Calling all woodburners...

Amanda Witman
By Amanda Witman on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 - 9:06am

Here where I live, the heating season started today.  laugh

Let's share and compare our plans for heating our homes with wood this winter. 

Are you heating exclusively with wood, or supplementing with wood?

How long have you been doing so?

What kind of a stove (or stoves) do you use?  Pros/cons that you've found?

What's your stove management routine?

Where do you get your wood, and how do you store it?

How many cords do you expect to burn this winter?

What else about your situation do you think others might find helpful or interesting?


Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
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Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Temps here in VT just dropped significantly overnight

It's 10am and the outside temp is just now rising above freezing.  General temps dropped about 10°F since yesterday and are expected to stay there.  For me, this puts us squarely in "fire up the woodstove" territory.  When the in-house temp hits 59°F, that's my cue.  Though I admit, I jumped the gun by about a day, just to make sure everything was in working order.

I have a c.1985 Vermont Castings (Resolute) woodstove in my living room that we installed last year shortly after moving into our house.  Over the summer, the house was completely weatherized, so I'm expecting a more effective wood-heating experience this winter than last.

This is the third year we've heated with wood, and the second in our current home, and the first year that it's possible we won't use any oil at all. 

I had my chimney swept and stove inspected this year, but the guy who did it (seasoned and well-respected) said I can go two years next time.  I must be doing something right.

However, I have a probe thermometer in the stovepipe (new this year) and it's not working right, so I'm not exactly sure what the temp in the pipe is doing, but based on past experience, it will be fine until I get the thermometer fixed/figured out/replaced.  Seems like a simple thing to troubleshoot, but I can't get it to work.  (Any thoughts on that?)

We also have a hot-air solar panel installed at the top of our stairs so that it blows air into the upstairs landing where the bedrooms are.  Takes the chill off in that area.  Last Spring I had a large tree removed to increase solar exposure on the panel, and I'm hoping that will make this resource more effective this year as well. 

The living room is a balmy 70°F right now.

I expect to use up to three cords of wood this year.  We have about 3.5 cords -- some bought from a local guy, some left from last year, and some from yard projects. 

Typically the stove and house get cold overnight, and I use the leftover glowing coals to start the morning's fire.

If I go away overnight, I'll set the oil furnace to kick in if the house temp drops to 45°F, but hopefully I won't need that.

I wish my stove had a larger top surface that would accommodate a stovetop oven and be more useful as a cooktop.  There is enough of a surface for one pot/pan, but I have to move the thermal fan to use it.

A few days ago (before we fired it up), I refinished the exterior of the stove with black high-heat paint.  Looks really spiffy.  Impossible to tell by looking that it was a Freecycle stove.

I am very happy with my setup.

What about you?

Doug's picture
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We've been heating almost exclusively with a Woodstock soapstone stove (manufactured in West Lebanon, NH).  We have an oil backup furnace that rarely comes on.  Our stove has a catalytic combustor that makes the whole thing a bit more efficient, but requires extra maintenance.  We have to replace them after about 4-5 years.  I love the soapstone, it really evens out the heat and holds heat for a long time compared to metal stoves.  We get our chimney swept every year or two.  It's always pretty clean with little creasote build-up.

We buy a load of logs every couple years that cuts down to about 20 face cords (6 2/3 full cords) or so.  Our last load was mostly beech which is very good burning wood.  I cut and stack it in a lean-to on the side of the barn.  We cut it far enough in advance that it is always at least a year old when we burn it.  It seems to dry very well in the lean-to.

We started the stove in the evenings a few times in the past couple weeks, but started burning during the day yesterday when the same cold front came through here that hit you last night.

I replaced a gasket around the 'lid' of the stove last year and will probably take the stove apart and replace all of them after this season.

