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Suggestions for converting from oil to rocket mass heater  RSS feed

 
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Hello:

I live in a 1,200 sq ft timber frame house in southern, Maine. The home is very open including a sleeping loft. We currently heat with oil (about 200 gal per year), BioBricks (3 pallets per year) and solar thermal (domestic hot water).

I would like to ditch the oil burner, so would need a rocket mass heater which could not only heart he house, but would also dump energy into the 80 gal hot water heater, which the solar thermal dumps into.

I welcome any and all suggestions.

Thank you,


Chuck

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Burnham boiler
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Soapstone wood stove
 
Posts: 243
Location: near Houston, TX; zone 8b
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Start with heating the house. Heating water is way more problematic. You would probably want/need to do another rocket heater just for that purpose. If you were only using the oil burner as a backup to your solar thermal, that would reduce the amount of oil significantly, would it not?

I am a partner in Dragon Heaters. See our website, www.dragonheaters.com. We manufacture cast refractory rocket heater cores. We have designed plans for using the cores which you can build much quicker and lighter than a cob mass. Our blog site has test results for our plans.
 
Chuck Hazzard
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Hello Cindy.

Yes, the solar thermal does a good job offloading the oil boiler at least on sunny days.

How long have you been in business and roughly how many systems have you shipped/installed?

Thank you,


Chuck
 
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Chuck Hazzard : Welcome to Permies.com, and a Big Welcome to the Rocket Stoves and Wood Heaters Forum/Threads, with over 20,000 fellow Members World wide,
you can usually come here 24/7 and find someone here who wants to talk about what you want to talk about ! You are joining a group with widely, even wildly different ideas
about everything, look at our list of forum threads, ''This must be 'the place' because there is no place like this place, any where near this place !"

Actually, your home heating oil usage seems low, even for solar assist, you should be able to call your oil dealer and double check those figures !


While we could eventually reduce the oil burners use by 1/3rd to 1/2 that would be a lot! Thats the good news, The bad news is from where you are it is a very steep learning
curve ! If you have not already seen the MythBusters epic Exploding hot water heater episode, you should look for it on You-tube- Think Boston Marathon bombing with more
bodies and full thickness, full body Burns ! Here at Permies we call this ''Boom Squish'!

Visualize this scene, with the promise of dropping temperatures, freezing rain followed by heavy wet snow, you get ready and crank up your rocket mass heater to warm your
house, and as you can count on days without sunshine you are grateful to have the warning to top off your hot water supply, and you check on your wood stove. The last couple
of chunks of wood you put in your RMH filled the feed tube and -bathed in the red hot glow of your Burn tunnel seemed to spontaneously burst into flame.

Suddenly the power goes out, the pump that circulates heated water from your RMH to the tank in your basement quits and now you have three problems #1) You must drain
down the hot water that is in the system so that the water in the coils can not flash to steam ! #2) you must open up a secondary water system from a tank located higher so
that there is a stream of water running thru your coils feed by gravity with sufficient 'head' or water pressure to make that flow continuous #3) this is important, in order to save
the coils you must empty the Feed Tube of the wood and attempt to cool down Your Combustion chamber/Burn Tunnel before your backup water empties, or the pressure drops
and steam bubbles form in your pipe !

Now picture yourself in town picking up supplies while family members are dealing with this! Remember that If you install a valve in your system that it can be closed-at the wrong
time ! Also, your rocket mass heater is out of business during the power outage !

I am not going to tell you that you can not have a system that will work well for you almost All of the time, I will remind you that being wrong only one time is one time to many !

A fellow member from the British Isles has told us that There are Zero solid fuel boilers in all of the British Isles allowed to be installed in any home as a pressurized system,
generally with the non pressurized systems ,when the pipes start banging in the middle of the night, an Adult gets up and draws a bathtub full of water !

So- my best advice to you would be to consider building a regular rocket mass heater RMH, somewhere in the heart of your home, as a practice build, and live with it, meanwhile
people with Solar assist will crack this nut if it can be done safely, we have only been working on it for just a few years Now! For the good of the Craft Big AL!
 
Chuck Hazzard
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I use the wood stove in the winter, thus the reason for the low oil usage.

I will also focus on replacing the wood stove with a Rocket Mass Heater and save the water for more adventurous types.

Again, I welcome any suggestions on making this a fun and successful project.

Chuck
 
Cindy Mathieu
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Location: near Houston, TX; zone 8b
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Chuck,

My sister and I have been in business together for 30 years doing software and software training. However, what you really want to know...we started shipping the cores in Feb. of 2013. Peter van den Berg designed them; they come in 3 sizes: 4", 6", and 8". They are cast from an insulative, but strong refractory.

We have designed at least 2 ways to use each size. If you follow our plans, you don't have to build it outside first because we have already tested it.

We started with a build which requires a steel drum; it takes a half a day. You can take the exhaust and route it to a cob bench, if you want. Otherwise, it puts out heat like a cast iron stove. From there, we developed other mass heaters which did not require a steel drum or cob for mass. For the inside of homes, the "castle" build is constructed from chimney flue liners and can be covered with stacked stone. We actually built the 6" version (without the stacked stone) at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA this September. So, it can be built in one day and then covered in stacked stone the next.

