Kachelofen? Or something else?

Status
Not open for further replies.

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
Hello, a newbie to the site but a woodburner since 2000 with my 1970s Vermont Castings Vigilant. It is big and burns a lot of wood and can hold a fire for a day, but I think there are some pieces missing (is there supposed to be a tube that brings the air to the front from the inlet? and the metal plate that forms part of the right side damper hinge is missing, meaning that hot air can bypass the back and sneak around the hinge), and I am wondering if I ought to replace it with something more efficient. I have a small log house (900 square feet on each of two floors) and the woodstove makes it right toasty even in our Canadian winter. My father says I ought to get a Kachelofen (a ceramic heater), and I've visited KaHeat in Ontario to check them out. They look nice, but the firebox looks really small (it holds 18 inch pieces, but not a lot of them), and for my size house I can apparently get away with the smallest one he's got. But will I be reloading it every four hours?

Does anyone have one of these Kachelofens and can anyone tell me if they have seen a decrease in wood use compared to a cast iron wood stove, and whether they've had to reload them more frequently than a cast iron wood stove? Was it worth the change-over?

Other options are a pellet stove, but we have rather frequent power outages, and at 800$ for 9 bush cords (I have to cut and split though) I don't think I can get pellets at that price.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has a Kachelofen if you're out there!

Thanks,
Martin D. Ottawa, Ontario
 
In general- a smaller firebox needs more stoking- you're right. Those ceramic jobbers are supposed to hold heat longer I think, but IIRC they're pretty expensive.

Other options include a catalytic stove- which can be run for longer periods, or a soapstone stove- a similar idea to the ceramic tile dealio.

If you're burning pine/softwood then consider a catalytic stove. A new design stove- catalytic or not- should be much more efficient than that old VC you have. Keep up with the chinking in your house as well- LOL. I livein a log home too.
 

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
Don't the catalytic parts of catalytic stoves burn out once in a while and need replacing at high expense? (I'm thinking here too of the catalytic part of my car's exhaust system ...).

I looked into soapstone to begin with and thought that the $10,000 price and the column of cement needed in the basement to support it was a little excessive. I've also heard of people making their own woodstoves out of bricks, lined with real firebricks, and then with kit doors and other movable parts. Sounds kinda dangerous, and maybe something to try in an outbuilding rather than the main house where the family sleeps, but would be nice and cheap ...

I searched on the internet for info on the kachelofens, and from what I can tell the "traditional" ones used in Germany have a series of baffles that retard smoke outflow and thus keep more heat inside. It also means they're really tall. The one I visited at KaHeat had a single steel plate as a baffle that simply makes the smoke move to the front of the stove and then to the back before exiting the chimney, and its size is no more than a normal big cast-iron stove. This seems like the kachelofen must extract less heat from the smoke than does the windy coil at the back of my Vermont stove. Any comments on that?

I've got about $3000 to spend on this, and I am hoping that it means I can use less wood annually than I am currently burning (about 4-5 cords). I also want to produce less pollution etc. so I can feel a little better than my neighbours with their oil heaters (I know, catalytic ...).

I had the house rechinked with that permachink stuff at huge expense (took off the old siding, found older siding underneath and lots of rot ...) so it is *more* airtight than before, but that didn't stop a swarm of bees coming into our bedroom one evening. My wife was unimpressed, to say the least, when she found the bees on the drapes above the bed.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
The intent of a kachelofen is to warm up the ceramic mass of the stove with a clean hot fire. Then let the fire go out and the thermal mass of the stove radiate heat back into the house for several hours. In this case the firebox size is not as much an issue. There are masonry stoves of many varieties that would work for you. Some caveats, they are pricey, heavy and need to be built correctly. But a well done masonry stove is really a joy and a very pleasant heater.

The old Vigilant was a respectable heater, but needs to be in good working order with all parts to operated efficiently. It won't match the current generation for efficiency or clean burning, but it could put out the heat. The bypass plate must operated smoothly and seal well. Here is a cutaway diagram of the stove.
 

