I just found this forum and I'm looking for help. My wife and I (& seven biological children) recently bought a 105 year old, 3-story (about 3,100 square foot) farmhouse that I need to find a way to efficiently heat. My original plan was for an outdoor wood boiler along with a propane backup furnace and my wife would like a wood burning cookstove in the kitchen. Someone mentioned a rocket mass heater, so I started researching and like what I see. I'm brand new to the concept and need guidance.
A little more about me: I'm an enlisted National Guard soldier with just over 18 years of service. I work as a Mil-tec mechanic (pays the bills) and pastor a small church in west-central Wisconsin (my passion). I love the outdoors and being as prepared as possible. I'm a hard working, patriotic, mostly self-sufficient American who does not hesitate to help others I know have a need that I can meet.
Welcome to this great group. I know you'll find great guidance here.
We moved from Georgia to Prairie du Chien in December 2017 for hubbie's job change. We lasted one winter there and quickly realized we'd rather endure Georgia's hot, humid summers than Wisconsin's frigid winters. So kudos to you and your hearty crew!! Everyone in Wisconsin was very nice.
Hubbie is retired active duty Army. So we really do thank you for your service and patriotism.
Hi Joe; Welcome to Permies! And Welcome to the wonderful world of Rocket Science!
Wow, 105 year old three story farm house. Northern Wisconsin Yikes! That might need several heat sources.
What kind of chimney does your house have? What size and in what condition?
As big a proponent of RMH's as I am.
I think that in your case maybe an RMH in the living area or kitchen to cozy the place up, with another large heat supply as well.
The largest obstacle I see is chimneys. There can only be one stove on a chimney.
Each bedroom would ideally have its own chimney and its own Small Batch RMH.
As that is not realistic. Then maybe your outdoor burner and a Walker riserless RMH cook stove for the wife.
Matts stoves come in two sizes and are fully capable of having an attached bell (bench).
They can be used just for cooking during warmer seasons or be a full mass heater capable of being run for hours at a time.
Matt sells full DYI plans for these stoves, complete with consultations during your build.
Hi Joseph, a big welcome to you from northern WI! I'd highly recommend checking out the Focus on Energy program. They sent a guy to my house who did a vacuum blower door test on the house and it identified many/most of the air leaks and areas that needed improvement. Then I did much of the work myself and I think the Focus on Energy part was free. Or cheap enough to easily pay for itself. That test is best done in winter so the heat camera can see the leaks easier.
I'd assume your house will be quite drafty and holding in the heat is a great place to start.
Not having a RMH myself I didn't want to assume they wouldn't work for you but I suspect they work best for single story open floor plans.
Outside boilers chew through a lot of wood and make a smokey cloud for anyone within 100 yards of it. I'd be quite upset if my neighbor put one in.