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Recommendations For Modifications On Wood Stove

 
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Location: Michigan
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I have a 23D x 26.5W x21.5H fireplace insert that I'm modifying for my greenhouse. I'm going to add secondary burn tubes and water circulating tubes for hot water. I'm going to line all sides with fire brick leaving the top uncovered to allow heat to soak into mass on top. My questions are (1) should the baffle in the top be flat or slanted (2) should the opening to the stack be in the front or back (3) should the water line be above or below the baffle (4) is there a minimum/maximum opening for the baffle to the stack?
 
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These are a couple of resources that i like to share. Diy level.

The best efficiency gains i have personally seen are had using the smoke shelf ( "baffle"?) And a combustion air intake from outdoors.

Our smoke shelf burned through and radiation plummeted, but gradually. I re built the shelf and it radiated an amazing difference into our living space, an immediate and undeniable improvement.

Same for the addition of the outdoor air intake. It is hard to relay the improvement. We used to cut all firewood from dead timber, with a bow saw and haul 1/2 mile home on a train of snow sleds.... on foot. The work required to keep comfortable temps was so reduced, that i will not operate without this key feature ever again, plus it consumes less precious resource.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.backwoodshome.com/better-wood-heating/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/www.backwoodshome.com/hydronic-woodstoves/amp/
 
Jeffrey Sullivan
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Frank Li thanks for your reply. The articles were helpful but the fresh air tip was something I hadn't thought of. This stove is heavy steel about 450 lbs without firebricks. The whole top is flat so I intend to stack stone on top. Should be able to pick up granite pieces at a counter top supplier. I've been using brick pavers on my current stove but it loads from the top and is a pain to set up each time. The position of the smoke shelf is the first thing I'm going to work on in my new stove. The original shelf only covers less than half of the top and is at a pretty steep angle. I intend on making it larger and decreasing the angle unless that will cause problems. Any thoughts on that?
 
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I don't know if the countertop place has soapstone, but if it does, you might want to get it instead--or in addition to--granite. We have slabs of both. The granite is on the stove top surface, and the soapstone stacked on top of the granite. After the fire dies down, the granite cools down way before the soapstone, even though it was initially hotter than the soapstone as it was in direct contact with the stove. The soapstone really retains heat for a long time compared to the granite!
 
Jeffrey Sullivan
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I think I found all my answers in this video  

Good info for anyone building or modifying a stove.
 
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Here is an opposite way of thinking.  I read where a guy took out all the firebrick and put metal shields up to protect his stove. He then saved a whole lot of wood and got heat a lot quicker for fires needed to take the chills out of his house in the climate he lived in. EPA wood stoves with firebrick are designed to burn wood efficiently and hot to reduce pollutants and not necessarily to throw out the most heat. I do the same thing the guy recommended and it works perfectly. When it gets to constant heating with the fire burning all the time I just slip the firebricks in. It saves a lot of firewood in the fall and late spring because it takes way less fuel to get the stove throwing out heat without having to heat firebricks that are actually insulating the fire.  He had a lot of naysayers but it works for me.
 
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Well yes modern stoves do use bricks and baffles to keep firebox temps up for more complete combustion.   But they also direct that heat to areas which transmit it quite well to the room.  

And yes you can still have small hot fires that are efficient on most of them.   Or you can turn many down low giving you long burns at low heat output.

Removing brick can easily lead to damaging the stove.  Their primary purpose is to protect the metal of the stove.
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