cold weather experiments

propane stove heater experiment

I use a standard Coleman camping stove with 1lb bottles for my indoor cooking, due to ease of deployment and easy on/off.  But the lowest setting for simmer is too danged high, and stuff kept boiling over.  I figured I’d try a flame tamer doodad to attenuate the heat a bit.

After a bit of Amazon-fu I found a stainless model that got good ratings for performance and sturdiness.    Reviewers noted the handle was easy to detach and many did so to prevent tippiness.

I was taking some pasta off last month and noted how diffuse and gentle the heat was in the area around the stove with the tamer in place.  This reminded me that Bob (of CRVL fame) has said he used this stove as a heater and didn’t need or want a Buddy heater.  The Buddy is what I use and a popular choice for vanfolk.  Bob’s reasons for using the stove for a heater were half-assed as usual but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad solution, particularly with a diffuser in place.

So the experiment is using the stove + diffuser as a heater this winter to see how it works.   If it’s insufficient I’ll fire up the Buddy.   Thinking about make a bail out of a wire hanger to hold the diffuser securely on top lest it be bumped off and melt something.

At this very moment it is 40F outside and I am running the stove on low a couple of feet away.   Working well so far.

heated mattress pad experiment

I am often heard railing against electric heating and cooking for offgrid folks.  To be fair, I do make exceptions for “heating the person, not the space”.  So I might be an unlikely adopter of a heated mattress pad.  But read on..

When I had a house I had one and really enjoyed it.  I could turn the house temp down low and still be toasty.   It used surprisingly little power, about 45w when turned up to 4 out of 10.  That was as warm as I could stand it.  I left it on 2 most of the time.  It was quite toasty and the dogbeasts loved it.  I never had to worry about where they were or what they were doing anytime it got chilly – they were predictably sprawled out like beached squid.

I think the heat output of the pads can be lower (~half) than that of electric blankets because

  1. your body is pressed firmly against the pad by gravity, instead of a relatively light blanket lying on top of you.

  2. and maybe because of heat rising. I don’t know how significant that is for heated wires embedded in cloth.

I started dorking around looking for some wattage numbers for a reddit response.  I found one with a user review that mentioned settings 1 and 2 consumed about 20w.   There was one controller for the Full size, which I preferred for less parasitic draw.  It had a programmable auto-off that could also be disabled.   The ~$80 price tag was over the limits of my frugality, but there was an Amazon Warehouse (damaged packaging) example for $52 which I snagged for science.

I’ll test and report back.