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#147532 - 09/14/06 12:41 AM Masonry Heater is up and running
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5379
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Nothing to do with audio, but I am slowly getting the bits and pieces up and running at the new house. I fired up the masonry heater over the weekend and am *very* happy with it.

The masonry heater is basically a big wood-burning firebox coupled to about four tons of brick and stone for heat storage. Rather than keeping a small fire going all the time, you burn one big honkin' fire a day and use the thermal mass to absorb the heat and gently radiate it out over a long period of time.

When we were designing the new house, I drew a rectangle labelled "Temp-Cast 2000 Wood-burning Masonry Heater" near the center of the blank page and we built the house around the heater. The living areas all have line of sight to the heater for radiant heating, the bedrooms will be colder but I prefer that for sleeping, and the bathrooms have auxiliary electric heat cables in the floors to keep them toasty in the winter. All in all I'm pretty happy with the house design -- guess it was worth a year of worry and nail-biting after all.

My last wood-burner was a Regency advanced combustion insert, which I thought was pretty darned neat -- a slow, smouldering fire with a boiling blue flame hovering over the wood from the secondary burn. The new heater is much simpler -- the design dates from the 1600's -- but works just as well. There is a secondary air feed for clean burning, but basically you just build a big fire in a well insulated firebox and it gets really hot inside so "everything burn nice".

I haven't heard back from the manufacturer yet re: whether I need to start with curing fires to dry out the mortar -- the heater was built over a year ago -- so I am running wussy little fires just to be safe. Even so, I can run a small fire that looks laugably small in the firebox and still have the thing radiating noticeable heat two days later. Very cool.

After a month of searching I *still* can't find the charger for my digital camera so I can't post a new pic with a fire burning, but here's an old pic and you can imagine the fire, right ?



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#147533 - 09/14/06 07:42 AM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
MarkSJohnson Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 10878
Loc: Central NH
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I do believe that you've built my dream home!

How does the smoke get up that chimney?
_________________________
::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::

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#147534 - 09/14/06 09:49 AM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: MarkSJohnson]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5379
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Thanks, Mark. I was really having my doubts for a while ("spent all this money to build a one room cabin").

The simple answer re: smoke and chimney is "through a pipe". The heater is a contraflow (aka fountain, or Finnish heater) design, where the flames and smoke go up the center through the oven then down channels in each side, warming the entire mass. The smoke channels come together in a manifold which runs under the door in the first picture, so the chimney can be at either side or at the back if you don't have a second door for see-through. The chimney uses an 8" ID round flue, and the same flue pipe is extended to poke into the side of the heater. The result is a toasty-warm bench area over the horizontal flue.



That's the easy part. What had me more worried was "what makes the smoke go through the horizontal flue when you are starting the thing up ?". I figured it would be easy to light once the masonry was warm from a previous fire but a pain getting started -- I had visions of holding a flaming torch through the clean-out door at the base of the chimney to get a draft going.

In actual fact it was much easier. The trick is that the chimney is inside the house, so both the chimney and the heater core are "warmer than the outside" even before a fire is lit. I stacked up a few small pieces of wood in the firebox, put some newspaper and kindling on top, lit the newspaper and "presto" a good strong draft right from the start.

There is an electrically operated damper with a wall switch that provides air through a duct in the basement -- the air then runs through both door frames for preheating and air wash over the glass. If you look closely on the left side of the chimney you can see a pull chain which opens and closes a rooftop damper on top of the chimney. You basically open both dampers, light a fire, then when the fire has burned out you close both dampers to keep the warmth inside the heater and chimney.

I think it is really cool, but then I *am* easily amused

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#147535 - 09/14/06 10:09 AM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13333
Loc: Iowa
That is one mighty fine pad you got there big John.
_________________________
M80s-VP180-QS8s-EP600-2xEP350 Denon3808 Outlaw7700
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Audio Nirvana

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#147536 - 09/14/06 10:50 AM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
Ajax Offline
axiomite

Registered: 12/30/03
Posts: 6250
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
I really hate it when guys are smarter than me. That's a really cool way of heating a house (there's something mutually exclusive in that sentence, isn't there? ). I have to agree with Mark. I think you built my dream house. You dirty.........
_________________________
Jack

"People generally quarrel because they cannot argue." - G. K. Chesterton

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#147537 - 09/14/06 01:23 PM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: Ajax]
tomtuttle Offline
axiomite

Registered: 06/20/03
Posts: 8283
Loc: Tacoma
It's got to be some kind of trick.
_________________________
bibere usque ad hilaritatem

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#147538 - 09/14/06 01:49 PM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: Ajax]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5379
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
I can't take any credit for this, other than convincing builder and real estate agent that this "newfangled" technology would not be a disaster and would not destroy my resale value.

As far as anyone knows, masonry heaters were developed in various places around Europe to deal with rampant firewood shortages during the "mini ice age" in the late 1600s, and the technology hasn't really changed much since then. The big advances are related to making them modular for easier assembly and using ceramic glass in the doors to let you see the fire.

If you don't believe me, I was talking about the new house with a nice old Austrian couple down the road from my old house. I described the heater and they both turned, smiled, and said "he has a kachelofen !!". Both of their grandparents homes were heated with kachelofen (tile covered masonry heaters) in Austria, almost 150 years ago.

http://www.ceramicstoday.com/articles/kachelofen.htm

The most bizarre thing is that masonry heaters are starting to be used with electrical heating elements in the smoke channels. Many countries charge much less for electricity consumed during off-peak periods, so people are using a masonry heater to let them heat up the stove with cheap off-peak electricity then enjoy the heat during the day when electricity is expensive. Apparently Tulikivi in Finland sells almost 50% of their masonry heaters with electrical heating elements these days -- talk about dual-fuel !!


Edited by bridgman (09/14/06 01:57 PM)

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#147539 - 09/14/06 09:29 PM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
bridgman Offline
axiomite

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 5379
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
I was able to coax one picture out of the camera before the battery died again. I'm really going to have to find that charger...




Edited by bridgman (09/14/06 09:31 PM)

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#147540 - 09/14/06 11:04 PM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
cgrface Offline
veteran

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 150
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Beautiful place you have. Ok, so the brick and mortar mass stores the heat for up to two days. Does that mean you really only need to fire up the stove with one good fire per day to get/keep the house warm? I think you are on to something there. Efficient way to warm the house, and who doesn't like having a fire going for pure aesthetic reasons.
_________________________
"Never, never, never give up "... Winston Churchill

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#147541 - 09/14/06 11:07 PM Re: Masonry Heater is up and running [Re: bridgman]
cgrface Offline
veteran

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 150
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
By the way, what is the temperature during the day in your neck of the woods this time of the year. It won't be long and you will really see the benefit of having a heating system like that in place.
_________________________
"Never, never, never give up "... Winston Churchill

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