Generally we really like the stove, but next time (if there is one) we will likely look into one of the efficient baffle system stoves.  Less maintenance.


mike dickenson's picture
mike dickenson
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Posts: 8
wood heating

We installed a Vogelzang - Durango last summer.  This will be it's second year of use.  I chose it because of it's high efficency rating, as well as it's flat top cooking surface.  It has a small viewing window in the door that is really nice, and stays clean as advertised.  It is equipped with a multispeed blower, that I don't really use as it seems louder than I like and doesn't move nearly enough air off the unit.  Instead, we have a small personal sized fan sitting next to it.  It's very quite and pushes a ton of air across the hot surfaces of side and top. 

Our house was built in the 20s and is 2000 sq. ft. It has a limestone chimney that I installed a continuous stainless steel insulated chimney liner to keep the smoke gases hot until exit. This stove doses a good job keeping the downstairs comfortable.  Right now, it is 78 degrees and climbing here in the den and the outside temp has risen to 55 degrees.  There were times last year when the stove kept the den temp 50 degrees higher than outdoors.  It's great to lounge on the weekend in shorts and tee shirt when its snowing outside.  We also have a central propane fired furnace.  Last year we used about 400 gallons of propane, but were away a lot and could not use the stove as much.

We have plenty of deadfall available here in southern middle TN and I expect to use at least 3 cords this year.  Currently my woodshed has about 2 cords, so I have some work to do.  Better get at it!

Christopher H's picture
Christopher H
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Posts: 148
We supplement our heat with wood in a soapstone woodstove

We have a relatively small house (1100 sf with a partial finished basement) and heat primarily with oil.  Insulation isn't the greatest, it runs along a N-S axis, and only has one window on the south wall -- so it's about the worst setup you could hope for with regards to passive heating and cooling.  We have a smaller soapstone stove in the basement that we use to supplement our heating, especially on the weekends.  I installed a dutch door at the top of our basement stairs, which we leave open while the stove is burning to allow the heat to come upstairs. 

It's actually pretty impressive the amount of heat we can get from that small stove.  We really only use it on weekends, because by the time I get home during the week and get a good fire going in it, it's just about time to get ready for bed.  On Saturdays and Sundays, though, our furnace never kicks on for the living area once we get a good fire going.  It's not abnormal for the living room and kitchen to get up over 75 degrees on a cold winter day just from the woodstove downstairs.

I figure we go through about 2.5 cords of wood a year with this.  I cut everything myself from stuff I gather after line trimmings and neighbors who have downed trees and the like, and put it in round stacks instead of straight cords -- so it's hard to tell exactly.  It requires very little maintenance outside of just shaking out the screen on the flue cap, otherwise it gets clogged.  On the few occasions I've swept the flue, there has been negligible creosote buildup.

One of my planned projects is to replace the downstairs stove with a rocket mass heater, and to build one in the master bedroom over the garage as well.  I figure that should cut down on our wood usage considerably while at the same time increasing the impact of our wood heat.  Adding a thermosiphoning air panel on the south-facing side of the house should also go a long way toward warming the living room on clear days.

Now, if I can just find the time to get these projects done, all will be well....

cnbbaldwin's picture
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Ditto - Soapstone

"We've been heating almost exclusively with a Woodstock soapstone stove (manufactured in West Lebanon, NH).  We have an oil backup furnace that rarely comes on.  Our stove has a catalytic combustor that makes the whole thing a bit more efficient, but requires extra maintenance." 

 We also kept the stove going yesterday in VT.  We heat our house with a "Fireview" from Woodstock Soapstone Co. We have oil hot water as backup if we are away otherwise the stove heats the entire house.  I have not found the combuster to be much extra work, but this is only our third season with this stove.  I used cast iron stove about 30 yrs ago and this stove is sooo much nicer in my opinion.  Even heat, much cleaner burning, and a longer burn.  For anyone with a large heating need (2,400 ft or more) Woodstock's new "Hybrid" stove might be a good choice.  We use 3.5 to 4 cord per season from various sources.  I also used a pellet stove for several years some time ago.  Advantages are that you can store the pellets anywhere (no worry about bugs, moisture), easier to work with at older ages, they burn very clean and efficiently, thermostatically controlled (to some extent), and long burn time.  Some of the disadvantages are that you need to buy pellets, and need a battery or electric back up if power is lost.