Attachments

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
86,515
South Puget Sound, WA
Reading the new post I would recommend you consider either a soapstone stove from Hearthstone (no-cat), or Woodstock (cat). Or consider a castiron stove from Jotul (F500 Oslo or F600), Hearthstone Bennington, Morso 3610, or Isle Royale.. or a steel cast iron hybrid like a Pacific Energy Alderlea T6. The stove size will depend on the temperature that you normally keep the house. If 80 is your expected comfort range, err on the large size (3 cu ft). If 70 is comfortable, then a 2.5 cu ft stove should do. Regardless of choice you should end up burning less wood for the same heat.
 

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
Thanks everyone for the quick answers. I must say I never expected so much so fast. I'll be shopping in a week or so, so keep them coming!

Cheers!
Martin
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,201
Northern IL
MartinD said:
I looked into soapstone to begin with and thought that the $10,000 price and the column of cement needed in the basement to support it was a little excessive.
Martin - just to clarify...thats not the type of stove being referenced when most people say "soap stone". Your looking at what most people would call a "masonry" heater, usually centrally located and works off of heating a mass for long slow release of heat.

The soapstone stoves being referenced here are typically built similar to steel or cast stoves, but will have soap stone (the actual granite looking rock) built into the design. Most are very pleasing to the eye, and use the soap stone as a heated mass that will absorb and release heat in a gentle manor.

Just an FYI.
 

Burn-1

Feeling the Heat
Jul 13, 2006
446
Lakes Region, NH
MartinD said:
My father says I ought to get a Kachelofen (a ceramic heater), and I've visited KaHeat in Ontario to check them out. They look nice, but the firebox looks really small (it holds 18 inch pieces, but not a lot of them), and for my size house I can apparently get away with the smallest one he's got. But will I be reloading it every four hours?
Martin,

Some of the heaters from KaHeat are true kachelofens such as the FK-01 but I think you might be referring to one of Erich's stoves like the FK07 which is really a wood stove not a masonry/mass heater. Those are very similar to the old WESO stoves which were imported over here in the 1970s and 80s, that is ceramic cladding around a steel or cast iron stove core. If you're interested in a real kachelofen then you might also want to check out Canadian Kachelofen run by the Kiesling family in Nova Scotia. But those would probably require extra foundation work and are fairly heavy and not cheap. I was interested in those KaHeat stoves too but was skeptical of the EPA compliance. I think they are probably EPA exempt due to their weight. For much less money you could get a clean burning soapstone stove from either Woodstock or Hearthstone, like BG suggested and have many of the benefits of a masonry stove without the cost and engineering headaches.
 

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
Burn-1 said:
Some of the heaters from KaHeat are true kachelofens such as the FK-01 but I think you might be referring to one of Erich's stoves like the FK07 which is really a wood stove not a masonry/mass heater.
That is what I thought. More internet searching shows kachelofens designed around a large heat sink above the firebox, which the FK07 lacks. The one with the heat sink (that's what I am calling it -- real name unknown to me) is the one I saw at my uncle's in Germany; he said one hot fire in the morning heats his house until 3 p.m., and he lives in the Bavarian mountains where they have something approaching a real winter.

Thanks for your information. It was very useful.

Martin
 

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
Another twist -- my wife would like to bake in the stove, and we've seen some stoves that come with soapstone cladding manufactured in Denmark: Scan stoves. Anyone know anything about them, either positive or negative? Scan seems to have reduced the range of stoves they manufacture, which always worries me: a potential sign someone is going out of business and then the warrantees aren't worth the paper they're written on.
 

sl7vk

New Member
Jun 26, 2008
262
Salt Lake City, UT
MartinD said:
Another twist -- my wife would like to bake in the stove, and we've seen some stoves that come with soapstone cladding manufactured in Denmark: Scan stoves. Anyone know anything about them, either positive or negative? Scan seems to have reduced the range of stoves they manufacture, which always worries me: a potential sign someone is going out of business and then the warrantees aren't worth the paper they're written on.
Scan are great stoves, but I'm not sure you'll get the heating output you're looking for.

Scan was bought by Jotul, which may contribute to less models being available. Are you looking at the 5-2 when you talk about a baking stove?
 

Burn-1

Feeling the Heat
Jul 13, 2006
446
Lakes Region, NH
MartinD said:
Another twist -- my wife would like to bake in the stove...
There aren't many cheap options for something like that. If you plan on staying at your house for some time and would be able to make the investment and engineering work for you then you should probably consider a kachelofen or masonry heater with a bakeoven.

