Introduction: Build a Heated Storage Cabinet

Picture of Build a Heated Storage Cabinet

My workshop is unheated, which is less than ideal in winter, but for the most part I make out ok. I have a kerosene heater and when I am in the shop for some wintertime project, I fire that up and it's comfortable in ten minutes or so.

The problem is, some of my possessions don't take too kindly to being cold, like electric drill batteries, for instance. If you look online, you will find all kinds of opinions on the subject - take your pick. But, it is my opinion that cold NiCd batteries don't last as long in use as warmer ones, that they don't accept a charge as well, and will have a shorter life if they are kept in a cold environment. I have no opinion on NiMH batteries; I don't have any tools that use them.  

Step 1: Framing Up

Picture of Framing Up

In my shop, I have shelves mounted between the studs, including a couple for holding my chargers and batteries. In order to hold them, as they are wider than the studs are deep; I made the shelves extend past the studs. As it turned out, this made building the compartment very simple. Most likely, your application will be different than mine. No problem, as with most Instructables, it is the original idea that counts. Just modify my idea to fit your need.


In order to make my existing shelves into a cabinet, I simply cut plywood pieces for each end. After that, all I had to do to finish the construction was to build a pair of doors.


Step 2: Doors

Picture of Doors


I made the door by cutting a piece of plywood to fit the cabinet, attached hinges to both sides, and marked the center. When I removed them and cut them into two pieces, I simply reattached them. That caused the two doors to line up perfectly; it is so much simpler that way than making two doors separately,  and then trying to get them to match.

I attached a hook and eye inside the left door, and turn button on the outside of it. This pulls the two doors together; just one hook and eye on the pair of doors would allow them to hang loosely.

Step 3: The Idea Behind the Cabinet

Picture of The Idea Behind the Cabinet

Keeping batteries warm was the reason I came up with this instructable, but as often happens, I thought of other uses as soon as I completed it. For instance, cold spray paint sprays poorly, takes much longer to dry, and often develops bubbles in the finsh. Warm glue also works better than cold. I'm sure you can think of other things you would prefer to keep warm.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up


I electrified the cabinet by using a candleabra base light socket; you can suit yourself about how you do this, but I added a 1N4004 diode in series with the bulb. This diode divides the voltage to the bulb in half, and so the power consumption. It has the effect of making the bulb last a teriffically long time. Using a 25 watt bulb, I am actually only consuming 12 1/2 watts. The glass envelope temperature is lower than with full voltage, but it is enough to keep the cabinet and everything in it warm enough for my purposes.

I have a used baseboard heat thermostat that I plan to add to the circuit; I am not burning much current as it is, but there is no need keeping the cabinet warm if the outside temperature isn't too chilly.

All in all, I am pleased with the results. My batteries stay reasonably warm and I feel like they last longer in use than if I allowed them to stay cold after charging them.

[Added:  I  have a wireless indoor - outdoor thermometer sensor in the cabinet, and have recently found that during a pretty cold spell, the temperature was at least 20 degrees warmer than outside.']

Comments

CameronRobertson (author)2013-07-29

I have read somewhere about NiCd batteries too and I second your opinion about them losing energy when the temperature gets lower. It is always better to let them be stored away in a much warmer environment. I think it is the nature of all batteries. I have never thought that of a heated storage cabinet as I thought it would consume too much energy. I guess it is worth a try.

mountainbil (author)2013-01-15

save a little time and money use an old upright freezer and put a lightbulb in it it's already insulated and their free on craigs list or the dump. I use one for My welder and the rods and it works perfect.

RangerJ (author)mountainbil2013-01-21

Good idea. Actually, my brother made a pumphouse out of an old chest freezer: put the pump and a light inside, sheathed it with T-111. It stayed toasty warm.

Thanks for the suggestion.

RangerJ (author)2013-01-14

Thanks.

It would have been nice if I had insulated the shop but I was in a hurry, and I wouldn't have been able to have the between-stud storage. With the little bulb, I have been able to keep the cabinet at least 10-15 degrees warmer than the rest of the shop.

dimmaz88 (author)2013-01-14

Good simple idea. I have the same problem in the winter, and have recently been planning to do something like this. I thought of just insulating a cabinet with polystyrene, and seeing if it keeps the cold out enough. If not I'll consider a low wattage bulb. For now though, it's just added to the bottom of the list :)

I think I'll work on my gas bottle wood stove first, I'd rather keep myself warm whilst in the garage :)

Thanks for posting.

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Bio: When I was a boy, I was amazed how my grandfather could make flotsam and jetsam into useful things. I am proud that I have ... More »
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