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Keeping a wood stove going all night  RSS feed

 
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I've heard Paul and Erica both say turning a wood stove down and letting it go all night isn't efficient and I don't really understand. I get the advantages of a rocket mass heater overa wood stove, but for now I have a wood stove. On cold days a get a nice hot fire and before bed turn down the air inflow. In the morning I usually still have hot coals and some heat comming off of the stove. Is there some piece I'm missing?

thanks.
 
steward
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John, others will probably give you a better explaination but I think it has to do with the amount of unburned gasses that are given off when the fire dies down.
If there is smoke then there is fuel being wasted.
 
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Trade-offs! The more efficient burn is a hotter fire. The more efficient burn may not leave you any coals in the morning, which, I agree, is convenient. Your call.
 
gardener
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The first two responses pretty much sum it up.

Trying to bank coals all night tends to put out a lot of smoke (unburned fuel). This is not only inefficient pound for pound (you lose almost half the heat value of the wood in some cases), but it's also a major factor in many jurisdictions banning wood-burning stoves (because even EPA-certified stoves still smoke when operated this way).

Some certified woodstoves are designed to run a clean 6- to 8-hour burn; if your stove is able to do this without emitting visible smoke, then it's probably fine to keep doing it that way.
If you can see smoke in the wee hours, there's a good chance you're putting out smoke most of the night.

Some options I've seen for boosting all-night warmth from a woodstove, while tolerating the fire going out sooner, include
- building a brick "fireplace" or hearth around the stove to soak up heat,
- put several large stockpots of water on the top / beside the woodstove.
- surround the hearth with stones, and put some big rocks right on top of the stove.
Even a little bit of thermal mass can hold heat for several hours after the fire goes out, allowing you to run a cleaner (and more efficient) fire yet avoid the morning frosties.

-Erica W
 
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I used to load my wood stove up to the max and turn down the flue thinking that I would at least get a little heat and, more importantly have coals left over to restart it in the morning. Personally, I hate having to relight my stove from scratch. But this is definitely not efficient. The logs all get used up, way too much smoke is being produced, and by the time morning rolled around, I had about a 30% chance of having hot coals available to restart the stove anyway. What I realized was that what I truly wanted was to be able to have coals, and didn't really care about the minimal heat produced throughout the night. My solution was to let the fire burn down to just the hot coals before bed, and then to gather the coals in the center of the stove and place 1 or 2 small logs on top of the coals. Then cover the logs completely with ash from my ash bucket and turn the flue down. The result is that the 1-2 logs convert to coals that last until the morning. There is much less waste and smoke since I'm using much less wood. Of course in the morning you have to shovel all of the ash back out, but I would rather do that than restart the stove from scratch. The amount of coals you get doing it this way is amazing. I wrote an article on it on my blog in the firewood section.
 
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not efficient

Means a old regular wood stove is what 50 or 60? percent efficient , based on how you run it.

a newer secondary burn, 70 percent range?
a down draft, gets into 80 percent range?

So, when you cut it back, and don't burn the smoke, you just droped your 70 percent to 50 percent.

Now, a old stove, running it more wide open , you bank it down, you drop from your 60 to 50, or a little less.

NUMBERS are just hear say, for sake of example. should be close.

So, you might burn a little more by loading it, and it being hot.

Try running it a little hotter, can you run it semi banked down? check your smoke output at chimney, to see where your spot is to not smoke neighbors out.

I run a downdraft , hot coals, I cut it back, and they wash smoke out, But I don't choke it off, It took me a few nights to figure my sweet spot,

I also have it in the basement, so even if that room gets hot, it takes a day to overheat the first floor.
 
                    
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I guess I could mention there is a safety factor. A RMH is safer when left unattended, because the fuel (wood) is not present, there is a bit of time even on an RMH that must allow all the live embers to become consumed or go out, before leaving unattended. Although RMH operators should be aware of carbon monoxide build up in their system when unattended & operate accordingly.

