Resilient home heating option – Kuuma vapor wood furnace
I live in Northern Minnesota where it gets cold in the Winter. I’ve heated my homes with propane and oil furnaces. Where I live you can’t get natural gas piped to your house. Been Following Chris since 2008 and finally decided I better become more resilient when it comes to heating my house. My propane company told me they expect prices to hit $5/ gallon by the end of the winter (I feel sorry for people who have prepaid and locked in a price), that’s almost a 4 fold increase over normal supply years. Long story short, I decided I can’t risk not being able to heat my house due to a supply issue. lots of people heat with wood stoves. A wood stove wouldn’t work for me since I have an old 2 story house with an apartment on the 2nd floor. One option was a wood furnace. I started researching them and one furnace kept coming up 5 stars – the Kuuma vapor 100 which can heat a 3500 square foot home. All the posts I saw was how great the furnace is – (I believe they offer a 25 year warranty), and how great the customer service is. They aren’t cheap but I figured the furnace would pay for itself in about 5 – 10 years, so I bought one. The company that makes them is only about 20 miles from my house so I went to visit them before I bought one. I was given a tour of the small plant and i have to say I was impressed with their operation and service. I purchased one and installed it. Dale the general manager said feel free to call with any questions and call I did. He was always polite and helpful. I have to say, the Kuuma vapor 100 is a high quality piece of art. This thing is so efficient. I bet it gets every BTU out of the wood.
I can’t recommend the Kuuma vapor 100 enough. As I said, The furnace isn’t cheap – they are $6300, plus shipping. The good news is that the IRS is offering a 28% tax credit this year and next on the furnace, any parts, and installation.
Here’s a link to the furnace: https://www.lamppakuuma.com/furnaces/
Once I was up in Maine and a family friend opted out of Western Civilization – he was totally off the grid and out of the game.
He had a Russian stove to heat his house. It was amazing. Burnt wood logs into dust, gave off heat for hours just on one log and could heat most of the house.
Here’s a couple of links on it.
And here is an illustration of the interior which shows why it is so efficient.
We’ve had our Fisher Mama Bear stove for many years. Bought it new in 1982 (if I remember correctly) It has served us well and should last our lifetimes. Haven’t fired her up yet this year but have plenty’o wood ready. She’s been good to us.
The flu baffles in the illustrated stove have apparent heat efficiency, and the stove sounds similar to many old European heating systems. the question that troubles me is “how do you clean the flu/baffles of creosote etc?” My wood heating airtight tends to run hot and has a short flu, still the annual chimney cleaning is fruitful and necessary.
Masonry heaters work best in bursts of well-oxygenated combustion, which provides enough draft to get around the baffles and hopefully enough heat to prevent creosote. According to the first link from Jersey Mike:
Unlike an open hearth fireplace, a continuous fire burning is not desirable. After the damper is shut the coals are allowed to burn themselves out, and the next time a fire is started only the cool ashes of the previous fire are evident, but the heat from the last fire can still be felt in the brick up to 18 hours later.
It seems to me that a wood stove is less work in this age of chainsaws, both to prepare the fuel and to burn it slowly without much maintenance, but if you had only dead branches a masonry heater provided more heat for your effort.
I just looked at the link picture. The opening for inserting wood seems pretty small. Can you give approximate dimensions of clearance for getting through the door and what the max log length is once you get that clearance?
For example, on my soapstone heaters, my door is 9″ x 18″. I’ve got to fit the log through the opening, one way or another. Once I do, I probably have 30 inches of depth I can try to utilize, and maybe 20 inches of height.
The stove I would really like to find, although I don’t know if they are allowed to be built and sold anymore, is an outside wood burning stove which will accept massive logs delivered by tractor and provide hot water in addition to heating for very long periods of time between refills.
(But burning wood is *bad*, remember that! Our Masters are coming for it all, efficient or not! “In 2030 you will not burn anything…and you will be happy!”)
I had no idea you could buy a high-efficiency wood furnace. Our HVAC system (gas furnace and heat pump) is end of life and we are currently researching replacement options. At the moment, we’re most seriously considering a geothermal/solar combination, but now we have more food for thought. We live in Northeast Ohio in the snowbelt and don’t experience winters quite as harsh as those in Northern Minnesota, but keeping ourselves and our home warm in the winter is one of our major concerns. Thanks for bringing attention to the Kuuma…it’s an interesting resilient alternative!
Someone mentioned rocket mass heaters during one of Chris’s broadcasts. They are really interesting. The fire burns horizontally and there is a chimney that heats so hot that even the smoke gets burned up so the exhaust is really clean. They use almost no wood. They are really cheap to make and you can do it yourself to plans available here: