Off-Grid Solar and Wind-Generated Power in
Sunny Springfield Ohio
Topic: Wood Burner
During the first winter out here,
I almost cracked.
The cold was unbearable.
The initial wood-burning stove was inadequate in a number of ways,
least of which was its small size.
Still the cold could not outweigh a need to find some closure as to the cause of a small accident that occurred here some time ago.
There was some real purpose for close proximity of the ever-changing number of batteries that comprise the local power plant here, so my presence was necessary despite the cold.
But as for that crabpy over-priced stove which brought so many sleepless nights and other experiences not foreseen, other than the learning experiences of the complexity in simply cleaning out the stove, the futile experience of becoming burned or gassed just in keeping it lit, It is safe to say that I hadn't a clue as to what I was doing with my first-ever stove.
Truth be told, the first stove was probably only good for display.
It neither came with a proper ash dump/tray, nor was there an incorporated fan to move the heat around.
I hated the stove,
but hated more the fact that a shiny coat of paint within a big-box store had caught me like a flipping bait-fish.
That stove set me back over $300.00 and almost killed me (as far as I'm concerned, my lungs are still catching up to this day).
Then, just in the nick of time, came a couple of young folks that brought a fireplace insert.
Initially It was presumed that I would need both of the wood-burners, however the fireplace insert which replaced the freestanding fumagator model, proved to be a God-send.
So I'm thankful for the young adults that showed up in a truck and stated that they were helping their grandfather clean out his barn (and made $75.00 as a just-reward from me).
Life instantly became loads easier thanks to the new (used) stove.
Within time, the wood-burner become indispensible for cooking, heating, distilling, drying laundry, and even smelting.
Nowadays I've come to appreciate the common fireplace insert over a free-standing heat and cook stove.
With the Fireplace Insert placed directly on the concrete floor created a long-lasting, slow to dissipate, thermal-assisted heat source. When only a few embers are remaining in the fire-box, the concrete is releasing the heat and maintaining a comfortable temperature that allows for me to have a normal sleep (without having to nurse the fire-box every hour-on-the-hour).
The masonry in which the fireplace-insert rests upon acts as a bank of heat-energy referred to as "Thermal Mass".
The benefits of Thermal Mass
Concrete becomes warmed by contact with the wood-burner and does not dissipate quickly. At the time of this writing, it is 130 degrees on the concrete even though the Ohio Winter is in full-swing.
The photo below shows the side-view of the replacement stove which was purchased "used" a few years ago. Here it is sitting somewhat squarely on the concrete slab.
The Temperature is 30 degrees outside but the concrete floor is warm to the touch.
A bigger stove is better in the night-time
Unless cooking, or during times of needing a quick temperature increase, larger pieces of wood will save money during the winter.
Larger pieces, like whole unsplit logs, will burn all night, without your having to get up every 3 or 4 hours (to feed more splinter-sized wood into the stove).
Smaller pieces burn hotter and quicker and require more effort to fill a stove (more trips to the wood-pile).
With smaller split wood, the burn is quick to fire up, hot, but short-lived.
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, hence more profit to the vendor.
It would be impossible to stick all the mates of a split log together during stacking, which results in more air voids between wood giving the illusion of a proper exchange even when it is not.
The over-split load of firewood requires a larger volume of space to store if the vendor is actually measuring the logs to represent true cords and then processing.
However, if starting the fire from scratch, large logs would not work in that scenario, until well-after the kindling and splinter-wood has brought the stove up to temperature.
Separate Ash Pan keeps down the dust
The advantages of an ash pan, that can be easily removed and dumped without requiring the firebox door to be opened, are many.
The fireplace seen below shows the ash tray beneath the firebox that is simply pulled from the unit and carried outside to dump (later finding its way to the garden).
Having a large open space such as a garage requires much less work to deliver the heat to all areas.
Whereas most modern homes are so partitioned-off into separate cubicles (rooms) which typically require a large fan to push the hot air thoughout the home.
The cost to heat is phenominally expensive as opposed to heating an un-partitioned space.
In Ohio, the winters can hold a few bone-chilling days and nights outside.
But thanks to an ample amount of capitalist junk mail, which "legally" comes to us unsolicited, kindling a fire to warm the inside is not a problem.
The thermal mass of the concrete floor, integrated fans, damper, and draft control allow for the fireplace insert to easily heat the 3 car garage throughout the winter, and you get to cook on it too!
Behind the wood burner is an oil burner furnace.
Although the Oil Burner Furnace works flawlessly, I would prefer the space with its eradication from this garage.
The Furnace will remain connected to show any prospective buyers that it works fine.
The Furnace is for sale or I'll trade (firewood?).
You can find that furnace, it's listed here: Oil Burner Furnace
As an update this November 2018, the wood stove's distillery is working like a champ but is discussed on another page of this website in more detail.
At present there's a gallon of distilled water every two days. It's only been in the 30 degree range outside so the stove is not fired to near it's potential right now. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is to me. Here's why:
1). By making my own distilled water now eliminates my need to transport myself to the distant store. I don't drive and the bike would not carry enough of the yearly supply of water that the battery banks infrequently will consume.
