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Hello from the Tip of the Mit

 
Posts: 108
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Living on the Straights of Mackinaw with 60+ mph winds is a little chilly, especially for us old timers.
I heard about rocket heaters from our chiropractor and stumbled here.
I would like to learn and maybe be able to run one in the basement as we do not have adequate structural
support in our home. I'm allergic to smoke, so can the fuel source be propane or natural gas?  I just
started my search into the heaters a few days ago and know if there is a way to do this I can make the will.

I like reading about off the grid living.  I have enjoyed your posts here in my short visit.

The journey to God starts with your first breath.
 
pioneer
Posts: 152
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Arthur Angaran wrote:Living on the Straights of Mackinaw with 60+ mph winds is a little chilly, especially for us old timers.
I heard about rocket heaters from our chiropractor and stumbled here.
I would like to learn and maybe be able to run one in the basement as we do not have adequate structural
support in our home. I'm allergic to smoke, so can the fuel source be propane or natural gas?  I just
started my search into the heaters a few days ago and know if there is a way to do this I can make the will.

I like reading about off the grid living.  I have enjoyed your posts here in my short visit.

The journey to God starts with your first breath.



Welcome Arthur, as relatively new member as well, I'd like to say that this forum is full of amazing folks that have much more experience with rocket heaters than I, which is zero excepting reading what others have done.  The first thing that I would note is that there is zero smoke with a properly operating rocket system. I say system because they can be used in various manners. To heat a solid mass for lasting heat output long after the fire has extinguished would be rmh or rocket mass heater.

The second thing of note is that heating a basement space is terribly inefficient. You can run into draft issues as the rising heated competes with the cooler air needing to enter the space to replace combustion air leaving the building envelope. Hot and cold dont mix. (boundary layers) this will form  low pressure in the basement and can cause reversion  in either the rmh or another appliance, (water heater, furnace) all of which are extremely dangerous. Most of the useful heat produced will leave through poorly insulated foundation walls. One solution might be to add external air intake for combustion.

I have not heard of gas fired mass heaters but I'm sure something like that exists. Not many folks want the added expense I would guess. Seems as if a ventless infrared heater in the living space would be a more effective solution in that regard.

First thing to do is make a full evaluation of the property. Which direction is the house facing? Can steps be taken to maximize solar gain during the day. Is there a wind break in the direction of the prevailing winds. Can leaking poorly insulated walls be attended to? Proper drapery over the windows the reduce heat loss? You want some that can be easily opened and closed on south facing windows. Open when full sun is available.

Check with your county offices, in my county there are programs that assist certain people with winterization. Also utility companies might have incentive programs as well.




 
author & gardener
Posts: 1705
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Arthur, welcome to Permies! I've just started researching rocket heaters myself, so I can't answer your question. But I can tell you that Permies is an excellent place to find answers. We have extremely knowledgeable folks here who should be able to help you.
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi Arthur;  Welcome to Permies!  And Welcome to the wonderful world of Rocket science!

Rocket Mass heaters are are wonderful way to heat a home.  
About your house.  To start does it have a wood burning chimney in good working order?
Where are the connections? In the living room? Or down in the basement ?
How large is your house?  It has a basement, does it have a second story?
How large are the rooms on the main floor and  how many ?  Any heat registers for air movement between rooms?
What are you heating with now?

Putting a RMH in the basement can be done, but it is not a very handy or efficient spot for one to be.
All of the reasons that Ben brought up plus more, make it a poor choice.
You commented your floor is not stout enough to hold a RMH upstairs.  Depending on the style of RMH (there are several) the weight is not that excessive.
Simple jack braces can be placed in the basement to support the floor joists.

One of the comments from Ben about RMH being smokeless is true to a point.  Once an RMH is warm you will have super draft and no issues with smoke.
However starting a cold RMH can have smoke.  Again it depends on variables like your chimney and its location.
But depending on how bad your allergy is it could be an issue for you.

Hoping to run  propane or NG gas to heat a RMH is not a reasonable  plan.  Yes, heat a mass and you will gain more heat. In order to use gas to to accomplish that, all sorts of safety shut down control's would be needed to stop the gas flow in the event the flame goes out. They do have those things but not as a stand alone install yourself system.  The liability would be horrendous.

Tell us about your house and just how bad your allergy to smoke is.

Just thinking about your situation I would suggest a smaller brick bell batchbox  (I know you never heard those terms before) in your living room.
It will not be an only source of heat but a supplemental (like a space heater but immeasurably better!) heater to keep the chills away.