Sister-in-law has an old rambling farm house in VT and they have a soapstone Fireview in the kitchen and a masonry stove in the living room.  When winter really hits they have two burns in the masonry stove, one in the morning and one more in the evening.

Doug's picture
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I have a Fireview also.  I'm probably going to replace the ceramic combustor before this winter is out.  I have the newer metal combustor.  Hopefully, it's lifespan will be considerably longer.


marky's picture
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Posts: 33
VT Castings

We live in an old house in southern CT, with a renovated back section (about 1200 sq ft) and a restored (ie. older, less insulated) front section (another 1200 sq ft).  We have sectioned the heating of the house off, using wood to heat the back, which covers large open living room, kitchen, main bedroom, bathroom. We have a 5 year old Vermont Casting Encore stove and use about a cord of wood per month.  We'll start heating next week (I try to acclimate the family to colder weather in October) and heat through end of March, so about 4-5 cords per season.  We had several trees down in the last couple of big storms/hurricanes, so we are burning those this year.  Usually we buy the wood, at about $200 a chord. 

The stove heats well, but it is easy to overfire with it, especially on warmer days, and we have had to rebuild the internals once. I aim to keep the wood-heated spaces room in the mid to high 60s, but maintaining a constant temp is a big challenge for stovies.  The stove also has no catalytic converter.  It's good exercise as well - chopping, stacking and carrying, etc.  For the front of the house, which contains the kids bedrooms (only one living at home now) and another couple of rooms we generally don't heat during the day and use a small oil burner with its own thermostat for mornings and evenings.  When our eldest two kids went off to college and had to live in dorms they couldn't handle the heat, having grown up in a house in which we are probably a little more robust than the norm.  Now when they come back for vacations they can't handle the cold.  So I guess a lot of it is what you are used to.

jtwalsh's picture
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Posts: 270

We have a woodstove as the only source of heat at our cabin.  It is not our full time residence so we are actually only heating when we are there.  The stove was installed two years ago after we purchased the property.  Without really knowing much about it, we purchased a Timberwolf Economizer. The company is from Canada.  One of the things I required was that the stove have a glass front so we could watch the fire. 

So far we could not be happier with the equipment.  The stove has an excellent draft and can heat our small cabin (750 square feet) from the mid twenties into the seventies in an hour to hour and a quarter.  I am little by little learning to use the air flow regulator to get the best results.  If you put a good size log in at bedtime, coals will still be glowing away seven hours later. The cabin will usually stay in the mid-fifties to low sixties overnight. (Ceiling and walls are well insulated.  The windows are forty years old and are horrible.  A future refit is planned.)  Only once or twice when the outside temperature was in low teens did overnight inside temp drop into the forties. I have a column fan in the great room sitting on an end-table.  Leaving it on at half speed moves the heated air through the main room and even gets some heat into the bath room and bedrooms. (so long as the doors are open.)  Both my wife and I lived as kids in homes where the bedrooms had no central heat.  We are used to piling up the quilts and running to stand next to the stove to dress.  My wife does not like the cold so I get morning duty, every morning.  She will come out from under the covers once the fire is roaring and she can sit right next to the stove.

The stove has a flat top large enough to put a large pot or casserole on each side of the chimney.  Last winter I began cooking stew type meals in a large ceramic lined pot which worked really well. I recently purchased two Lodge Dutch ovens, a flat skillet and a frying pan, all made of black cast iron to try other types or recipes.  First attempt at chicken with a Dutch oven came out really well. Cooked it with onions, carrots, mushrooms, white wine and garlic for a couple of hours. Cover on the oven.  Then took cover off for final hour to allow moisture to boil off and chicken to brown.  The process made the house smell great.

