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Can woodstoves be automated? (long post)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Gark, Nov 28, 2011.

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  1. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    Operating an EPA woodstove is confusing, maybe too complex, for some users. Automation should be invented to simplify the control of wood fuel through the burn cycle. The technology and components have been around for decades. A clothes dryer, automatic coffee maker and water softener are technologically more advanced than most woodstoves.
    A cheap microprocessor, running the automated stove's program, would control the 4 phases of burning wood. This "brain" with temperature inputs (probes - thermocouples or varistors) will control all air intakes with positional servo motors to
    eliminate guesswork and get an efficient & clean burn. Algorithms will detect the charcoal stage and either signal the human for reload or detect (drop in firebox temp.) a new cycle. The program knows just when to close the damper (and closes it) for cat stoves and when to taper off the primary air (and does it) for non-cats. Having gathered historical temperature data over time, the program deduces flue throughput, fuel quality and load. It uses this data for optimum burn per the season's demand (shoulder season? mid-winter? all-nighter?).
    This system would need to have MODES for different users. For example- EXPERT mode (most PPL on this forum) may want to totally control the air and/or damper manually just like today. Or they may want to switch the brain into AUTO so they can fill the firebox and go to work or sleep. Some stoves need 'tweaking' through the cycle - the brain would do that using temperature sensor info. For example - no more wood outgassing, all coals = the intake is opened to burn away some coals, then at 300 f.(or whatever you want) it signals for more wood. This controller would have a display and USB port (ever wonder how hot that stove got with nobody around?). Historical temperature data gathered by the program can tell how many BTU's were provided last winter or last week. Given a way to contact you (alarm or an I.P. address or dialer for your cell phone), it could signal for a reload or complain of damp wood. It could know when gaskets are leaky or the flue isn't pulling well. For safety, the default position of intakes controlled by this brain is "closed".
    BK owners need not apply.
    Thoughts?

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  2. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    I've thought about something that would let me control the primary air. I hate getting up off the couch to close it down loading it. Also, It would be nice to have it open automatically once the fire gets to the coal stage. Other than that, EPA stove are pretty automatic and they will burn safely without any input from the user.

    There is one stove out there that has a start up air control that automatically closes.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  4. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    Operationg an EPA stove isn't that complex.

    There is a lot of shop talk here on the forums. Sometimes all that discussion can lead to new burners way over thinking things.

    -SF
  5. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Or, you can just get a pellet stove.
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  6. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    LOL..best post!
  7. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Look at the Kuuma Vapor fire furnace. It's fully automatic, open door, load, set temp and walk away. It uses a thermocouple attached to a modulating draft intake. As the fire goes up or down, the air automatically adjusts itself. They claim less than 1 gram an hour with a burn time of 8-10 hours with up to 6 hours of coals after. There's a you tube video showing how the computer and intakes work. It's impressive. I'm sure the same thing could be done on a stove with electronics. But the benefit of a stove is power outages and having electronics would defeat the purpose.
  8. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    All of this stuff is why gas furnaces, oil furnaces and heat pumps were invented in the first place. If your gonna burn wood. Burn wood.

    Or get that pellet stove. Enough circuit boards and sensors to warm anybody's heart. And their house too.
    Hearth Mistress likes this.
  9. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    That was my first thought. :)
  10. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    The more you add, the more that can break or not function properly. Most of us avoid inserts due to the reliance upon electricity to move the heat. Some of us avoid cat stoves for the additional complexity and upkeep. Some of us moved from pellet stoves to wood burning due to maintenance, repairs, and functioning issues. Now imagine if every stove was in need of a power supply and had the maintenance needs of a pellet stove.
  11. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    I appreciate the low tech simplicity of my stove when it is cold, windy, snowing like crazy, and the power is out.

    -SF
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I can just see it now. The headline:

    Virus Cripples Wood Stoves Across North America. Oil Burners Chuckle
    Hearth Mistress and dougand3 like this.
  13. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    My pellet stoves require less time than my woodstove. Total time cleaning a stove and filling once a day. Compared to filling and adjusting constantly?