A regular wood burning heater has a safety concern that all wood heater owners should be well aware and that is of creosote build up in the fire box & flue which all too often become 'flu fires', we have many burned down houses every year in my county, as a result of wood heaters. These burnt houses are partly due to excessive creosote build up which is generally caused by choking down a huge amount of firewood. Operator error is also a huge factor to burned up houses.

Great care & attention to the operation of your wood heater is sometimes not easily learned. For me, I don't fill the firebox & choke everything off for the night...it just seems to be too dangerous. And think about the possibility of someone else opening the door of the wood heater, and if they did not know it was chocked full of smoldering firewood...what happens when a choked off smoldering load has a sudden burst of air allowed too it?...it wake up everyone in the house! hahaha

Albeit I don't have the serious overnight low temps. that people north of me have to deal with every year. If it is a cold night around 5 F ...then I will simply have to wake up every 2-4 hours to tend the fire, if the low temps are only in the 20's (and the wind isn't blowing too hard) then I can make it 6-8 hrs. expecting there will be some coals still active. And just by the way, if it isn't terribly cold in the house, only put enough wood in there, over stoking the wood heater is really not necessary, put you sweater on or whatever while your waiting on the thing to warm up, throwing more wood at the heater is just wasting wood. I would rather burn 4 sticks of wood cleanly, than 10 sticks that required being choked back somewhat...use your air inlet to burn the wood as clean as you can, for continued safe operation.

Just for fun, pretend you didn't have a mountain of firewood stored outside, pretend you have only 4 sticks of wood...how far can you make it last? hahahaa

james beam

p.s. if you don't have a big fire extinguisher, ready to go...GET ONE!
 
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The newer catalytic wood stoves (like my Blaze King Sirocco) have a very good catalytic combustor that, in my humble opinion, gives you the best of both worlds. Efficient hot fires for heat right now.

But even at low settings, the catalyst burns the smoke for excellent efficiency, and we rarely get any visible smoke under any circumstance except start up.


Our previous stove was an airtight, epa rated "efficient" wood stove with secondary burn. This new stove from Blaze King puts that thing to shame. 8-10 hour burns are a snap, and we use about half of the wood we used with the previous stove. Heat output is, if anything, better. And certainly longer and more even.


Historically, the catalytic combustor was the weak link. Expensive and prone to failure every couple of years. Mine comes with a ten year, NON-PRO-RATED no baloney warranty.


So, not saying anything bad about a RMH, but I am totally satisfied with my wood stove performance.


finest regards,

troy
 
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lots of talk about efficiency. I have a woodstove installed and I have a force-air furnace. Burning the woodstove creates heat and causes the forced-air furnace to cycle less, which saves me money on my gas bill. As for efficient burning, I don't choke down my wood stove at all. Instead, I just put in an overnight load before I go to bed. In the morning, that sucker is still blowing hot air. Every BTU that wood stove puts out is a BTU I don't have to pay the gas company for. As for wood efficiency, It would take me three seasons to burn up all the wood I have here now. So I'm not too worried if I don't squeeze every ounce of heat out of those logs.

You mentioned having trouble starting your stove. I go to job sites and take UNTREATED lumber out of their dumpsters. Then I take it home and split it into kindling (but you dont have to split it). The cut/waste lumber from construction is GREAT starter wood. It lights easily and burns hot. That wood was headed towards the landfill anyways. Better to use it I say. Most of the contractors are happy to see you take it. They pay by the ton when they dump their job waste. So if you make several trips to one dumpster, you can easily squirrel away several tons of lumber. (my favorite pieces are the scrap ends from 2x12s

You can also use your woodstove to produce biochar at the same time you're enjoying the heat. But that's another subject I reckon
 
gardener
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I have a simple rule for solid fuel heat. I will never have anything burning in my home when I'm absent or when I'm asleep. My niece isn't allowed to bring her candles and there is no smoking inside or out.

I can't remember ever opening the paper and seeing that a family were all asphyxiated because their stove failed during the day, while they were awake. These things happen at night, when no one is watching.