The first winter we used wood left to us by prior owner.  Last year purchased wood from a local distributor.  Two cords, kiln dried, delivered, cost three hundred eighty dollars.  Company selling wood makes those little packages of wood you see for sale in the supermarkets.  Pieces too small, too big or too ugly to put in packages are what they sell by the cord.  We used not quite a cord last winter.  This year I waited until September to order two more cords for this season and was shocked to discover that their earliest remaining delivery dates were after December 1st.  Next year I will put my order in, in May.

Splitting and stacking wood are new art forms for us.  Although most of the pieces were just the right size to fit the stove we learned that you can only put a full log on an already burning fire.  My sons have helped me in taking full pieces and chopping them down to kindling. A couple of weekends ago two of them spent Saturday helping me get the wood ready for winter.  At the end of the day we had restacked the remaining wood pile.  Filled the wood holders in the great room and on the back porch and had split three large galvanized trash cans full of kindling. It was a long and tiring day but it was very satisfying to look at what we had accomplished and to know we had one hand up on the coming weather.

Tycer's picture
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Posts: 617
85% Wood since 2005.

85% Wood since 2005. We use wood for heating the main part of our house. Electric for the bathrooms and our offices when we are in them. When guests come that can't handle chilly bedrooms, we'll run the oil burning furnace. For heat in our current house, we use about 75 gallons of oil, $360 for electric and 2.5 cords of well seasoned wood from October through April. Our last house was the same on oil and electric, but 4.5 cords of wood. This house is a 1600 sq ft single story with finished walk-out basement, the last was two stories and basement with twice the square feet above grade. This house has a Morsø 7600 and the other was a Jøtul Castine 400.

I highly recommend both stoves with caveats on both.

The Jøtul was undersized for the job, two smaller stoves for that size house may have netted a lower consumption and better comfort as the family room was very warm as compared to the rest of the house. I did have vents in the walls between rooms with low volume fans to create a circular flow through the entire floor. The Jøtul will boil away 5-6 gallons of water a day.

The Morsø can not hold a log more than 11" in length and will not hold a fire through the night. It is very efficient and beautiful, however if you do not plan on cutting your own firewood, there will be an extra charge and extra planning the year before to get seasoned wood to feed it. The Morsø will not boil water on top due to the air exchange taking place under the top plate.

I have bought and I have cut both long logs and fireplace sized logs. Seasoned wood can not be bought. Period. Unless it's a fluke. If you want clean heat, you must buy your wood, cut to length and split, two years in advance. There is no substitute for seasoned wood. Wood takes one year per inch of thickness to season. A 10" log that's been down for two years is 20% seasoned. Don't let the seller snow you on this. AND, a cord is a cord is a cord. It is a unit of measurement, not a pickup load. If a seller can get 3/4 of a cord in a full sized truck, he's done a good job of stacking. Don't get snowed here either. 128 Cubic Feet of tightly stacked wood is a cord. 4'x4'x8' 

Wood is dirty, sooty, dusty, dry.....

I would not trade it. I love it.

GM_Man's picture
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Posts: 74
Heating with wood for 7 years

Currently we operate with two wood burning stoves: 1. Hearthstone Heritage Model 2. Montgomery Wards Wood Burning Cook Stove.  But it wasn't always that way.

We initially installed the Hearthstone wood stove in 2006.  We had a mason come in to perform some rebuilding/pointing work on the home's two chimneys and fireplace.  While that work was underway he discovered/pointed out that the central chimney had two flues where one was in the living room for the fireplace and the other was in the kitchen hidden behind a wall put up in the last twenty years or so.

We ended up tearing down that wall in the kitchen, lining the kitchen flue with a 6" liner, and building a platform for the Hearthstone fireplace.  That work was completed in January of 2006 and became our primary heat source with the oil-burning furnace as backup.

This year we moved the Hearthstone stove to the living room after relining that flue with a 6" stainless liner, and installed the Wood-Burning Cook Stove in the kitchen.

