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Heating Base-Camp

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Heating Base-Camp

If your basement, or room you use for base-camp, can get below 45 degrees F, anytime of the year, then you need to heat base-camp.

I wish there was a way to use a wood stove to heat but the fumes will kill you and your family. There are three viable fuels that make sense to heat base-camp 1) Propane, 2) Kerosene, or 3) Alcohol.

Indoor alcohol heating is done all the time – Sterno cans are used in restaurants to warm food and there are indoor fireplaces that use the gelled alcohol without ventilation problems. Sadly there is just one heater on the market that uses liquid alcohol to heat a room, the little selection of heaters indicates that not much heating is done with liquid alcohol. Additionally, alcohol burns with an invisible blue flame and can easily burn someone who can’t see the flame.

Kerosene heaters are all over the place – you can buy them at any hardware store and on Amazon – hundreds of different models. I don’t like them because starting them up and shutting them down spews out black smoke that smells and stains the ceiling. Kerosene is not easy to purchase – try to buy a gallon, of it, at a Walgreens. The heaters take a lot of attention while running and need periodic maintenance to clean them. Kerosene heaters take skill to run and maintain.

Propane is the fuel I like – I have a propane BBQ that I get gas for several times a year and even Walgreens sells it. There are many heaters that run inside a room and even a tent – they have safety devices which turn them off if oxygen levels drop or the thing tips over. The 20-pound tank is what powers 95% of BBQs and can easily supply fuel for a week of heating.

I suggest you buy a 20-pound propane tank for each week you don’t want your family to freeze to death – pick a number and store them in an storage locker and NOT in the house or garage. Even in the dead of winter there are warm days but without electricity your house will get cold at night. If the outside temperature gets to 45 degrees F at night you need to supply heat to base-camp that night.

Click here to find how many days have a low temperature 45 degrees F or lower; for each 7-days you need another 20-pound tank. If the number of tanks needed becomes too large your plans MUST include abandoning base-camp in winter for a warmer location or add a backup wood-gas furnace.

There are many propane heaters that satisfy many different needs – trust me you have at least 2 needs and thus need 2 different heaters. No matter which heater you buy you MUST have a carbon monoxide detector right next to the heater. Carbon monoxide has no smell and is invisible and you don’t want to breath it since it will kill you.

Additionally, there are propane powered hot water heaters which will deliver a hot shower to folks in your group. Taking a hot shower is not a luxury but a matter of good hygiene that makes living together in a small room manageable.

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