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General stove questions

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mroses33, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. Mroses33

    Mroses33 New Member

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    Jul 16, 2013
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    Hi everyone!

    This may be the wrong place to post this...I am in charge of a group of kids who are trying to build a rudimentary wood stove for a science project. I want them to think about designing to meet consumer needs, but I am a total wood stove newbie. Could you guys help me out by answering some of the following questions?

    1. What features are you looking for in a wood stove? (i.e. user friendliness, looks, environmental factors, etc.)
    2. What was the deciding factor in buying your last stove?
    3. What don't you like about your current stove?
    4. What features would you really like to see in a wood stove?

    If you could answer any or all of these questions, I would really appreciate it!

    Thanks!

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep - outside of a square steel box that eats wood, your teachings may be better applied to the rocket stove design. Simply stated - a decent wood stove (read: EPA) is a fair amount of engineering. To do this even remotely up to any standard it will also require some spendy products.

    The other side of the fence is the Rocket stove. Fairly easy to build, can be built on a small budget, multiple designs and you can/will produce a useful item.
  4. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    What age are these kids? Regardless of what comes of this notion, I'd have to say that the first thing that popped into my mind was Safety, Safety, Safety! You're thinking of letting these kids play with fire. As far as actually building what's generally thought of as a wood burning stove goes, that's a very complex undertaking, involving metalwork and welding at the very least. Even the simplest of wood stoves isn't a simple thing to create. Rick
    Jags likes this.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Mroses.

    This sounds like quite the project for young folks and even for yourself with not much background in wood burning. But rather than other suggestions I will take the time to attempt to answer the questions you have asked.

    1. Features. User friendliness is very important to most folks. One has to realize that most of the time it is not just one person who will be using and running the stove. For example, when I was a young lad there were 4 children and 2 parents in the house. Everyone had to know how to run the stoves. The exception was the wood cooking stove which was run mostly by my mother although she did teach my older sister some the skill of cooking on one.

    In today's world we find that most folks work away from home. Some homes the man leaves for work while the lady of the house might be there all day and she can tend the stove. Other homes find both parents working away from the home and this means they have to have a stove that is easy to operate and can hold a fire all day to keep the home comfortable as they don't like coming home to a cold house. Not many do! Then we have parents that teach their children how to light fires and operate the stoves. Those with small children have fears (mostly unfounded) about the little ones getting badly burned on the wood heaters. I might add that with our family of 4 children that I never remember even one time of anyone getting burned from the stove. However, people can build fences to keep people away but also have stoves with controls that might be a bit more difficult for a child to move. One would hate to find a child moved the draft lever either full open or full closed.

    Some folks do not care what the stove looks like and just want to get a cheap steel stove while others find no reason the stove should not look as good as other furniture in the home. There are a wide range to suit everyone and new designs come along annually.

    By all means environmental issues come to mind when burning wood, especially when folks live close together as they do in cities or even villages. In addition, one does not want to have issues with the chimney. For example, on our old stove we used to have to clean our chimney around 4 times per year and can remember doing it even more often. Yet with the new epa stove we have (see my signature line) we rarely have to clean the chimney because we do not get the dreaded creosote with this stove. Still newer stoves are being developed at this time that will burn even cleaner. The future of wood heat looks bright.

    Just as important and perhaps a bit more important is the fuel we will be burning. This is where hard labor is involved. First thing one should learn is how to make the fuel be the most efficient. This is done only through time. Annually we find folks who are new to wood burning and they do much research in selecting the right stove. Then comes the installation of it and the chimney. When all that is done, then they begin to think about the fuel. This is actually totally backward to the way it should be done!

    How is one to get the fuel? Will he cut it himself? Will he somehow "scrounge" for his wood? Will he purchase it already cut to length and split? In each scenario, the new wood burner will be faced with the same situation. The wood will not be ready to burn right away. To be ready, the wood needs time. That is, time to let Mother Nature do some of the task. Wood generally does not dry much at all until it has been cut to firewood length, split and then stacked out in the wind and sun. If one has to choose, wind is more important than sun. Then he has to wait. How long? That depends upon which type of wood he chooses! Ah ha! Another thing to learn. There are many types of wood and one needs to know what he will have. Then he can determine how long he needs. Some, like soft maple or a few others can be dried fairly fast, which means it could be cut during the winter and if split right away could be ready to burn in the following winter. Others, like oak, which is one of the very best firewoods, could not be done this way. Oak is extremely dense and gives up its moisture very reluctantly. In my area, we give oak 3 years in the stack to be dry enough to burn. Burn it earlier and problems arise and the worst problem is creosote.


    2. Deciding factor on our last stove: With us it was a matter of needing a new stove but having our fund level a bit light. Then one day we ran across a really hot deal. We found a family who thought they wanted to burn wood but after only a couple fires the wife laid down the law that the stove had to go. We were lucky to find this out and were able to pick up this stove for not much more than a song and a dance. It seemed to be just what we needed as it was larger than the stove we then had. The deciding factor on our present stove is not one factor but many. We appreciated the reputation of the company who built this stove and were certain they would stand behind their product. They also gave us a six month guarantee that if we did not like the stove or it did not do the job for us, we could return it for a full refund. We also liked the soapstone because there really is a difference in the way the heat feels out of a soapstone stove vs a cast or steel stove. Naturally the price also is a factor as is the appearance of the stove. Our stove looks like a fine piece of furniture.

    3. Not liked about the current stove: This may sound strange to you but we have not found one thing that we dislike about our current stove.

    4. What features would we like to see in a new stove: We would like to see the cooktops become more popular and if we had one we'd be very happy. However, this does not mean we do not cook on our present stove because we do. But having a dedicated cooktop, especially one with varying temperatures is the ultimate. Another feature that most folks would like to see is a more automatic stove. Most folks seem to want a wood stove to act more like their gas furnace in that they want to set a temperature and have the stove do that for them. Sadly, this might be quite some time down the road but many strides are being made in this already.


    With the above, I am very surprised that you did not ask why folks like their present stoves! Good luck with your project.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Rick brings up a good point about safety. That is good to emphasize all along. As far as construction goes, a simple rocket stove can be built in an hour out of a stack of bricks. It'll be primitive, but the principal is the same.

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