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What Options Do I Have for Heating a Tiny Log Cabin?

A reader writes in with concerns about their new liquid-propane heater.


Photo: fotolia.com/dplett photo

 

Question:

We purchased a 500-square-foot cabin along Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, which has a liquid-propane heater from the 1960s. When we had our inspection, I got a headache from the fumes it emitted! The previous owners said it was inspected recently, but I can’t stomach the smell. What alternatives do I have to heat a tiny log cabin?

Answer:

One way to go is to simply replace the LP gas system you have. Liquefied petroleum gas or liquid petroleum gas is also known as LPG or LP gas and is commonly referred to as propane or butane. “They still make room heaters like that, freestanding or wall-mounted versions, and the replacement would probably be quite a bit more efficient today,” says Mike Luongo of Caldwell, N.J.-based Total Home Supply. “That’s a viable, inexpensive option.” But as long as you’re considering replacing the old heater, there are other alternatives to consider. Wood stoves do well when heating small cabins, but in an area where you need to keep pipes from freezing and bursting, it’s not ideal because they must be regularly stoked. There are also multizone LP systems that can heat more areas of the home than the one you have now and that don’t require the duc- twork that traditional multizone heating systems do.
 
Finally, there are those hotel-style packaged terminal air-conditioning units (PTACs) that are installed in walls to heat and cool large rooms.
 
Your choice depends on how the cabin is configured. If you have a lot of closed-off spaces, the multizone units may not work as well. Whatever the technology, electric- powered heaters are your most expensive option, by far, in the long run. A simple replacement of your LP unit will be 10 times more efficient than electric heat, according to Mike.
 
Whatever you decide, it does sound like replacing the 1960’s model you have now will allow you to breathe easier – by sparing you those fumes, and by saving you money on fuel costs.