If I leave my masonry stove alone for 20 minutes, it runs out of fuel and stops.

When the burn is done, I put the cover over the hole and nothing happens until morning, other than heat radiating to the space.

A metal, wood burning appliances is probably the most dangerous thing you'll ever bring into your home.
 
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WOW, Interesting comments from everyone. I have a wood stove. Actually a wood furnace. I will not stop it from burning for 6 months. It stays going all day all night. I always have coals in there in the morning. I always have some ash in there. If I want to save wood. I let the fire go down a bit . It is always easy to just throw wood in on the red coals every morning. If it is really cold outside, I wake up about five am and fill it again. But that is only when it is really cold outside.
If I shut down the air intake, No it does not burn as hot. But it still burns slowly.
My house has been burning wood for over 90 years now. Not with me, But other owners.
I use a wood stove, not any other type of contraption. we get the wood from the property or local area. real wood from the area. Not construction lumber or paper or pellets. Just wood. Usually Hardwood. but sometimes just whatever we have dead on the property. It all produces heat for the house in the winter.
Your answer is right there, Just experiment with your stove.
Good luck
 
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A lot of information.
Thank you.
My experience:
An old "Fisher type" type stove from the 1970's:  560 pound Timberline (basically a Fisher with a baffle plate).
It heats the house 24/7.
Will hold a fire all night with ease.
Unless it is extremely cold:  no need to add wood until morning.
Advice:
Hardwood only:  hickory, ash, hedge apple, red and white oak.
All my fire wood is at least a year old:  keep two year supply of wood.
Burn the stove open except overnight.
I have very little creosote.
Heat my chalet with about 4 cords.  (A cord is 128 cubic feet of wood).
We also have a heat pump for back-up, but the stove can heat the house at any temperature and wind combination.
I like the looks of the modern wood stoves, but they do not appear very heavy duty.
Open mind.
Comments welcome.
 
gardener
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Nobody is saying that an older woodstove cannot heat a house effectively. The point is that even if you have free wood (no work OR money to get it), a slow overnight burn without high-tech catalytic combustors will generate a lot of pollution, and may make your neighbors irritated and cause municipalities to ban wood-burners.

The theoretical efficiency numbers posted above are far off the mark; a typical older woodstove used in a typical manner may have only 5% or 10% efficiency, meaning 90-95% of the fuel goes into the air as pollution (or onto the chimney surface as creosote).
 
master pollinator
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Buying a bag of anthracite nut or stove coal and adding them to your fire at nighttime will greatly increase your burn time, about 1/3 longer then burning wood and give you plenty of heat to boot. A 50 pound bag will only cost you $8 or so. Coal is safe too because it does not produce creosote. You don't need a coal burning stove either to do this if you are not burning coal full-time (then you will appreciate the coal shaker grates).

The key word here is ANTHRACITE, also known as hard coal. It burns hot and clean, unlike soft coal which most people think of when they think of burning coal. When my Grandmother was alive and lived across the road from me she would ask when I was going to start my coal stove up for the winter; the fact was I had been running it for weeks, but all you can see when burning anthracite is a heat haze coming out of the chimney.
 
Maurice Andre
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Glenn:
Thank you for the advice.
Catalytic stoves have a lot of problems.  The catalytic converters burn out, and are expensive to replace.
My choice would be the new down drafters.
But I need one that is big enough to heat our entire house, and vents from the rear.
My friends with more efficient stoves and furnaces do not use any less wood than I do.
You are probably correct on the subject of pollution.

Travis:
Anthracite coal is a good "way to go".
I prefer wood.
My problem:  not available in my area at a reasonable price.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Maurice Andre wrote:Glenn:
Thank you for the advice.
Catalytic stoves have a lot of problems.  The catalytic converters burn out, and are expensive to replace.
My choice would be the new down drafters.
But I need one that is big enough to heat our entire house, and vents from the rear.
My friends with more efficient stoves and furnaces do not use any less wood than I do.
You are probably correct on the subject of pollution.

