Monday, December 7, 2015

Heating My Tiny House And Water - Part II

After having considered all four of the heating options, I decided on propane. It was a somewhat reluctant decision, given the very large learning curve I would have to endure. But, then again, everything about building my tiny house represented a pretty steep learning curve so why would installing propane powered appliances be any different?

 So I…

1) Hired professionals to install my propane line, giving myself the security of knowing there would be no leaking or errors by doing it myself. When safety is an issue, you really should spare no expense! They installed it so all of the connection points are exposed and can be easily tested with soapy water, for leaks. That makes a lot of sense to me. They knew how big the pipe would need to be, they knew where the line should go (under the house) and they pressurized it before they left to ensure there were no leaks.

Workin' hard at what he does best!

2) Considered that there are hundreds of thousands of homes and RV’s that are heated by propane. They don’t normally blow up, and if anyone dies in their sleep it is because there was a leak and they didn’t install a CO2 detector properly, or at all.

Working in tight quarters!

3) Sourced a hot water heater from a nationally recognized company with an excellent reputation. (see Part III of this blog for those details)

Smiling for the camera!

4) Sourced a directly vented, propane powered heater with 14,000 BTU’s.

I found my whole-house-heater / furnace at Williams Control Products. There are other manufacturers of propane furnaces but once I did my homework I discovered that the directly competing product was no longer being supported by the manufacturer. They are no longer able to provide parts. There is a lot of inventory in internet land but I am a sourcing professional and when a company shuts off their parts supply it’s only a matter of time before servicing the machines becomes very problematic.

Installation Step 1: Install template and locate vent hole.

My 14,000 BTU direct vent furnace is the smallest one that Williams offers and it is perfect for my tiny house! It arrived when they promised and I then made an appointment to have it installed.

This installation, however, was not without it's dramatic moments.  Just a few days before the installation I woke up in the middle of the night in a bit of a panic mode.  The wall where the vent would have to pass through also contains the PEX plumbing.  How did I miss that!?

Installation Step 2:  Cut the vent hole.

So, I had to cut a hole in my drywall to locate the PEX and then hope that it was far enough away from the vent to avoid heat build up.  The good news is that it was......but I lost one night of sleep because of it.

OK, back to my story....

I called back the same guys who had installed the propane gas lines. They were great the first time so I was happy for the opportunity to work with them again. Unfortunately, their minimum charge for installation was $400 (2 guys for 2 hours) so even though it only took them 50 minutes to get it done I still had to pay the minimum.

Installation Step 3:  Don't cry when you find a huge hole in your new house!
I also, however, paid for a thermostat upgrade. I had the wire all set for the hard wired one but they convinced me that having a remote thermostat would give me more flexibility RE the temperature AND the location. If I want the loft to be warmer, I can set the thermostat to control the temperature there. If I want the main floor to be warmer I can set the thermostat there and turn on the ceiling fan.

Bottom line, I can lie in bed and turn up the heat! Bonus!!!

Installation Step 4 - Hook up the gas line and remote thermostat.

The installation process was fairly straight forward. But, given my nervous nature around the explosive gas I was happy to have someone to calmly assure me of its reliability and cost effectiveness. Lighting the pilot light was easy enough and it heat up the house in no time at all. It was, however, July so that wasn’t exactly a challenge.

Fast forward a few months...

After I moved the house twice, I was set and ready for the heater to work its magic. When I tried to light it, however, the pilot light wouldn’t stay lit. I contacted Williams and they called me back within hours. In the end, I discovered that it was a loose wire, no doubt worked loose by 2 moves within one month. And, the heater warmed my tiny house from 32 degrees to 42 degrees in 10 minutes! I set the thermostat at 45 and left the house to “test”.

Installation Step 5 - Fire it up and make sure it works!
Fast forward two days…..

I stopped by the tiny house today to make sure the heater was still working and holding the temp I had set. It is! The house is 47 degrees and the pilot light is still lit.

It’s been a FRANTIC few weeks. Finally having the warm and cozy house that I built, available for wine parties, and to rest and relax, and entertain AWESOME!!!!

And there's my Williams Furnace, next to the stove, keeping me nice and toasty warm!

Psstt...don’t tell the kids you want to guess where I’m hiding all the Christmas presents? My tiny house is now Santa’s Workshop, complete with wine and hot cocoa and gift wrap galore.

It feels so good to have it done.


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