By January 12, 2007

I got mad heaterz

It seems silly to buy emergency heating equipment during the warmest year on record, but when there’s a bargain DrFaulken is there to take advantage of it.

Thanks to a tip from a preparedness forum, I went to Lowe’s yesterday and picked up an 18,000 BTU capable portable propane heater made by Mr. Heater. All of Lowe’s “seasonal” items were at 50% off, and I scored the Big Buddy for $67 before tax. I also picked up four one-pound propane tanks and a hose/adapter for hooking the Big Buddy up to a twenty-pound propane tank. I have two twenty-pounders at the house, one on active duty on my Weber, and the other as a backup.

The Big Buddy in all its retail packaging glory. I like that the Big Buddy doesn’t rely on kerosene, which has more demanding venting requirements. The Buddy line claims to not need venting indoors, but many of the members on the preparedness forum cracked a window anyway. Also, a heater that uses propane keeps my fuel needs down — I would rather use one fuel for my grill and heater, versus having to keep track of different fuel sources for different appliances. If I pick up a travel stove any time soon, it will also be powered by propane.

The “big” Buddy heater is still fairly small in comparison to the industrial-sized, jet-engine looking heaters sold at Lowe’s. The Big Buddy is about eighteen inches tall and probably ten or so inches wide. It weighs around fifteen pounds. I am guessing a lot of that weight is ballast of some kind to keep the unit from tipping over. Oh yeah, in case it does tip over, the Buddy shuts off automatically. It also shuts off if there isn’t enough oxygen in the room.
You attach the one-pound canisters at each of the Buddy’s sides. Installation is easy, they screw right in. The hose screws in to the same location.

The back of the Big Buddy houses four D batteries (not included) which power the blower fan. There is also a plug for an AC adapter on the back to power the fan. This doesn’t help me much from a disaster preparedness perspective. Some probably buy the Buddy for heating construction jobs where heat may not yet be available. Whatever, it’s nice to have options. The Big Buddy does not come with the AC adapter, so hopefully you’re like me and have a few stashed somewhere with a trunkload of leftover RAM, PCI cards and hard drives.

For now, the Big Buddy is stashed in its box up in the attic, along with the hose and four one-pound tanks. I couldn’t bring myself to fire the heater up when it is going to be in the 60s today, plus I was a little unsure if the small tanks would seal properly if I detached them from the unit. If anyone is really interested in how the Big Buddy works, I’ll bring it down and do a follow up entry.

Posted in: preparedness

12 Comments on "I got mad heaterz"

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  1. ringo says:

    Doc, I almost picked up a Big Buddy last winter as a backup to our primarily electric heat sources (electric baseboard and wood pellet stove) in our Empire State villa, but ended up passing due to its list price. If you fire it up during a cold snap and you like it, I may pick one up if they’re still in stock here. It caught my eye because it reminded me a little of a coin-op tabletop juke box that you might find in some old upstate New York diner. We have a direct-vent propane fueled heater in our family room, but a Big Buddy might also be nice to de-chill the bedroom end of the house in an blackout emergency. Thanks for the tip!

  2. drfaulken says:

    Looks like the Big Buddy is still full price up near you, but the smaller Buddy is $38. If you’re interested, I could go to Lowe’s tomorrow to see if they have a big one and ship it to you. You’d still save forty or fifty bucks, easily.

    My mom said they got seven inches of snow recently — it’s going to be in the sixties here tomorrow. You are definitely more likely to use the Buddy than I would. 😉

  3. ringo says:

    I just thought of the perfect practical use for my 16,000 BTU Tough Buddy… heatin’ up Big Pappy’s baseball dugout this spring! Sign me on as your (first?) Dr. Faulken’s Personal On-Line Shopper Service customer and please seal the deal if you find one that’s still at 50% off. Thanks, and give my luv to J & J when they get down there today. (Luv to Lady J as well). PS – We’re on our way up to the snow belt (Syracuse) today so I won’t be online to see any replies ’till Sunday nite. Thanks!!

  4. drfaulken says:

    I just sent you an activation email from — the software I’m using to track my (not so many) personal shopper requests. Please submit an entry (it’s bug tracking software, but let me know if you have problems) and I’ll get right on it.

  5. IRS says:

    So, I read what you said about the buddy and I got me one of my own this morning. Along with the adapter cable. I think it appeals to my “end of the world” fetish. I had to talk the wife into it, but, I got it! Score one for capitalism.

    Anyways, thanks for the idea. My Lowe’s here close to me (in TN) had quite a few of them left.

  6. drfaulken says:

    Yay, an Arsian!

    Thanks for the comment. If you have an end of the world fetish, you’ve come to the right place. 😉 If you’d like to register on forum here I’d be happy to include you among the GIMPs. We have a pretty decent discussion about disaster preparedness going on.

  7. Markie says:

    I think I read the same article on these heaters… nice…

  8. IRS says:

    I seem to be having an issue hitting the forum. I created a username, but I can’t seem to log in. ??

  9. IRS, I had the same problem at first, because I accidentally registered as a minor (default option?).

  10. ringo says:

    Well, it’s 15 degrees tonight in the Hudson Valley with 25 MPH wind blasts. What better time to try out my new Tough Buddy? “Mad Heat” pretty well sums it up… that baby set to high (18,000 BTUs) was cranking out way more heat than our wood pellet stove (albeit at the 2nd lowest setting) within just a few minutes after being lit. It took a few tries to get the hang of the lighting sequence and found that you can stank up the house pretty quick after several failed attempts. I reccommend lighting it outside when you first try it. The battery powered fan does a good job of distributing the heat around the room and is actually very quiet.

    I give Tough Buddy 9 rings out of 10 (misses a 10 only for its tricky lighting procedure).

    Thanks for hooking me up, Doc! – Ringo

  11. drfaulken says:

    No joke?? Holy crap, that’s awesome. I’m glad it worked out for you. Did you use the hose adapter or two 1# bottles?

    Good idea on trying it outside first, especially with all the gun cleaner and solvent around my house these days. 😉

  12. Ringo says:

    I picked up a few 1 pounders for the test run. I’ll probably get a hose adapter in case I gotta hook up the BBQ tank for a black-out emergency, even though they really don’t recommend using the 20# tank in the house. By the way, they say you can actually hook up two 20# tanks (one on each side) for those really, REALLY long outages.