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A Way Around Wood Stove Clearences In Tiny Home  RSS feed

 
Travis Schulert
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I have been brainstorming to come up with a way to have a small wood stove in a tiny home , I think I may have figured it out. I would like to see what pros and cons others have for this plan.

I was thinking if the home is made of wood, you could frame an area of the house out so that it has steel studs (yes the cheap Home Depot non structural kind), but you treat this steel stud portion of wall as a tall thin window by making your header when your framing, and just putting a bottom and top steel plate in and screwing in your lightweight steel studs. Between the studs you insulate with rockwool.

In my case the small woodstove will be in a corner of the living room, there will be the exterior wall on one side and the bathroom wall on the other side. Both these walls would be constructed of steel studs, obviously the interior wall needs no insulation. The exterior of the house just in that portion could be steel paneling. As long as within 24" of stove or stove pipe you have no combustible materials then would that not mean you are perfectly safe to have a woodstove in a small space like that?

Please tell me if there is something wrong with this idea or if you need me to explain it in more detail. Hopefully you can get the idea.
 
R Scott
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Yes, and hardieboard makes a good cheap "drywall" that is still fire-rated after painting.

I find it is in FRONT of the stove that is the bigger issue.
 
Chris Badgett
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Here's some marine stove situations for inspiration http://www.marinestove.com/index.htm

And here's a video you might not have seen:

 
Travis Schulert
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R Scott wrote:

I find it is in FRONT of the stove that is the bigger issue.


Thanks for the quick reply.

What do you mean by that? If the front of the stove is facing the room, doesn't that mean there is plenty of space, much more than the 24" needed.


Also I think Hardieboard would be much to heavy for the application. I was thinking doing steel roofing for the interior and exterior but only in that area around the stove. I figured it would give a nice break for the eyes from all the wood interior. Though I have considered removing the stove and base board, and any heavy hardieboard or fire rated drywall before towing, then just re installing after its arrived at its destination and after having supported the trailer frame with block.
 
Travis Schulert
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Chris, I was looking at Four Dog Stoves brand and the Two Dog model to heat a 8'x20' tiny home. This being to save money from buying one of the marine stoves. I originally found that site you linked a long time ago but just cant get myself to buy one yet.
 
R Scott
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Yeah the side facing the room, where you have the comfy chairs/beds/throw rug/blankets/etc, where the stove is designed to throw the most heat. You run out of room fast in a tiny house.
 
Travis Schulert
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R Scott wrote:Yeah the side facing the room, where you have the comfy chairs/beds/throw rug/blankets/etc, where the stove is designed to throw the most heat. You run out of room fast in a tiny house.


So you are not saying that all those things are close enough to combust but rather it will be to hot in the tiny home to sit anywhere near the stove?
 
R Scott
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Both. You have to be neat in a tiny home, much like a boat.

If you size the stove and control the fire properly it shouldn't be a problem, but it is something to make sure you think about carefully.
 
Travis Schulert
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What about as a means to cut down on propane usage and not need a wood stove you put the tiny home inside of a greenhouse? Then fed the exhaust from your propane heater out through the roof of the greenhouse as well as your tiny home? And in spring just move it out once its warmed up. Anybody try this?

This will be on land in mid Michigan where it gets to -20 through winter. Hell if the sun was out the greenhouse would keep you damn near above freezing even in temps that low.
 
Alder Burns
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What I've done in several tight situations where it seemed that a wall behind or beside a stove was overheating was to put a nail or hook in the ceiling or wall and hang a long piece of aluminum foil from a coat hanger or two, such that the foil hangs an inch or two away from the wall, with shiny side towards the stove. The foil will reflect the heat back into the room and the endangered wall behind will stay perfectly cool!
 
eric smith
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In a School bus i renovated (156sq feet) i had a good sized wood stove due to the lack of insulation and multitude of windows, The walls below the windows had 3inch of pink rigid foam with T&G pine over it. Behind the wood stove i used 1/8inch steel. to mount it i put some d nuts in the wall, drilled holes in the steel plate then had 2 inch piece of steel tubing between the steel and the wall. Then i used hex bolts to bolt the steel to the wall. The stove sat 2 inches in front of this steel. The steel went up higher than the stove covering some of the window. I had the stove cranked many times (top temp in the winter was 40degrees C at head height) and the air and the back of the heat shield was never hot.

