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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back-up Heat? part 2
from Preppernation – Preparedness, Survival, Homesteading, Alternative ... by Prepper

Alright, where were we? I was going to take care of a little bit of house keeping before we got off the ground this morning. First a reminder to the newer readers, please sign in with your email address and you will receive an email each day when I publish the post. Also, the book review give aways are open to you as “Subscribers” then as well…

I have had a few inquiries as to an error message when you “Subscribe”? As close as I can tell this only happens when you try to type in your email a second time? What happens when you fill in and submit your email address is that I get a notification in the back room of the site and then have to finish the process on my end before you will begin getting the updates. I’m usually in and out of the site through out each day but it isn’t instantaneous…

Finally, I got a bit of flak from a reader, maybe a former reader? He was upset that I was censoring his comments, at least that was his impression. That is not the case! The same thing happens when I get a comment as when a new subscriber request comes through, the comment will not appear until I process it on my end. Believe it or not I get 20-100 spammer comments per day. If I thought you would be interested in buying Viagra or any number of other drug related products off of “Prepper” than I’d just let anything get posted on my site. This is a service to both you and me but that is the only censorship that I have used. Don’t test me on this as I would censor some content as this is a family site, for the most part anyway and I have no use for hate or racial types of comments but we haven’t seen anything like that here yet and I doubt we will! For some reason, I get a lot of emails but very few comments? I guess it makes sense as I was the worst offender as far as not actively participating in any of the site’s that I would read regularly. I’m still not as good as I should be! Keep the emails coming and if you have a comment to make, step right up – most of us don’t bite…


Yesterday we started to discuss the need or potential need for back-up heat sources. We got as far as the “level one” preps. These would be the fully non-electric things that can be done to give a minimum level of protection without spending much if any money. These would be the sleeping bag and sweaters, level of coverage. Don’t get me wrong, these are very important and our “level one” preps could end up being all we had in the end. It would definitely be a mistake to skip these in favor of the more exciting one’s. In addition, these are fairly portable items that could, hopefully stay with us if we were to be motivated to leave our shelter in a hurry.

As we move up to the next level or “level two” preps we will find the small propane and kerosene heaters. These are a functional and quite desirable addition. Typically these heaters are designed to provide a level of heat to an area the size of a tent to maybe as much as a living room. Their advertised heating capabilities may be said to be much larger but in my experience they serve a small area better than being challenged to do more than they are actually capable of.
Kerosene Heater

Kerosene Heater

Let’s start with the Kerosene heater. I have found these heaters to be real work horses. I own several currently and they aren’t used daily but have never let me down even once when called to duty. My heaters are all made by the Kerosun company. They are the tall cylindrical model that has a metal cage type of arrangement around them. The fuel tank is directly under the heater and I believe it holds roughly a full gallon or was it two gallons? I honestly can remember, either way it is a sufficient amount of fuel that it isn’t necessary to be refueling on a regular basis.

There are other advantageous features that these particular kerosene heaters offer as well. They are actually advertised for use indoors, many of the propane fueled heaters are not. They also have an intricate tip over shutoff valve. As I’m sure you would all agree, we don’t make it a habit to tip over our heating appliances but its good to know that there are safeguards already built in. Last but certainly not least, the wire safety cage that surrounds the heater on all sides as well as the top, can be used as a cooking surface. This is a very nice added benefit.
Kerosene Heater cook top

Kerosene Heater cook top

The other “level two” heater would be the propane fueled variety. I also own a propane powered model as well. My unit is designed to be attached to the top of a 5 gallon tank. I do like the amount of heat that it puts off and it has never let me down, however, I do prefer my kerosene units to this arrangement for shelter heating, anyway. They do have their place for sure and I would typically use mine to heat a work area in the garage. Over the years I also have owned small canister top models that were marketed for the camping crowd to use as a tent warmer. All of these models performed well enough but always seemed to put out more water vapor than the kerosene models. As I’ve said before, the tool that you have is often the best… I do not advocate spending money just to change fuel types or styles of heaters but if you are on the market anyway, I think I would stick with kerosene for your “level two” preps.

The one exception to kerosene over propane would possibly be the new “Buddy” heaters. I haven’t personally owned or even used one of these heaters, yet. I would be interested in adding one to my supplies but I just haven’t seen a good deal at the same time I had the available funds. If there are readers that have experience with these, please speak up and share your first hand experience. The buddy style units can either be powered with a small canister of fuel, larger versions can be equipped with two canisters or even attached to a large volume tank. It’s this larger volume of fuel that might make me reconsider.
Propane "BUDDY" Heater

Propane "BUDDY" Heater

As “level two” preparations these actual heat producing appliances will serve to carry our families through an extended period of power lose or other various troubles. We will however need to take the time to store the necessary fuel now so as to have it available in sufficient supply when it’s needed. If we fail to make these arrangements and find ourselves low on fuel when it is needed most we will be relegated to a similar condition as those that did no prepping and waited until the event to go find the fuel their families needed.

The prices I regularly see for either of these heaters is $50-100 for a propane unit and consistently $129 for a kerosun heater. I’ll let you do your own fuel usage and cost analysis, fuel costs vary widely depending on where your located. As with everything there are individual things that might make a difference in the choice you make toward one fuel over the other… Such as if you have a large propane tank already parked in the yard or will be making use of one for other purposes.

As a short to medium term solution that is still somewhat portable, a heater such as we have discussed today will make you and yours much more comfortable than just making do with the sleeping bag options that are available to us using only “level one” preps. We are still building up to the more sustainable solutions and I will wrap it all up with those in part 3. I hope that most of us have many of these issues already addressed but I’m suspicious that it’s a good reminder, assess and make adjustments now before you need them!


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