Many other European stove makers in addition to Scan make some stoves with a stove above but few of them are available over here. The only ones which come to mind are the Max Blank Countryside line stoves. I haven't looked at them for a while but I think some are practically as much as a DIY masonry heater/kachelofen. Also, I don't think they have a Canadian distributor from Evolution Trade Group, the North American importer.
 

damusm

New Member
Jul 23, 2008
9
Eastern Canada
sl7vk said:
Are you looking at the 5-2 when you talk about a baking stove?
That is the only one I found that is still being manufactured. It looks like you could bake at least one loaf of bread, but no muffin tins fit. As for heat output, it seems sufficient: the website says it heats from 300 square feet to 1500. My house is at the upper end of that (about 1200 square feet, 600 each floor). I saw one a way back in a store here -- I can go have another look and ask about heating capacity. I also need to take a look at the firebox size. I don't want to have to get up at 3 a.m. to relight the stove.
 

KeithO

Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2007
592
Jackson, MI

Attachments

rexhavoc

New Member
Sep 24, 2008
2
Western Canada
Don't take my word alone on the Kachelofen vs wood burning stove debate, none other than Mark Twain weighed in on it over 100 years ago:

“Take the German stove, for instance — to the uninstructed stranger it promises nothing; but he will soon find that it is a masterly performer. The process of firing is quick and simple. At half past seven on a cold morning one brings a small basketful of slender pine sticks and puts half of these in, lights them with a match, and closes the door. They burn out in ten or twelve minutes. He then puts in the rest and locks the door, and carries off the key. The work is done. He will not come again until next morning. All day long and until past midnight all parts of the room will be delightfully warm and comfortable.

Americans could adopt this stove; but no, we stick placidly to our own fearful and wonderful inventions of which there is not a rational one in the lot. The American wood stove, of whatsoever breed, is a terror. There can be no tranquility of mind where it is. It requires more attention than a baby. It has to be fed every little while, it has to be watched all the time; and for all reward you are roasted half your time and frozen the other half. It warms no part of the room but its own part; it breeds headaches and suffocation, and makes one’s skin feel dry and feverish; and when your wood bill comes in you think you have been supporting a volcano. Consider these aspects of the Masonry stove. One firing is enough for the day; the cost is next to nothing; the heat produced is the same all day, instead of too hot and too cold by turns; one may absorb himself in his business in peace. Its surface is not hot; you can put your hand on it anywhere and not get burnt, yet one is as comfortable in one part of the room as another."

-- Mark Twain, 1891
 

cascadeair

New Member
Mar 19, 2011
2
North Texas
Hey Newbie,

Hope everything worked out. I cant give you schematic or technical info on the Kachelofen. I can tell you they work extremely well. I grew up in the Sierra Nevadas and Cascades where the winter temps went between 15 below and 15 above. The stoves are so efficient you actually DON'T need to stoke them very often, even though the box is small. Yes, Yes to what the moderator said. They will radiate heat throughout the night. The 1500 sq feet of the downstairs portion of our 2 story home was usually about 68-72 degrees @ 5am in the morning after allowing the stove to burn down throughout the night, even though the temp outside routinely hovered between 0 and minus 15 in the dead of winter. Pretty decent for a small stove with a small heat box. One other thought. The stove was too hot for the dogs (We always had at least 2 huskies around as house dogs) And they usually found the coolest corner next to the biggest window to escape the heat while the stove was in cook mode, which with two boy scouts was all the time.

The maintenance with these stoves is minimal. Depending on the type of wood you burn and how well seasoned it is this "stinker of a stove" will leave almost none of it behind.

I haven't looked at prices but the kachelofens are very efficient, easy to use and easy to clean. You really wont have to dump the clean box as much as you think when you see how small it is.

The Austrians have the Alps, a good stove is a necessity

cascade cal
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
Since the last time the OP logged in was November of 2008, I doubt that he will see your post. :coolsmirk:
 
Jan 3, 2009
219
WI
BrotherBart said:
Since the last time the OP logged in was November of 2008, I doubt that he will see your post. :coolsmirk:
Still usfull though since there are those who read these old posts looking for information. I was looking for the name of the Weso stove mentioned......
 
Status
Not open for further replies.