I am currently renovated a 12x15 tiny home that was 6x15. whoever put the wood stove in there before just used tin roofing screwed right to the studs over the vapor barrier. The vapor barrier was melted/gone/stuck to the tin roofing when i removed it.

from my experience the heat shield behind the stove should always have a space behind it for air flow.

 
Tim Malacarne
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In my experience, it's all about shielding from radiant heat, and a moving airspace. As suggested above, the aluminum foil works just that way, reflecting radiant heat, and allowing for air circulation.
 
Travis Schulert
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I am moving into my wood heated tiny home next week! I have had the stove installed since October and could not be more happy with it. Well, almost...

I am completely satisfied with how well the stove heats the space. I am not completely satisfied with the stove itself though. I will touch on that later.

The house is 22'x10' and has a 2' front porch (included in the size stated). In Michigan it is not to big a deal to move a wide load. We will be renting a truck to tow the house anyway when it comes time so we will have an extra vehicle to follow as the required escort vehicle with a wide load sign. It only cost $30 for the permit and I have 5 days once the permit is issued to move the house.

I decided to go wide because 1. I really wanted an overhang on the sides. I grew up in construction and have seen all to well what happens when people skimp out on their siding and gutters and facia, I want a house that will last. 2. I did not want a loft, and being wider really helps have a bed that pulls out from under the kitchen. Also i was able to keep the height down which is safer for travel and for high winds.

The trailer is custom made out of mobile home I-beams and 2 10,000 pound axles.

How I made the woodstove fit: I framed out a 5' portion of wall, from floor to ceiling. inside the opening I framed in steel studs and filled in between with rockwool insulation, the exterior of this portion of wall is galvenized barn roofing, the interior at the moment is cement board which is surprsingly lightweight. The rest of the interior is cheap wood paneling which is going to be painted, down the road I will be covering that with nice reclaimed boards as I find it for the price I am looking for. I will be using the steel roofing to put over the cement board behind wood stove next year as I did not have time or money to add that in the rush of getting the house livable.

I have a 32" wide bathroom with a compost toilet that I made, I built it with a pee diverter and it works like a charm, no smell. I have a salvaged shower base that was free and the shower surround which I am finishing tomorrow is again, wait for it, galvenized barn roofing... Lol gotta love that roofing steel for these jobs.

The kitchen is raised up by 18" and the counter is just a maple board, right now its unfinished but when I have time I will get to it.

I have a propane tankless water heater, it is an industrial version and can heat up to 185f or as low as 120f. It is way more than I need in this house but the deal I got was to good to pass up. It is a high end unit and should last many many years.

The tent stove is 26"Lx12"Hx12"W With a 5" stove pipe. Has a 3 gal water tank on the side of the stove for hot water. It is not too much heat in northern Michigan. I cannot stress that enough. Everyone I talked to told me it was a bad idea and I would have to be very careful having it in a tiny home. The way things are set up it is not near anything combustible.

There is no hottest side to the stove, some stoves may be designed to put the most heat out of the front but most of your average stoves will radiate heat out all sides, mainly the top. Also good to note the stove is placed sideways so the long side goes along the wall. It is placed tight to the wall and takes up little space. It stands about 24" off the floor (long legs) so it gives me a place to stack logs underneath, about 24hrs worth of wood fits right under it and takes up zero space.

When it was time to order the two dog model from the Four Dog Stove Co they had an illness in the family and could give me no estimate on when they could get me the stove if I ordered it then, so I had to go with the Wall Tent Shops Wilderness 3 stove. It is larger than the 2 dog model, slightly less money, and from what it looks like it is lower quality. I have had several issues with it since it arrived and have had to modify the latching system, I had to redo the fiberglass seal around the door before I ever used it because it was not done properly. And the top of the stove has warped slightly making it harder to cook on the top. The stainless steel water tank that hangs on the side of it is a great idea and had me really excited to try it. But to my dismay the stainless steel has rusted pretty badly and especially the welds in the corners and the hinge on the door on top. I had to get a new washer for the spigot because the one they sent leaks. They said they would send me a new one but my hopes for this new water tank being any different from the last one are dismal. The owner Rich has been dealing with me and says out of thousands of stoves sold I am the only unsatisfied customer which I find very hard to believe. He is very set in his ways and is unwilling to admit there is anything wrong with the stove rather it is just in my head. I have not ordered any other products from the wall tent shop so I cannot attest to the rest of the business they do, but if I could do it over again I would have held out longer for a Four Dog stove, from the videos they have it seems like a much better thought out product.

