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  1. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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  2. restorer

    restorer New Member

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    I am interested, also. My grandfather built his house in the late 20's, early 30's. I clearly remember the fireplace in the livingroom. Six feet across standing maybe two feet into the room. The firebox was about 30in. wide, and 30 in. tall. the mantel was about 5 feet off the floor. What was curious were the vents along the front low to the floor and grates on each end, both high and low. My grandfather was an engineer, contractor, surveyor and farmer. He designed the house and built it himself. He never explained the fireplace, but I believe it was a masonry-mass stove. He would light a fire and burn it hot with a bronze cover over the fire box, and vents under the grate front. He would put four or five crumpled pieces of newspaper on the grate stack a half dozen pieces of kindling build a cover of splits and use one match. That was the big giggle with the family no one else could do it with one match. Anyway, the stove would burn less than an hour, but could radiate heat for hours. When it started to cool in the room he'd repeat the process, and maybe throw a chunk of coal on top. That mass would stay warm all night. I never remember seeing a blazing fire in the box, but remember the best place to stand and get warm after playing in the snow was at the end of the fireplace, not in front. I am sure this was an old German design, or maybe something he learned in college at the University of Illinois.The chimney was on an outside wall, and extended a foot or more beyond the outside walls. The walls by the way were 12 in. thick. I am sure they were well insulated.

    Years ago I got interested in finding out about this kind of heating, but lost interest as there was almost no information available. I am again interested in learning all.
  3. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    strikes me that i have heard of these being called a "russian fireplace" or somthing like that , if i remember reading it right , there are open "pits" in the exhaust that allow for heating of the brickwork by the exhaust as well as the fire. been a couple years since i read about it, i think it was in a hearth publication, hearth and home maybe, was really interesting article. i may try to look it up again when i have time to dig through old pubs at the shop. chuckle, i dont have to look , second link is the one i read , was in MEN i just bookmarked the site. thanks for the post , its really a kool concept
  4. sgcsalsero

    sgcsalsero Feeling the Heat

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    I noticed there seemed to be a little arm twisting going on with a previous thread to get this info. . . staying tuned
  5. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Well, yes it was/is meant to draw MartyS out, but I don't think he's going to post here either, despite my direct question and relevance to the thread. There's no camoflage going on here. I really would like to hear his thoughts, particularly being an owner and operator of one. Nonetheless, the topic of masonry heaters is a good one in my opinion, and perhaps this thread will bring a healthy discussion.

    Incidentially, I think it was the second link I posted that makes reference to a book called "Living Homes". I bought that book and it goes into great detail (several chapters) about how to build that masonry heater. Quite an interesting article.

    -Kevin
  6. tutu_sue

    tutu_sue New Member

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    The masonry heaters are really cool and highly efficient. I looked into them a year or two ago and found that the initial cost is very high, but they pretty much last forever. I have heard that you can get 24 hours of heat on one load of wood. Expect to pay $5,000 for the guts. Additional is metal hardware, stone or brick facing, chimney, masonry work, labor, foundation support, etc. Also consider is that a wood framed floor will not support the mass of the heater, so a block support base extending from the ground or slab up will also be necessary. I would have to say that if you can't DIY the masonry work, the total cost would be closer to $10K.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I love these things. I even talked to webwidow about putting one in here - since I can do at least some of the general contracting myself, I think I could get something in for maybe 15K. That may sound like a lot of money, but when it comes to house remodeling it is not.

    Outdoor wood boilers and central heat boilers (wood, pellets, etc.) can easily run 10-15K+ installed NOT including the house distribution system.

    All I have to do is start by cutting a hole in the basement floor and digging a deep foundation.

    My guess for average homeowner installed price for these things is 15-20K. Again, not to bad when compared to regular masonry fireplaces which are 7 grand plus without accessories, glass doors. So a masonry fireplace with an insert and liner....over 10K.
  8. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    I don't want to take this thread OT (let me know if I should start another one), but you have peaked my curiosity.

    I know a bit about the basic concept of a masonry heater. As I understand it, the large stone mass stores heat, much the same way a soapstone stove does, and releases it slowly over time. What I'm curious about is the guts of these things. What's on the inside, other than a firebox and a chimney? Also, how much wood do you have to go through to heat one up?