That may have been true in the past (problems with the catalytic converters, fragile, expensive, etc) but that is not so now.

My Blaze king catalytic converter comes with a ten year no nonsense warranty.  

Not all super efficient wood stoves must have a catalytic converter, but many do.

 
pollinator
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So you burn coal in woodstoves?
I turn the stove down at night, we never burn coal. Overnight a piece of hardwood is great and the house it not cholli in the morning.
I think it is important to clean the chimney out every year.
 
Maurice Andre
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Glenn;
Travis;
Troy;
Angelika:

Thank you to all for your advice and input.
I appreciate that you took the time.
I will continue looking at the more efficient stoves.

Merry Christmas.
 
Maurice Andre
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http://jotul.com/us/products/wood-stoves/jotul-f-50-tl-rangeley

Found a stove that can probably heat my house.
It has the specifications equal to the old Timberline.
Only one problem:
The stove costs $2,649.00
 
Troy Rhodes
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Yes, most really efficient wood stoves are expensive.

That's the attraction of the rocket mass heater.  Very high efficiency, and fairly inexpensive to build.

It has other potential drawbacks, like code approval and insurance coverage for fire, the need for more or less constant supervision and frequent feeding while you charge the mass.


The batch box versions may reduce the need for such frequent feeding.  There are people working on code approval, etc etc.


It's an exciting time and great to have options.
 
Maurice Andre
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Troy:
Thank you for the advice.
This looks like the same concept as the Austrian tile stove.

http://www.kachelofenverband.com/gallery/tiled-stove/

We have family in Germany that uses the Austrian tile stove.
Beautiful.
And their's even has the towel drying racks.
Great  "way to go", but like the efficient wood stoves, very expensive.

Thank you again.
 
Troy Rhodes
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rocket mass heaters can be built for a few hundred dollars.

Less if you're a good scrounger
 
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A stupid question maybe...  but has anyone tried putting one or two damp logs on at the end of the day?   Obviously they will burn slower as the wood needs to dry out before burning.   I am going to give this idea a go, but I guess it will be about fine tuning the dampness.   A soaking wet length of pine ain't gonna do the job, but I have had to use damp oak in the past just to keep myself warm and it just goes slower.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oh I do that. I use cedar for this endeavor because like White Ash, cedar can be burned right off the stump because of its low moisture content and I have plenty kicking around.

One trick we use here too to go all night is in having my wife stay up a bit later and I, an early morning riser, can get to the stove before the fire is completely dead. A lot of not having to kindle a fire every morning is in stove design. As I stated last year, I use a wood/coal stove so mine have grates which means the wood never settles into the ash that retains heat. Nope it mostly falls through making all night burns harder.

I would say at least 50% of the wood I consume per winter season is not actually done in making my house warm. It is already warm enough, but I just add wood to "keep the stove going".
 
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I think wet wood is a bad idea. It will cool the gases (fuel) and send them up the flue as tar. The tar will condense until, one day you will have a chimney fire. I use dry wood only, and can keep a small stove going for over 12 hours with no attention. Bigger stoves are easier. I do it by putting a couple of logs on, letting them burn until the flames disappear, then getting a load of wood ash (from the ash pan) and tipping it over the coals. Shut the door, close all air inlets, and it will burn all night, enough to keep the chill off the room.

In the morning, I rake the coals, so all the ash falls through, and put a couple of logs on. Then I repeat the above, and the stove will stay in all day. I haven’t lit the stove for weeks, it hasn’t gone out. The amount of wood used is much less than we used to burn, and the temperature is more comfortable.
 
Travis Johnson
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Roy Clarke wrote:I think wet wood is a bad idea. It will cool the gases (fuel) and send them up the flue as tar. The tar will condense until, one day you will have a chimney fire.



That is making the assumption that the homeowner does not brush out their chimney. I have never had chimney fire, but then again someone mentioning making sure to brush out their chimney once per year. I was rather shocked. I brush out my chimney once per MONTH in the heating season, sometimes every 2 weeks depending on what I am burning. (Right now I am burning green cedar because it has been fairly warm outside and I just need to take the chill off, so I brush about every 2 weeks.