    Dont get me wrong. Love my Woodstove. And maybe its because its my 1st year with it.

    But all the fuel is already seasoned, on pallets, cheap (right now I can buy a ton for $140 in Tiffin at Lowes/ 4 ton = $660 for the yr) Stoves need cleaned but dont take a Rocket Scientist. Merely takes about 45-60 min for a Deep Clean. The stove will be up and producing heat quick.

    Where a woodstove must be "planned" to take down. It then takes hours to cool and the flue "Can be" a pain in the rear. (Depends on flue). Then start a fire and wait for heat.

    Not listing the Pros of a woodstove. As it sounds like you want the automation of a pellet stove.

    Woodstoves have many advantages also (no electric, cheaper fuel, higher radiant temps)
  14. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

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    Apple releases iStove. Slimmer, sleeker, but only uses Apple certified wood. Does not support pine.

    Norton releases StoveShield 2.0. Promises more complete combustion and more secure to protect from outside attacks.
    Hearth Mistress and dougand3 like this.
  15. tfdchief

    tfdchief Minister of Fire

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    Me too!!!!! I have enough electronics in my life!
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The iStove. "Honey, what do I do? Windows just crashed on the stove."

    Attached Files:

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  17. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    Apple store releases new app for iStove. "Gates of Hell" screensaver for summer use.
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  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  19. Trktrd

    Trktrd Feeling the Heat

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    How lazy can we get? We spend countless hours cutting, splitting and stacking then we're too lazy to shove it in the stove and enjoy the fruits of our labor??
  20. karl

    karl Minister of Fire

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    LMAO Probably from a rigged Chinese chip like in our military electronics.
  21. perry

    perry Burning Hunk

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    i have a earth 100 series wood stove from the 70's in my shop. it has a factory automatic damper on it and i also installed a magic heat into the stove pipe. i love it. load it up and walk away. when i here the magic heat shut off its time to reload.

    this is the same one i have. (not my pic)
    [​IMG]
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with the premise - that being that it is very possible to simplify stoves and that some are too hard to operate for the masses.

    There have already been some efforts - like the Nestor Martin - at putting microprocessor controlled air inlets on. I think some of this will be common in the future, but they should be all able to work in a power failure. That may mean using the generating modules which create electric from the heat of the stove.

    I jokingly wrote about the idea in a recent Ash Can posts as something like this...a drawer fed stove that checked the wood for moisture and size and then put it in the proper place.....

    --------------from the Ash Can-----below.....

    Yeah, but combining the newer cat and hybrid with a known loading scheme, wood size and moisture content would be the BOMB…....

    Anyone got about a cool million to blow on such a project??? If we keep it close to the vest and negotiate well, we might be able to do it for 1/2 that.

    If I get hooked on this one, it will be the death of me (or at least the death of my savings).......

    How would Steve Jobs built a wood stove???

    Heck, here’s another feature! If the wood you put in is close to seasoned, say 23% or less, the stove holds it in purgatory for a few minutes and dries it out using the heat of the fire…instead of outright rejecting it.

    Sadly, I don’t think there are any companies or characters in the industry these days ready to do it for The Product…that is, they are all either corporate or broke or too old (speaking for myself and some cohorts there). We need the nExt generation. This baby need everything from a touch screen to internet access.

    -----
  23. Iembalm4aLiving

    Iembalm4aLiving Feeling the Heat

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    Agreed. Modern stoves make wood burning a simple pleasure. I find that many on Hearth.com make it harder than it has to be.
  24. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    Sooo .... doesn't look as if any design engineers working for woodstove makers are going to jump all over this, huh? The wife won't work the stove while I'm out because it has
    a couple of steps more complexity than the smoke dragon she learned on. No, we won't be getting a corn stove, either. Thanks for the laughs and all your inputs!
  25. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    When the only option for a Chain saw is EFI, or battery back-up on a wood stove I will be done burning wood.
    Hearth Mistress likes this.
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