    IMHO this is a very good topic, for one that started off as bait on a thread ;-P (just kidding Wrench, I couldn't pass that one up).
  9. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    I suppose it all depends on how much you are willing to do yourself. Personally, I don't think it would cost that much, particularly if you could source the rocks yourself. In that Living Homes book the builder I believe made the masonry heater for $1000 bucks. Granted, he was a hippie, real scrounger type, but I certainly think $5K would be in reason if you were providing the sweat equity. There's no need for fancy kits.

    -Kevin
  10. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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    I've looked into these for some time now and someday hope to figure out a way to retro-fit one into our house. Here is some cost information I found from a couple sites with prices for heaters and heater components in some cases for self-assembly.

    Heat-Kit prices


    One of the sites which I have looked at the most is from Maine Wood Heat.

    Maine Wood Heat prices
    Maine Wood Heat core info
    They also have construction manuals and documentation for these on their site.

    Temp-Cast also sells a modular heater core kit.

    Griz, if you want to see what goes into one of these look at this link from the MHA website that shows a heater being built. Check it out and read the document link by Jay Hensley and one can see how much is involved Masonry heater workshop construction process

    The Tulikivi and Willach heaters are mostly all soapstone which is a significant cost factor over brick as well as the fact that they are imported. These are sold almost exlcusively through dealers and in a discussion on the GardenWeb forums one of the Tulikivi owners noted that the price was in excess of $20,000. You could buy some nice stoves and probably 15 years worth of dry split cordwood for that kind of money
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not going to lay brick, and I would use a pre-engineered interior because I would trust that better than site built. If the innards alone cost 5-7K, then figure the cost of building a large masonry structure from the basement up through the house...it's gonna cost...

    Certainly, with any masonry, if a person wants to lay the brick and block and mix the mortar they can save a bundle.
  12. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    Thanks for the links burn-1. There is definitely more going on in there than I realized.

    That would be an awesome addition, but it looks like you really need the right type of home layout for one to be very effective.
  13. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    There is a mason who has a display the next town over that build masonry heaters a Finish brand he builds is
    Tulikivi

    The theory is short couple hours hot burning fire that heats the masonry mass stores heat that will release it for up to 12 hours prices are 15k or more

    What Uncle rich described, is not so much a masonry heater but a heatolator type fire place. with a convection chambed drawing cold air from the living space channeling it around the fire box and exiting above the firebox

    The masonry heaters are fireplaces , where convection chambers circulate threw the masonry mass and heat the masonry. All of these heaters are located in an interior location Some are masonry mass and use a class A metal pipe for venting.

    In a way I have achieved storage mass here without the expense of the masonry heater. I planned this long ago when I built my home.
    Behind my stove is a 12' wall floor to ceiling 16". thick, with real granite field stone I scrounged from my lot. My chimney location is in the center of my home ,a very open concept. This chimney has 4 flues, one for my wood stove, one for the fire place, one for the oil burner, and another one for a wood stove. I once had upstairs. but now a bedroom. After 24/ 7and 500+degrees constant heat exposed by my wood stove, these granite stones get warm, I mean possibly over 100 drgrees. Even if my stove burns down one, can feel the warmth generating from these
    stones for hours. No way can one do that withan exterior location chimney. I saved my home description that was posted on the old forum and would post it here but most regulars grow tired reading recycled post. Where my side walls are R28 and solar gain during the day, if sunny, I need little heat. Built into the side of a hill reducing nothern exposure
  14. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Good links Burn1, thanks. Craig. I'm surprised that someone as handy as yourself would be going for a pre-built unit. Not rocket science in my mind. But I know what you are saying too. Not something you want to get wrong and then have 3,000 lbs of rock to deal with in order to repair it.

    I don't know if I can scan in the information from the book legally. But I'd be happy to do it if folks want. Might take me some time to put together. Craig, can I do this and post here?

    -Kevin
  15. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    NW MI near nowhere
    MrWrench (aka Kevin):

    When things are considered "expensive", some may say, "If you have to ask 'How much?' you can't afford it". Is it expensive? Yes. Do I regret it? Definitely, no.