But every time I build a chimney, I make sure it is very easy to clean out, because one that is easy to clean is one that gets cleaned. No creosote build up...no chimney fire.
 
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We have a wood burner, not sure what you would call it, it's old enough that the engineer from the company has never seen it before. It's basically a firebox with a water tank on top, the tank does the heating (radiators)and the hot water, it has an automatic dampener and a thermostat (broken!) Now as I said this thing is ancient, we burn dry, wet, hard and softwoods and the chimney guy always comments how empty the chimney is (it's swept twice a year by the state from the house taxes) It lights like a dream never ever smokes into the house and only smokes out of the chimney on startup no matter how much you shut it down, it has it's problems it will only burn for an hour with enough heat to heat the house, and it'll only smolder for 3-4 and that doesn't generate enough heat to do anything. It is probably under powered for the size house, and when the wind blows.. well it will burn out in 10 minutes even shut down. So my point is that tar will only build up if you have an inefficient fire, if you're seeing smoke, especially coming back down you're going to have build up and you need to sweep it regularly, I would not say that coal is better, I have had other houses with coal central heating and it seems to clog the chimney much much worse. we also had 6 weeks of snow and three houses burning coal, wow that was an eyeopener, all the snow was grey from the coal burning.  It is also not advisable to burn coal in a wood burner unless it is specifically rated for it, coal gets a lot hotter than wood and can damage your grate etc.
 
Erica Wisner
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Travis Johnson wrote:

Roy Clarke wrote:I think wet wood is a bad idea. It will cool the gases (fuel) and send them up the flue as tar. The tar will condense until, one day you will have a chimney fire.



That is making the assumption that the homeowner does not brush out their chimney. I have never had chimney fire, but then again someone mentioning making sure to brush out their chimney once per year. I was rather shocked. I brush out my chimney once per MONTH in the heating season, sometimes every 2 weeks depending on what I am burning. (Right now I am burning green cedar because it has been fairly warm outside and I just need to take the chill off, so I brush about every 2 weeks.

But every time I build a chimney, I make sure it is very easy to clean out, because one that is easy to clean is one that gets cleaned. No creosote build up...no chimney fire.



I agree, wet wood is a VERY bad idea.  I feel the same way about green wood.

If you have to 'brush out' your chimney multiple times during heating season, you are depositing a lot of creosote - hopefully, it's the chunky, brittle kind, not the sticky-tar kind.
Brushing won't do much to remove sticky creosote, until it gets hot enough to re-cook and/or burn.  

And I definitely don't like the idea that some people "clean" their chimneys by having a chimney fire.  (Nobody here has suggested this, but it's come up in other conversations with locals.)

Chimney fires suck.

As a volunteer fire fighter, one of our worst fires last year was a couple who had just cleaned their chimney.  
It caught on fire anyway - possibly some of the creosote got dislodged and settled down at the bottom closer to the heat, possibly some part of the chimney got bumped and ended up with inadequate clearance to the wall or ceiling combustibles, or maybe a piece was damaged enough that the cleaning broke a joint loose.  
There was not much left of the chimney, or the wall for that matter, for us to find out more for sure.
Both occupants were on site, had time to move some belongings out of the farthest rooms of the house, but the room with the stove in it already had fire rolling across the ceiling, and the whole structure was a total loss.
He was trying to laugh it off with black humor, she was still shaking from hearing the cat dying in the attic.

We did what we could, with volunteers from the two closest fire districts, but it wasn't much we could do.  
We had to finish the job with shovels and buckets of ice, as it was -10 F and the fire trucks were freezing faster than they could pump water.

That incident really stuck in my mind.
It was the 3rd or 4th chimney fire in 2 years, in a district with only a few hundred year-round residents.   (It can be hard to tell a "woodstove fire" from a "chimney fire" if the residents weren't home when it started.)
1% per year does not seem like very good odds on chimney fires.  


