Kenny's Wood Burner Page
Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: Wood Burner
(*This page is in the making)
Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: The Wood Burner
When seeking to solve heat and cooking, think thermal-mass.
The stove seen above is actually a fireplace insert. Since I am
cash-poor, using what is available has been the only resort. As
luck would have it, this crappy looking fireplace insert works wonders
when placed directly on the concrete floor for a long-lasting, slow to
dissipate, heat source.
The fact that this
monstrosity rests flat on the concrete floor lends to a marked
improvement to the heating problem which was evidenced by the former
over-priced stove that had legs to elevate the stove off the
floor. The concrete floor was as cold inside as it was
toward the outside.
Tip #1 Think Energy Transferance. Think Thermal Mass
During the first winter out here, I almost cracked.
The cold was unbearable and the former stove was inadequate in a number
ways, least of which was its lacking the creation of enough heat to
If you have access to a cheap insert,
get one. The stove pictured here cost me $75.00 (i'd not
sell this stove a dime under $700.00!...unless the economy is
manipulated adversely, again)
The photo below shows the side-view of the stove sitting somewhat
squarely on the concrete slab. It is 30degrees outside but if you
were in this garage right now and held your had on the concrete
anywhere in this building, it would be warm to the touch.
Concrete becomes warmed by the stove resulting in less need to keep the
stove fully stocked with wood.
Formerly, upon my first arrival on location, I resided within the house
that has a wood floor. The stove was never adequate,
and the heat was hip-high and higher. There is one predominant
comment I get from all the visitors that come here in the wintertime,
it is "ooh it feels nice in here". Since the heat is in the
concrete and not just rising in the air from the stove, it is a
different experience in the comfort level. Thermal mass was the
harvest, it was not the goal.
Tip #2 Have your wood cut to larger than normal pieces
Unless cooking, or during times of needing a quick temperature
increase, larger pieces of wood will save you money during the
winter. Larger pieces, like whole unsplit logs will burn
all night long without your needing to get up every 3 or 4 hours to
feed more wood to your stove. Smaller pieces require
more effort to fill a stove, and since smaller pieces have more exposed
area, the burn is quick and short. Typically, a firewood
vendor over-splits the wood for a number of reasons, least of which is
the fact that over-split wood gives the appearance of more wood since
more area is required to stack. Whereas, if your wood
supply is stout in larger pieces, you get more wood for your
money. However, during the summer months, one would want
wood that is split to thinner pieces for a quick heat that does not
last (such as for cooking). The average tree offers enough
limbs throughout the year to compensate for the kindling needs of
cooking without one having to also purchase the same thicknesses in
wood required for heating during the winter months.
Tip #3 Safety First
When seeking to engineer your own stove to suit your own purposes,
safety is a factor you'd not want to dismiss. Not only did
my first stove have legs that held it off the concrete floor requiring
more feeding of wood for less yeild of heat, but also the stove
completely was not safe. The overpriced corporate piece of
crap stove, although shiny and new and alluring, was a health
hazard. For instance it did not have an ash pan that
could be removed and dumped. The overpriced stove required
that the door be opened to manually shovel out the ash build-up while
the fire was still raging inside the firebox. When opening
the door numerous times in a day and night exposed the surrounding area
with more ash floating in the air (not to mention the toxic fumes).
The fireplace seen below shows the tray beneath the firebox that is
simply pulled from the unit and carried outside to dump (later finding
its way to the garden).
In short, you might have to expose yourself to some setbacks before
discovering what works for you (as opposed to the capitalist crime in
selling you on slanted propaganda and a shiny paint job).
Also, if you have a crawl space or attic in the building that houses
your stove, use it. Especially if you reside where your
heat is being produced, an attic or crawl space can save your lungs by
allowing a place for the mistakenly escaped gases (it happens when one
forgets to open the damper to full and turn the draft to off that gases
come in while opening the door to the fire to load wood or poke
around). This works especially well in the winter time as the
cold from the attic rushes down to displace the heat which rushes up
taking some of the gases with it).
