1.20.2011

Office Heat, Take Two

So the heater in the office saga turned out to be the most frustrating project yet because I work on the office every day and I hate being too cold almost as much as I hate being too hot. So finicky. Sure, the windows in the office were kind of a PIA and replacing the door in the basement was hugely frustrating. But those projects ended. Done, finished, opening and closing like a charm; functioning as they should. The heater in my office? It's back at the store where we bought it and we're left with a hole in the wood walls, stuffed with towels to keep the cold out.

The bottom line is the heater didn't work as advertised. It said "heats 222 square feet." No mention of ceiling height or outside temperature. Sure we did our BTU calculations, but did we sufficiently account for all the windows? Maybe not. Did we attach some number to the fact that there's no basement below the room, just insulation? Probably not the right number. Did I see that 222 square feet number and fall hopelessly in love with a heater that only required 120v? Yea, it's possible. It just didn't work out, so it goes.

Two weeks ago when I was still in Maine working from a toasty wood-heated home, we revisited the heater issue. Sure, we could wait it out and before we know it heat won't be an issue anymore, but leaving projects unfinished is so not 2011. So we scoured the interwebs for wall heaters that would fit the existing hole and  not require us to enlarge the hole too much, and came up with two options. And since we found both heaters on Home Depot's web site, we bought them both, knowing we could return the reject to our local store. Why two? Because a reviewer on the higher wattage version said that his didn't actually shut off when you turned the knob all the way off. We figured (hoped) his unit was probably not installed properly (at least that's what the manufacture's troubleshooting page suggests) but didn't want to be caught without a unit again, if this new dream-heater didn't live up to our expectations.

After work today we took our first trip to Home Depot since before the holidays. It was kind of like going home. Is that what they intended the "home" in Home Depot to mean? No? We had several returns leftover from pre-holiday projects and while we were there we decided to pick up a new 240v, 20A, double pole breaker for the new heater, per my dad's instruction. Of course we couldn't remember which model of Square-D breakers we have, so we bought two of those too.
Then wouldn't you know it, we got home to find a big box delivered to the front porch. Which, you guessed it, contained the two heaters.
We prefer to use the 4,000 watt model so we took that one out of the box to check out its manual and installation instructions. It appears to have an "off" position so we've got on fingers crossed on this one. Plus, the 3,000 watt model looks to be almost exactly the same: same look, same fans, same housing, just fewer watts, whatever that means for its internal parts. More watts, more heat. We'll try 4,000.
The cool part is this heater has two fans. Two fans must mean twice as much heat, right? Seriously, if we could just bottle up a little bit of that July I'm still having nightmares about, we wouldn't be having this discussion. The not-so-cool part is that the heater is 240v not 120, and we don't have any stacked openings to accommodate the new breaker, so we'll have to do a little rearranging of the breaker box to get things heated up. And we haven't really done that by ourselves before. So we're trying to get my dad here stat. Or at least on the phone to walk us through the process in baby-steps. At least we've got heavy enough wire running through the foundation and out to the office, so really how hard can this possibly be? We may have to let his project simmer for a few weeks before we light a fire under our.... Never mind, we'll keep you posted on the progress.

(All joking aside, we're being totally safe about this whole project and not doing anything we're not comfortable with. We joke around here, but we don't joke around when it comes to electricity in real life.)

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