I now look at both visible smoke, and mid-winter chimney cleaning, as early warning signs of a possible, catastrophic, chimney fire.

It's not that cleaning it is a bad thing - it's a very good idea.  
However, I can't forget the look on my neighbor's face saying "I just cleaned it" while his house is burning down.

If you know your stove produces creosote the way you run it, and you know this is a bad thing, then cleaning the chimney more often is basically a band-aid.  
I do recommend hiring a trained chimney sweep in to inspect at least once, and show you what to look for.  Some stoves are fine with once-a-year cleaning.  Some stoves do build up fly ash faster.  Peter van den Berg told me about inspecting a Swedish contraflow stove (masonry heater) he'd helped build 17 years prior, and finding out the owners had not cleaned it once in all that time.  

If your inspection shows creosote- not just powdery soot and fly ash, but little crumbly chunks or drippy dribbles of creosote - then you are perpetuating a situation that could lead to a chimney fire sooner or later.
Creosote in any form is an early warning sign of a preventable emergency.

The fundamental problem that causes creosote buildup is running incomplete combustion, in a chimney cold enough to condense the creosote from the smoke.  

Creosote is a very common thing for people to achieve as a side effect, when their goal is "keeping a wood stove going all night."

If your goal was "keeping the house warm all night," or even better "keeping my family warm all night," I have all manner of suggestions, from the frugal to the extravagant, no creosote required.
- masonry heating
- home energy audit / heat loss mitigation
- summer/winter heat design (beyond passive solar)
- personal comforters
- personal heat reservoirs
- home heat storage reservoirs
- saunas, holiday foods, and other lifestyle tricks from the frozen North...

...
The other scenario that is even more horrifying are the folks who tell me, "oh yeah, we used to have a chimney fire 2 or 3 times a year, my dad would be up on the roof yelling at us what to do."  
THIS IS HORRIFYING.  Please never do this.

If your chimney is well-maintained and well-installed, your house might survive a chimney fire a lot longer than one that was installed wrong, or not maintained.  But it's not the same as "safe."
Modern, manufactured chimney components are designed to take ONE chimney fire without failure, but repeated chimney fires will weaken the parts, loosen the joints, and degrade critical insulation and safety clearances.

I just moved a bunch of this post to a new topic, How Chimneys Work https://permies.com/t/72721/Chimneys-Work, because it's not really on point for the original post on this thread.
I do think that understanding how chimneys work is vital information to safely operate a woodstove, fire place, or any chimney-equipped heater.

If anyone is successfully keeping a wood stove going all night without causing creosote to build up in the chimney, I'd like to hear your methods.
...

- Is your wood stove the right tool for the job?  
Most wood burning stoves, especially the cheap ones, are sold as "space heaters," not as a whole-house furnace or heater.

If you have reasons for wanting a light-weight woodstove (under 1 ton) instead of a bigger wood-fired furnace or masonry heater, and you want overnight heat from it, check the specs.
Look for wood stoves that have been tested and rated for a nice long burn.  
Full-sized fire brick liners, or soapstone tile, or heavy iron bodywork might be good indicators of a sturdy stove, built to heat not just for looks.  But the real deal-maker would be the number of hours it's rated to sustain its long burn, when it was certification tested.

Don't be too quick to dismiss masonry heaters for cost or size.  A tiny masonry heater can hold heat all night, and you don't have to keep it burning all night.
Donkey's latest has a lot of charm: https://permies.com/t/71576/tiny-house-rocket-mass-heater
We slept with it for the first week or two after it was built; we'd fire it 4 to 6 hours and then have to stop, and it held the room above 65 for at least 12 hours afterwards.

How much wood could you save if you only had to run the stove half as long/half as often?
A savings of 6+ cords per winter could be $900+ in your pocket each year, or 50+ hours of work you don't have to do between day jobs to prepare for winter.

What is a good stove worth to you?

