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Are RMHS illegal? Can I just put one in?

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Hello everyone,
my name is Tim,
I live on an 1.3 acre plot in a town called Pennsville in NJ. I really want to build a rocket stove mass heater, but I'm afraid of doing something illegal and either getting fined or burning my house down etc... Are Rocket Mass Heaters technically not woodstoves and therefore not subject to code etc? Is it illegal to have a fire inside of your house, or is there a way around it?
I was thinking of making several mini RMHs and sticking the exhaust out the window or something.
Thanks for your website! It's really fun!
-Tim Carroll
Posts: 91
Location: Spokane, Washington
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Hi Tim,

Check your local building codes concerning 'wood-burning devices' The problem is, however, that RMHs do fall into any category because they are neither woodstove nor fireplace-- and if you tried to explain one to an inspector or a fire marshal, they would look at you like you were from space.

You can go two routes:

1) Make detailed plans of exactly what your RMH will look like, put it together with a bunch of supporting information, go down to your county building commission and begin beating your head against the wall. If you are persistent, you might actually get someone to listen to you.
2) Just build the damn thing. A well thought-out, well constructed RMH is actually safer than a typical woodstove and has exhaust that looks like what would come out of a dryer vent or a high-efficiency gas furnace-- essentially, no one would know you had a 'wood burning device' because you wouldn't be polluting the neighborhood with all of the un-burnt fuel (typically referred to as: smoke) that woodstoves and fireplaces produce.

Worst-case scenario is that your RMH causes a fire (highly unlikely) and your insurance refuses to pay up. That's the real sticky part-- you may be able to get your building commission to come around and give you a permit of some kind, but your insurance policy might have specific languaging that specifies only UL or ASTM certified devices.
Tim Carroll
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Thank you all for your replies!
I just spent a couple of hours having fun messing with the little tin can RMHs I built following a youtuber vid. I got the thing working and was so proud that I brought it in to show my wife. As I was showing it off, a stick slipped out of the front into our turtles dry bedding.... Thankfully no flame and Bobie (the turtle) is still ok. My wife was less pleased... Oops.

Maybe I'll try to go the Russian fireplace route.

Again, thank you!
Unofficial Companion Guide to the Rocket Oven DVD
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
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