How To Build A Space Heater? (DIY Video Included)

Back in 2012, it was an abnormally cold October for New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy blew through and left us without power for 2 weeks. It was at that time I knew I needed to learn preparedness skills, and building a space heater that did not require electricity was high on my list.

I will never forget how cold we were and how we were using gas powered heaters (which I DO NOT recommend) to get some warmth.

Thankfully we had friends we were able to stay with – but that is not always the case for others and I hated putting friends out.

So, I hope this post comes in handy for you so you can create your own warmth if an emergency arises.

Luckily, there are several ways to warm up your home without spending an arm and a leg. Note that there are also battery-operated heaters that you can use whenever there is no electricity.

Does a DIY Homemade Heater Actually Work?

I’d seen a few ideas for a homemade space heater floating around Pinterest and Facebook.  But, I heard mixed reviews from various people, and I wanted to find out if they actually worked.

So, I tried a few different methods and options. The slow cooker method did not work well for me, and using just one terra cotta pot was a fail also.

I decided to combine various strategies, and I found a way to make a homemade space heater that worked!

Now don’t get too crazy excited – this little homemade space heater isn’t going to heat your whole house or even your entire master bedroom. But it will increase the temperature a few degrees in a small room – which would be awesome during a winter power outage.

The idea came from a Youtube video, although I discovered that the method warmed the area up faster if I used a cake pan with the pot tilted.

How to Make a Homemade Space Heater:

Things you’ll need:

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I lit five tea lights and placed them in an 8-inch cake pan. The cheapest place to get them is Ikea, but if there isn’t one near you, try Amazon.

Next, I placed a 6-inch terra-cotta pot over the tealights at an angle. By tilting the pot, the candles get enough oxygen to burn but don’t lose too much heat out of the bottom.  I also put an empty tea light holder over the hole in the pot.

Then I put another 8-inch terra-cotta pot over the first smaller one.

I closed the door and waited, and it took about 3-5 minutes before warm air began flowing out of the top of the pot. It took another 20-30 minutes for the inside of the room to feel more heated than the outside. In total, it felt significantly warmer in about an hour. However, the bathroom that I put the DIY heater in wasn’t really big. But it DID warm it up! In fact, after three hours (and changing out the tea lights once), the room was quite toasty.

I was thrilled! I bought a 2nd set of pots, and if my family is ever faced with a power outage during the winter, we will use two of these homemade space heaters in our smallest bedroom where we would all sleep.

white bathroom with clay pot on the counter

It takes about 40 tealights per day to keep both rooms warm all day (except for the nighttime when we couldn’t monitor it). I plan to store one 6-gallon bucket’s worth of candles just in case, and that will last for about 40 days. What a simple and inexpensive way to heat a room!

Note: The pan and the inside of the pot get VERY hot. Keep a protective pad nearby so you can change out the tea lights every few hours.

If you don’t like the hot pot or you want to create a more permanent heater that looks nice, check out this video!

UPDATE: I had to use this homemade space heater a few months after posting this when our furnace stopped working for a few days. I used three DIY heater pots and was able to keep our living room above 60 degrees when it was 20 degrees outside. However, the rest of the house was approximately 50 degrees.

But, MAKE SURE you watch them! I let them burn for hours and eventually, all of the candles in one of the pots created one big flame. Oops! I grabbed the baking soda, and all was well, but be careful!

Additional Homemade Space Heater Options

I tried the tealight homemade space heater method, and it worked great. However, there are other do-it-yourself techniques you can try. You might find that you like one more than the other, so I thought I’d give you the alternative options as well.

Homemade Ceramic Heater

This particular technique is great for warming up a medium-sized room. Ceramic has thermal properties and this method utilizes it to create heat. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Four to five bricks
  • A tray for candles
  • A small fan
  • Ceramic bowl or stoneware
  1. Pick a spot in the room you want to warm up, and put it in an area where there’s not a lot of foot traffic. Also, be sure to place the heater on a table or stand that’s not flammable, like a metal table.
  2. Put the candles on the stand and place two bricks beside the tray.
  3. Light the candles and place the ceramic bowl over the tray by laying its edge on the bricks.
  4. Lastly, put two or three bricks behind the bowl and set the fan on top of the bricks.

