Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

Illustration for article titled Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

You say you're tired of paying the gas company for natural gas to heat your shack while at the same time throwing away perfectly good, energy-laden hydrocarbons every time you change your engine oil? Problem solved!

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Illustration for article titled Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

This innovative (though admittedly not particularly emissions-friendly) solution comes to us courtesy of Peter, a Nevada-based reader. First, you set up a holding tank for your fuel supply- in this case, a 5-gallon Pep Boys bucket- and rig up a pump to move the oil to the burner.

Illustration for article titled Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

Then you use what appears to be a metal filing box as the basis for the combustion chamber. The heat is channeled into an old water heater, with the assistance of a squirrel-cage fan.

Illustration for article titled Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

A water pump circulates the now-hot water via heater hoses into the house (through a window cracked open just enough to fit the hoses).

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Illustration for article titled Waste Oil Is Free: Use Car Radiators For Cheap Household Central Heating

Sure, you could splurge and install actual home-heating radiators, but that would probably increase the budget tenfold! Instead, you use junkyard car radiators, with cheapo electric fans to move air through them. You could use the 12-volt fan that comes with the radiator, but car cooling fans tend to be unpleasantly loud for indoor use. Here's what Peter has to say about his setup:

Check out my latest project, the waste oil fueled heater. It smokes a little at start-up and shut-down, but burns clean when it's hot.
Burns close to a gallon/hour. Can't run it for more than 1.5- 2 hours at a time because it starts to boil the water. Need a bigger or more radiators to extract more heat. Keeps the living room and kitchen nice and warm. Thinking of plumbing in copper pipe for a more permanent installation. The 5 gal bucket is the fuel tank, and the pump assembly is on the lid.

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We know what you're thinking now: "That sounds good, but what about all the potential heat energy in those old tires I throw out?"

DISCUSSION

tonyola-old
tonyola

We used to have a really insensitive and un-PC word to describe this sort of engineering...

First of all, take the shroud off the radiator. No wonder the water is boiling - that poor little $7.99 table fan is puffing for all its worth against a half-blocked core. Or at least get a decent box fan.

Second of all, having that window open for the hoses is a little bit self-defeating, isn't it?

Third, used motor oil is seriously toxic stuff. Fresh oil is bad enough but used oil is heavy-metal eco-horror by comparison. You know that black slimy thing that killed Tasha in Star Trek - The Next Generation? That was a pool of used oil from behind a shop. An open bucket of oil out in the yard is a major enviro no-no. And there is ultra-concentrated mung and ash collecting in that homemade burner thingy.