matthew sorrells

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since Jan 19, 2014
Canton, NC
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Recent posts by matthew sorrells

I was really just considering it for a couple hours at a time when temperatures required it, but good thinking.  maybe an old fridge out of a camper?
3 years ago
ive not heard of a "mr heater portable buddy" .  I've been out of this stuff for more than a year.  I think if I could warm the mass with something that doesnt need constant attention it would suit my needs better.  I know of no other heater that stores heat for long periods of time, but the method in which you apply heat leaves something to be desired.  

I temporarily considered disassembling a kerosene heater to try to use the wicking burner in the end of the burn tunnel to apply heat, but I couldnt figure out how to get it run and how Id keep the mass of kerosene safe while supplying the wick.  

It can be done.  Do I have the knowledge?  heck no.  But as a collective I think yall might.  

propane line ran through the cob to a burner in the end of the burn chamber.....    maybe tied to a thermostat or a timer or even a simple grill propane tank and a lighter to light and let run for an hour or more then shut it off.  Keep the gas cool in the cob until the chamber?  I dont know.  Seems to me the wood makes the most heat with the draft, but a maybe less efficient but easier method of fueling to heat the mass might work too.  I'm not trying to make it difficult, and I know that i could just put a big greenhouse heater in there, but to run a heater all the time with no heat storage seems ludicrous after seeing how warmth can be stored.  

Thanks for the thoughts so far.

3 years ago
Peter, the reason id like to continue to run my RMH is simple.  Its already there, and I only use it occasionally.  Like, I only have to run the RMH maybe 10 - 20 nights a year due to the semi underground nature of my greenhouse.  3 watt Christmas lights do the trick for me until the outside temp reaches 15 to 18 degrees or less, and here in the mountains thats NOT that often.  For an only occasional burn it seems feasible.  I like the storage of heat part, but i have a hard time now staying "around" for 2 hours plus on cold days as I'm inside cooking supper or spending time with family.  

I understand that with my usage, a different heat source might have been a better choice originally, but again, things have changed and as with this whole greenhouse, everything is an experiment and only after using it for a while could i come close to seeing how well it would work and the potential problems associated with the system.  I believe that it is a great system but somehow think that a different heat source with the same heat storage capability might be better for me, if possible.  
3 years ago
Hello all.  I've had a rocket mass heater for just under 3 years now and love it.  I have it in my greenhouse, which is not ideal from many perspectives I understand.  It has worked well for me.  For a one or two hour burn, I can keep the greenhouse above freezing for the night.  Life has a way of changing, and mine has in the last 2 years.  My ex would make me happy to be in the greenhouse for hours.  This is not the case any longer, thankfully.  

Please dont flame me too much on this, but I understand SOME ribbing....  

I love the rocket mass heater, and understand the use of it and I know that most people that have them use them in the space where they habitate so they are present all the time to babysit the RMH ( to poke, prod, and shuffle and shake the wood).  How much experimentation has gone on for long term fueling?  In other words, I remember seeing something about a pellet feeder system for the RMH, but as I havent been "on" this site for a while I dont know how that turned out.  Has anyone done other testing on systems?  

One of my main questions is whether anyone has tried a propane driven burner at the end of the burn chamber to heat the mass of the heater.  Something to provide heat input to the RMH without babysitting the burn the whole time.  Seems to me that perhaps a burner placed at the bottom of the insulated riser would heat the mass without the need for constant prodding and, while not the solution for everyone, be a good solution for not being present for hours at a time but still utilizing the mass of the heater.  

forgive me please if this has been covered in depth or if I'm missing something.  I'm not on here much and dont have the time any more to read for hours and hours at at time.  

Thank you in advance for your replies.  

3 years ago
Took a blower to it.  no nasty plume came out.  draft is better ish.  had a fire going, but it kept "burping" smoke at me and i had to shake it and mess with it every 30 seconds to keep the draft going down.  noticed a few places where smoke was coming out around the manifold so perhaps there are small cracks i dont really see that kill the draft?  
3 years ago
good idea, dale.  I will try this tomorrow when the sun comes out.    
3 years ago
theres a draft in the chimney, but its weak in the mass.  i dont really want to tear it apart to find out, but nothing changed other than the date.  perhaps spider webs within?  
3 years ago

Hello all.  