But this is not a thread about switching to a different stove or heater, sorry.

Do check the specs on your stove, however.  Not all stoves are built equal.
If your model is just not designed for overnight heat, you may want to upgrade, or consider using the backup heater for night times if you have one.

...

Not all solid fuels are the same.
Some wood stoves are dual-purpose by design; others are not intended for coal (or any other fuels).  A very different/wrong fuel could cause warping, chimney damage, or problems with CO and draft.  
Coal takes more air to burn clean than wood, and can put off a different set of gases.  Dirty coal (the kind with sulfur) was discovered to have weird effects on some types of mortar/chimney cements.  I've seen photos of older masonry chimneys bending to one side, due to which part got more exposure to the sulfur/acid in the prevailing wind.  

If your stove is not designed for burning coal, you might still be able to use wood charcoal for a cleaner burn.
(There are bigger versions of the TLUD that produce charcoal while you cook on wood gas.)  

Charcoal seems like a safer alternative to using green or wet wood as the last load of the night.  
Charcoal can still burn dirty, with CO and organic acids in the exhaust, but you should get less of the really nasty, sticky, sappy volatiles that contribute to the worst creosote problems.

...

The whole question of what to burn, unattended, while your family sleeps  - I have to admit it kind of gives me the willies.

Having experienced thermal-mass heat, and passive solar heating, I don't think I will go back.  I've camped in the snow with a good foam mat and a sleeping bag.  
I don't really like the idea of any fire burning unattended while I sleep. It even makes me nervous leaving electric cookers or pipe heaters on unattended.  (Rodent+wiring is another fire scenario I've seen and would rather not see again).

I can admire the art of keeping coals alive from the fairy-tale days, of big Russian ovens big enough to shove a witch into, and new fires once a year at Easter.  
But I am happy to live in a part of history where both masonry and matches are cheap.

So I will leave the rest of this thread to others with more relevant experience.
 
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We don't routinely attempt to keep fires burning over night. The most we do is throw an extra log on at the end of the evening as people are going to bed and let it burn down as normal.

That said, we have modern efficient stoves with excellent down draft preheated air flows, and we also have very tall chimneys compared to many properties so draft is strong. We tend to get our chimneys cleaned once per year, ahead of the heating season, and the most that has ever come down while sweeping is about a cup light and fluffy carbon.

Our firewood is seasoned for at least 18 months and our stoves burn hot and efficient. It seems to me that if you routinely have large amounts of creosote building up then something has gone wrong with your system.
 
Travis Johnson
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Erica Wisner wrote:If anyone is successfully keeping a wood stove going all night without causing creosote to build up in the chimney, I'd like to hear your methods.



I mix anthracite coal in with my wood and that does not create creosote. As discussed at length early in this thread, anthracite coal does not have creosote in it and thus cannot start a chimney fire. At the same time coal burns incredibly hot, so the coal bed itself stays hot any burns the wood completely.
 
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I can understand wanting to keep a stove going all night for the heat, but why do people do it just to avoid having to light a fire again in the morning?  Is keeping it going a let's see how good I can get at this game?  Is lighting it a major hassle?  I've only had one wood stove and lighting it takes five minutes, tops; so I maybe I don't understand what some people are dealing with.  Is there some other reason?
 
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Jan White wrote:... why do people do it just to avoid having to light a fire again in the morning?  ...  Is lighting it a major hassle?  I've only had one wood stove and lighting it takes five minutes, tops; so I maybe I don't understand what some people are dealing with.  Is there some other reason?



With a cold chimney there is low draft.  It tends to be smoky, so you tend to want to keep the door closed.  But it's harder to tend the fire with the door closed.  So the fire is started with the air intake wide open, but then after a few minutes the draft increases and the stove can overheat so the air has to be stopped down.  During this time the fire can also go out if you don't have just the right kindling materials at the right time that are right for the stove.  The materials may have to be prepared in advance.  Often the materials can't all be put in at once, but it has to be built up with 3 or 4 bundles of increasing size.  If you're starting a stove everyday it can take stacks of newspaper and multiple bushels of dry kindling in dry storage to get through a winter.  (We used garbage cans for collection and storage which worked okay)  Folks don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time to gather all the kindling.  It can be a tedious chore.  Also what you're really gathering is surface-area, not volume or mass, which is actually inversely related to volume or mass.  So it feels very counter-intuitive to do this task.  

