Novel approaches to home heating
Many in the last year have made the jump to embrace country life in lonely prairies, deep into quiet forests, or on secluded mountain vistas. Except for those who went to southern states, one question is faced by all the new homesteaders:
It’s gonna be a long winter. How will we keep warm?
Saving the planet, save yourself
In the modern era, we now use propane, heating oil, natural gas, or electricity to power our furnaces and boilers. You just flip a switch every fall and pay the utility bill.
They prefer to do it themselves, and that gets down to the fuel used to heat.
At the end of the day, heating your country home is about fire. Financially motivated landowners can build truly impressive piles of cordwood, put up corn and cobs to burn, and even use cherry pits or dry switchgrass as a sort of biomass fuel.
More than a stove
Consider the humble metal stove, the first fireplace insert. We owe that idea to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1742 sought to develop safer and more efficient fireplace. The resulting Pennsylvania Fireplace, eventually known as the Franklin stove, was a freestanding cast iron woodburner. While far from perfect, people have found ways since to heat with wood safely and even more efficiently. And now, these are kinder to the environment.
A modern example is the Lamppa Kuuma wood-burning fireplace.
Lamppa Kuuma (“Kuuma” is Finnish for “hot”—the Lamppa family has origins in Finland) claims their Vapor-Fire 100 is “the cleanest and most efficient on the market” through its unique gasification combustion process.
The recently patented Kuuma Vapor-Fire 100 is EPA approved and the cleanest burning and most efficient wood furnace on the market. It's currently eligible for a 26% federal tax credit, which applies to not only the furnace but also the installation as well, Lamppa Manufacturing, says.
Using only American steel and manufactured in the small Minnesota town of Tower, Minn, the Lamppa family says their Vapor-Fire 100 is a virtually smokeless fireplace. Indeed, customer testimonials indicate flues and chimneys rarely—if ever—need cleaning.
Liberator Rocket Heater’s RMH-2
Billed as a hyper-efficient stove, the RMH-2 burns both pellets and wood without electricity. Liberator says this is a cleaner, more efficient—and importantly—EPA certified stove for all 50 states.
Rocket heaters are made for off-grid living—the gravity-fed hopper has no moving parts, and when filled with pellets, burns one bag for more than 12 hours. Plus, homesteaders can also burn hardwoods and softwoods. Convection, conduction, and infrared are used to completely burn VOCs and radiate heat in up to 2,000 square feet of living area.
Moving heat outside
For some homesteaders, it makes sense to have the heat source outside the home, closer to the fuel. Keeping the fire outside eliminates the mess of having fuel and ash inside, band also eliminates and potential threat from leaking combustion gases or fire.
An outdoor wood furnace works in conjunction with the existing heating system, so you get thermostatically-controlled heat for your entire home. Plus, some manufacturers let you add a heat exchanger inside the home to provide unlimited hot water all winter long.
Central Boiler’s Classic Edge HDX furnaces can work with any heating system and any type of firewood, the manufacturer claims. The do-I-have-enough-wood-loaded question is eliminated with their unique Reserve Mode feature that saves a portion of the previous wood load so that the new load ignites easily every time. A Burning Time Monitor helps you know the burn rate of the wood load, whether it is 40-degree day or -30 weather conditions.
The Classic Edge HDX 360, 560 and 760 models have the highest efficiency of EPA-certified stick wood burning appliances, the company says. The patented Air Charge Tube directs oxygen into the Fusion Combustor and keeps coals from falling into the Reaction Chamber. Super-heated gases are forced into the round chamber of the Afterburner where it swirls in a turbulent vortex, allowing complete combustion to occur.
Maintenance is minimal, requiring only a couple minutes a week. You can even monitor the furnace with your smartphone.
Crown Royal Stoves’ Pristine Series Outdoor Wood Boiler is an EPA stage-two qualified gasification outdoor stove.
What is gasification? After primary kindling, generated gases are re-ignited in a secondary combustion chamber. This will produce a 99% efficient burn when using seasoned wood, Crown Royal claims. Due to this high efficiency, the Pristine boiler currently qualifies for a 26% tax rebate.
Large, insulated roller latch doors allow for easy loading while the turbulators in the heat exchangers make cleaning a snap. These stoves have are made in International Falls, Minn. and feature high-quality 409 titanium-enhanced stainless steel construction.
Crown Royal Stoves
With more than 20 years’ experience, Polar Furnace’s G-class is all about making wood burning as clean, simple, and easy as possible…to eliminate high heating bills.
Polar Furnace’s VOR-TECH combustion chamber reaches up to 2000° F. For complete combustion of wood and any smoke for a combustion efficiency reaching 99.5 percent, and overall efficiency exceeding 86 percent, the company claims.
The bottom line is that you burn less wood.
During use, the heat exchanger can become coated with efficiency-reducing dust. Polar Furnace also uses an Easy Sweep System to keep the heat exchanger clean, taking as little as 5 seconds a day.
Built in Prince Albert, Sask. in Canada—where they know about long, cold winters—Polar Furnace’s G-Class housing uses resin bonded fiber board insulation with a foil layer to retain radiant heat. Certified for outdoor or indoor installation, the UV resistant powder coating on the “Galvaneel” steel housing provides superior durability.
Polar Furnace Mfg. Inc.