Added Homemade Wood Stove Water Boiler Heating System To The Off Grid Camper
February 2nd, 2012
Today I completed my fireplace water boiler heating system for the off grid camper. The wood stove heats up water, which is routed through PEX tubing to a car heater core. A homemade heater blower box pushes heat through the camper.
Below you can see my antique fireplace with the water fittings hooked up to it. It has a built in water boiler around the burning chamber. If you do not have a built in water heater, you can make one. By placing a closed container of water on top of the wood stove and attaching water fittings, you can get the same result. Or you can make a water boiler that hangs on the side of the fireplace. The form and shape of your particular wood stove will affect where you place the water boiler. Some people drill holes into the side of the fireplace itself and put an expensive commercial stainless steel water heat exchanger right inside the fireplace. You can also use copper coils around the chimney pipe to get the same results.
The wood stove alone heats up the camper ok, but the floor is normally quite cold. By using a car heater core as a radiator heat exchanger and the original duct work in the camper to push heat through, the floor can also be heated up even in the furthest room from the stove. The wood stove has a built in water boiler, which was connected using pipe fittings to bring the water away from the hot sides of the fireplace. Then PEX tubing was used to carry the hot water to the original heater box in the middle of the camper. The trailer came with no heater, so this area was empty. By building a new heater blower box around the car heater core, the heat can be conducted to the bedroom and bathroom floors where it is needed the most.
Below you can see the car heater core being assembled into a homemade heater blower box for my DIY camper heating system.
Below you can see the finished heater blower box. Plywood was used to make a box that perfectly fit the car heater core. Then the original duct work from the camper was attached on one side of the box and a computer fan on the other side to blow the heat throughout the camper.
Just for info, to keep this project fully off grid, only battery operated power tools were used in the construction of the homemade heater system. Here is a photo of my battery powered jig saw. (Of course, there is no other power available anyway out there).
PEX tubing was used to connect the fireplace water fittings to the car heater core. The PEX tubing was routed through the camper where the original heater duct brought heat from the propane heater in the middle of the camper to the living room. Since there is now a fireplace in the living room, that duct will no longer be needed. The PEX tubing passes underneath the dining room benches and table area, and into the original heater compartment of the camper.
The original RV heater was about 18 inches cubed and now there is a lot of space freed up for storage. The new heater blower unit goes underneath that where the wiring of the original propane heater went.
The new heater blower box was assembled into the small space underneath the original heater compartment and the original duct work that went to the bathroom and bedroom areas were attached to the new blower unit. Also there is a tube that blows heat into the fresh water storage tank to keep it from freezing. This will now allow me to have fresh water without the fear of freezing. Soon there will be an end to living out of one gallon jugs of water for washing and drinking.
In the image above you can see the storage space underneath the dining room bench seat. This is where the PEX tubing was attached to rubber car radiator hoses, which are connected to the car heater core, off to the right, inside the cabinet. In the foreground of the image you can see the duct that goes underneath the floor to the fresh water storage tank. This was later connected to the new blower box.
Time to get some more firewood cut and see how this new homemade water boiler system works in the off grid camper.
Check out our homepage for more do it yourself projects: The Do It Yourself World
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