As it is, the castle build is a masonry heater "on the cheap". It doesn't store as much heat as a masonry heater, but it costs a tenth as much. For southern Maine, you could improve the heat storage by lining the inside of the bell with fireclay bricks. This would add to the cost, the weight, and the amount of time it took to build it, but I think you would get great returns for the initial investment.

Our designs use bells which have been proven to absorb heat better than flues because the gases have enough room to stratify themselves by temperature. The 6" castle build has a great draft even in the summer in Texas. We built a 4" castle build inside a 900 sq. ft insulated room and it kept it warm with only a couple of loads of wood. Our website shows another 4" castle build which a customer just finished in Snowmass; he put construction bricks on the outside of the flue liners.
 
Cindy Mathieu
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Location: near Houston, TX; zone 8b
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Oh yeah, I forgot to say I love the picture with the dogs in it.
 
Chuck Hazzard
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Thanks Cindy. I run with them almost every day so they do not drive me nuts.

I have dropped you a note from your site. I would like to pursue further discussions with you directly.

Thank you,


Chuck
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Chuck Hazzard :I do want to say one more time that if and when a safe system for Tempering/Raising water temps before that water passes from its other Alternate heat source
to the final water heater to bring it up to the 120-140*F so loved by us north americans, the break-thru will come from the Solar Industry ! I asked, I can get Zero Action in Los Vegas !

We need to make sure that you have zero negative connotations to ether wood stoves or Rocket Mass Heaters RMHs, before we work very hard together to create the home for a future
Happy House Dragon ! Your willingness to create a habitat conducive to your pets weighs heavily in your favor.

You need to view the creation of a rocket mass heater RMH, as though it were your best attempt at sculpture, a piece of built-in-furnature, located in the very heart of your home. This
is what hearth originally meant, Not Just an architects term ! If you carefully craft your "Rocket" giving it Pride of Place, and not hiding it in an isolated corner, it will grow to become a
much loved family treasure passed down to your children's children, and becoming part of the history and story telling of your family, And seemingly- much like a well endowed Bank
Account, accepting small deposits of very dry wood chunks and receiving auto magic disbursements in the form of Heat, warming, gentle, soothing heat !

Placed in the true heart of the home it will serve you- by always being within easy reach and earshot of your families Daily Activities, seeming to tend to itself without even a barely
conscious thought!

The reverse is too dark to contemplate, an RMH in a remote location, and a house Dragon that is not really there! serving you no better than your best attempts to serve it. Rarely, an
RMH even though remotely placed becomes the new heart of the home and you have the unique blending of household tasks and duties moved to the new central location as every
one rejoices, and basks in the reflected love and happiness of their Happy House Dragon !

Am I simply given to flights of fancy and hyperbolae, guess what my friends are gathered around when they send out Christmas Cards ! For the Craft, Big AL !
 
Chuck Hazzard
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Not sure where you got the thought that I would be hiding the RMH. It would be placed in our main living space where the wood stove currently sits.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Chuck Hazzard : Even tho It pisses off many of our fellow members,I consider it my duty to inform prospective Rocket Mass Heater RMH Builders of a few of the pitfalls,
rather than the -' it slices, it dices, it cures your dandruff, all on an 1/8th of a cord a year !' Boosters- many of our members have become ! Better like West Texas -
The quitters never started, and the weaklings died along the way !

Through no real fault of ours, we have in following in the footsteps of Ianto Evans' the original creator of the Rocket Mass Heater RMH followed a specialized vocabulary,
and simple rules to learn how to build our RMHs.

With ~100,000~ World Wide, most of them have been built following his book, Rocket Mass Heaters available as 'The Book' or Downloaded ($15) PDF Copy from
rocketstoves.com, For first time Rocket builds, people who have followed 'The Book' are usually successful, most failures come from those who have not read
" The Book"!

The Dragon Heater People have quickly outpaced their direct competitors in a remarkably short time, if you do plan on going with one of their builds, which I must report
I have never seen. You will certainly require a lots of help from both them and others both here and at the Donkey forums, Though I do think that their kit will probably
greatly simplify a first build and done right give you years of good service ! I hope this was timely, and helpful ! For the Good of the Craft ! Big AL

 
Chuck Hazzard
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Thanks Al.
 
Chuck Hazzard
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Cindy Mathieu wrote:Chuck,
As it is, the castle build is a masonry heater "on the cheap". It doesn't store as much heat as a masonry heater, but it costs a tenth as much. For southern Maine, you could improve the heat storage by lining the inside of the bell with fireclay bricks. This would add to the cost, the weight, and the amount of time it took to build it, but I think you would get great returns for the initial investment.
/quote]

Hello Cindy:

By lining the inside of the bell with fire bricks, do you mean placing these inside the flue liners or outside the flue liners before attaching the final finished masonry (bricks in our case)?


Thank you,


Chuck

 
Cindy Mathieu
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Location: near Houston, TX; zone 8b
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Chuck,

By lining the inside of the bell with fire bricks, do you mean placing these inside the flue liners or outside the flue liners before attaching the final finished masonry (bricks in our case)?



What I meant was placing the fireclay bricks inside the largest flue liner of the first bell. In this case, it doesn't need a smaller flue liner inside of it.
 
This is my favorite tiny ad:
Would you replace your oven with a rocket oven?
https://permies.com/t/90099/replace-oven-rocket-oven
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