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Temporary wood heat setup for living in travel trailer

 
pollinator
Posts: 216
Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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My younger daughter and I have recently bought an acreage to develop a multigenerational home farm with an agroforestry business. About 15 acres of the land was logged about 5 years ago and there are logging slash piles everywhere. We will eventually build two off-grid houses but at the moment, she and her boyfriend are living there in a 37 ft travel trailer (off-grid, small solar system, gas generator) and spending their days with tractor and chainsaws cleaning up the slash so we can plant our nut trees. They are sorting it into firewood, fence post material, small or rotted stuff for chipping or biochar, stumps for hugels, etc. It's mostly Douglas fir so even after 5 years there's what feels like an endless supply of good firewood and the moisture level is good.

With winter coming we are thinking how to get them set up for wood heat in the trailer (the built-in heat source is propane). One option is to remove the trailer bathroom and put a wood stove in that area, but I am not keen on that option. For one thing, we may want to sell that trailer in a couple of years after we have houses built. Also, and perhaps more immediately important, local bylaw requirement is that trailers can only be occupied for 60 days in the year unless there is an active building permit for a house and the trailer is hooked up to a septic system. We don't have the building permit or septic yet, but they've been camping in a tent for the 2 months we've owned the property so far and only hauled the trailer up from my place last week so we've got time to figure it out. And supposedly the bylaw is really only enforced if there is a complaint that brings it to the attention of the authorities, but at some point when we start building we'll have building inspectors visiting the property and I'd rather not take the chance.

I can envision perhaps having a wood stove set up in a shed outside the trailer with the heat somehow piped into the trailer. I actually have a good wood stove and its chimney sitting in storage right now that they could use for this. Has anyone done anything like this and have suggestions for the best way to get the heat into the trailer without making permanent changes to the trailer?

At the moment the ideas I have are (1) build a small shed with the wood stove and chimney and somehow vent or pipe the heat (but not the smoke!) into the trailer, perhaps through a window, and (2) build a large barn/workshop with a wood stove and park the trailer inside the building. If we were further along and had more time I'd quite like option 2, but I think it's overly ambitious at this time. Also, where they are set up with the trailer is very convenient for their work in the logged area but on the opposite side of the property from where we want to put the housing and outbuildings so option 1 with a shed that can be dismantled and moved eventually might be the way to go with this. But I am coming up blank on how to get the heat from the shed to the trailer and could really use some advice on this. They don't use the trailer bathroom (built an outhouse with composting toilet) so there would be space in there for some kind of thermal mass if that would help. As i write this it occurs to me that maybe I'm overthinking the technical aspects of this. Maybe the smart thing is to build a small woodstove shed with a connection to the bathroom door and leave the door open. They could even use the woodstove shed as a porch and make that their main entrance for the winter.



 
gardener
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Hi Andrea;
You answered your own question.
Build an entry room for the wood stove and make it the entrance to the trailer.
Insulate it well. A small fan would help push that wood heat indoors
 
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Location: Saskatchewan
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Look into forced air wood furnaces too, they can be placed outside and ducted to the trailer either through a window or existing ducting. I've done quite a bit of research into this type of heating and have seen everything from indoor wood furnaces placed outside, wood stoves in a brick shelter with a fan ducted indoors.

I'm currently building one that is basically a tank inside a tank and the hot air will be ducted through a window.
 
Andrea Locke
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Thanks guys. Glad to know that what came to me as I was outlining the question actually makes sense based on other experiences. The funny thing is that when I started typing the only thing I could picture was some kind of ductwork. But I think now an insulated porch is the way to go. I am thinking one of those fans that sits on the woodstove and requires no electricity will be adequate to blow the hot air toward the trailer. If we use the stove I have in storage it is seriously overpowered for the trailer and should easily keep everything toasty even if the insulation of the porch and trailer is not fabulous.
 
Marc Dube
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Another option for a cheap fan is a radiator cooling fan out of an old vehicle, they are easily removed from any non working vehicle and cheap from the scrap yard, just this weekend I tested how long one can run off of a normal deep cycle battery and found out it ran for 10 hours for me before it started to noticeably drain the battery.
 
pollinator
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And you probably know, but -

I live with an overpowered wood stove in a small house, and our biggest concern (aside from roasting ourselves) is creosote buildup, since we tend toward smaller and less hot fires than the stove was designed for.  And we paid special attention to the fireproofing over, under, and around the stove, because it really produces more heat than we can use except on the coldest days.  While it costs more, the insulated stovepipe has been really good for helping us sleep at night.
 
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i think the easiest would be some sort of out door wood boiler then you just need 2 small holes to bring the hot water pipes into the trailer and keeps all the dirt smoke ect outside you may be able to use the woodstove you hve with a hotback ( not sure it your stove has that option) to heat a tank of water then circulate that to a radiator inside.
 
Anne Pratt
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OR -

I thought of this while driving by a house that has one.  Maybe you'll want to use an outdoor wood furnace or boiler in the house when it's built.  Buy now, temporary hookup for the trailer?  I'm not sure it's possible, but it probably is.  A boiler would require some sort of water-based heating system inside the trailer.
 
pollinator
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Ive been in a trailer with a mud room shed attached to the trailer door and a wood stove inside the mud room. I liked it because the messy wood, wet boots, raincoats, etc can be kept out of the trailer. Worked great and simple. Enjoy your new land.
 
master steward
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Andrea, here are some threads where our members have shared their wood stoves in tiny houses or boats.  I thought these pictures would help:

https://permies.com/t/34304/Wood-Stove-Clearences-Tiny-Home



https://permies.com/t/53706/Northern-Climate-Tiny-Home-Wheels#439818




https://permies.com/t/96244/tiny-house#791067




https://permies.com/t/56475/Floating-tiny-home
 
Andrea Locke
pollinator
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Thank you, all. Some great advice here.
 
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very unique opportunity to do something intermingle functional. I have a big camper that will probably never move again and have thought of how to heat it. on problem to overcome would be the opening for chimney. once you make a hole, that's it, its there, an alternative would be to use an existing vent such as a roof vent space or removing a window or maybe just living a window open and removing screen and using woods and one of those thru wall spacers vents. removing a screen and putting in a wood framed spacer vent would be easiest to reverse if ever want to sell camper trailer. a very small stove is probably all that's needed. the camper I have was previously used as year round home to previous owner and they added fiberglass insulation batting underneath it and even stuffed a mattress above the axles to insulate the water tanks.
but a small wood stove with insulated stove mat or whatever its called underneath it and one of those metal spacer wall protector things behind it just might do the trick. I think most wood stove spacing is something like 18" from wood or flammable surfaces.
it is doable but its a trade off on space and ability to live in structure through the coldest weather.
I like the ideas of crating a mud room at entrance to enclose stove and use fans. but is much more involved with materials and labor.
 
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