DIY Space Heater: Heat a room off-grid for about $10/mo

A friend pointed me to a video for making this space heater made of terracotta pots. I was intrigued and thought it would be a great resource during the winter in the event of a power outage – and maybe even save some money on the electric bill.  So, I decided to give it a shot. The whole setup with 100 candles cost less than $20. The 100 votive candles should be worth 30 days of use… so, ongoing, about $10/mo to heat the living room in my apartment.

Terra Cotta Planter Foot

Notice Seahawk manicure for Super Bowl. Go Hawks.

First, I found these cool terracotta planter legs and spent $3 for a pack of 3 of them –  and arranged them in a circle on a 12″ terracotta planter tray.


These are going to prop up the first terracotta pot to allow airspace for candles to burn.


1/4″ x 3″ hex screw with two washers and a hex bolt.

Next, I took a 1/4″ bolt about 3″ long and anchored with two washers and a bolt on the inside. (Several DIY videos said the long bolt helps to pick up the heat faster to transfer to the pot.)


Then, set this first pot on the planter feet on the tray.


Next, I just took a slightly larger pot and inverted it over the first one. (No bolt in this one.)


I got lucky and both pots fit well on the planter legs, nice and secure.  Below, I decided to just use 3 vs 4 candles, to go with the 3 legs… and voila!


I lit this about an hour ago and it’s starting to put out some heat. Outer pot is touchable, but not for long – and the bolt showing thru the top of the outer pot is TOO HOT to touch.

This is supposed to work on convection heat principle, heating the inner pot first and forcing air down and around the second. I’m not sure I’m clear on that, but the bottom line – it’s 42 degrees outside and the furnace is turned off and there’s no chill in the air!


18 thoughts on “DIY Space Heater: Heat a room off-grid for about $10/mo

  1. Pingback: DIY Space Heater: Heat a room off-grid for about $10/mo | mexicanbeachbum

  2. Funny – that’s the post that gets all the traffic. Next summer I need to add my $10 air conditioner. LOL Does it work? It would be most suited to a small space – could do wonders in a camper, and would be worth cranking up if you lost power in cold weather and wanted to take the chill off a small room.


  3. That is so cute and what a great idea! It would be perfect for me since I am here alone during the winter days and no one to heat up the whole house for until evening. Thanks for the instructions.


    • Thank you! This is definitely useful in a small space for power outages and the bottom dish offers a safe place for burning candles. If I were to remake this, I’d add a 3rd larger pot (with bigger central screw and washer/bolt in-between). It was a fun, cheap, fast project. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m was thinking along the same lines. My only heat source aside from sunlight is a wood burning stove in the center of my open concept apartment! In the mornings embers ftom the stove go into a large aluminum spitoon and then moved to the stone bathroom floor to cool. That’s usually not before noon. Always looking ahead, I’ve been looking at ways to warm the bedroom when temps drop in January and February. I’ll keep you posted ; )

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t been to this page or seen comment notifications – so sorry I’ve missed all the great comments for a while. A 3rd pot would warm more space. It’s a good solution for a tiny home or camper… and, would be a great safety option to carry in the car in winter. (I’m remembering drives through western nebraska in the winter.. and the candles, blankets, food carried along for those kind of emergencies.) This would REALLY be good in a car stuck on the road in bad weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These radiators worked well for me. In fact after I hurt my arms chopping wood they were a life saver. Winter here was exceptionally long and brutal. I made 4 large terra cotta radiators and burned pillar candles in my 880 sq.ft. apartment. With that I started a fire in the wood stove, and let it roar for two hours. That way my two-month wood supply lasted all winter without me getting sick with a cold even once. I used 5 ten-hour Sterno brand votives in each radiator instead of tealights (so they lasted longer, with no bad wicks and the radiator didn’t cool between changes). My country cottage is green and off grid.


  5. This is, I think, my first post and gets the most traffic in 3 years. Thank you for visiting. I was thinking of those in cold weather. I’m planning on creating another one of these, and thought I should share some plans for improvement. 1) A bigger candle or two; 2) another pot stacked on; 3) longer/bigger bolts and more washers to generate more heat. I like the safety of this setup. You could stabilize it further with bricks around it. If you had one to keep close to, and one in the bathroom you could get by pretty well. I hope you’re not without power, and send prayers to Puerto Rico.


  6. We need to be very careful about these. My experience with them is that when they accumulate sufficient heat to begin making a real difference they have a tendency to melt all their wax at once and then set it on fire. I live in a tent, so have tried several configurations, and I wouldn’t recommend any.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Please be careful with these. I made a number of them while living in my tent last year. After an hour or two a column of heat comes down to sit on the melted paraffin with a flame floating on it. After that, one little puff of air and ALL the paraffin goes up at the same time. After a couple of emergency exits with flaming trays I quit using them.


  8. Pingback: 6 Earth / CABAN – Road to a New Destiny: Day 6 of 13 | Jaguar Spirit

  9. Pingback: 6 Earth / CABAN – Human’s Road to Destiny: Day 6 of 13 | Jaguar Spirit

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