All you have to do is turn on the fan and the wind will blow warm air. The heat absorbancy from the bowl makes this homemade heater work wonders, and it doesn’t take long to heat up.

Alcohol Heater for Homemade Space Heater

This method is perfect to use in emergency situations. It allows you to cook and keep your area warm in case of an outage. Here are the products you’ll need:

  • Metal cans (like paint or soup cans)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rolls of toilet paper

1. Put the roll of tissue in the can.

2. Pour enough alcohol over the toilet paper so that it’s drenched.

3. Ignite it with a lighter or match.

This technique is a bit riskier, but it’s safe as long as you’re careful. Again, this might not be an everyday method, but it will surely come in handy if need be.

Suggested Read: My Two Favorite Powerless Cooking Tools

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Homemade Space Solar Heater

If you’re someone who likes to use natural energy, this heating method is for you. This solar heater is made from lots of aluminum cans, so if you recycle, it’s a good way to use your old cans. You’ll spend a lot more time doing this one, but I think it’s worth it. Not only that but it’s a cost-effective method that provides long-term heating solutions. Here’s what it requires:

  • 240 aluminum cans
  • 4 ft x 8 ft x ½ -inch plywood
  • 4ft x 8 ft Plexiglas
  • High-temperature silicon
  • Heat-resistant black spray paint
  • Plastic tube
  • Drill machine with wide drill bits
  • An air blower that works via solar power
  • Wood for the 4 ft x 8 ft x 3.5-inch frame
  1. Create a 4 feet* 8 feet * 3.5-inch wooden frame with the wood sheet. Next,  nail the plywood sheet that’s the same size to the back of the frame.
  2. Drill two holes into the frame; one at the top and the other at the bottom.
  3. Drill large holes in each side of the cans, but only drill16 of the cans at the top only. They will be used for the bottom row.
  4. Place them on top of one another and seal the joint area with silicons. Create 16 columns of cans, each containing 15 cans.
  5. Give the silicone time to cure and spray the black paint on them and on the frame.
  6. Place the columns into the frame and cover them up with Plexiglas.
  7. Carve two holes into the area of the house where the heat is needed. One hole should be at the bottom of the wall above the floor level. The other hole needs to be at the top of the wall.
  8. Mount the frame on the outer wall or any area where is lots of sunlight.
  9. Combine both holes of the frame with the holes of the room through the plastic tube, and insulate them as much as possible.
  10. Install the blower at the top pipe or the low pipe to make the airflow more efficient.

The solar panel draws the cool air in from the bottom tube and pulls it towards the heat-resistant panel. Please note that this DIY heater won’t warm your room as much as an electric furnace, but it does well considering it uses only solar power.

Should You Use a Portable Heater?

When you’re trying to save money on your electricity bill, your first thought may be to use a space heater instead. And although this article is about creating a DIY heater, I understand that some of you stay in really cold cities. When the temperature drops below freezing, tea-light candles might not do the trick. With that said, here are some safety precautions you should take if you decide to use a portable heater:

  • Make sure the heater is in good condition. If you notice tears in the cord or any other discrepancy, it’s best to buy another one.
  • Keep it away from the busy area of your home. You don’t want to expedite wear and tear or cause someone to hurt themselves
  • Sit it on a firm and even floor. Don’t put it on the carpet, countertop, or furniture.
  • Don’t leave the space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re not using it or buy one that has a timer.
  • Keep it away from flammable liquids and items, such as fuel, paint, couches, blankets, and curtains.
  • Don’t use it to dry clothes, cook food, or thaw items.

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More Cost-Effective Ways to Save for Your Heating Bill

It’s hard to sleep when you’re shivering and shaking on a cold winter night. But if even you’re trying to save a few bucks, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to keep warm.

Light The Fireplace

Nothing feels better than sitting in front of a fireplace, drinking a warm cup of hot chocolate. Not only does a fire provide a serene feeling, but it’s the perfect time to bring the family together and enjoy each other’s company.