    I spent about $25K on mine, which includes the below listed (*) to my memory, but remember, cost is not everything. Cost is relative. I'll get to this later.

    * Core unit (TempCast - a Finnish design contraflow)
    * Installation of core unit (can be done DIY if your guns are like Arnold's Schwartz..'s - some 'pieces' of the core weigh 125 lbs)
    * Fabrication of chimney (I used approved double wall and single wall to protect thru ceiling passage and get heat into living space)
    * Masonry block foundation built on a reinforced concrete footing on virgin earth
    * Poured concrete floor pad on 3/8" steel sheet
    * Masonry solid brick laid over core unit with tile facade (as seen here on hearth.net fireplaces "tilestone")
    * Bakeoven option
    * Large single glass door option
    * Tile hearth

    A heater like this would be difficult and more costly to retrofit into an existing home unless you had the savy and ability to DIY. Now, less expensive versions are appearing which is a good thing.

    My N MI open floor plan home built in 2003 was essentially built around the thing which is self supporting and weighs approximately 4 - 5 tons (hence Thermal mass - can't do this with a 600 - 800 lb metal stove). It has a flame path of some 15' inside the masonry (for heat transfer) and the chimney begins behind the unit at floor level where a manual damper is located I close after the coals die down. When it's a little warmer outside, I leave the damper open. Never had a backdraft.

    Why did I do it? I wanted to and I could after many years having burned fireplace inserts, gas stoves, gas fireplaces, and a few metal stoves. I live on a hill in a remote area with frequent power outages from wind/tree vs powerlines. My steep driveway will not permit passage of utility trucks (LPG for my furnace) in winter. I tired of the frequent filling of the hungry metal stoves/inserts and the subsequent "indoor weather" fluctuations they caused. I also developed a dislike of the "fried dust" they generated.

    I wanted safe, easy (1 - 2 fires per day), clean burning (only pellet stoves rate cleaner burning but are too mechanical for me and don't put out enough heat) for the environment, long lasting (the thing will out live me, maybe my grandkids), gentle healthy radiant heat and another member of my family (it sticks out into my living room, but it's welcome). From a 50 lb (average) fuel load, the fire burns intensely for 1 1/2 - 2 hours generating a spectacular fire I enjoy in the morning about 6 AM with coffee. If it's single figures outside I burn a second 50 lb fuel load over a "sundowner" while preparing dinner. It can take three (3) 50 lb fuel loads per 24 hours without overfiring (per TempCast). The tile surface rarely gets too hot to touch and maintains a comfortable ambient indoor temperature of 68 - 70* F in a main floor of about 2500 SF plus 400 SF loft. Without detailed notes, empiracally I burn about one cord less per year with the masonry heater (1/4 - 1/3 less; this year maybe 1/2 less) vs other wood burners I've had.

    I also have my own woodlot of about 22 acres which I harvest about 5 cords per year burning 3 - 4 cords myself, giving some to neighbors, some to church auction. But this is part of the payback I'll get into later. Stay tuned. It's late.

    Specific questions I'll attempt to answer w/o BS.

    Good night.

    Aye,
    Marty

    Grandma used to say, "Non illigitimi carborundum." (Translation follows, stay tuned...)
  16. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Marty,

    Congrats...that's a SUPER update that I (and other members) thoroughly enjoyed!! We always enjoy hearing about the various heating systems other members have.

    As to the saying from your grandma...why make the forum members "stay tuned"......it means don't let the illegitimate ones grind you down or, don't let the bastards get you down.............

    Now you spoiled it for us Marty and we were off to such a good start........LOL.....
  17. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Thanks for the response MartyS.

    It's quite interesting to hear about how such a mass is able to retain heat for so long, with such a small amount of fuel. As efficient as my woodstove may be, it makes me think about how much heat is lost up and out of the chimney.

    $25K seems high. But it's all relative. That cost would make it impossible for many people to afford. However, I think a dedicated DIYer could tackle the project. I can certainly understand why someone would not want to undertake a project of this magnitude without some prior construction experience. Not the type of project to undertake if you have ANY doubts in your abilities. Definately don't want something with that amount of weight and size to have any questionable structural integrity.

