Hi ya'll. I'm posting here because I'm hoping to have some sort of functioning masonry heater ready before the serious cold shows up this year. My ideal solution is something able to keep my house from dropping below 60 degrees Fahrenheit without needing to wake up and feed the fire but still not need to overheat the house past 75 or so before bed. I would hope to have this sort of functionality before it gets cold but also leave options for further functionality as time goes on, i.e. cooking, water heating, not needing a space heater in the bathroom which is enclosed from the rest of the house. I guess my question is whether anyone is willing to glance at my ideas and share anything that might help me avoid making mistakes during the initial construction that might make it more difficult to incorporate later improvements. My plan is as follows.
The house is about 26 by 24 feet, block walls and slab floor, low ceilings. This leaves about 530 square feet once you subtract the area of the walls with 2 inches of foam insulation. The center wall has been replaced with 4 posts and long beams, leaving the floor plan open except for a 5 by 7 bathroom against the west wall. This divides the west side into a kitchen and a utility area. The east side contains our bed, dining table, and living spaces.
I plan to build a walker masonry cookstove in the part of the kitchen closest to the center of the house, and then build a heated bench along the bathroom wall facing into the living space. Here are a few questions I started wondering about:
1. I had originally decided against a barrel rocket mass heater and decided to use a masonry heater because this space is a little tight with the wooden post and the bathroom wall, so 3 foot clearance on all sides is difficult to achieve. It also seems this could overheat the house when trying to obtain enough thermal inertia to make it through the colder nights. Will the cooktop have similar clearance and overheating problems, even though the sides wont radiate as much heat? I can orient the cooktop so the hottest part is three feet away from walls and posts but not the entire unit. I figured 2 inches clearance from drywall and 2 feet from wood was okay for masonry.
2. In this small space we had hoped to eventually get rid of our propane stove to make room for more counter space. I imagine a hot plate and toaster oven could serve for situtions where convenience is necessary, but I wonder if anyone could speak to the experience of actually cooking with something like a walker cooktop with its oven.(Videos I have found leave a little something to be desired.) Do sweets take on any smoke flavor? How much more difficult would it be to bake something that is super sensitive to variations in temperature, baked goods etc.
Part of me wonders if I could just install the heating elements and temperature sensor from an electric oven into this oven for this purpose, but I imagine it would take a lot of extra time to preheat, and possibly be dangerous for some reason I cant think of (I figure the heating elements would be designed to handle oven temperatures but perhaps any creosote buildup from fire starts and stops might be a problem?)
3. Because the bathroom is closed off, it can stay pretty cold when we are burning our current woodstove. Unless there is a serious difference when the house stays consistently warmer due to thermal inertia, I expect this will continue to require a space heater until further modification. The bench is across the wall from the bathtub, so I imagined some dream scenario where I reframe the wall with a metal beam at the top of the bathtub and build the bench so it turns the bathtub into a radiator, but I can see a couple of problems with this:
-How would a masonry bench actually remain in thermal contact with a bathtub through expansion/contraction etc.
-How crazy would I have to get with insulation and air sealing to make sure I didn't lose a bunch of heat into the dead space of the bathroom walls.
A fan circulating air between the rooms would probably suffice, but a passive solution that makes the tub warm on my feet when i shower seems a bit sexier. Any thoughts on feasibility, perhaps this could be integrated with some solution for water heating that avoids legionella and the boom/squish factor? Remember this would be a long term project, not needed to function by this winter, only to make sure that what I built this winter didn't have to be torn apart to allow for these sort of ideas.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Rocket Stoves!
I'll take a crack at answering your questions.
1) With the Walker cook stoves those are good clearances.
You may find on some days that you want a window open at the same time as you are heating the mass.
2)Personally I couldn't imagine not having a propane stove. But at our home hot plates and toaster ovens are out unless you want to use the generator.
Matt has talked about his ovens during stove chat live. I believe in his smaller stove, it is a "black " oven only and he uses covered cookware when he wants to bake smoke free.
You would want to check but I think his large stove might have black and white ovens.
The best way to learn about Matt's stoves is to ask him. You won't meet a more friendly helpful guy! He loves to talk stoves, especially his!
Drop him an email with specific questions. here is his website http://walkerstoves.com/index.html 3)I think this one your going to need to live with. Vents at the floor and ceiling would "help" circulate air. Ceiling fan always helps.
Take a look at Matt's water heater plans. He has commented how it could be used as a masonry heater as well as a water heater at the same time... can't cook on it though.
Hi William, Looking at your picture, the placement of the stove looks like it sticks out quite far into the room and making a potential bottleneck on the right hand side. If so, wondering if the stove might be better situated where you have your bench situated right now and have the bench wrap around the south wall of the bathroom? You could also have another bench on the north side of the bathroom wall also if desired.
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