I will make a new thread with pictures when I finish in the next week. I am very satisfied and love that I will not feel like I am sleeping in a coffin every night even in a tiny home.

Sorry for rambling about so much non stove related stuff.
 
Travis Schulert
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Please click the link to my tiny home thread below, it has all the details of how I made this work.
 
Tom Turner
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Clearance to combustibles can be reduced to only a few inches by installing heat shields out of thin sheet metal (you don't need 1/. Just make sure that the shield is up off the floor and the top is open which will create a natural, and strong, thermo-siphon and cool the air space between the shield and the wall, the "combustibles." It also minimizes heat-loss in that localized area of the wall. If you had infrared vision one could always look at a house and know where the wood stove was.

If you are safety-minded you could do two shields/air-spaces/thermo-siphons. The first shield absorbs the radiant heat of the stove and re-radiates some, which will be blocked by the second shield and then the wall will recieve very little heat, if any at all.

Most commercially built forced air wood stoves are rated at zero clearance to combustibles by using this technique ... but they use a fan instead of a thermo-siphon.
 
Travis Schulert
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Tom Turner wrote:Clearance to combustibles can be reduced to only a few inches by installing heat shields out of thin sheet metal (you don't need 1/. Just make sure that the shield is up off the floor and the top is open which will create a natural, and strong, thermo-siphon and cool the air space between the shield and the wall, the "combustibles." It also minimizes heat-loss in that localized area of the wall. If you had infrared vision one could always look at a house and know where the wood stove was.

If you are safety-minded you could do two shields/air-spaces/thermo-siphons. The first shield absorbs the radiant heat of the stove and re-radiates some, which will be blocked by the second shield and then the wall will recieve very little heat, if any at all.

Most commercially built forced air wood stoves are rated at zero clearance to combustibles by using this technique ... but they use a fan instead of a thermo-siphon.



Please follow the link in my signature, I did exactly that, plus a little extra. Having a metal heat shield does not make it so that you can have combustibles within 2 feet of your wood stove (by code in Michigan). It simply makes it safer, not a complete solution. That is why I framed out the wall behind the steel sheeting with steel studs and rockwool. If ever I have an inspector in the house, I can easily pop a sheet off to show that the stove is further than 2 feet from the closest combustible.
 
Tom Turner
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Travis, if your design parameters include code compliance as well as functionality, practicality and safety, then your question is better directed to your local fire department (usually the wood stove installation bureaucracy).

If you only want to convince the possible future inspecting bureaucrat of your installation's safety then put a thermometer on the wall behind the shielding and light a cranking hot fire. If it is somewhere around 100 degrees (ever so slightly warm to the touch) or less (my installation(s) actually feel cold because you are touching a cold outside wall), do you think you really need metal studs? The inspector may not care about any functionality and insist on letter-of-the-law.

This is a problem we all wrestle with because, as we all know, functionality, which includes practicality, safety, cost and many other attributes we might hold dear, do not coincide with "code." This is made more difficult because in mainstream society "code" is mistakenly understood as the right way of doing it.
 
Travis Schulert
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Tom Turner wrote:Travis, if your design parameters include code compliance as well as functionality, practicality and safety, then your question is better directed to your local fire department (usually the wood stove installation bureaucracy).

[/i].


The problem is already solved, reading through this thread and my other thread about the tiny home explains exactly what I did and why it works so well. And what I was saying before is that this also follows local code, which if I just put steel sheeting over wood studs and fiberglass insulation, it would be against local code. I am a general contractor in my home state and grew up in this business, I work with inspectors and fire marshals on a daily basis, some of them are friends of mine, so the code on my end is understood and followed.

Despite a lot of bad laws out there that cost people a lot of money, most of your building code to do with wood stoves is there for a reason, because to just put steel over wood is not safe in the long term(I see this a lot on youtube, people fitting in a wood stove next to their cabinets or furniture and they just hammer and tack on a bunch of old license plates or scrap metal). The heating and cooling of wood over many years causes the structure of the wood itself to change, and the result of years of your wood studs heating up and cooling down makes it so one day with not so much heat, it can just ignite and burst into flames. There are tests you can do to prove this. Wood that has been heated and cooled can ignite very quickly and very easily. Hence the steel studs. Though fire treated studs would serve the same purpose but I do not want to be breathing in the off gassing coming from any treated wood in the house.
 
