Glenn Herbert wrote:I have no information about Michigan, but a rocket mass heater can certainly keep a three bedroom house warm through real winter. In fact, that is the best use case for it, as you will be keeping the mass warm constantly for months which is the simplest way to operate an RMH. Milder climates where there can be warm and cold spells require balancing the mass heat for the weather you expect tomorrow. You would want a big mass and a good sized combustion core; details will depend on your particular situation.
What configuration is your house, compact or spread out? Lots of remote rooms make any central radiant source more difficult. As long as the space can be heated from a central spot, all the rest can be worked out.
Arthur Angaran wrote:Hi, check with the county building dept. and see if they allow masonry heaters, try not to use RMH or Batchbox when talking to them. Be ready with plans before you go. Make sure those plans meet codes for flu and piping and recesses...ect. DO your research and be ready to answer questions. If you do not know an answer don't fluff it. Tell them you will get back to them with the answer.
Going with an RMH will save you thousands of dollars at the very least on propane, not to mention replacing the heater. Just think, you could save enough to buy land and maybe build your own place with your own trees. Sometimes moving is the answer.
Good luck, and hopefully your county isn't as restrictive as ours.
Arthur Angaran wrote:Hi, Sure, (read positive) you could call the county dept. and ask if they allow msonry heaters. Then check with insurance companies to see if they will cover your house with a massonry heater, some do some don't. Then start planning.
What I've gleened is an RMH uses about 80% less wood than a wood stove. You also don't need large pieceses of split wood. I'm not an RMH expert by any means, meaning I know very little.
You could get "Fire Science" by Erica Wisner.
Denise Kersting wrote:Hi! As a back-up you may want to keep your boiler system operational. Do you have steam or hot water heat? I ask because if it is steam I know tips and books to direct you to, in order to help you raise the efficiency of the system. I have steam heat in a 2-1/2 story, mainly uninsulated brick house in PA and was able to drop my gas heating costs and usage significantly. Most steam systems I've seen in our area have been hacked and made to "work" with more modern stuff, but have lost all the originally efficient functionality. I rebuilt my entire near-boiler piping when I bought this house and have been happy with it since then. I don't personally have any experience with hot water, but I can still send you links to people that might be able to offer greener solutions for your system.
Mark Brunnr wrote:Erica and Ernie Wisner wrote the Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide which is probably the best book out there regarding RMHs including code at the time (they literally helped write the code used in Portland to permit the first RMHs there). Their digital market space on Permies is at https://permies.com/f/316/ernie-erica-wisner
You didn't mention the house foundation - do you have a slab or is there a basement/crawlspace? Depending on the size of the mass, you could be looking at 3000-6000 pounds of material. So if it's not a slab foundation, you'd need to add additional support underneath.
You can let your neighbors know that you want all their tree litter, if they bundle it up with string and leave it out front you can swing by to pick it up, and use it as fuel in a RMH. If you have the space in the yard you could consider planting some trees to coppice on a regular rotation. Alder, willow, black locust, elderberry, and chestnut are options that coppice; black locust and I think alder are nitrogen fixing. If you cut the trees down to the stump once they are 3-4" thick, no need to split the all wood, just cut it to 15-16" lengths and split a few as needed for kindling (or make curl sticks). Smaller trees are also easier/safer to fell.
Depending on your conditions, that might take 5-10 years for a tree to reach that size, then another 4-8 years to regrow new shoots to the same size (since the roots are already established). My own plan had been to plant 2 acres of black locust to coppice, and harvest 1/4 acre per year on an endless cycle, but the site was too dry with too many deer to allow me hands-off planting by seed and forget and none made it. So be aware that coppice shoots are tender and tasty to deer, rabbits, and other critters you might have around.
Glenn Herbert wrote:Unless your basement is finished living space, that is less of a hurdle than just another task in building your RMH. Adding a few concrete block piers (on a new footing pad if necessary) from basement floor up to first floor is not difficult or especially expensive and is a reasonable DIY project. Code and your local official's and insurance agent's attitudes are likely to be the tricky part.