Introduction: Installing a Heater on a VESA Compatible Articulated LCD Screen Support

About: A crazy mix between a physician and a mad scientist...

I live in Montreal, Canada. It means that freezing temperatures rule the country during most of the year. This also means that if I want to work in my glorious shed, known as the ManShed, I need some kind of heating device.

Luckily for me, the previous owner (an avid golf player) kept his beloved clubs in the shed during winter months. I know nothing about golf, so I will not comment on the potential damages caused by freezing temperatures on clubs, but he really believed his clubs needed to stay warm and cozy.

Good for me! The result : I have a 240V / 30A supply and a cube heater in my shed.

Now, the floor real-estate in my shed is at a premium, pretty much like downtown Tokyo. While the previous owner left the heater on the floor, this is not an option for me.

I also wanted to be able to orient the warmed air towards me. This way, even if the rest of the shed is not really warm, I can quickly go there and start working.

My solution was to find a cheap VESA compatible wall support for LCD TV and drill some holes in the side of the heater.

Step 1: The Usual Warning / Disclaimer...

Ok, let's face it. This project deals with 240V / 30A of juice at 60Hz. More than enough to fry your brain / heart. If you don`t feel confident about this, there is a lot of safer projects not getting close to this kind of power. This being said, it is not that dangerous if you pay attention. The goal is to avoid any contact / modification of the existing heater circuitry.

Of course, if your plan is to drill while the heater is plugged, then you really have a good shot at the next Darwin Awards, except if you already have kids...

Step 2: You Will Need :

Of course, a cube heater and a VESA screen support are a must to complete this project.

Safety goggles are also mandatory when drilling anything, if you value your eyes. I have a nice scratch in one of my goggles to remind me how drill bits break and fly with impressive speed and force.

I already had the cube heater. They are readily available if you need one.

For the support, I went to my local electronic surplus. They sell less and less electronic stuff and more and more cheap computer-related, home theater, crazy car audio stuff. But for once, I was not complaining. I got a (very) cheap VESA support but I made sure it was able to support at least twice the weight of the heater (which is really not difficult to find, as those heaters are light). I also selected a model that could be oriented on 3 axis.

A permanent marker will be very useful to mark the spots for the drilling process, but you can just scratch the paint with a screw...

You will need something to drill your holes with. I used some cobalt drill bits made for steel. And unless you have some special powers, you will need a drill to get through the steel.

I used a drill press, but it is probably possible to use a hand drill, as long as you are careful no to put your full weight on the steel plate, risking damaging the circuitry inside when you finally get through.

Also, to help the drilling process and protect your drill bits, I think it is a good idea to drill through a drop of cutting tool lubricant. Optional.

The only other parts needed are some metal screws and a screw driver, providing your kit came complete with all the necessary parts... I personally reused some screws removed from a microwave cover. As it is pretty much the same kind of cover, I figured it would be appropriate.

Feel free to experiment here. My first idea was to use some nuts/bolts to better hold the cover, but in the end, I had not enough nuts/bolts and plenty of metal screws. I added some washers for fun. I'm not sure they are really useful. Whatever your choice, make sure there will be no contact whatsoever between the cover, the screws and the electric circuit inside the heater.

I will emphasize this last sentence : make sure there will be no contact between the screws and anything electrical inside the heater.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

Use the VESA mounting plate and mark the locations for the holes. My plate sported 12 different locations, depending of the size of the LCD screen. I marked 8 of them.

I don't have a picture of this step : I decided it would be an insult to your intelligence.

Now, STOP THERE. Don't drill anything.

Just make sure your drill bit (and later the metal screw) will not touch anything live inside the heater. Failure to do so risk transforming your project in some kind of nasty little cubic electrical execution device or in a spectacular display of electrical pyrotechnics before the breaker trips, hoping you will still be alive and / or not on fire.

When you are sure, double check.

Some could argue it is safer to completely remove the cover. I agree. However, on my heater, some stuff was welded to the case from the inside, making the cover removal much more difficult than I had imagined.

When you are really sure it is safe to drill (did I previously said to unplug the heater? Yes? Ok, sorry about that), do it with a small bit.

Why a small bit? It will be easier and your drill will not start dancing on the cover, scratching everything and finally not drilling where you want to hole to be. Just put a drop of oil on your mark and press down slowly, but with an perpendicular and constant pressure.

It is difficult to explain exactly how much pressure you need. No abrupt movement, not angulation : you will break the drill bit. Just show the steel who is the boss, without provocation of your part.

And wear you safety goggles, in case your drill bits are cheaper than expected, or the steel feels insulted...

Once the pilot holes are drilled, change the bit for a larger one, only slightly smaller than your screws. This way, the screws will firmly hold in place in the cover.

Keep your goggles... You are still drilling!

After that, clean the surface and screw everything.

Triple check to make sure your drilling / screwing did not damage anything inside. If so, I would recommend not using this heater, unless you feel really comfortable at fixing the mess you made.

Step 4: Wall Mounting

This is the more artistic part. It may or may not apply to your kit / situation.

My kit is holding to the wall using 3 screws only. In the shed, the walls are not exactly designed to hold any kind of serious weight. Remember, this is acting like a lever and will pull the screws from the wall as a crowbar would.

The idea was to divide to conquer. Split the load on many screws through a wood plank and beat gravity.

Words of wisdom : GRAVITY is the LAW. Always obey GRAVITY.

Once the wood support was firmly screwed to the wall, I drilled pilot holes in it for the VESA support, only to discover that the electrical wiring was hidden right there, sending angry flying sparks everywhere, melting the bit and scaring me to death.

Just joking. But remember to make sure your are not drilling randomly with long screws more than capable of finding a live wire in your wall. All the wiring is apparent in the ManShed, so no worries.

What I really discovered was :

  1. My kit was even cheaper than expected. Despite pilot holes, the second screw stripped half-way. This is of little consequences as the other two are strong enough to support my weight.
  2. It appears that no one listens to a tilted TV. While the arm can move according to 3 axis, there is no way to tighten the screws to firmly keep the heater tilted. After all this work, it was kind of frustrating. I decided to use some metal wire and a L-bracket to hold my heater in the best angle possible.

Step 5: Conclusion

This is a very easy project and a safe one if done seriously.

I already started using it, and it works perfectly.

Despite only being supported by two screws, there is no sign of failure after many weeks.

The entire project took me 2-3h to complete.

I should have done it last winter...

Next step : Build a device to control the heater from inside my home and start it before going in the shed, with an automatic shut-off. Yes, a little distraction cost me 300$ last winter when I forgot to turn off the heater once finished working and not going back in the shed for many days in the coldest months...