Luxury costs

Of course the big question, not yet answered, was never “Do I want a space heater with a thermostat?” Duh. Of course I do.

I also want a silent VTOL and the power of invisibility, but I can’t have them. The question of whether I can have a full-time heater, even only used at night, is still open. Because the space heater uses a pilot light, and the pilot light uses propane, and propane uses…



I first lit the pilot on September 23ish, and really meant to let it run that propane bottle dry just to see how long it took. Couldn’t quite bring myself to do that due to plumbing issues – I didn’t want to turn my back on a furnace with a rubber hose. But I can say that today I swapped out propane bottles on the space heater for the first time and it really only heated the bedroom for a couple hours each on a few mornings. It’s not appalling propane consumption but it’s looking about as significant as I feared.

The original design spec was to use it only on truly cold nights, and not as a crutch to get away from the woodstove. Of course being human I have every intention of pushing that second thing as far as possible: The Lair has improved to the point where the only thing I still really dislike about winter, other than unavoidable traction issues, is that first shivery hour in the morning before the fire in the woodstove lets me take my coat off. That’s obviously most acute on mornings after single-digit nights but it’s not exclusive to them. Also, frankly, lighting the pilot in a cold firebox is a real time-consuming pain in the ass.

But anyway, we’re still experimenting to learn how quickly how much usage uses up a propane bottle. Unfortunately right now it’s looking like “pretty damned quick.”

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Luxury costs

  1. R. L. Wurdack says:

    My little, pretty well insulated house (525 ft 2) uses about 2 gal per day for a delta the of 50 degree s F.

  2. Jack says:

    I don’t understand why you’re having such a problem lighting the pilot. I have the same heater and in no more than 30 seconds (I’ve timed it) I can light the pilot and have the main burner going in a 40 degree room. On mine it’s just a matter of turning the main valve knob counterclockwise to pilot position, pushing it in and holding it there for 7 seconds then snapping the igniter button while continuing to hold the main valve knob in for another 7-10 seconds until the thermocouple heats up enough to hold the pilot valve open sustaining the pilot flame then open the main valve all the way counterclockwise and off ya go. What am I missing?

  3. Joel says:

    You’re not missing anything, as far as I know. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. On mine, the sparker is almost but not completely worthless. I know it’s working, I can squat there and watch it spark, but it’ll take several minutes of increasing frustration to light the pilot with it.

    I use a long butane lighter, which means I have to remove the sightglass from the firebox entirely. Then the flame on the lighter normally goes out instantly when inserted into the firebox, necessitating several attempts before the flame contacts the gas flow. But it’s still a hell of a lot quicker than depending on the sparker.

    Once lit, the pilot works great. But lighting it is a real pain.

  4. Mike says:

    Might can move the igniter tip to get the spark more into the gas flow?

  5. Ben says:

    “To light the pilot, it is important that the electrode be 1/8″ (3 mm)
    from the thermopile. The spark must occur at the point the burner
    flame hits the thermopile. The end of the electrode will be red hot
    with the pilot on.”

  6. jon spencer says:

    I think that one of the reasons that the pilot lights for these heaters use so much propane is that many Empire heaters are a direct vent and the pilot flame is exposed to puffs of air from outside that would put a gas stoves pilot light out so they use a larger flame that is not affected by this.
    Our Empire wall heater has a pilot flame of roughly 3/4 of a inch and you can hear it, almost sounds like the flame on a refrigerator. Our stoves burner pilot lights have a flame of about 3/16″ and are silent.
    Another thing, keep a eye on the burner bar as it will rust when shut off for the summer and this can plug some of the holes. It is a pain to take apart and put back together for a 5 minute wire brushing.

To the stake with the heretic!