We will probably burn about four cords this year.  We do love those wood stoves and we are using the stove top and the oven in the wood burning cook stove for meals.  The primary benefit is that the single Hearthstone is sufficient to keep our 2400 sf two-story house fully heated into the mid-60's (lots of drafts as the home is ancient with poor or non-existing insulation).  With both stove's on at the same time while baking pizza for dinner we ended up with a temp of 83 in the kitchen.  I was uncomfortable at that temp and ended up going outside to cool down.  Way too hot in the kitchen.

We continue to add insulation in the attic, and two-inches of rigid foam to the front of the house and the dormers in order to allow the house to retain all that heat.  Last year for example, the Hearthstone stove located in the kitchen could only raise the house temperature to 72 on a good day.  

We still spend about $250 or so on oil as the furnace turns on during the coldest nights, but I can live with that...

GM_Man's picture
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Safety, Safety, Safety

Just a minor add to my post on heating and cooking with wood,

We clean our chimneys every year.  I can not emphasize this enough.  I have met folks who heat with wood who think that they can wait 2 or 3 years before having a good cleaning.  Those folks are playing with fire and gasoline at the same time.  It is not a question if they will have a chimney fire, but when.

Those folks have no response plan as many are off grid and without phone service, no chemical pack to use to douse the flames, and no idea where they would even live if they end up with a chimney fire in their home.

Please, Please, Please keep that stove pipe clean and maintained.  Replace the liner if need be.  It cost me $600 in materials to install a stainless steel liner in Southern Vermont.  The chimney is 25' in length.  So you can use that for some idea of costs.

Purchase a dry chemical fire extinguisher and keep it near the wood burning stove and handy at all times.

Purchase a chemical pack of dry chemical extinguisher chemicals (monoammonium phosphate) to toss into the wood burning stove to help extinguish the fire.  Throw the opened pack into the fireplace, stove, or down the chimney.  (Observation: when you have a chimney fire you and everybody else will see flames two or three feet above the top of  your chimney.  Whoever suggested tossing this chemical pack down the chimney to extinguish a chimney fire had no flipping idea what they were asking of us).  Ask for this at your local hardware store or where you can get your fire extinguisher filled.  Your friendly local fire station or fire chief should be able to direct you to a suitable vendor.  

I have dry chemical extinguishers and a dry chemical pack that I can just toss into the stove.  A dry chemical pack can't lose pressure over time so it is a good backup item and the cost is low.

I do not suggest water being thrown into a wood burning stove fire.  Water gets turned to steam, and steam creates pressure.  That sudden increase of pressure can blow out any glass in a wood burning stove.  Steam will blind and burn you carrying small, hot particulates (embers)  from the stove.  Us it if that is the only thing you have, but be aware of the high-risk of personal injury.

Stay warm, stay safe!


Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Hearthstone by Craftsbury

Once the temps drop below 40-45 F we start using the stove, and we had the same cold spell down here that you did, Amanda. It dropped temps in SC until you could see your breath at 38 F.

We have a 1,000 square-foot home, one level, and heat it with the above cast iron stove, rated for 1,300 sq. ft. It has no catalytic converter, to cut on maintenance costs. It's a freestanding stove, but we had the clearances to use it in our fireplace, utilizing the existing flue. Part of the installation was a double-insulated steel liner. You may not know that gas stoves only heat the flue to 600 F but woodstoves can heat a flue to 2,000 F so the insulated liner was essential. It handles logs up to 17 inches long. Supposedly it burns only 6 hours, but we both love getting up in the middle of the night to feed to stove, and if we use what I call a "stove-stuffer" log--a 10" square chunk of oak--on an existing fire, it lasts 8 hours. We cannot cook on it since the reburner technology (81% efficient) runs air under the top of the stove, but we always have a shallow pan on the stove to increase moisture and make the home feel warmer.

Economics: Like many homes in the Deep South, our house in SC was heated (and cooled) with an electric heat pump. Thanks to the stove our electric bill went down $300 a month for our heating season, which runs November through January, with a little bit of help on cold temps at the end of Oct and the beginning of February.