Tom Turner
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When I was a kid, my friend had a VW bug which had no heat (pretty normal in road-salt New England). He built a coffee can wood stove on the passenger floor and ran the flue pipe out the vent-window. Even his girlfriend didn't mind as long as the fire was kept relatively low. It was less than 2 feet to the gas tank ... yet we all survived our youth.

His solution was better than mine. Remember snorkel jackets?

The windshield was very close in the Bug so I would put my snorkle right-up to it and my breath kind of kept it warm enough to not condense between gloved hand wipes. And my left arm reached out the window to continually wipe the outside "port-hole" in the frosted windshield.
 
Tom Turner
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Travis Schulert wrote:
Tom Turner wrote:Travis, if your design parameters include code compliance as well as functionality, practicality and safety, then your question is better directed to your local fire department (usually the wood stove installation bureaucracy).

[/i].


The problem is already solved, reading through this thread and my other thread about the tiny home explains exactly what I did and why it works so well. And what I was saying before is that this also follows local code, which if I just put steel sheeting over wood studs and fiberglass insulation, it would be against local code. I am a general contractor in my home state and grew up in this business, I work with inspectors and fire marshals on a daily basis, some of them are friends of mine, so the code on my end is understood and followed.

Despite a lot of bad laws out there that cost people a lot of money, most of your building code to do with wood stoves is there for a reason, because to just put steel over wood is not safe in the long term(I see this a lot on youtube, people fitting in a wood stove next to their cabinets or furniture and they just hammer and tack on a bunch of old license plates or scrap metal). The heating and cooling of wood over many years causes the structure of the wood itself to change, and the result of years of your wood studs heating up and cooling down makes it so one day with not so much heat, it can just ignite and burst into flames. There are tests you can do to prove this. Wood that has been heated and cooled can ignite very quickly and very easily. Hence the steel studs. Though fire treated studs would serve the same purpose but I do not want to be breathing in the off gassing coming from any treated wood in the house.


I apologize for not reading everything. So you understand that in the end you incurred added costs in your installation to be "to code", you could have made a safe installation that violated code. The very practical option of heat shielding is generally thrown away because some people don't understand how it works (your license plate example). Only if the shielding is installed by a manufacturer, as in zero-clearance fireplace inserts, is it acceptable.

I'm anti-code and I can't help it. I could rant for pages and pages on what is wrong with building codes. The greatest obstacle to this entire forum (the building portion of it) is building codes. If the effort spent on code-enforcement was diverted to education (teaching people how to properly heat shield with licence plates) we would all be better off IMHO.
 
Travis Schulert
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I can attest that a lot of the code out there is over done, over kill, or completely unnecessary, but being raised in the contractor business (commercial nursing home and hospital remodeling), I see past work done by other companies that I am brought in to do "right". Not just because code says it needs to be done a certain way, but because people do not understand why code is there, so they ignore it. This all falls into people thinking they know best, and assuming everyone else is wrong.

I am in no way saying all building code is right or wrong, I am in many ways against having a building dept for anything but commercial public spaces anyway. But, I have seen first hand, in many situations, the problems and dangers created by people who just assume all building code is BS and they are just going to do it the way they want. Building code is there first and foremost because there are many people out there who just assume they know best, and they assume this without having done the proper research and homework on that particular subject. I run into this most often with the maintenance dept in the nursing homes I remodel, as a jack of all trades is usually a master of none, and frankly most of them will make huge mistakes when fixing things like electrical and plumbing. Example- assistant maintenance guy at a recent facility was cleaning the AC units on the roof during these cold winter months when its not in use, he had disconnected a few of the connections to get access to the blower wheel, when reconnecting he did not fasten them securely, so when wind picked up in the middle of the night it knocked one of the wires loose and started a fire, the same malfunction somehow caused the blower to turn on as an electrical fire started in the unit. The result? The AC unit blowing black smoke back through the duct work of the building in the middle of the night when no personnel were on site to address the problem. The fire caused more electrical problems and blew out most of the lighting in the building. This mistake cost him his job, as well as at least $20k in damage (much more including the fines received from the city for not hiring a licensed professional to do the job in a commercial building).

I see this stuff everyday.

I want people reading this thread to understand there is a right and wrong way to do something, and the wrong way could cost you your home, car, or you and your pets life.