Turn Down Your Thermostat

You’ll learn lots of heating alternatives after reading this article, so it’s okay to turn your heater down. Your heater won’t run all night long if you put in one at a lower temperature, and it’ll save you money.

Seal The Leaks In Your Home

Cold air seeps in and the heat goes out through the cracks and openings in your house. Check around your doors and window to make sure they’re sealed completely. Also, fill in gaps around pipes, vents, and other openings with caulk or weather stripping.

Close The Door

The best way to heat a room is by trapping it in. If you’re using a space heater or DIY heater, keep the door shut to maintain the temperature in the room so you can just sit back and relax while eating your eggnog.

Use a Fan

Believe it or not, turning on a ceiling fan helps keep the room warm. Put your ceiling fan on a low setting to help push the air upward. The circulation will make the warm air rise and flow downward.

The Beauty of Heated Blankets

Heated Blankets

If you don’t have any heated blankets in your home, get some! A cozy electric blanket is another low-cost alternative for getting warm during cold months. What’s best about heated covers is that you don’t have to watch them. I mentioned earlier after letting the candles burn for hours, they turned into one huge flame. Well, that’s not a concern with heated blankets.

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And I don’t want to discourage you from using a homemade space heater, but I want to give you options. An electric blanket is great to use while you’re sleeping, and many of them have auto-off settings. You might have heard a few stories about electric blankets not being safe, but they are. The only time you really need to use caution is when the blanket is over 10 years old. However, if you feel a bit nervous using them, here are some safety procedures you can follow:

Use the Proper Bed

Don’t use an electric blanket on a water bed, pull-out couch, or recliner. Also, make sure you don’t use it in conjunction with a heating pad because it might overheat. Plus, the risk of higher electricity bills is waving.

Read the Product Label

Check to see if the blanket is certified by a national testing lab. Additionally, you can look up the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure that it hasn’t been recalled.

Get a Blanket With Auto-Shutoff

Automatic shutoff is your best bet against accidents. Simply set the timer, and let the blanket do the rest.

Final Thoughts On Using A DIY Heater

Isn’t it cool that there are so many creative ways to keep your household warm? As long as the methods you’re using to heat your home are safe, I say have at it! More importantly, you now know how to warm your house in case of an outage. Honestly, we never know when electricity will fail us and we can’t prevent a bad storm from coming through and knocking out the power lines. But we can be prepared, and that’s what really matters. You need more than one way to keep your family afloat in case of an emergency. Plus, your wallet will appreciate the less expensive bills. I hope this information was helpful to you. Let me know what DIY heating methods you’ve tried!

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So, have you decided to make this DIY space heater? Try it now and let us know the results in the comments section below!

Moreover, you can learn many tips and techniques on how to become a wise and smart prepper. Try browsing our website to discover more tutorials and recommendations that will make you think you might need one. Or maybe you could have a direct interest in Easy Fire Escape Plan: 10 Min Preparedness Project.

You might also wanna check out other DIY methods like How to Make a Sleep Station, Homemade Fire Starters, and One Jar Meal.

Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

Last update on 2024-07-14 at 00:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

80 thoughts on “How To Build A Space Heater? (DIY Video Included)”

  1. I wonder if you have to use tealights. I just read an article about making 50 hour emergency candles with canning jars. I wonder, if you made candles wth multiple wicks, would that work the same? I might just try that…

    Reply
  2. Please remember, the ideas were meant to be used when the electricity goes out for a long time – hence, an electric blanket won’t necessarily keep you any warmer than blankets made for winter time. Having a camp stoves comes in handy for boiling water for instant coffee , tea, hot chocolate or for cooking on.

    If you have a fireplace or wood stove regardless of size – that helps big time when electricity goes out. Also you can get small gel cans that fit in a firebowl – will help some.

    If you have a small tent, set it up in a room with lots of blankets & pillows inside & keep some bottled water close by for drinking. Your body heat will help keep your tent warm & all the blankets help keep you warm & give padding to keep you comfortable. Also a sleeping bag for each person helps.

