Introduction: Cheap and Easy Fireplace Heater

As fall rolls in, people start to dread the cold winter months and the cost to keep the house warm. Fireplaces are very pretty and cozy but are actually very inefficient. This instructable will show you how to get alot more heat out of your fire place for about $50 (cost me only $30 because I had scrap wood, old computer fan, and an AC to DC wall transformer).

Step 1: Supplies

Gather/Buy the following items:

- Flexible Automotive Exaust Pipe

I used 2.5 Inch diameter pipe that was 6Feet long from Advanced Auto parts. You can get this at almost any automotive store. Its thick but flexible metal pipe that is made to deal with High Temperatures

- Computer Fan

The fan will be used to force air through the exhaust pipe.

- AC-DC Transformer (Wall Wart)

If you wan you can buy one of these from Radio Shack, but most people have these laying around from old electronics. The Only thing to keep in mind is that the voltage rating should be Less than or Equal to the voltage rating on the Computer Fan.

- Scrap Wood

This will be used to adapt the fan to the exaust pipe

- Aluminum Tape

This helps assembly the wood box and seal the pipe to the wood adapter box.

Step 2: Wooden Adapter Box

Now we will create a box that will take the air from the fan (which is normally a rectangle or square) and push it down the exaust pipe (which is round).

1) Cut your wood so it is all 6 Inches wide.

- We will then cut it to match the length of each side of the fan.

2) Measure the sides of the Fan

3) Cut the wood to match the lenghts of the fan.

- Should have 4 pieces in the end. If you want to get a bit more fancy you can cut some lengths a bit longer so that after we assembly all for sides the fan will fit snug inside.

4) Using the aluminum Tape Attach all 4 side to create the rough Square.

OPTIONAL - If the Fan you are using is very large or the pipe you are using is very small, you may want to cut one last piece of wood that will place on the back of this square of wood and then cut a hole in it that will accept the pipe.

Step 3: Wire Up and Add the Fan

Now we need to get the fan spinning and attach it to the wooden box.

  1. Take the Wall Wort power supply (ac to dc transformer) and cut the ends of the wires to your required length.
  2. Strip the ends of the wires.
  3. In Order to get the fan to spin in the proper direction, this next step may take some trial and error.
    1. Attached one stripped wire from the transformer to one of the wires from the fan by twisting the wires together and using electrical tape for insulation. Then repeat this for the second wire.
    2. Fans are designed to rotate in a specific direction and will blow more air if they spin in the correct direction. This direction is normally marked on the fan (or the direction that the wind should be blowing). Plug the transformer into the wall and see which way the fan is spinning and blowing air. This instructable is assuming you are using a DC fan, so if the fan is spinning in the wrong direction, flipping the wires should correct this.
  4. Once the fan is going in the correct direction, unplug the fan and place it into the opening of the wooden box.
    1. The fan should blow INTO the box.
  5. Using the aluminum tape, attach the fan to the wooden box and seal all gaps around the fan to make it as air tight as possible.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

Now we are going to place it in the fireplace and put it all together.

Take the flexible pipe and place it in the fireplace in a C shape. The path of of the pipe should go underneath or onto the wood grate. I place the pipe underneath the wood grate so the red hot embers fall onto the pipe.

On one side of the pipe, place the wooden box and slide the pipe into the hole in the back of the box.

Attached the pipe to the wooden box using the aluminum tape and try your best to make as airtight of a seal as possible. At this time, also cover any more exposed wood with aluminum tape. This will help the box reflect the heat of the fire.

Step 5: Heat the House!

Now Spark up a fire, give it 10-30 minutes to get nice and hot, then plug the fan in. You will instantly feel the hot air blowing out the far end of the pipe.

If there is not enough air flow, you may need a stronger fan.