And finally, speaking of gases, there's been much said on the internet
of the hydrogen gas which escapes wet-cell batteries. I can
not state whether the dangers are propaganda or not, since I've not yet
died from those "dangers". After a cursory glance at
the claims of dangers to health and potential fire, it was found that
hydrogen is lighter than air (the air we breathe), and that if escaped
will rise very rapidly toward the ceiling or sky above. Since i've not
witnessed any of the dozen health hazard symptoms
published on the internet of hydrogen gas, and am always within 3
feet or so of the batteries, this fearful news is disregarded until
further studies are performed on the claims. Also, since
one of the battery banks is within 5 feet of the firewood stove, along
with the fact that it's been more than a couple of years that it's been
this way, I'd have to state that the claims of dangers might be
over-rated. However, like all good propaganda, I do
have in the plans to build a stone or brick wall between the wood
burner and the nearest battery bank (just in case LOL).
Tip #4 Ensure a properly functioning damper
The stove shown within this webpage did not come with any sort of
damper built into the unit. Without a damper, all your heat
rushes up the chimney and is forever lost *but also without a damper
your life could also be lost as in the form of a fire hazard as the hot
embers also rush out of the chimney to rest on your roof!
To compensate for the lack of a damper in this stove was found at a
garage sale in the German Township of Springfield Ohio. The
damper shown below is actually welded upside down. Since the
damper was for a different stove that had a smaller opening, it was
found that the only way to make it work was to use the wider end toward
the stove and the narrow end toward the chimney stack.
If custom making your own damper, make sure to completely weld the unit
in place as gases will take the shortest route even if that means
entering your domiciled space.
it turned out though, the upside-down damper also served another
purpose, that being double-lined (since the narrow end of the damper
could only fit to a narrow flue, that flue is within yet another flue
which is the correct size for this stove (making it a tad safer).
Tip #4 Ensure a properly functioning draft
When both the damper (seen above) and draft control (seen below)
both turned to their lowest setting, the wood burns little flame
allowing a long overnight burn. Between the two controls,
one can tailor the heat to their needs, and quickly adjust when needing
to cook which requires hotter burns.
I typically like the three-car garage where I and this firewood stove
are located to be in excess of 80 degrees, the subtle mastery between
draft and damper controls allow for tailoring my temperature needs.
Tip #5 Tailor your heat circulation
Having a large open space requires much less work to deliver the heat
to all areas of the open garage. Sealed rooms with ceiling
high walls would require an additional cost to accomplish uniform heat
throughout the building.
Either way though, circulating your heat is going to be a topic sooner
As seen in the photo below, the dial is used to control the speed
of a couple of fans that are
incorporated into the stove void, the void which surrounds the interior
firebox contains the hot air that the low-setting fans push the air up
and around the fan causing hot air to be forced out at the top (just
under the cooking surface).
The air chamber void is completely sealed from the actual
firebox, which is literally suspended in the stove making it a box in a
(otherwise you'd be pushing fumes and gases into your living quarters).
My former stove did not offer this feature of circulation, and
therefore forced me to gravitate toward the stove starving for heat in
the wintertime, and far away from the stove in the summertime.
Almost all common fans are able to be converted to dc. Most
fans are already 12v, yet
are manufactured with 110v converters and plugs.
Eliminate the converters.
Not only are they just one more
thing that could possibly go wrong (as in malfunction or termination of
lifespan at inoportune moments), but also the grid-form of preferred
electricity is costlier
than simply converting everything back to dc).
the converter that is not needed when using direct current, and cut off
the 110v plug will gain you years of prolonged shelf-life of your fans,
but also at least amount of cost per lifetime.
The old adage of just keeping it simple holds true with circulating
your heat. Less parts needed equates to less money required
and less things that could go wrong.
THIS CONCLUDES PAGE 5