In a power failure, many face the challenge of warmth. While other options like solar power are nice, the reality is that many homes are still not outfitted with panels. Apartment dwellers and renters may not even have the option to pursue alternatives if their landlord is not willing to make the investment. In other instances, it may be that the cost of electricity is so prohibitive, that people are choosing between heating and eating. Certainly in many Alaskan communities, choosing between heating and eating has been an issue among the elderly.
For a very low-cost, one can construct a heater that will serve many people well. If you have small children or pets, you want to locate the heater where they cannot be harmed by it. If you are used to a space heater or an oil-fired radiator, this option may well be for you.
There are two basic designs. One is quite simple, and consists of a small flower-pot, a loaf pan, tea candles, and a small piece of tin foil. You can use quarters if you prefer, or something similar, but tin foil is cheap. First, place a few tea candles in the loaf pan and light them. Make certain that the stickers are off the clay flower-pot, and flip it over the loaf pan, so that the smaller part is on top. Cover the circle at the bottom with tin foil. In a few moment, you should feel some warmth.
In the first example, there are 4 candles set up in each loaf pan and each loaf pan has one flower-pot that is plugged. The voice on the other side checks his carbon monoxide monitor to make sure that there isn’t carbon monoxide build-up.
Adding a bigger pot over the smaller pot adds heating power. Again, there are 4 candles set up in a loaf pan, the smaller pot is put over the candles, the whole is plugged, and a larger pot is placed over the smaller pot. This is another example, where the larger pot is placed over the smaller pot to provide extra convection warmth.
The candles last for 3-4 hours, so someone has to be there to change the candles.
Here are two more examples of these heaters. Both of these examples use two pots. In these examples, a bolt is used to connect the pots to give greater stability. Instead of a loaf pan, blocks are used to prop up the pots. One example uses a much larger candle than the tea candles. Still, it is significantly cheaper than a radiator and it heats a small room for significantly less than a radiator.
Bricks are recommended over wood blocks shown in this picture
A larger scale version involves three coffee cans and an oil lantern and two flower pots. The user believes it is a slightly lower in cost and does not require changing the candles every three hours.
For those with more confined spaces, here is a miniature version of the heater. This user appears to be using Waterford crystal or a (cheap knock off) bowls. This user is interested in aesthetics as well as warmth.
Whether for an emergency situation, or longer term to save money, the flower-pot heater can be an economical way to heat a small area significantly less money than paying the electric and gas company.