As far as the coffee can wood stove in a mobile vehicle, the main worry I see there is it getting knocked over while driving (due to a bump, slamming brakes, someone kicking it by accident etc) Unless you have some thick burn proof gloves nearby to pick those coals up, you will run into some problems pretty quickly. I know you guys are all safe and fine, and nobody was hurt, which is great. But I have had a lot of close calls with fire, because of doing things the wrong way, and I have on more than one occasion almost burnt down my house (as a child, and as an adult), mistakes were made when I was young and when I was old enough to know better. I want to get home from work and my dog be safe, happy, and warm in the house all day when I am gone. I could not live with myself if my dog was burnt alive because I wanted to cut corners and save a buck.

I could start getting into chimney fires, which is the real reason most wood stove building code exists. Because everything is fine and dandy when the stove is working properly, but I know first hand how quickly a chimney fire can burn through the steel stove pipe. I grew up with wood heat, and I respect it. Because people burn their houses down every year with pets inside, or children inside, due to thinking they knew best, and that the building code can F OFF.
 
Tom Turner
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Travis I think I was off base by starting a dialog about the politics of building codes. I apologize to the forum. To stay focused on the thread topic of minimizing clearance to combustibles (of any high temp heat source) I will explain as clearly as I can the principle of air-cooled heat shielding. It is very simple: A heat source is surrounded with a shield which absorbs all the radiant and convection heat emanating from the heat source. The shield itself gets very hot and this heat must be carried away by a flow of air on it's backside (away from the heat source).

Travis is right that chimneys present the highest threat of fire. We first had masonry chimneys with very vulnerable mortar joints. We then improved by lining with clay which helped a great deal but still themselves would crack. A not often known development were stackable asbestos chimney pipes. I'm sure that these worked great because of their temperature resistance and high insulating value. Really that is why asbestos use exploded in nearly every high temperature application. After asbestos we developed stainless steel capable of high temps. The first inexpensive and very safe metal chimney pipe system was "triple wall." This system, adopted as the standard of building codes, functions entirely on the principle of air-cooled shielding.

The inner pipe contains the hot exhaust gases and through convection and radiation the inner wall (always made of stainless) gets very hot. The three coaxial pipes form two annular ring air spaces outside the center chimney pipe. Both air spaces are vented to the outside above the roof and are connected to each other at the ceiling box. The air in the space next to the hot chimney pipe gets hot and rises up being displaced by cold outside air falling down the outer pipe. It is a very effective thermo-siphon air cooling system that removes the heat from the shield (the hot inner pipe) and vents it outside. It is extremely safe and allows almost no clearance to combustibles in the roof penetration. There is no need to build that section of the roof out of non-combustible materials.

Wall heat shielding works the same way. Attach sheet metal to the combustible wall with 1 inch stand offs. Lift the bottom edge off the sheet metal 1 inch off the floor and leave the top of the air-space open. The shield gets hot causing the air between the shield and the wall to get hot and to rise up and out the top into the room. Cold air enters the 1 inch air-space at the floor level. The heat of the wood stove powers a very effective thermo-siphon air cooling system just like minimal clearance triple-wall chimney pipe. The hotter the stove the faster the air flows, and the faster the heat in that 1 inch space is moved into the room. It is a simple principle that building codes assume that people are too stupid to understand.

BTW triple wall is very safe and effectively removes the heat. But it is also very effective at cooling the surface of the flue pipe maximizing condensation of creosote. I recommend double wall chimney pipe filled with rock wool. It is more expensive but is far superior at keeping the exhaust gasses, including it's creosote, hot until released to the the outside air. ...but of course a rocket stove with thermal mass is far superior to any conventional wood stove or chimney combination.

.
 
Travis Schulert
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The wood stove in this instance is a box without any blowers or fans. It is small and affordable, and fits well into a small space. If you visit the recent Tiny Home Thread you can see pictures of my setup, how I did it safely and on the Cheap.

I was told several years ago in this thread when I posted it (before I started buiilding the house) that wood stoves throw all the heat out of the front and that it would make it too uncomfortable in the house to live. I was told by many people this wouldn't work, and that no matter what I did it would be unsafe. I started the new thread so people could read that and understand what I did, how I did it, and why it works.

So please, visit the and read the other thread, and please post some of your knowledge there also, thank you for your quality post.

 
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