Comments

author
MrKnowItAll made it!(author)2015-06-23

for something that doesn't look like a duct tape box. One can get one of these

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Suncourt-Inductor-4-in-...

for 27 dollars or less .. tape it to your flexible duct.

or if you are insanely cheap and must not spend money, simply duct tape the existing 5 inch CPU fan to the flexible pipe.

author
nochanceinhell3856 made it!(author)2015-06-23

I thought about using one of those but i still would have needed to reduce it down tot he 2 inch diameter for the exhaust pipe.
Next time I will probably do something a bit cleaner.

thank you for the suggestion.

author
BillW5 made it!(author)2015-01-09

I've seen a wood stove using kinda sorta the same principal, but without the fan due to convection of the cooler air (near the floor) being sucked in at the bottom and forced out the top hole of the pipe. Because the flex pipe will have a finite lifespan, a pair of custom bent auto exhaust pipes (big "C's") with one each leaning up against the inner left and right sides. You shouldn't even need the fans, due to the convection. Total cost less than 50 bucks

author
Alphageek63 made it!(author)2014-10-06

Thanks for sharing this. This is certainly better than nothing and the simplicity should allow just about anyone to implement it. That said the most efficient way to heat your house is a Rocket Stove Mass Heater. The design works best with an open floor plan, and it's NOT for everyone, but they extract just about all of the heat from the exhaust before it's vented. They actually burn the smoke so that there's very little smell, so little, in fact, that people have installed them in city apartments undetected. The best description I've seen is this one: http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp. Enjoy the videos - Gotta love Ernie's hair!

author
cdstudioNH made it!(author)2014-11-18

Rocket mass heaters are awesome for heating up, but feeding them every 30 to 45 minutes is a bit tedious. Do you have an automated feeder system that you use?

author
Alphageek63 made it!(author)2014-11-19

I've been studying these designs, but haven't built one yet due to space constraints. I read that if you use too many thin sticks that are too long, the flame can tend to climb up and out of the firebox between the pieces. I'm not sure this is true if used one larger thick piece, and I would think that if you waited until the fire was very hot, this would burn fine.

author
malc+in+Spain made it!(author)2014-10-05

A nice idea to spread the warmth.

Unfortunately most heat goes up and out through the chimney with an open fireplace.

I discovered a wood stove was the solution to heating a room efficiently.

I tried oil,coal,electric etc. A specialist said a wood stove would do the trick.

The heat stays in the room and gases are vented via the stove chimney pipe.

To enhance warmth -place a glass bowl on the stove and fill with water.

This prevents your furniture from drying out and cracking.

Also humidity in the air is good for own health.

I changed my heating completely to a wood stove and never regretted it.

Never cold -and the heat is wonderful.

If I had an open fireplace then the idea to circulate as above -would be considered as a help and a good idea.

malc in Spain

author
malc+in+Spain made it!(author)2014-10-05

A nice idea to spread the warmth.

Unfortunately most heat goes up and out through the chimney with an open fireplace.

I discovered a wood stove was the solution to heating a room efficiently.

I tried oil,coal,electric etc. A specialist said a wood stove would do the trick.

The heat stays in the room and gases are vented via the stove chimney pipe.

To enhance warmth place a glass bowl on the stove and fill with water.

This prevents your furniture from drying out and cracking.

Also humidity in the air is good for own health.

I changed my heating completely to a wood stove and never regretted it.

Never cold -and the heat is wonderful.

If I had an open fireplace then the idea to circulate as above -would be considered as a help and a good idea.

malc in Spain

author
MsSweetSatisfaction made it!(author)2014-09-30

Awesome hack, also gotta love that price point. Thanks for sharing!

author
hubbe made it!(author)2014-09-29

If you put the pipe standing instead of lying down, you don't need the fan. In Sweden we call it spiskråka (furnace crow).

author
nochanceinhell3856 made it!(author)2014-09-30

I have seen that style here in the US to. I would have made that style but the flexible pipe would need some support to hold itself up. That style works best with rigid pipe and I don't have a pipe bender. Maybe I will invest next year and create another intractable.

author
hubbe made it!(author)2014-09-30

With two tube clamps in the furnace ceiling, maybe you could hang the pipe.

author
DCA made it!(author)2014-09-29

Great idea! I'm definitely going to try this. They used to make a hollow tube hearth that worked like this but I haven't seen them in years. Thanks!

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