We have never paid a dime for wood. We pick up trash wood off the road, or cut dead wood from the forest behind us, or help friends and neighbors remove trees. As we've never had a formal delivery I can only estimate our usage: about 1.5 cords of wood a winter, probably. We split it before storing it, to help it dry. It's back there on free, slightly damaged oak pallets, or cedar planks, to keep it off the ground. under tarps to keep it dry. We have two big, long stacks of fire wood -and we alternate which stack using the oldest first.

The stove installation, including rebuilding the firebox on our fireplace, the insulated flue sleeve, the stove and a new cap, was $7K. We bought this back when we could get a $1500 tax credit; now it's a $300  credit so I am glad we did not wait but chagrinned that we missed out on other credits. .You can see what federal, state and local --and utility--credits you can currently get in our part of the USA at this site, DSIRE. At any rate, we will reach our break-even rate on our investment in a little over two years.

Maintenance: We have to replace the door liner cord every year, but they sell the high-heat resistant cord and the right glue at Ace Hardware, cheap. We use a single-edged razor blade to get any deposits off the inside of the glass door. And we bought a set of chimney brushes ($80) and clean it ourselves once a year.

We've burned live oak, hickory, cherry, white oak and red oak. There is abundant pine in our area, so we burn that, too. Compared to when we burned hardwood only, our annual cleanout gives us two quarts of creosote to the one quart from all-hardwood fuel so when we burn pine we might start cleaning it mid-winter; we have enough warm days in December and January to do that. .Pine starts easier but oak lasts longer for when we are sleeping. Any time we find a pine with a "fatwood" center, we split that fine and keep it in a special crock to get a fire going quickly

Doug's picture
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Posts: 3208

I looked up the specs on your stove (or at least one very similar, Shelburne 8371 model) because I was curious about the window.  It is described as "ceramic glass" which apparently is similar to the stuff mine is made of.  The manual that came with mine recommended cleaning with 00 steel wool.  We've been doing that for years with no scratching or diminution of clarity.  Your manual has different instructions:


When necessary, clean the glass with low alkaline content commercial stove glass cleaners, which are available from your local dealer. Never attempt to clean the glass while the fire is burning or the glass is hot. Following the instructions provided with the cleaner will remove most deposits. To clean heavier deposits, open the door and lift it straight up and off the stove with the hinge pins remaining in the door (take care to save hinge pins and any spacer washers for reuse). Lay the door face down on a workbench or table. Apply the cleaner to the glass and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Laying the door flat will allow the cleaner to penetrate rather than run off the surface of the glass. Wipe the cleaner off with a soft cloth.

Important: scratching or etching the glass will weaken the integrity of the glass. Do not use a razor blade, steel wool, or any other abrasive material to clean the glass. Use low alkaline content cleaners only.

The front door glass is a high temperature ceramic, shock-resistant glass, made specifically for use in woodstoves. Do not use any replacement glass other than the ceramic glass manufactured and supplied for use in this woodstove. Replacement glass is available through your local dealer.

I think I'll call my manufacturer to clarify the differences.  I thought I would give you a heads up on the warning.


Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
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Posts: 348
New to me

Some friends and I just closed on a 2500sq' house, out buildings and 46 acres near Prairie Farm, WI. The Pacific Summit wood stove is working well for now, but there is also a Kitchen Queen 480 wood cook stove, an Energy King wood furnace, and a propane furnace.


ferralhen's picture
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Posts: 151
i built my house with r25

i built my house with r25 walls and r40 attic insulation, so this is key to my house maintaining the heat.

 i burn wood on cloudy days from 9 am -5pm, use my solar heater on sunny days and run my natural gas furnace for 1 hour each morning when i get up at 6 am because i don't feel like messing with the stove til about 9 am [ this combo gives me heating bills in january ,in michigan of $35 for the month.

every year it's something different for a source of wood and i try to keep 2 winters ahead. i've traded deer hunting for wood, i gave an 85 yr old man vegetables one summer and in the fall he showed up with a grin and a dump truck full of red oak.i just keep an eye out for opportunities.

