Supplemental heat source

We use propane for a furnace in a trailer. Propane is a byproduct of gasoline production, and rises in cost as does gasoline.
I’m seeking an additional heat source. There is no room for an electric furnace or heat pump.
The question is to add electric circuits for window heat pumps or oil filled heaters.
Do Dopers jave any suggestions?

I’m not sure I understand. You want to add electric heating strips to either a window unit or an oil filled space heater?

If I understand it correctly, neither works. If I don’t please clarify.

I spent 3 years in the HVAC install industry, so maybe I can offer some help, but I’m confused. Electric heat strips in a furnace (essentially a toaster stuck in an air handler pre-furnace) work well enough, but are pretty inefficient. “Add[ing] electric circuits for… oil filled heaters” is not only impossible by my understanding, but dangerous.

So a little clarity helps, especially for a slow mind like mine. Any more details you can offer?

I have a wood-burning stove, but my primary heat comes from a propane wall heater. And yes, it’s expensive. (I don’t have a free firewood source, so it’s cheaper than using the wood stove.) So I use oil-filled space heaters and try to confine the living areas.

My bedroom is fairly large. Something like 20 feet by 14 feet. (I haven’t measured it recently and I don’t remember.) An oil-filled space heater will keep it comfortable when it’s freezing outside, but not overly warm. The middle bedroom, which I don’t use, can be kept nice and warm with one of these heaters. The back bedroom, which is very small and which has a computer in it so I use it as my telecommuting office, can be made uncomfortably warm with the oil-filled heater. An oil-filled heater in the living room keeps the propane heater at bay.

I generally keep the thermostat at 65º in the winter, with the oil-filled heater as a supplement. I turn the heat off when I go to bed. The portable heaters have high and low settings. I turn the thermostat to about half in the bedroom, using the low setting to keep the chill off, and use an electric blanket on the bed.

In the summer my electric bill runs around $50/month. Last winter it went up to $80 or $90/month including cooking, lighting, laundry, etc. Propane usually lasts about five or six weeks and was about $170 or $180 last year.

How many areas will need to be heated simultaneously (sp?)

Do you need additional cooling as well? If so, is there air flow such as to allow a window unit to get heated/cooled air where needed?

If you just need a bit of heat in specific areas/times, the oil-filled units are cheap and light - pull out when needed, tuck away when not.
I have a Delonghi I use for spot heating - bedroom (or at least the immediate space where my head is), bath when showering, etc.

Downside - if you need new wiring (are you sure? if just an oil-filled unit or three?), then a new/upgraded outlet will be needed for each unit.

I just realized I completely misread your post. I blame the lack of sleep. Regardless, I’ll give you a more reasonable and legitimate reply tomorrow. Again, my apologies.

The principle reason it rises in cost is the demand for it, which is due to the fact that it can be used for many desirable things including heating, cooking and propulsion. If it were an undesirable byproduct of gasoline production, it would be cheap.

If those are the only options I’d say use the oil filled heater. You don’t compromise the window seal of a closed window. Where I live the window heat pump wouldn’t be very efficient, and during the coldest times useless. I don’t know how efficient it would be for you. As it gets colder out and you need more heat the unit will become less efficient. Being it only uses the air instead of a loop running in the ground, it will not be as useful.

The amount of heat you get from resistive heating will remain the same, and be able to deliver heat at maximum output when the air is coldest, which is the exact opposite of the window heat pump.

Due to the fact I had to use propane that doubled or tripled in cost every year when heating season arrived, I found using all electric resistive heating was cheaper. Leaving the rooms I didn’t occupy at about 50F saved even more, and I couldn’t do that with the propane heating system I had. I went for baseboard heaters using 220 volts. The same gauge wire can handle twice the power of a 110 volt circuit.

We have steam heat which uses heating oil, and with heating oil at over $3 a gallon, I suppliment other heating sources as often as I can. I have two of the electric oil-filled radiators like you listed in your post and they heat a room really well. They’re portable, put out some nice heat, easy to control the amount of heat (have different settings high-low) and regardless of how long they’re on, they aren’t using as much electricity as I’d be paying in heating oil.

