.
__________________
AltaRed is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 08:15 PM   #11
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
maddythebeagle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,450
Re: A way to heat the house

You can get inserts (gas or wood) put into a conventional fireplace by the way...I have an insert built in our basement.
__________________
- Hurry! to the cliffs of insanity!
maddythebeagle is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-24-2006, 09:07 PM   #12
Full time employment: Posting here.
UncleHoney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Columbus
Posts: 769
Re: A way to heat the house

How bout corn?

http://www.goldengrainstove.com/
__________________
100% retired and working hard at it.
UncleHoney is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-25-2006, 01:13 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
youbet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chicago
Posts: 9,965
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
You might think more about wood heating. That is, buy a small wood stove.
Strongly agree TA! We've had a Vermont Castings stove for about 28 years and enjoy it very much.

We had a large masonary fireplace in our first home and it was a heat loser. You would sit in front of it and feel radiant heat but it sucked warm air out of the house and up the chimney so that when we headed off to bed we found the back bedrooms very chilly. And it really went through the wood pile. Had we stayed there, I would have converted it to a stove insert with stainless steel stack liner.

In our current home, I installed the stove on a large thermal mass (brick floor under the stove and a brick wall behind it) and brought in outside combustion air. Once things are warmed up, we can close the doors from the family room to the rest of the house and keep the family room toasty with just a bed of glowing embers. If we have guests and want a little more ambience, I can take off the front door and replace it with a screen which allows viewing the flames for a "fireplace effect." Of course, that blows the efficiency and uses a lot more wood........but it looks "pretty!"
__________________
"I wasn't born blue blood. I was born blue-collar." John Wort Hannam
youbet is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-25-2006, 06:26 PM   #14
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 714
Re: A way to heat the house

Ditto on the wood stove ... they can be so efficient as to almost drive you out of the room with their heat.

We have / had one of those lousy, poorly designed residential wood-burning fireplaces. It was terrible. Had the furnace go out last winter, and I thought "well, no big deal ... WE have a wood-burning fireplace". Yea, right. You had to stand within about two feet to even feel any heat, and the house got cold as he!!.

We bought a stove insert, made by Lopi ... www.lopistoves.com ... and it has been great. Very efficient, and transformed that lousy fireplace into a useful heating appliance. Not cheap, but well worth it in my book.

They also manufacture freestanding stoves and gas stoves.

We had a freestanding stove at our cabin in northern AZ, and it worked great as well.

Also check out the wood pellet stoves ... we decided against them, but some folks feel they are really the ticket.

Best of luck.
__________________
Craig is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-25-2006, 07:28 PM   #15
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 942
Re: A way to heat the house

Well I thank you for all your replys. I am looking on the internet now at all of the options. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again. Many good points made. I appreciate it.
__________________
modhatter is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-26-2006, 09:15 AM   #16
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 62
Re: A way to heat the house

I noticed these propane heaters in the latest Real Goods catalog. They seem well suited for your application.

http://www.gaiam.com/retail/product/54-0045_MSTR

No electricity required, vents to the outside, decent number of BTUs. I do not know how efficient they are, however.
__________________
Baxter is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-26-2006, 10:10 AM   #17
Full time employment: Posting here.
bosco's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 987
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles

Also check out the wood pellet stoves ... we decided against them, but some folks feel they are really the ticket.
I've used these before, and pellet stove inserts. They work very well but the price and availability of pellets varies considerably. Could be a problem in Mexico.

They do require some cleaning and maintenance, however.
__________________
I have an inferiority complex, but it's not a very good one.
bosco is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-26-2006, 10:56 AM   #18
 
Posts: n/a
Re: A way to heat the house

Here you go! These are gas Fireplaces that I'm sure could be gotten in a propane version. They are not Inserts but true efficient fireplaces. One for ever style of decor!

http://www.heatnglo.com/products/fir...Fireplaces.asp
__________________
  Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-27-2006, 09:45 PM   #19
Full time employment: Posting here.
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 909
Send a message via ICQ to Marshac Send a message via AIM to Marshac Send a message via Yahoo to Marshac
Re: A way to heat the house

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
We heat our house here in Bellingham exclusively with two natural gas-fired fireplace "inserts"
How's the snow up there? We got about 5" here...
__________________
Marshac is offline   Reply With Quote
Re: A way to heat the house
Old 11-28-2006, 09:57 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
brewer12345's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 16,391
Re: A way to heat the house

Anyone care to comment on the cost of putting in an insert? I have a wood-burning one in mind.
__________________

__________________
"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."



- Will Rogers
brewer12345 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Buy my first house? Deetso Young Dreamers 21 02-22-2007 02:33 PM
Own a house versus renting; expenses obryanjf FIRE and Money 42 09-23-2006 05:01 PM
What to do? Lake House or earlier FIRE ? panhead Young Dreamers 29 06-13-2006 11:05 PM
Thoughts about a house wabmester Other topics 32 04-03-2006 10:57 AM
Selling my house. Could use some advice MJ FIRE and Money 46 12-26-2005 05:04 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:40 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.