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Amish Heater - Electric Fireplace

NYplumber Member Posts: 503
Good morning wallies,

Moving into a temporary home for an unknown time duration.

The oil boiler guzzles gas, so we are looking to substitute with an Amish Heater. Supposably the heaters are efficient. The home is around 3800 sq ft with a 10 degree design day. Looking to place a heater on two or three of the four floors to heat up the main two floors.

May keep the boiler set for 55 and close off the air vents to the attic steam radiators to save on oil and substitute with these heaters.

Ideas welcome.


  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    no free lunch

    Amish or not, physics still applies.  All electric resistance heat is 99% efficient, but delivery can make a difference.  Radiant energy directed at humans occupying the space will take far less energy than anything (other than a heat pump) which heats air.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 4,392
    Save your...

    money. Get a couple of oil filled rads or a couple pelonis space heaters.
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503

    I figure a btu is a btu regardless if it is a kw, HP, or a btu , so cost will be up. Dreading turning on this down fired old school steam boiler.
  • AlexS
    AlexS Member Posts: 69

    What about an inexpensive mini-split heat pump unit?  Spend a little more upfront for an inverter unit and you'll save more down the road.  (plus they're whisper quiet)
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,208
    kcopp is correct

    those liquid filled heaters can be very effective at providing comfort with less heat. And they're far less expensive than those advertised miracles. I haven't tried it myself but I often wonder about bouncing radiant off the ceiling. Comfort depends on a combination of radiant temperature and air temperature. That's why you can feel warm outside on a cool sunny day.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,723
    Is this a GE boiler

    with the burner mounted on top? Does it still have the original low-pressure burner, or has it been retrofitted with a Beckett or similar unit?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    electric radiant

    The oil-filled heaters work pretty well, though quality and reliability have really suffered of late.  I've had outright failures or wheels/feet fall off of every one (three brands, five units) we've bought during the past 7 years.  I have a couple of older Honeywell HZ780s (7 fins and heavier) purchased ~10 years ago that are still working.  Many of the newer units have only five fins and did not come close to keeping up with the output of the HZ780s (including two newer Honeywell-branded models.)  Having both "on delay" and "off delay" timers helps a lot.

    Bought a couple of "oil-filled" electric baseboard plugins (120V) that put out almost nothing by comparison.  Have not measured actual current draw but all claim to be 1500W.  They ended up being perfect for keeping the wine cellar at 50F during the winter.

    The Presto Heat Dish is probably the most effective electric heater we're tried.  Properly aimed, it heats people (and quickly.)  If you want to burn enough kW to heat a truly cold space it's going to cost you.
  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Run The Numbers

    You may find it's cheaper to fire up the guzzler.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520

    I have the same situation, just not from choice. the "amish " heaters are great with a back-up source in a small enclosed space. They  heat quiet and evenly. especially iif there is some humidity in the air. For heating an unheated space they will run almost continuously. The oil-filled radiators are the best at providing a warm heat and can be kept at a low minimm temp that is more comfortable. I put a couple of marble ties on top to absorb and slowly release the heat. It is true the latter are made more cheaply these days...I have a couple of Delonghis that just keep going, but the tstats give out on the new ones. They're also smaller. run  Run the boiler and get the oil-filled rads for the cheapest  most comfortable option.  Colleen
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
    Amish Heaters

    I don't own one but have a friend who does. The "miracle" about the heater is not that it use less energy than other heaters, but that it looks more like a real fire. My friends electric bills skyrocketed when he used his. You can buy a heater at Walmart that has the same ratings yet not the Amish mantle for a 10th of the price.Just my 2 cents.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,916
    If you really need

    electric auxiliary heat (or even primary heat!), get one of the "milk house" heaters.  Fan forced, 15 amps on 110 volts.  Very reasonably priced, available from a lot of places.  Don't look like much, I'll admit, but they do the job.  And as has been noted, a BTU is a BTU... even when it is dressed up in a fancy cabinet.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520

    I misspoke because I thought the Amish heater was the infrared type that runs on the bulb, not a fireplace looking thing. I can't comment on the latter. I personally don't know what the milk house heaters are, but if I'm without heat much longer i' think I'll need to find out!
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • Techman
    Techman Member Posts: 2,144
    edited December 2012
    Amish Milk House Heater on Wheel's

    . Its the same thing! There is a blower motor on mine! And there is a nice "fireplace make believe flickering flame every 10sec or so" effect and I can put a flower on the top.And I heard that the only Amish part is the flower pot holding "wooden cabinet/frame/sleve" housing.Mine is o.k. not O.K.Sure looks better than any mike house heater!
  • NYplumber
    NYplumber Member Posts: 503
    not sure

    Going to look at it tomorrow. Its originally an asbestos boiler that now has a metal jacket installed (or so I'm told). Seriously considering having a good oil tech service it. Difficult to trust most oil techs when you understand a little more than the average Joe.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    I'm in total agreement with that. If you only want to be warm in one place, and you want to live in that space, knock yourself out. Hope that no pipes freeze up. If they do, add that to the cost of savings.

    There's no free lunch. A btu is a btu. Whether it comes through a wire, a pipe in the ground or a tank outside or in the cellar. It's still a btu and you have to pay for it.

    Years ago, I put in a coal stove. After installation, buying coal, maintaining the fire and dumping the ashes, it cost me more to heat the cold house with the coal than it would if I had jjust left the FHW heat alone. Then, there was the coal dust.

    I remodled a kitchen once in an unheated house. I borrowed a Polanis heater. I still needed to wear my winter clothes. I was always between wearing my insulated sweatshirt and not. Not and I was cold, wear and I was hot and sweating.

    The Amish don't heat their houses with it.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
    Ran into a fellow

    Who had just put in about a 3kw PV system at his home. Net metered. As he had that he figured he would use these really efficient Amish htrs...4 of them to heat his 1200 sq ft home. There was some disagreement as to how much the utility had to pay him for his PV power. The disagreement lasted a few months and when they finally figured it out they sent him a bill for $6,800 net. Freaked him out! Tell him to save his money, just get two metal drop lights with 100 bulbs. Put a computer fan behind it and string a piece of the red paper in front of the bulbs. Voila, efficient heat!

    I kinda look at these things as the great lie!
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    What will they come up with next?

    1500watts is 5,120 btu/hr no matter how you slice it.  All those btu's get there somehow weather it's 5,000w at the heater and 120w in the cord and house wireing or whatever.  It's zone heating, you heat the space and room you live in.  Around here at 14 cents/Kwh 1500 watts run 24/7 is $151.20 a month.  Think about it, 1.5 Kwh every hour times 24 hours a day times 30 days a month.  It's simple math, generally resistance electric heat is the most expensive there is, a heat pump on the other hand is not resistence heat, but that's another thread. 

    It really gets my goose with all the hype and electric heaters, as has been said a $20 one from Wal-Mart at 1500 watts is the same heat, minus the fancy remote control and nice cabnet.  FWIW, the Amish burn wood and coal.

    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
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