Hello all, I'm getting ready to start on my small timber frame cabin this coming winter in North Central West Virginia. It will be a small 12 x 16 cabin with a sleeping loft. My wife and I will habitate it until we can add on in the future (when wee little ones enter the picture).
However, I'm having some issues in the planning stages of the heating/hot water/cooking scenario. We would prefer to be entirely off-grid when it comes to our heat and cooking abilities. I'm not opposed to including propane in the realm of off-grid cooking.
I've exhausted 4 options:
1. Using a small outdoor wood boiler for heat and hot water and a small propane setup for the cooking scenario. But after pricing wood boilers, even the small ones, I'm beginning to wonder if it would be worth it. Surely there is a way I could do this cheaper for this size of this home. We're talking 288sq ft including the loft.
2. Then I thought about a small wood stove indoors with a hot water capability and the propane cooking area. But then I didn't have a solution for hot water in the summer time. I really don't even like the idea of burning wood in the summer.
3. A small wood stove for heat, a tankless hot water heater, and the propane stove for cooking. But then I realized what kind of electrical breakers and wiring the tankless hot water heaters require. Plus that's 3 systems and my goal is simplicity lol.
4. A larger pioneer maid style cookstove with a summer grate for cooking in the warmer months. We could plan our showers to be after supper so that we could utilize the hot water while we had it. In the winter time, it would be hot water all the time and we would have no shortage of heat. I think my wife likes this option the best for the cooking area it provides.
Any input would be appreciated. Maybe there is a revolutionary product I'm missing out on. Or maybe I'm thinking too hard.
My thought would be to stick to a wood cook stove/water heater. And heat water with a solar batch heater in the summer. Electricity can supplement your cooking needs in summer as well (microwave, and one or two burner electric element cooker. Solar oven is another option.
Lots of insulation in the house will simplify the heating issues (R-50 all around for your climate perhaps).
Jakalb Lough : Jay C. White Cloud says to always take a look at the Traditional Indigenous Architecture. In this case you would find that Traditional Buildings
below the Mason Dixon line often had Summer Kitchens, outside the main structure, ether within the area/overhang of a Large/Wide porch, Or a second
building structure attached at the porch only- creating a Breezeway and referred to as ''A Dog trot, or a dog trot Breezeway "!
This removed the bulk of the Heat produced by producing hot water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing and Very Importantly the entire Canning operation to
the 'summer location' and saved the sanity of the early settlers who would have been slowly baked to death !
In the days when every one was their own mason and laid-up their own chimneys, and Creosote/Chimney fires were common, this outside chimney could be
quickly knocked down, the summer kitchen was a safety factor that saved many an early settler from burning himself out of house and home !
1)Look at Rocket Stoves and Mass Heaters, My Strong recommendation is to keep the whole thing simple !
2+ 3) as above, you can have gas fired Tankless heat but only if you only run soft/rain water through it, Trying to run 'Hard water' will eventually Bite you on
the Ass, any cleaning scale removing chemicals will eventually destroy your Tankless unit, and doing nothing to remove scale just makes the system expensive
to run, and eventually causes the system to fail !
4 ) Not familiar with this system, again you could look at the Rocket Stoves Forum and plan on growing to a Cooking range with the amenities your wife feels
she needs ! For the Craft, Think like Fire, Flo like Gas Don't be the Marshmallow As always, your Comments and questions are solicited and welcome !
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
Topher, I haven't looked into the solar batch heaters. I've seen a few pictures but had no idea what they were. I imagine there are ways to build those yourself? I'm not keen on the asthetics of it, but now I'm nit-picking.. I'll check into it. =)
For insulation, we plan to do a wrap and strap method over the timber frame and a small 2x4 pseudo frame on the interior, between the timbers for batting insulation and electrical/plumbing concealment. Overall, I think we'll have close to 30 in the R-value. We plan to utilize passive solar design, so we should be ok. If not, we have lots of wood.
Big Al, I think you have answered some big time problems here. I had planned on eventually putting on a front porch for the cabin, but now I believe it will be part of the original construction. Maybe I can rig the hot water thermosyphoning to be easily switched with a few valves when we switch between the interior and exterior. I imagine my wife would love the idea of cooking outside when the weather provided the opportunity as well.
I strongly considered the rocket mass heaters, but seeing as I have no experience in them, no experience in clay sculpture to assist in the heat retention, and not much room in the cabin, I think I would like to stay with the cast iron cookstoves. Plus I like the idea of having all of my plumbing and exhaust piping exposed for maintenance.
Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
posted 5 years ago
Jacob Lough wrote:Topher, I haven't looked into the solar batch heaters. I've seen a few pictures but had no idea what they were. I imagine there are ways to build those yourself? I'm not keen on the asthetics of it, but now I'm nit-picking.. I'll check into it. =)
A solar batch heater is basically a box with a glass cover,pointed at the sun. You can design them to look however you'd like.
For insulation, we plan to do a wrap and strap method over the timber frame and a small 2x4 pseudo frame on the interior, between the timbers for batting insulation and electrical/plumbing concealment. Overall, I think we'll have close to 30 in the R-value.
I would recommend thinking about putting all the insulation outside the timber frame, this allows the air barrier to be contiguous. Then run the wiring in a chase around the inside. Plumbing should ALWAYS be in interior walls.
We plan to utilize passive solar design, so we should be ok. If not, we have lots of wood.
That makes me a bit trepidatious, it is far better to know *in advance* how the building will perform. If I were you, I would get an energy model done on your plans, or do one yourself.
Plus I like the idea of having all of my plumbing and exhaust piping exposed for maintenance.
I agree (and add wiring in there as well). This aspect of rocket stoves makes me nervous, as well as the impossible claims that are made about them.