Sunday, January 7, 2018

(Jan 7) Heater Follow-Up and New Cabinet

Happy to report that the new heater (which had been running for about a week) was working fine when we came to check on the place today. The temperature in the house was pleasant and noticeably warmer than outside. Also, checking our electric service, it looks like the heater was costing us about $1/day to run 24 hours. I left the unit on high since outside temps were in the teens and 20s throughout the week. That burned about 10 KWHrs of power per day at 10¢ per KWHr. Very affordable, especially considering that I could add a couple of solar panels to offset this in the future.

To celebrate the new IKEA that opened up close to our Arlington house, we picked up a cabinet for our dishes and glasses. We really haven't been happy with storing the plates and bowls under the Berkey water filter and the glasses in a drawer. This will give them a permanent home. I think it looks pretty nice. :) Kim has always loved the green version of this cabinet but we both agreed that the grey would match the decor better.

IKEA Display Cabinet with dishes

Very happy to report that our bees are surviving the winter. I went out back this past week and checked on them when we had a break in the weather. All of the hives are hunkered down and waiting for Spring. Given that we're on month 10 of our 1st year of beekeeping, I'm just really happy to have any alive this far along. :) I'm already planning to set out traps early this Spring to see if we can catch some wild swarms. They're more aggressive than the European bred bees but they seem to have great production and survival skills.

We will likely also split 1 or 2 of our current hives in early summer, again from the wild caught stock from last year. I will try my hand again at rescuing bees from contacts through the Trinity Valley Beekeepers Association although that venture did not pay off last year. My election to the board as VP of the bee club this year was an unexpected surprise. They really are a great group to be associated with and I'm looking forward to a new year of learning how much I really don't know about bees!

Hoping for better weather in the coming weeks. I like being out here in the winter, I just don't like it rainy and freezing! The birds have seemed extra appreciative of our feeding efforts this winter. A new feeder stocked with finch food has brought in more birds than ever. What a horrible way to spend a winter day - hanging out with your wife in your Tiny House in the woods, drinking hot tea and watching the birds and squirrels play outside your window. It's a hard life but someone's got to suffer through it. :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

(Jan 5) Wall-Mounted Envi Heater Installed

In preparation of getting city water lines run into the house, we decided we needed to have some kind of constant heat available so that the pipes wouldn't freeze and break. Space heaters have such a bad reputation for overheating and catching fire, we thought that a lower powered wall heater would be prudent. Envi brand heaters have been around for a long time and seem to have a good reputation. There are multiple safety features that minimize the risk of a fire. We ordered one and got it installed last week just in time for an arctic blast that sent nighttime temps into the teens and daytime highs into the 20s. Let's take a look!

Envi Wall-Mounted Heater from

Installation was very straight forward. The unit comes with a template that you put up against the wall so that you can mark the mounting screw locations. Our biggest challenge was where to mount it and where to get power from. I must say, on my next build, I will be doubling or tripling the number of electrical outlets. You can just never have enough available!

That said, we decided to mount the heater on the side of the storage cabinet where our bar is located. It's central location to the room would ensure even heat throughout. The power for the lights in that cabinet are supplied by the same outlet under the composting toilet housing that runs the exhaust fan for the toilet. Both the fan and the lights for the cabinet are under 10 watts so there's plenty of juice left for the 475 watt Envi heater.

The plug for the Envi heater is pretty large so passing it through the cabinet wall required cutting a pretty large hole. The only hole saw I had with me that weekend was 2", larger than I needed but big enough to do the job. We located the hole so that only the bottom crescent would hang below the heater itself, just enough room for the electric cord to fit snug. The balance of the hole would now be hidden behind the unit itself. At 8" off the floor, I doubt that anyone will ever see it tucked up under the unit anyway!

Cutting through 2 layers of our IKEA cabinet proved to be the biggest challenge with my dull hole saw. I'm afraid that it's seen too many steel studs in it's past. I did manage to get through without catching the cabinet on fire though it was smoking pretty good a couple of times. lol How ironic would that be, to catch the house on fire while installing a safe space heater!

Attaching the unit to the wall was simple. There are mounting clips that screw into the mounting surface that the unit hangs on. A set screw allows you to secure it to one of the mounting clips so that it can't fall off of the wall. There is also a safety switch inside the unit that a mounting clip activates so that the unit can't operate unless secured in place. One other feature I like is that it has an ambient light sensor that dims the "ON" light at night. Nice touch for those of us that are sensitive to lights poking us in the eyes in the middle of the night. lol

Once through the outer walls of the cabinet, cutting through the back of the unit and through the wall into the toilet enclosure was much easier. I just had to be careful of placement to make sure I didn't hit a stud in the bathroom wall. The cord for the heater is about 6' long so I had no trouble reaching the outlet once through the wall. I did seal the hole up good around the cord after I passed it through. It wouldn't be pleasant if the toilet odors started creeping into the living room through the cabinet! It's not that our composting toilet doesn't smell, but the 3" exhaust fan does a great job of directing the odor outside and helps dry everything out.

Heater mounted on wall of cabinet. Cord goes into the cabinet and through the bathroom wall to get power. 

There was a black unit available but we decided that a $3 can of flat black paint was better than paying $20 extra for EHeat's shiny black unit. Besides, we'll be able to come close to matching the Black/Brown color of the cabinet this way. Never understood why companies make color a factor when setting pricing. If one color is actually more expensive to make, average the cost with the other colors and set your pricing even across the board. It all works out in the end and consumers don't have to wrestle with a pricing decision based on what matches their decor. Just my 2¢ worth.

I'm heading out to check on the house now. I need to add a thermometer that records highs and lows. That way we can tell if we have the heater (in winter) and the AC (in summer) set at the appropriate temperature for times that we're not there. The heater has a thermostat on it and automatically comes back on after a power failure, just like our AC unit. It does require a power reset if it senses that something has gone wrong and overheats. That way, you know the unit was overheating since it won't turn on as usual. I'll do a follow-up post to fill you in on how it goes. Hope everyone is staying warm!

Thanks for stopping by!