Tulikivis are supposed to be very good, but they are still just a wood stove with soapstone mass. A masonry heater has LOTS of mass (generally a ton or more), as well as generally an efficient firebox, and a way for the exhaust to spend time on its way to the chimney heating the mass.
Hello! We've had a Tulikivi cookstove (LLU1250) as our primary heat source (and sole cooking source) for 5 years. I have a love-hate relationship with it. It is super efficient (2.5 cords/year for heating and cooking, in Alaska) and once the mass is heated, it makes a nice, steady heat. The bake oven holds temperature for a long time, which can act like a slow cooker, and cooking on the stove top is super easy. But it has some big down sides:
1) They're expensive! You could buy the nicest, most efficient soapstone wood stove AND the nicest wood cook stove and still have plenty of change to spare.
2) They have an issue with creosote. It may be the paper birch that we burn, but even with bone-dry wood, we get creosote build-up in the stove (not chimney). Plus, with all those channels, they're not easy to clean.
3) They take a LONG time to heat up- the thermal inertia that makes for even heating takes a while to build. No building a fire to take the chill off.
4) Though they don't use much wood, it requires much more processing- they need small, stove-wood sized pieces, which means lots and lots of splitting. And because of aforementioned creosote problems, you have to have a really good drying strategy in place.
5) Retrofitting is tough. These things are massive, which needs to be incorporated into foundation planning and which precludes easy modification/replacement.
On the whole-- and though our Tulikivi is the heart of our home-- I wouldn't consider another if we were to relocate.
I do not have that kind of stove you speak of, but you might not need to spend a lot of money to get the same results.
One year I wanted to get some more efficiency out of my woodstove, so I just took field stone from the rock walls near my home, and stacked them behind the woodstove in a semi-circle. Obviously I did this before the ground froze in the fall of the year. It worked really well.
In my case, that home had a concrete slab floor, so weight was not an issue, but I am sure I had over a ton of rock. It really evened out the hot and cold spikes when the stove simmered in the middle of the night, yet roared when I awoke to stoke the fire.
By the way Steve Turner; it is a small world, my sister lives in Palmer, Alaska too!
You can thank my dental hygienist for my untimely aliveness. So tiny:
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