if i had to buy the wood, it would be cheaper to just run my furnace...but ya gotta love a wood fire for comfort.

jonesb.mta's picture
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Posts: 126
Daka 512FB

We have a DAKA model 512FB, with two blower motors. The DAKA is connected to an old, unusable oil furnace system's ductwork plus I wired the old system's large blower to kick in when the DAKA blowers run. We have a 1950's built, two story, South Dakota farmhouse that has been re-insulated with foam, new high efficiency windows, house wrap and fiber cement siding. We needed the old system's blower to get heat pushed upstairs, the ductwork is 4" similar to a dryer vent and it takes a lot of blower to push the heat upstairs. We are very isolated so we had the chimney redone, they put a tube in the chimney and pour and cement made from volcanic ash around the inflated tube (6" in our case but they can do any size). The chimney is rated at more than 2100 degrees. We're generally happy with the whole setup after heating with it for two winters.

JRB's picture
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Posts: 149
Cleaning glass door

Our installer advised us to clean the glass with a damp paper towel dipped in ash (powder).  Works quite well.  Do this with a cold stove!  Finish with a clean damp towel.  Could use a rag instead.


Don35's picture
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Posts: 43
Kitchen Queen

I use a Kitchen Queen wood cook stove. Made by an Amish guy in Indiana. It has a fairly large firebox and heats the house well enough. It does tend to overheat easily so I have to be careful with it. I like it as I cook on it all winter and that is important for me. Large cook top area and a decent size oven. It also has a 17 gallon water reserve which I haven't used much. My house is difficult to heat evenly. It has a 24' cathedral ceiling and loft, so upstairs is very warm, by the stove is comfortable and the back rooms are cool. Not a problem other than being cool getting out of the shower! There is a sawmill 2 miles away and I get slabs (the scrap strips) for free. They'll even load them! Easy way to heat the house for free! I try to keep at least one winter's supply in the wood shed. I'm in southern Tennessee I have a shorter heat season than others.

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MyBackAchers's picture
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30 years and counting

Good topic! I have been heating with wood in Minnesota for about 30 years but the last 7 years are the only years we cut the wood ourselves when we bought a farm.

The farm house presently has a Blaze King 100,000btu in the basement, a Sheffield Lopi and a Vermont Casting Defiant. It's a 1,800 sqFt house and to keep up heating the place in -35 F temps is a lesson in futility. I go through about 6 cords (not truck loads) a year but could easily burn twice that to keep the place toasty.

After studying Rocket Mass Heater Designs, I have decided to remove the present stoves (they are for sale if anyone is interested). As pretty as they are, I am all jazzed about getting more heat from less wood concept and have collected all the parts I need for the RMH, except the refractory cement.

Anyone else leaning toward RMH? I

 Also see people are including Peltier Modules for electrical generation in their Woodstove and RMH designs so- any other forward thinkers here doing similar stuff?

GM_Man's picture
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Joined: Nov 4 2012
Posts: 74
Considering It

I have been considering going that way as well MBA,

We have been heating with wood for over 7 years, but I cheat by having one of our local loggers bring us two truck loads every so many years.  I go through two truckloads in about three Winters or so.  Depends on the Winter.  This year I didn't have enough cut, split and stacked wood.  So I've been working outside cutting and splitting add'l wood since January.  Of course, that does mean I have lost some of my Winter weight, which my better half and doctor were happy with.  Pros and Cons.  But I digress.

I've consider both the rocket stove and the Russian/Swedish Stove designs in lieu of our current Hearthstone wood stove in the family room.  The lure of less wood with more heat over time is quite attractive to me.  Not so much to the wife, but she isn't one working outside in the weather and let's face it; this Winter was colder than most in the past decade.

