Springfield Ohio's Kenny Hendrick while still aliveKenny's Wood Burner Page

Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: Wood Burner

(*This page is in the making)

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Off-Grid Ho~! Topic: The Wood Burner

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 of ways, least of which was its lacking the creation of enough heat to keep comfortable.
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.
The 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.
As 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) are 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 or later.

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 box (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 their lifespan at inoportune moments), but also the grid-form of preferred electricity is costlier than simply converting everything back to dc).
Remove 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.


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