I've not been active in the forums for a few years.  I bought the RMH book (which I cannot seem to find to reference) and built a RMH in my greenhouse a few years ago.  The heater is ABOUT 30-35 feet (I think - its been so long (firebox and manifold under barrel plus 20 foot straight pipe plus 5 elbows then 15 foot vertical chimney)) long including corners at 5 foot per, and it has worked VERY well for a few years now.  Every time, split kindling, light it with a torch, and it goes.  if weak, heat exhaust with torch to help draft and it goes.  Today, while its 15 degrees outside and dropping, I decided its about time for a fire.  I tried to light the thing but no draft.  I heat the exhaust, no draft.  I light a fire under the vertical chimney and it has a strong draft in there, but nearly no draft in the firebox.  AFter working for over an hour, I develop a WEAK draft in the firebox by heating chimney, lighting fires in chimney and back of firebox, and blowing.  I was thinking that with the bone chilling cold outside and 69 inside the greenhouse there was a "cold plug" in the chimney, but after everything I'd think i'd have had it pushed out.  I ended up walking away from it after fighting for 2 hours and getting increasingly smoked out by the lack of draft.  It would pull, then puff, then pull, then puff in my face.  You know that time when you realize you're getting too irritated to continue without acting a fool?  I was there.  I had to walk away.  

Please help with some ideas and forgive the fact i have not been here in years.  Everything was working great for a while.  Ive got a 3 year old lemon tree, a lime tree, a banana tree thats 12 feet tall, and reaper peppers in there.  

Also help me out with this site.  its changed a lot in a couple years.  Thanks for your understanding.  

thanks everyone.  

3 years ago

Here's a quick update on the walipini! Things are growing well in there, and a bit differently than outside, but not bad different. Tomatoes are growing crazy tall compared to outside. Not leggy, but I've got one that is around 10 foot tall now and covered in tomatoes, whereas outside, the tray-mates of the ones inside are only 3 foot tall and many less tomatoes. Onions are a bit weak and only beginning to fill out, but I suspect that may have more to do with the length of the day than light. Peppers are doing awesome, and I think they will be one of my best products. I've got hot peppers coming off the habanero much quicker than I can pawn them off, so I'll likely be making hot sauce to sell so they dont go bad. Many, many, trinidad scorpions and carolina reapers growing and beginning to ripen on the 3 foot tall plants. Greens do well in there, as I have swiss chard and amish deer tongue growing. Herbs do well, as do sweet peppers. I have a lime and a lemon tree in there which have not produced yet - I do not know if it is the age of the tree or my natural fertilizers or what causing this. I've got strawberries in a gutter in there that did very well and are exploding in runners now.

My pest control seems to work very well. There is a great little ecosystem in there with the praying mantises that hatched out and grew to maturity ahead of the outside population. I put some little toads in there as well as some tadpoles in a 2 foot pond that are also thriving. No pests that are causing any damage that I can tell, but many pillbugs in there and now a few crickets. I've put many worms in the good soil in there, but they do not come up when I water - I dont know if they've vamoosed or they are just happy in the soil and I dont water enough to cause them to come up. The Nepenthes are doing well too. I've put a few ornamentals in, like orchids and a bromeliad. Also some sensitive plant seeds.

I've only been fertilizing with alpaca poop, bone meal, blood meal, and coffee grounds. Oh, and the comfrey cuttings that I took from the plants outside and shredded and put around the plants inside. I've used shredded leaves as mulch in the greenhouse and the little toads REALLY love them.

The hottest I've seen it in there is around 102, but normally it is around 95 during the summer days at around 8 foot up, and probably 85 at head level. I havent really checked at ground level, but I'm sure it is appropriate. I have 2 box fans moving air around in there for now with plans to put either one or two more in.

The material Solexx is holding up well and still looks brand new, but it does bulge and bow in the heat. Works just peachy, just dont go into it thinking it will be perfectly smooth and stay that way. When it was 20 here, it was smooth - at 90, not so much. My problem is I expected perfection, and when you do that you are bound to get disappointed with something. But overall, I am happy with it and would use it again.

5 years ago
Here's a few update pics from the greenhouse this evening. Got lots growing, and have been eating out of it for a bit now. There are strawberries, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, 3 types tomatoes, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, trinidad scorpions, carolina reaper peppers, a couple beans, a mexican gurken, passion fruit, lime and lemon trees, and lots of starts including local stuff like hostas and rhubarb. The lemon tree is growing well, and the lime has 8 inches of new growth and TONS of blooms on it. I put a mantis egg case in there earlier and they are about 1 to 1.5 inches now and between them and the spiders they are keeping control of pests - at least I have not had any problems yet with pests. The rocket mass heater is closer, but not done. Its just too hot in there during the day to stomp around on cob and sling mud. likely fall project to finish that part. The greenhouse gets up to between 80 on a shady day and 92 to 95 on a sunny day at 85 outside. I've got the shutters on the west end set to open at 80 and the fan on the east end kick on at 95 and high speed at 100, but it hasnt reached that in there yet. This is also air temp, as many things are planted in the ground, so probably 75 at the hottest down there. I've been fertilizing with blood and bone meal with coffee grounds. Bought some epsom salts today to spray the maters with.

Overall, I'm very happy with its performance. Only time will tell and after this winter coming up I'll know for sure if it "works" or not.

5 years ago