I'm including a link to a long thread here at Permies.   Read it thru to the end.  Her system is much smaller than you might want, but it gives you an idea about home built smaller RMH in the batchbox style.
Give us some more info and your thoughts and we will try to help you get warm using a RMH.
https://permies.com/t/43809/Masonry-stove-diy-build-feasible



















 
steward
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Hi Arthur, welcome!  Mackinaw is a great area, I try to get over there every couple of years.  

From what I know of it, RMHs are great when you have line-of-sight to the mass.  So they're good for open floor plans and smaller places.  I secretly suspect that they might have trouble keeping a house warm in truly cold places like where you and I live.  

If you do a J tube I think you'd be feeding twigs into it all day long to make enough heat.  If you did a batch box, it would act more like a wood stove where you fill it with wood every few hours and let it run.  If I was building one I'd definitely do a batch box in my climate.  If I only needed a bit of heat (perhaps southern Illinois?) a J might be acceptable but I think it really depends on your house.
 
Arthur Angaran
Posts: 108
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Thanks everyone for the warm welcome,

Just want to say this web site is really great. There is so much here – wow. Thank you to whoever thought of it and paid for the development and continual update of it.

This is my first time (well second now) of putting something on the web. We just got internet access a couple months ago. We are also getting up there in age as we are both retired and are learning how to use the web more.  I read the thread (correct?) that Thomas posted. Interesting stuff, thank you.

I'd like to continue this discussion as I progress in my learning and hopefully building an RMH or batchbox. Yet I feel that there might be a more appropriate place on the websight we could further this discussion. If you could let me know where to go and how to start a discussion I would appreciate it.

Thank you Thomas for bringing up the safety issues. There are so many things out there to consider about RMH my head is swimming.

My wife wants me to put a propane fireplace in the house for aesthetics and to help with heating our home, so currently no chimney. I showed her the picture in the link you sent me with the brick batchbox facade and she likes that better than the cob.

I think there are way too many things to consider for this (forum?), and my house, only 6yrs old has way too many problems. It was a modular home built by Rochester Homes in Indiana. I've had to open walls and fix the plumbing, replace all electrical outlets and switches  and some wiring. Right now I'm in the process of sistering all the joists because they were installed upside down. Quite a few are so severely scabbed that instead of 2x10s I have 1/4x10, some are cracked and I just found a broken one where the floor is holding it up. Just for information, if someone puts the joist crown side down the rate of deflection is greater. When someone walks on the floor it deflects 1 to 1.5 inches down. There are a lot of other issues that I have fixed or have to fix.

But getting a heater or fireplace installed while I'm young and strong should be within the next couple of years. I thought of starting this summer but now after seeing the RMH in action am reconsidering.

Thanks again everyone you have made me feel special, and please let me know where to start a new discussion.

God is one step closer to you today
 
thomas rubino
Rocket Scientist
Posts: 4354
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi Arthur;
We already added this thread to the Rocket Mass Heater forum.
But you can start a new one in the RMH forum when your ready, if you like.
We have many forums about all sorts of subjects.  You can start threads in as many or as few as you like. In whatever forum is relevant to your questions or concerns.

It sounds like you have plenty of home repairs to keep you busy for a while.

I agree with your wife about the look of red brick.  Both of my RMH's are brick rather than cob.
Spend some time looking at the RMH forum.  You will like what you see!
 
Leigh Tate
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Posts: 1705
Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Arthur Angaran wrote:Thanks everyone for the warm welcome,

Just want to say this web site is really great. There is so much here – wow. Thank you to whoever thought of it and paid for the development and continual update of it.


That would be Paul Wheaton. You'll see him around the Permies forums from time to time, but he's usually working on either some new exciting permaculture project or teaching folks about permaculture at Wheaton Labs. We all owe him a huge thanks for this fantastic resource.

My wife wants me to put a propane fireplace in the house for aesthetics and to help with heating our home, so currently no chimney. I showed her the picture in the link you sent me with the brick batchbox facade and she likes that better than the cob.


My husband was the same way! All he knew was that he didn't want a barrel in the house for a heater and he didn't care for the look of cob. Once we started exploring other looks, such as brick and ceramic, he was sold. Especially, because they burn more cleanly and use less wood.

Thanks again everyone you have made me feel special, and please let me know where to start a new discussion.


Permies is a huge place with multiple forums dedicated to different aspects of permaculture and homesteading There is a list of all of them here -> All Forums. Plus the moderators here a very helpful in that they can add posts to other relavant forums (such as adding your post in "introductions" to the "Rocket mass heater" forum). If you look at this webpage above your thread title, you'll see "Forums" which lists all the forums your thread shows up in.

Looking forward to seeing you around the forums!
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