DIY Heating Experiment

Have you ever been trapped in a room without heating during cold winter nights? Did you forget to pay your bills that time? Or maybe the repairs on the heating unit took longer than you were told!

We have a DIY solution for you! All you need is one or two terracotta flower pots, a few candles, and of course some free minutes of your time.
It’s easy as it could get! Make a hole on bottom side of the vase (most of them already have one for drainage, but it might be too small), light the candles and put the vase upside-down on top of candles. After a while vase becomes hot, and warms the room.

Simple? It is. Terracotta has considerable Special Heat Capacity. It absorbs the heat from candles and stores it, and then gradually gives it to the air. You can’t achieve this effect with many other materials. One good feature of this system is even when the candles are blown out or burnt up, it continues to warm the room for while. And although the flower pot will get quite warm, the heat won’t make you feel uncomfortable, as might be the case with many conventional heating systems. This is because terracotta is not a good heat conductor.

Anyway, that’s the theory. But does it really work?! During Vienna Shares’ recent DIY Winter Workshop at CO SPACE Schmalzhofgasse, we made it into a experiment. We tried to warm up the bathroom with one of our DIY heating systems. The bathroom was used constantly during the event, and its door was not airtight at all. So it was a good place to check if DIY heating system can not only warm up the air, but also maintain a relative thermal comfort inside the space. In order to measure the parameters, we used a temperature logger (Wöhler HOBO U12). Let’s check the results!

We installed the device inside the room around 3:20pm, and took the DIY Heating System to the room at 3:32pm. As you can see in the graph in the slide show above, the temperature started to rise from initial reading of 16 ℃ (quite cold) to 19 ℃ (acceptable temperature for normal activities) in just half an hour! But more interesting finding is that despite all air leakage and ventilation, the DIY Heating System could maintain a working temperature close to 19 ℃ during the whole event. Those fluctuations in temperature were mainly caused because someone forgot to close the door. Had the bathroom space been more airtight, we could expect the temperature to rise to over 21 ℃!

Some additional tips:
Tip #1: If you don’t have candles, don’t worry! You can make one with oranges and olive oil. Vienna Shares will teach you how soon!
Tip #2: Be sure that the vase doesn’t have any paint coating or dirt or moisture. Otherwise it might make some unwanted smell!

Text and Photos: Ehsan Bazafkan

Category : DIY