Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The heat is on


Here's my wood stove, a 1960's cast iron "Jøtul #4". When it was designed there was a rage for all things Pacific and "tiki", and this is reflected here. The "Jøtul #4" is obviously inspired by the statues on Easter Island. It has that convex eye ridge and stoic expression. The statues didn't have nose rings but some artistic license should be tolerated.
A great boon with this model is that the front door slides downwards and under the oven, so it doubles up as a fireplace (below). This is real luxury mode, the wood burns quickly and the room is not heated.
That's a water heater on top of the oven, great for washing off all those blood stains after a quiet afternoon spent splitting logs. The oven is not much good for preparing food apart from long-simmering stews. You'd just end up heating up the room to sauna-like temperatures.

There's a whole world of theorizing about how to improve the efficiency of a wood stove. Chop enough wood, sit comatose long enough in front of glowing embers, and this kind of speculation comes naturally.
The burning wood sucks in the air from the room, and then promptly sends it up the chimney. Certain industrious people have been upset enough about this state of affairs to create an air intake to their oven from the outside of their homes.
Another trick is to extend the stovepipe horizontally under the ceiling for the whole length of the room. I've seen old Scandinavian and American school houses with ovens fitted out this way. There is a limit, however. At some point you have to accept loosing some heat up the chimney as the heat transports the smoke.
You can also attach fins to the stovepipes, increasing the heated area. And there are fans to put on top of the ovens, that start rotating "on their own" (actually from the rising, hot air) and disperse the warm air.
Since the 1980's wood stoves have improved immensely in terms of efficiency, and also pollute a lot less than they used to. There is a ghastly irony in that when people really needed these things they didn't work all that well while today, when wood stoves are not as vital, they're much better.

4 comments:

Hudson Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hudson Gardner said...

"That's a water heater on top of the oven, great for washing off all those blood stains after a scream filled afternoon spent splitting logs."
Be careful!? Do you think Richard Proenneke would have been so hasty as to saw his finger off in the woods? Haha...
And what a nice stove! You make people with central heating jealous. I must say I love the smell of burning wood.

Oldfool said...

When I bought my bus in Seattle, Washington its only heat was a modern red steel fireplace. Ugly. I left Seattle with one of the below deck storage compartments full of firewood. We needed it both for heat and parking brake. It was really inefficient heat but it worked well enough. When we got to the north facing mountain ranch in California where we were to spend some time we upgraded to an airtight stove and life was better. One fill and it would burn all night.
I found this persons writeup today on heating with wood and I must say that I have never thought of it in this way. It's not relevant to your situation probably but I thought you might be interested in the concept.
http://clevercycles.com/
The post is called Wood Heat.

Northmark said...

Hud: Haha. True. Proenneke would not approve. I think he still had all his digits after thirty years of woodchopping.

Oldfool: Thanks for the link. Those folks at clevercycles have got it together. Someone who says "We can’t really tell where biking stops and the rest of life begins" are worth listening to.