My wife doesn't like the thought of having a 55 gal drum in the family room, so the Russian Stove is probably the way to go.  I have no problem working with refractory and other clay in building that beast.  We are lucky in that we have a central chimney with two flu's for wood burning stoves that I can leverage for both heating and cooking.  My brother-in-law is a mason so he'll probably work with me on the build after I put together the design.  That chimney I mentioned runs right past the upstairs bathroom.  We capture heat from the chimney brick to heat the bathroom during Fall, Winter, and Spring.  It works great!  We just created a 'window' in the wall to allow the heat fo flow into the bathroom and trimmed it out and painted it white.  The bathroom averages 65 F to 70 F depending on the weather outside..

For what it's worth, our home dates back to the early 1800s, has terrible wall insulation (working on it) and is approx 2000 sq ft.

I like the way you think...  ;-)

Dutch John's picture
Dutch John
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 10 2008
Posts: 50
Rocket conversion

Heating with wood for 15 years now. Cooking for 2 years. Both wood burner and range cooker have a batch rocket conversion. Results in a very clean burn. Noisy though. I have never swept both chimneys, but they do get an annual inspection. Note that I only use very dry wood.

We still have central heating for the bathroom, waterbed and domestic hot water. I hope to have the water also heated on wood next winter, so the central heating can function as a backup.

Annual wood consumption about 10 m3. Small living quarters.

A hint when building a RMH indoors: do not use the common open fire chamber. Smoke, or worse: carbonmonoxide can blow back. Better to build the so called batch rocket. On this forum it can be found:

Regards, DJ

MyBackAchers's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 27 2013
Posts: 26
Good to know

Thanks for the input. 

This farmhouse is also build 1800s on one section, 1930'ish on another and 1970 addition. 

Insulation has been an ongoing project and windows aren't in the budget.

i agree with your wife on the appearance of a barrel in my media room so it's gotta be hidden as well as accessible. 

The final stages of the RMH are to use Peltier pieces for some small electrical generation to move the heat around. I'll keep posting the progress and the results on the first one to go in.

GM_Man's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 4 2012
Posts: 74

I can't wait MyBackAchers!

We already did the windows and the French Doors leading to the back deck.  The insulation and siding are now in progress as we get the best return from good insulation and Tyvek as a barrier.  The attic insulation was put in first as that was pretty lame (about 6" deep as I recall).  We had some areas where wind would penetrate the house from under the front porch.  I addressed those this past Summer with spray-in foam and fiberglass batts/flexible foam for some of the cracks.  I should probably have created a blog just to walk all the flipping repair I've made over the past decades.

I really wish you well on the RMH.  That should solve a lot of heat issues.  I warned the wife, 'One more Winter like this and I am putting in that Russian/Swedish Stove.  I really want to capture all that heat!

This coming Summer I am putting in one or two solar batch heaters so that I can use them in the other three seasons for hot water pre-heating and even hot water if they are efficient enough.  


MyBackAchers's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 27 2013
Posts: 26
Comes in 3s!

The chances are high we have more winters like this as the Old Wives Tale says:

Three years Hot then Three Years Cold --Three Years Wet and Three Years Dry.

its more like a total of 6.75 years according to old farmers, but we can expect a few more cold ones, which just followed 3 hot n dry years.

What gets me is everyone talks about Climate Change and I think I am in agreement that the extremes are tending to get more extreme, but then it could just be me getting older.

sajidwaseem's picture
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Joined: May 2 2016
Posts: 1
Interios Design in Lahore

I.M Hardware provides modern accessories for kitchens, wardrobes, bath, garden as well as home decoration, lights & lamps, laminate flooring and hardware. Since its inception in 1978, the company has transformed from a hardware store to a complete home store providing home and interior accessories from its outlet in Lahore to its customers across Pakistan.

elsur's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2008
Posts: 49
Rocket Conversion Help?

Hi DJ,

We are interested in converting a beautiful old-style wood burning cookstove so that it uses a rocket instead of a smokey traditonal fire.  Can you share how you converted your cooker with us?

Thank you!



DJ Wrote~ "Heating with wood for 15 years now. Cooking for 2 years. Both wood burner and range cooker have a batch rocket conversion."

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