    I'm interested in the optional oven. How do you regulate the heat? Easy to cook with or no?

    -Kevin
  18. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Marty,

    Congrats...that's a SUPER update that I (and other members) thoroughly enjoyed!! We always enjoy hearing about the various heating systems other members have.

    As to the saying from your grandma...why make the forum members "stay tuned"......I believe it means don't let the illegitimate ones grind you down or, don't let the bastards get you down............. n'est pas?
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the informative post Marty. I would have loved to install a masonry heater but it would have been a real budget buster for us.
  20. Burn-1

    Burn-1 Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Lakes Region, NH
    Dylan if the ones in the prior links aren't your cup of tea, take a look at these stucco covered, not entirely blocky, and somewhat more 'horizontal' masonry heaters from Biofire. Biofire 1 Biofire 2 Many of these have heated benches which is what spreads their shape out.

    It would seem you can build pretty much any design around the 'core' of the heater throat and flue exhaust channels. It's a matter of cost for most. I think the reason that you see many of the designs you don't like is that the core construction is expensive enough that simpler facings and shapes are used as a means to contain costs.
  21. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    NW MI near nowhere
    You can design your "hot rock" to your own taste level. Mine looks like this:

    http://hearth.com/gallery/pics/fireplaces/source/tilestove.html


    Costs (of ‘expensive’ $25K masonry heater) are relative.  And, it’s for essential home heat. 

    ESTIMATED SAVINGS/PAYBACK CALCULATIONS (‘Tight’ new 2900 SF mainfloor/loft home)

    Nov ‘04 - Oct ‘06 (2 years)

    With Masonry Heater/Harman TLC 2000
    $1114. (643.5 Gals) LPG Purchases @ $1.73/G ave (stove, H/W, Onan 12K generator)
    $ 200. Cordwood Purchases (Rotator cuff inj shoulder 3/05 - couldn't swing a thing for a few months)
    $ 250. Anthracite Purchases (basement stove)
    $ 55. Chainsaw/tractor fuel
    __________
    $1619. /24 months = $ 67./month

    Without Heater/Stove - Est Expenses
    $4200. LPG ($175/mo x 24 mo)

    $4200. /24 months = $175/mo
    - 1619.
    _______
    $2581. Saved in 2 years
    Payback is 20 years (worse case) without adding up non-essential experses (below)

    For just 1 year, add up what you spend on non-essentials such as:

    $25000. Your second or third vehicle (I have one)
    $3000 - ? Your boat (I have three and I admit it’s a weakness, sorry)
    $125000 Your “hunting cabin” or second home (I have one home)
    $1500 Tobacco $5/pk x 300/yr (a vice that’s not nice)
    $3600 Ethanol $10/day (wine, beer, booze)
    $50000 - ? Your mistress (Been thar, done that - a real waste)
    $2500 Eating at restaurants (I do this modestly)
    $3500 Hunting and fishing trips (I quit killin’ things long ago)
    $1000 Blown pocket money, ATM w/drawls (Everyone does this)
    ? “Stuff” you bought but haven’t used in at least a year (It adds up)
    Big Bucks A divorce or two (see a few lines up;no comment)
    Make your own list (Yada, Yada, Yada)

    and the cost/payback, ease of use, safety, effectiveness, eco-friendlyness and convenience of a big hot rock (aka masonry heater) in your home doesn’t seem so out of the question.

    ____________________________
    “Today, many people think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars for an automobile that holds its value for a very short time.  But the investment in a masonry stove is truly rock solid.  As part of a home remodeling project or new home construction, masonry stoves easily pay for themselves -  in reduced heating costs, increased comfort, and added value to the home.”

    http://www.fnaturalhomes.com/fountainheat.htm
    _____________________________
    Scuttlebutt from other owners: The homeowners report that their investment in this heater has paid for itself in traditional home heating costs after only 6 heating seasons.

