There are a few videos going around the web on heating a room using clay flower pots and tea lights. The British video has the presenter saying it costs him 8 pence a day to heat his room. I did the math for you and that comes to .13 cents usd. With claims like that this video is going pretty viral in the survival community. If it turns out to be legit this is a great backup and off grid heat source. I knew I had to put on mythbuster had and give it a go. I went to the store and got supplies and have been testing for over a week. Today I’ll share the result with you on whether it’s worth it.
I concept here is that the air in the smaller flower pot will be heated and through convection heat the room coming out the bottom and the top hole. The hole in the bottom pot is covered to force it out the top one. The clay pots are also supposed to work as a thermal mass and radiate heat out. In another video the guy used a bolt to connect the two pots together. It makes moving them easier and the metal is supposed to help radiate heat. I tested four variations on the design, no holes covered, bottom hole covered, both covered and finally with the bolt.
So I ran it first with no holes covered. This is only useful as a hand warmer. All the heat blows out the top in a jet of heat. The pots retain almost not heat and don’t radiate it out. Just using the tea lights alone would be better. Next was flowing the British guys advice and covering the smaller hole. This time less heat came from the top hole and much more heat was put into the pots and it became hard to touch it after a few hours. However it had no real effect on the room temperature. I could not feel any heat holding my hands one inch from the pots. Next I covered both holes to try to dump more heat into the pots. I couldn’t really tell any difference. At this point I called it Myth Busted on this design.
After being nagged by a coworker on needing to test the bolt design. I was ready to write the entire thing off but finally decided to put everything into this last version. I got a bolt, nuts and washers and spent an entire day testing it. I had tea lights burning from the time I woke up till the time I went to bed. The bolt does absorb tons of heat and radiates it out. The clay pots became very hot and touching it was limited to less than a second. Holding my hand close to it I felt heat coming off it. The overall room temp though didn’t really change and was still pretty cold. I mean uncomfortable cold, and I like it cold in my apartment. Maybe in a smaller sized room that was very well insulated this would work. I am however stamping it myth busted. Do not bother with this it does not work. DO NOT RELY ON IT IN AN EMERGENCY! If you like to tinker and toy around maybe build one. I’m leaning more towards building a small rocket mass heater in my apartment and venting it out my window. It would be even cheaper and it proven technology.
Have you seen this? Are you thinking about building one? What do you use for backup heat? Let me know in the comments!
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