    Being prepared for long term without heat makes sense. Instant food will help as so not to use up all your fuel.

    Reply
  3. It sounds to me like some of these DIY heaters effectively amount to a small contained fire in an unventilated room. What measures did you take to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

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    • Lilly, I thought that at first, too. But then I realized what was probably meant was to use a battery-operated fan. There are also the fans people use on top of a wood-burning stove that do not require any electricity or batteries. The heat that rises from the stove makes the blades turn. The hotter it is, the faster it turns.

      Reply
  4. I really appreciate your ideas on this article, This is very informative about a homemade space heater. Thanks for this one.

    Reply
  5. , resting on bricks. Placed a piece of aluminum foil around the back of bowl down and cupped on sides of bowl. I put this on top of my stove in the kitchen. It took about 45 min to take the chill out of the kitchen but, it did. I was beyond thrilled!

    Reply
  6. I was told about these heaters by a friend. He used a pyrex dish with a lid . You flip the so it holds your candles the tilt your terra cotta pot over it. He used a 6inch and 8inch pot worked very nice. I watched mine real close afraid of fire.

    Reply
  7. How well would this heat a tent? Two adults and Boston Terrior going camping early April for wife’s Bday. You never know in TN what weather may be.

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    • This would be dangerous in a tent. Quarters too close to bedding, clothing and the added danger of a dog moving around and turning things over .

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  8. In my opinion 40 tea lights per day sounds a bit ridiculous. Electricity to heat a bathroom isn’t that expensive. Don’t waste your time. You are also putting by products of combustion in the air you breathe.

    Reply
    • Since the heat comes from the burning of the candle and not the pots, the only way to increase the heat is to increase the number of candles. The pots have nothing to do with the heat. Just lighting candles (any kind, not just tea lights) will increase the heat in a room. There is no need to invest in the flower pots if you already have safe candle holders.

      Reply
  9. I was working in a bedroom until the wee hours of the morning earlier this week working on a project. I had a candle with 3 wicks in it burning. My bedroom was much warmer than the rest of the house. I wonder if just using regular candles that have a longer burn time would work better. Maybe you don’t even need the pot over the top.

    Reply
    • It is not recommended to use the larger size votives. They create ‘too much’ heat and can actually crack the pots.

      Also – make sure that you use unscented tea lights. It becomes a very concentrated scent if you are using scented ones – enough to burn your eyes!

      Reply
  10. We had a time when our electricity went our one winter for a night and I have 4 oil lamps that were my mothers. We lit them and they heated our bedroom very nicely.

    Reply
  11. I wonder if a terra cotta saucer would work better than the cake pan. It wouldn’t get hot, or wouldn’t spread the heat to the pan. Or put the cake pan on top of the saucer.

    Reply
      • Last year I made some terra cotta heaters. Small, medium, and large pots inside each other. All three connected with a threaded rod, washers and 3/4 inch nuts. The base was a terra cotta saucer. I used four T light candles. Eventually, the room 12×15 got 10 degrees warmer. I wanted more heat so I put 6 T lights on the saucer. BIG mistake, the heat melted the candles and I had a FIRE. flaming in the pot. So a Maximum of 4 T light candles for an increase of 10 degrees

        Reply
      • Instead of an electric blanket, an electric mattress pad works much better. Even in minus degree westher you only need a light blanket to stay nice and warm. I am almost always cold in the winter but I sleep warm with this.

        Reply
    • You can also use a couple of bricks or pieces of wood to put your pan or terra cotta saucer on. It raises it above the surface that you are setting it on. You do have to watch it a little closer if you have little ones so it doesn’t get knocked off, but it also doesn’t overheat the surface that you have the pots sitting on. You will also get a little heat from the bottom of the pan/saucer.

      Reply
  12. I appreciate your variation on this idea – we live in an apartment so kerosene and other fuel options aren’t allowed.
    We do have baseboard heat that works well, but in a bad storm the sensors that control it would be off too.
    Will have to try it with votives; they are still relatively small but burn longer.

    Reply

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