    Aye,
    Marty
    Grandma used to say, “Sometimes less is more.”
  22. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    1,882
    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    Masonary heaters seem like a great option if one can afford one. First of all, less wood and not having to "TEND" the fire every few or so hours. Secondly they aren't going to rust out, warp, or produce leaks like an OWB would do. If you build your dream home, and plan to heat it with wood, why not spend that initial cost, or add it to the loan and have something that will continue working for years and years to heat your home. Cost seems high, but look at geothermal heat systems, 10 to 20 thousand dollars, with a 10 to 15 year life, then all over again. It will last long enough to produce a payback. Would something like that add value to a home? I could see it adding value, being its a beautiful fireplace and heats the house at the same time.
  23. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

    Joined:
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    763
    Loc:
    NW MI near nowhere
    MODIFIED PAYBACK WITH BURNING OWN CORDWOOD VS PURCHASING

    Costs (of ‘expensive’ $25K masonry heater) are relative.  And, it’s for essential home heat. 

    SAVINGS/PAYBACK CALCULATIONS (‘Tight’ new 2900 SF main & loft home)

    Nov ‘04 - Oct ‘06 (2 years) With Masonry Heater/Harman TLC 2000

    $1114. (643.5 Gals) LPG Purchases @ $1.73/G ave
    (stove, H/W, Onan 12K generator)
    $ 200. Cordwood Purchases
    (Rotator cuff inj shoulder 3/05)
    $ 250. Anthracite Purchases (basement stove)
    $ 55. Chainsaw/tractor fuel
    __________
    $1619. /24 months = $ 67./month

    Without Heater/Stove - Est Expenses
    $4200. LPG ($175/mo x 24 mo)

    $4200. /24 months = $175/mo
    - 1619.
    _______
    $2581. Saved in 2 years
    Payback is 20 years (worse case) without adding up non-essential experses (below)

    $1600. Additional saving from burning own wood (4 cords/yr @ $200/cord)
    $4181. Saved in 2 years
    Payback is about 12 years without adding up non-essential experses (below)


    For just 1 year, add up what you spend on non-essentials such as:

    $25000. Your second or third vehicle (I have one)
    $3000 - ? Your boat (I have three and I admit it’s a weakness, sorry)
    $125000 Your “hunting cabin” or second home (I have one home)
    $1500 Tobacco $5/pk x 300/yr (a vice that’s not nice)
    $3600 Ethanol $10/day (wine, beer, booze)
    $50000 - ? Your mistress (Been thar, done that - a real waste)
    $2500 Eating at restaurants (I do this modestly)
    $3500 Hunting and fishing trips (I quit killin’ things long ago)
    $1000 Blown pocket money, ATM w/drawls (Everyone does this)
    ? “Stuff” you bought but haven’t used in at least a year (It adds up)
    Big Bucks A divorce or two (see a few lines up;no comment)
    Yada, Yada, Yada

    and the cost, ease, safety, effectiveness, eco-friendlyness and convenience of a big hot rock (aka masonry heater) in your home doesn’t seem so out of the question.

    ____________________________
    “Today, many people think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars for an automobile that holds its value for a very short time.  But the investment in a masonry stove is truly rock solid.  As part of a home remodeling project or new home construction, masonry stoves easily pay for themselves -  in reduced heating costs, increased comfort, and added value to the home.”

    http://www.fnaturalhomes.com/fountainheat.htm
    ______________

    Scuttlebutt from other homeowners: The homeowners report that their investment in this heater has paid for itself in traditional home heating costs after only 6 heating seasons.

    Aye,
    Marty

    Grandma used to say, “Sometimes less is more.”
  24. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2006
    Messages:
    781
    Loc:
    OH
    Marty,

    Excellent post! Great information on costs, expenses, etc.

    regards
  25. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,362
    Loc:
    south central WI
    As recently as just a few months ago, I was determined to include a masonry heater for my new construction project that will begin in a year or two. I was going to have these folks build mine:

    http://www.gimmeshelteronline.com

    Lots of links on their site relating to masonry heaters....

    After careful consideration, including information provided to me by contributors on hearth.com, I decided against getting a masonry heater. Part of it is the cost. Part of it is that I like fire and keeping it going, so the idea of one or two short fires per day really doesn't satisfy my inner pyro urge. Okay, most of it was cost. That money will be going towards a metal roof, higher end windows, and some design features that will make my wife happy.

    They are beautiful heaters though...
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