I built a Teardrop trailer in 2011, finding a cheap heat source for of-the-grid camping that is safe is one of those ideas always being kicked around on the best (IMO) website for Tear Drop Trailers (TD) http://www.tnttt.com/index.php.  There is a company that makes a tent heater powered by propane, but a few years ago they stopped making the model that would work the best for tents and TD, instead they now sell a very expensive large capacity one that mostly seems aimed at the military and others with big tents to heat.
    I am an airplane mechanic for a living and small twin engine aircraft are mostly heated using a combustion heater like this one http://www.kellyaerospace.com/articles/Heater_AMT.pdf , I figured there has to be a cheap way to make heat for tents and TD's that uses common hardware store items. Then as I was wandering around in the the blue Borg, (though orange is my favorite, we don't have green around where I live)  I think I figured it out.
   My idea is simple, a kerosene lantern, which is used by most of the people in the world, and two mailboxes. the rest is just using physics to get heat to go where we want it and soot to stay out of our lungs.
   While searching for the BTU (heat output) rating of a kerosene lantern I found a site that reports that most people in the world without electricity use kerosene lanterns, and stoves, most of these are not vented to the outdoors, and this causes quite a few lung problems. SO WORK CAREFULLY, SEAL ALL YOUR SEAMS, AND IF IT IS WINDY OUT USE THE 12v FAN FOR POSITIVE PRESSURE SAFTEY.
   One other note, while a candle is a better-than-nothing source of heat, it actually coats the inside of your tent, TD, and lungs with wax as it burns, and anything that burns is using up the oxygen in your tent or TD, every year people don't wake up in their tents due to using candles, lanterns, and stoves to heat. YOU ARE JUST VISITING THIS PLANET, DON'T CUT IT SHORT, PLAN AHEAD AND BE SAFE.
  The figures I found show that a candle puts out 90-100 BTU's (per hour), a human being puts around 250 out (equal to a 100 watt incandescent bulb) and a kerosene lantern puts out 800-3000 BTU's (depending on model and wick width, if a mantel is used, etc.) I am using the cheap oil/kerosene lantern from wallyworld for this which I believe will give me 1000 BTU's input. 
For comparison, my house has a rather small oil boiler rated at 85,000 BTU's, and a pellet boiler rated at 175,000 BTU's, Most homes have 100,000 to 300,000 BTU rated systems. However my TD is about 40 square feet compared to 1,200 sq ft in my house.
   For disaster or emergency use a kerosene lantern is your best bet in most cases for light and now for heat, most wick type lanterns will run on olive, jojoba and just about any type of oil, kerosene or lamp oil may not be around when you need more.

Step 1: List of Parts and Tools

right now you will need to decide what you want to make....
Do you want a free standing (tent) heater, or a built-in one (TD, TTT (tiny travel trailer), or small caravan)?

Parts to make a tent heater:
-standard size mail box (make sure your lantern fits inside)
-sheet of 1/4" plywood
-adhesive for sticking plywood together
-(2) sink tailpieces (brass not plastic) 
-dryer flex hose, RV sewer hose, or SCAT hose (long enough to reach your tent, 
-12 volt computer fan and power supply (8 D cell batteries in a PVC pipe would work)
-dryer hose duct flange, RV hose flange, which ever you chose. 
-hinges (2)
-1" X ?" board to fit into the base of the mailbox.
-a tube or two of high temp RTV (auto parts store will have this)

Parts for making a built-in heater (teardrop, tiny trailer or caravan) :
-standard size mailbox (make sure the lantern fits inside with the door shut)
-a bigger mailbox (the little one has to fit inside with the door shut)
-a tube or two of high temp RTV, (any car parts place should have this)
- (2) 1" rigid wiring conduit end piece, (the part that seals the end of the conduit to the wiring )
-or (2) brass sink drain tail pieces (the kind with a rubber grommet, a nut and a flared end that the nut tightens against)
- slide bolt latch
-screws and nuts to mount latch
-(2) dryer or heating duct flanges 
-12v computer fan (same diameter as the duct you use)
-12v power source (a stack of 8 D cell batteries in a PVC pipe will do the trick)
-(4) bolts and nuts (long enough to tie the inner mail box to the outer one in four places)

-drill bits
-hole saws (to match the diameter of the conduit/tailpieces, and dryer/heat ducts.
-screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers

Thanks so much for this post. Any updates or real-world use?<br><br>I plan to modify this using a small $15 kerosene stove burner (about 8&quot; wide x 8&quot; tall) inside a small stock pot, vented in &amp; out through the window of my camping van. This will eliminate the need &amp; complication of the forced air fan &amp; should be quieter &amp; keep all the radiant heat inside. I'll set it on an insulated &quot;air-bake&quot; cookie sheet and fit the base of the stove into a piece of 2&quot; foam board to keep it secure inside the pot. Might even put a mica window in the side to check the flame while burning. Of course, I'll try to take time to post my results. Thanks again!<br><br>=^)
Bought the parts, and never got around to trying it out. I don't have a need to camp in cold weather the way i would have when I first had the idea.<br>I would love to hear how it works out for you.
<p>interesting concept I do like the idea. I have a couple of duel mantel &quot;Coleman&quot; type lanterns vs the wick type you used. These babies put off tons of light and heat. We even cooked hot dogs over the hot air coming out the top. Granted not fast but it did work. There is also a &quot;tent heater&quot; someone makes.... or did, and right now I can not tell you who it is / was. but in certain places the drive in theaters would rent you one to keep your car warm in the winter months while you watched your movie. They had a large &quot;wick&quot; area of sorts it just glowed with not real open flame. and you def. had to have the window open. But I have one like it as well but your idea of a box to vent the fumes out is brilliant and would make things much safer, Thanks for the idea.</p><p>Hope you recover soon, it is no fun being out of work with and injury.</p><p>Demascus</p>
<p>Conceptual or not, I think this is a brilliant idea and welcome Instructables that are filled with detailed instructions for an idea that should work, even if not tested. I am considering constructing something based on this idea. If I do it, I will definitely post share images and tips. Thank you!</p>
Warning for kerosine lamps in general:<br><br>There are various grades of fuel oil sold as &quot;kerosine&quot;<br><br>Some of these May have flash points as low as 100F. If this is used in a wick type lamp it is likely to result in a runaway condition weth huge flames that can be very unsafe.<br><br>Proper lamp oil has a flash point around 140F, and is what the lamps are meant to burn. <br><br>If the container label leaves any doubt, search online for th MSDS for the product, and that will list the flash point.
<p>In addition to your comment, gumby, I can attest to the poor quality of some of 'made in China' kero lamps. Having two of them explode in normal outdoor use has put me off them forever, now. </p>
<p>I have my Mr. Heater that provides more heat than I could ever need from a propane source and a couple of D-Cell batteries for the internal fan. It has a tip-over and oxygen depletion sensor, so it's not going to cause any problems.</p>
This virtual heater should keep me virtually warm in my virtual world. I could probably use the real lantern and tape measure. Do you have a picture of the finished product?
I came up with this as the answer to a problem I don't have. I camp at campgrounds with 110V, and have a tiny heater that is more than enough. I also don't camp in the winter. <br>Back when i built my tear I was planning on staying in it year round a few nights a week. That has never happened. <br>How to have heat off the grid comes up often on TnTTT, I made this i'ble as a possible answer. <br>I have all the parts sitting in my workshop, but boat building and teardrop modifying has taken up all my free time :( , right now I'm in wood splitting and stacking for the winter mode. I may get to building this and trying it out this winter, but make no promises <br>
Look in the wood stove/fireplace supplies at the local hardware and try to find the fire barrier/fire stop spray in foam. There are several different ratings for this as well as the RTV silicone sealants. If you wet you fingers (spit on them!) you can use them to get a really nice smooth finish on the RTV.
Looks good on LCD. Now go out and build one. If it works I am sure it will be a huge hit. Can't wait to see the prototype.
the outer box wouldn't be that hot, at least I don't think it would be hot enough to melt plastic. <br>I labeled some of the pictures, hope that helps.<br>josh
Some labeling of the parts/sections, flow directions in the diagrams would be nice.<br>Also I wouldn't use the foil faced bubble wrap.<br>(Plastic, melty, burn, poisonous gas, bad, very bad.)<br>Hit up the plumping section of you hardware store for water heater exhaust insulation. It's made to handle the heat and is rather fire proof/resistant. Or even the regular household insulation section, looking specifically for fire rated.

About This Instructable




Bio: airplane nut since forever, rower since high school, airplane mechanic since '94, lay pastor, father of four
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