The downside is that they heat only a limited amount of space. Heating a whole house with them would not be practical, but heating the room where you’re watching television for the evening, or where you’re sleeping for the night, they’re ideal. (We turn down the thermostat and use them to heat the room we’re in.) As far as wiring goes, the only problem I’ve ever had is when I plugged two of them into the same circut (different rooms, but apparently shared the same circut) and the breaker switch flipped. Since I’ve moved to a new house (with new wiring), I’m not sure what I’ll encounter, but you might want to be careful if you plug it into the same circut and run it as the same time with something like a television or something else that’s sucking electricity at the same time. (If you’re running AC in the summer though, then I think you shouldn’t have any problems.)

On edit: In Pennsylvania, I spend around $60 a month on electricity in the summer (includes hot water and cooking and in the summer, air conditioning via window units). Since I’m new in this house, I’m not sure how much I’ll be spending during the winter, running the heaters, but not the AC. In the old house, it about evened out between summer (with AC) and winter (with portable heaters).

Last year I was using about 100 gallons of propane every 3-4 weeks, and with propane at $4/gal, I just couldn’t afford that this winter. So I bought a pellet stove. I have a coworker who heats 4000 sq ft with two corn stoves, and I only heat the parts of the house I use, so I’m hoping that it will keep everything relatively warm. I’ve already bought 2 tons of pellets (in 40lb bags), which should last most of the winter. The cost difference is $1200 or more in propane versus $400 for pellets.

My house is 160 old and drafty (despite the insulation I’ve put in). I’m in Tennessee, so the winters are moderate.


The oil filled radiators work quite well for a small area. I spent 3 years in a house with a broken furnace and strategically placed radiators work well. They do take some time to warm a room, however. you cannot come home at 3AM, flick on the heater, and expect much for a few hours. Most have 3 power settings as well as a thermostat so you do gain control over your economy and they are also blissfully quiet.

It looks like pellets are $300+/ton around here; my co-worker uses eight tons over the winter here. But I guess it’s still cheaper and more efficient than the oil they were using.

Where did you buy them, did you install them on carpet and has the cat set anything on fire yet?

gigi - I bought my pellets from Northern Tool for $3.99/bag. pellets. They might have a bulk rate delivery deal.


Ther’s another, newer option on the market as well. You can use small mica-based panel heaters. I use it to warm my son’s room in the winter because we like to let the thermostat go down to 65, but you can’t convince a baby to keep covers on.

It has a low (750W) and high (1500W) setting, and it perfectly quiet except for the thermostat clicking on and off. I keep it set at about 30% of the max dial at 750W and it keeps the room comfortable.

Do you live in Florida? :slight_smile:
Thanks, CP

They look cool, but $179 (the only one I could find was through versus $50 for an oil filled radiator… What does it cost to run one of these?

Google MICATHERMIC - it’s a start

Baseboard heaters are looking better and better. Thanks, Harmonious.
I have a 200A load center with six open positions. My electrician guy tells me I can only put one heater on a circuit breaker. I’ll ask him tomorrow if that’s building code or his own practice. I can run wire from the load center under the trailer to feed the heaters and come in through the floor or wall.

My house has baseboard and electric heaters, but my friend had them disconnected when he bought the house (obviously before he sold it to me). He said that they were very expensive to run.

A friend had a studio in town with baseboard heaters. Cinder block construction. It had a reception area, three offices, a small ‘warehouse’ area, and a bedroom he’d built in the ‘warehouse’ area. He heated the front rooms, and I remember one month the heating bill was $300.

Sorry for getting back to this thread so late…no I do not live in Florida, I live in Michigan. I use this heater to heat my toddler’s room at night on cold nights, since he won’t keep the covers on. We turn the furnace down to 65, though, so it’s not like there is NO HEAT in the room. I’m not sure that would matter, though, I think the thermostat on this one is just set kinda wierd. At 50% it’s so overpoweringly hot in the room that you’d suffocate.

It was about 50 - 60 bucks at Costco. They have them again now that winter is aproaching.