2.) The cost for distilled water is not so significant if it were needed to be obtained from the monopoly-protected stores, however the inconvenience of having to get my geriatric self on a bike these days is petering-out.
3.) With the savings in the cost of distilled water, the cost of the loss of my time (my life) to obtain said water, and the potential of accidents along the way, are completely eliminated by making my own distilled water anyway.
4.) Since I've completely dropped away from the path of normal capitalistic ventures ( a job, wife, picket fence and a dog named Waldo ), I haven't any real source of income. One might say I've pushed this thing about faith a bit too far, but honestly....who needs to work when you're increasingly becoming self-sufficient? By not being forced to follow the "normal" route of obtaining outside employment I can avoid financing what may be our Nation's own demise (i.e. https://usdebtclock.org ).
5.) And finally there's the religious reasons, tenets such as, "be ye separate" and "let thine OWN cisterns water thee" and "my people, when ye see these signs, depart from her"
In short, the distillery was worth the moments to construct. The water that fuels the distillery is actually the washer and dryer's refuse water. And furthermore, the refuse washer / dryer water is actually the refuse water from the Reverse Osmosis unit! In fact, the water that comes into my lab is completely raw from deep in the ground. The raw water is not what I drink, there are a half-dozen filters for the drinking water. One need only bother to stare at the wet concrete floor as the water pools down the drain to see the nematode creatures (use a magnifying glass). When the concrete is almost completely drained off, that's the best time to see what's really happening in your water. It appears they are squirming around trying to find a pool to dip into. Also, if you've ever killed a cricket or other similar bug and noticed a white thing coming out of it's buttocks, that squirming thing is another form of nematode. But enough of the worms already.
The revolutionary part of the setup is that since all R.O. Systems (reverse-osmosis) throw out tons of water (you'd be surprised what your under-the-sink R.O units throw down the drain!), the answer was to automate and use the wasted water.
So, when the raw water comes in to the lab it goes to a splitter that allows for an avenue of becoming filter and then the other avenue is set to a hose for spraying down the washout area, another to the shower, and finally yet another to the washer. However the washer's use of the raw water is further utilized in that the runoff it receives directly from the R.O.'s refused water is then drained into a catch of jugs. As the jugs become full, it's then that the rounds to the various end-points are made. For instance, on the wood burner is a larger-than-life roasting pan that boils water pretty much perpectually, it also acts as the humidifier (I don't like dry air), if it is full then I top off the distillery. If the distillery is full then I water the over-30 seedlings that have soil that tends to dry out daily. There's also other plants that need constant tending to (which hopefully there will be implented to automate that process using a simple drip-waterer).
I'm only leaving the following note because it's something that really blew me away. However I'm retarded so that isn't really saying too much.
Let's say you need more heat out of your fire but it appears to be burning lazily. What do you do?
Some of you might say open the damper to get the suction effect going (but then you are simply releasing the heat up the chimney), others will say open the draft control (but let's assume it's wide open already), and still others will say pour some gasoline in there (LOL...no, nobody is actually saying that, right?).
Well here's a tip:
You could pull the ash pan out a bit, by doing so would permit more air to enter up under the fire-box. This works, but let's say you have burning embers in the ash pan and you don't want the gasses to enter your living space.
Also, for argument's sake, let's say that pulling the pan out a tad hasn't made the fire burn hotter, now what?
Answer: Poke the grate.
This is the thing that blew me away.
Apparently, sometimes the grate becomes impassable even to air.
Whether by logs or un-burned kindling, or rocks (you never seen how I load my stove so don't laugh), you need only poke one or two holes in the grate to see the instant effects....suddenly your lazy fire will sound as though a turbo-engine were firing up.
Poking the grate, try it sometime.
As a final note, rotten wood is just that, plain old rotten to use.
Here's what burning rotten wood gets you:
- Rotten wood does not create heat. In fact, it is exactly the antithesis of creating heat.
- Rotten wood creates more problems with the chimney too. Expect to clean out that flue more now. Since the rotten wood holds moisture, that moisture will collect in the flue to attract more build-up of creosote.
- Rotten wood has more living matter in it. Bugs burning do not create more heat either. As a matter of fact, as their little bodies are exploding in the fire, their inards are helping also to cool down the fire.
- Rotten wood, especially when the wood is so soft that it is easily separated from the core attracts more pests, the bad kind (such as termites and other boring bugs). So if you are planning to store it, make real certain there's not a wooden structure nearby that you'd like to see remain structurally sound.
However if you are in need of rotten wood, try this guy:
I VOLUNTARILY CENSORED THE NAME AND PHONE NUMBER OFF primarily due to the fact that I may be too picky and should appreciate anything that comes delivered here.
**May 14, 2019 update
New wood guy is delivering today. I miss the old guy already.
The new wood guy needs a week of advance notice on the next load of wood that is required, whereas my old wood guy was pretty much the next day or a couple of days after the order is made.
Good News! I made up with the old wood guy and firewood was the next day instead!
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Located: 2803 Troy Road in Springfield Ohio.
Tel: (937) 718-3586