So... If you have been following my cabin build, you might remember that a couple of years ago I scored a really nice new propane vent-free fireplace for a super good price. I have had it "roughed" in and set in place, but I never have done much with it yet, as I have been concentrating on the upstairs.
About a month ago, me, Kelly, Mike and Teresa (NoHandle) planned on camping down on the lot the weekend before thanksgiving. As we have been having an extremely mild fall, it seemed
like a good idea at the time. So of course, it was cold, rainy and had occasional heavy flurries and some sleet this weekend. Sitting around a campfire outside was OK after the rain/snow/sleet stopped, but as the afternoon wore on, it started getting cold. Really cold. As in, "Are we crazy for staying here tonight?" levels of cold
I've been wanting to (pardon the pun) fire up the fireplace just to test it out for a while now. I had an old BBQ grill that I kept the regulator and hose off of when I junked it. The pressure of the regulator matched the requirements of the fireplace, and I figured it might be a way to give it a test run, but I never got any farther than bringing the regulator down and throwing in a corner of the cabin. This seemed like a great time to give it a shot.
I grabbed the regulator and hose and took a good look at the fireplace. It had a braided hose on it with a pipe fitting that would connect to whatever gas supply brought to it. I didn't have any pipe fittings with me, but the fitting on the end of the stock hose where it goes into the main valve was the same as on the end of my BBQ regulator hose. 5 minutes later, I had it hooked it up to a 20lb propane bottle, crossed my fingers and pushed the pilot light button. The pilot lit just fine, and when I flipped the on-off switch, there was a slight hiss of gas, a satisfying WHOOMPHF and we had fire!
Probably not the ideal set up, but it worked as a test run. The hose was way too short, and I while the pressure of the regulator was fine, I don't think it flowed enough to allow the fireplace to really crank up. But even with that, I gotta admit that it flat put out some heat. Within 5-6 minutes the cabin was enjoyably toasty We wound up sitting in the cabin in our lawn chairs, sipping hot cocoa, and enjoying the warmth.
You can see the big propane tanks I got off Craigslist sitting next to the fireplace. One of them is even about a 1/4 full still. I'm gonna order a brand new high-flow regulator with a POL fitting to work with the tanks and about 15 feet of hose. I am gonna plant the tanks outside the back wall of the cabin, and just run the hose up through the floor to the fireplace.
But now I have to rethink my plans. The cabin is very
well insulated. Upstairs, I just have a plug-in 1500 watt ceramic heater. It easily kept the upstairs at 70 even though it got down to 19 degrees outside last night even with the fireplace turned off. But when I went downstairs to make the coffee, you could see your breath. It was probably 35 degrees downstairs. Brrr! I had left the pilot light going on the fireplace, so I just flipped the switch and got things warming up quickly. It only took about 5 minutes before Kelly called down that it was getting pretty warm upstairs.
My original plan was to put the fireplace on a thermostat and use it for the main heat on cold nights. Looks like that plan is going in the trash. It's just gonna be too hard to control, as all the heat goes right up the stairwell to the bedroom. I already have the wires run for the thermostat on the wall, but I think I'm just going to make it an "on-off" switch instead. That would be way easier to reach than the little toggle switch behind the grill on the fireplace. I think I am going to get another ceramic heater and just use it downstairs at night. That also pleases the wife, because she is worried as hell about dying of carbon monoxide, or a propane explosion, or a raging cabin fire by using the fireplace at night.
You can't imagine how happy it made me to get the fireplace up and running, even on a temporary basis. It's been nearly two years since I bought it, and many times have I imagined how nice it will be to sit downstairs on a cold night an enjoy a nice warm fire. Ok... So my imagining didn't include an unfinished room and sitting on lawn chairs, but I will take it.