Author Topic: Somebody knows how to find or build a small, efficient, waste oil burner  (Read 253 times)


  • Gettin' the fire started!
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Because I have a few vehicles, a couple of which generate more waste engine oil and antifreeze than I can easily dispose of locally, and I have a small shop that is currently unheated, and had I discovered cheap Diesel Air Heaters (aka Vehicle Parking Heater) a couple of years ago which I disassembled and found to be pretty simple inside (basically an enclosed flame thrower consisting of diesel fuel dripping on an atomizer screen, ignited by an electronically controlled glow plug and oxidized by a fan blade coaxial with another fan blade the blows room air over the exterior heat exchanger portion of the burn chamber .
 I thought it made sense to get another diesel air heater and convert it to burning diesel.
Unfortunately, I did some research and it is not that easy.
First of all, engine oil is apparently too thick for the provided diesel pump to easily meter the fuel, second, it does not easily ignite with the glow plug, and third, those that mix diesel with engine oil find that it burns OK once warmed up but creates a lot of ash inside the aluminum burn chamber.

So I went back to looking for a purpose built oil burner.   Smallest I have found is 75k BTU and over $1900 and burns approx 0.1-0.5 gallons of oil / hour.
That's way too much heat for my needs and the amount of oil (a small garage shop, about 5 vehicles).  And most of the heaters are bulky and heavy.

Home depot sells a ceiling mounted that is marginally acceptable in size and quality but it's over $3000.

So I went where everyone goes, YouTube!  And I found a many examples that frankly scared me.  It was like adult boys playing with fire!   With all the danger that entails.  Drip burners seem so, shall we say, primitive? Compare that to the diesel air heaters that automatically shut down if overheating, constantly adjust fan speed for heating needs etc.

So before I go and try and reinvent the wheel, I want to be absolutely sure I'm not overlooking even a consumer grade, small (12k-25k BTU or 5kw) waste oil burner, preferably one that will burn both waste oil (when available) and #2 Diesel (when no waste oil is available) at approx 0.5 liter per hour.

My first thought is that the simplest solution would be to convert a diesel air heater to burning waste oil, but I don't know why they don't already work well for that and was hoping someone else might give some insight into temperatures, pumps, ignition methods etc.   The form factor (approx the size of a small suitcase) is ideal, although they are best mounted outside to minimize risk of exhaust CO poisoning, and they do require a 12V automotive style battery to guarantee safe shut down in case the 12V mains power supply is lost.

I have a Hobart handler and cheap plasma cutter but have never used them, so I'm willing to learn but not sure that I'm up to building some of the giant heaters I see here.
I'm basically trying to easily dispose of several gallons of waste engine oil a year and get a bit of free heat from it.   
I also like a little MgGyvering as long as the underlying principle is safe and elegant, but I'm not much into burning down my house or shop, or poisoning myself with metal fume fever or CO poisoning.
I also don't want to have to watch the heater constantly, which is one of the biggest safety issues of the home drip heaters IMHO.

I hope to meet others here who have done something similar.
Thanks for creating this forum!