Updates on the DIY radiator heating system for my off grid trailer
February 22nd, 2012
The new homemade radiator heater system for my off grid trailer is working quite well. It takes the temperature up to the 70s within half an hour now with the water pump and fans running and good fire burning in the fireplace. There is a blower fan pointed at the Passive Fireplace Heat Exchanger as well to increase heat output even faster. It acts like a ceiling fan to bring hot air down from the ceiling and send it to the floor.
Tonight I added a second blower fan to the homemade radiator blower unit to get more heat out of the water. I was not happy with how hot the water was getting with just a single fan blowing on the radiator, so I wanted to increase the air flow and also cool down the water more. If my blower is working well enough, the return water line should feel noticeably cooler than the hot water line going to the radiator. And hot water returning to the fireplace equals wasted heat that could be pumped into the room.
Again, these are just 150mm computer cooling fans out of an old server that got water damaged. I saved the fans for the heater because they blow a lot of air and only use .3 amps each. On a 200 Amp hour battery bank, that barely puts a dent in the power available.
With both fans blowing on the radiator, the heat output is increased considerably and the trailer warms up very fast. And there is a noticeable temperature difference between the hot water line and the return water line. The fireplace uses much less wood now. Actually if the fire gets too hot, so does the water, which is not a good thing. Now I can burn about twice as long on a load of wood and get the same heat output. This fireplace was made to be used as a boiler and it shows.
This camper is totally off the grid, with lights, fans and water pump all running on solar power.
To heat up the whole 32 foot trailer in winter within a half hour, there are three fans and a water pump running. The total energy consumed is only about 1.2 Amps from all four devices. That is nothing compared to the original propane heating unit that this trailer was built with, which would kill a battery in a single day.
Overall the DIY wood stove boiler heating system was a complete success.
The full project can be found here:
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