Sometimes it works to find a way to split wood indoors, because then you can generate as much surface area as you want.  The storage is also more compact and less of a fire risk.  

Anyway, this whole fire-lighting process can sometimes take 20 minutes; sometimes more.  And that 20 minutes can tend to be cold, smoky, trying and sometimes frustrating.  1/3 hour/day * 150 days/year = 50 hours/year.  So you can end up spending one week per year just restarting the thing everyday.  
I think when people are putting their time and labor in, they want results to show for it in order to feel satisfied, because when you're not getting results it can feel boring, tedious and frustrating.  

That technique of using wood ash to keep hot coals is ingenious.  wood ash is excellent high-temperature insulation.  

Also I'm sure there's a lot that can be done with gravity feed, from a (long) J-tube to things like this:  http://i.ytimg.com/vi/ejfSv3raPDo/maxresdefault.jpg
 
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I agree with many of the others on here in that it really comes down to your preference. I agree that there are negatives to turning the stove down at night, but it is nice to have coals in the morning and at least a little bit of heat still available throughout the whole night. I love my Kuma wood stove, it is big enough/efficient enough to last through the whole night without a hitch.
 
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I've put more effort into increasing the mass around our woodstove (now there's lots of it) .. We burn it hot as hot as it can go. Then throw a few medium large logs on as we go to bed, and close the air  intakes to almost off..

We wake up to a nice temperatured room, with enough burning embers to start over again..

Mass and heat are a good combo!

best

Marcus
 
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I dont burn wood.
If I did,i would be interested in using woodgas to keep things going longer unti the night.
From what I have read,a charcoal making retort burns for a long time on the woodgas alone.
This would be a clean burn,with charcoal generated as a side effect.
How could this be added to existing woodstoves?
I have seen one youtuber use stainless steel steamtable trays as retorts,
These dont burn all night,so not a full solution.
A retort cast of refractory concrete could be customized to the individual firebox and door.
 
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We've been doing the small steam table retort inside the wood stove and it works nicely.  I just chunk up scrap wood from pallet projects into 5.5" pieces.  I got a used steam table pan that is 6" deep, 6" wide and 12" long (I believe it's a 1/4, full depth steam pan if you want to be technical).  In the fall and spring when we don't need big burns we just have the fire going on one side of the firebox and put the retort on the other side.  The lid doesn't need to be a snug seal, the escaping wood gas prevents new oxygen from entering and starting combustion.  So it squirts out gas which flames off for about an hour and a half.  Then when the main fire dies down enough, we pull out the retort and set it outside on a cement patio to cool down.  

Edit to add:  This doesn't extend the burn time at all, it just harvests the heat from the char wood to heat our house.  If anything it reduces burn time since the rest of the firebox isn't fully loaded and you need to let the fire die down to remove the retort.  That's fine for spring and fall when we are only doing short burns anyway.
 
William Bronson
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Oh, it must be you!
Sorry, I misunderstood the effect on burn time.
Retorts or even tluds seem to burn long and clean considering the relatively small amount of material they contain,I guess I conflated that with your experience.

Looking at it closer, my own 4 gallon tlud ran for at least 90 minutes..
That seemed like a long time,but 4 gallons might be a  big volume compared to a firebox.
Clearly Im over my head om this discussion,but when. has that stopped me?!

Its a good way to learn, if you don't mind being wrong,alot...
 
Mike Jay
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Sorry William if I implied that it was me but it is not.  I watch Youtube but you'll hopefully never see me on there :)  I don't even know what a tlud is...

I got the idea from EdibleAcres who has a wonderful channel.  
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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