The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Efficient wood stove in action

Smoke coming from a Jotul wood stoveTake a peek at the smoke coming out of our chimney while the Jotul is operating nearly at full blast.  Oh, you don't see anything?  I could hardly make out a hint of smoke either, just a bit of a heat shimmering right around the rain cap.  For the sake of comparison, check out this photo, which was pretty typical of the huge plume of gray smoke exiting the chimney of our exterior wood furnace.

The Jotul's efficiency isn't only obvious out the chimney, but also inside the firebox.  The one part of our tiny wood stove that I was leery of was the lack of a tray for ashes.  Wouldn't the little firebox just clog up after an hour of burning and need to be cleaned out?  Nope.  After our first four small and medium-sized fires, there was only about a quarter of an inch of fluffy ash in the bottom of the stove --- not even enough to bother scooping out.  The instruction manual suggests cleaning out the ashes every day or two, which sounds about right.

By fire number three, I could tell that the Jotul puts off a lot of heat.  On a frosty morning, fire number four heated up the trailer in no time, despite the fact that I opened the back door to air out the scent of curing paint.  (As Roland mentioned and the Huckleberry watching the fireinstruction book for the stove reiterated, you need to be aware that a new stove will probably stink like the dickens the first few times you light it as the paint on the outside cures.)  I figure we burned perhaps two small logs in fire number four, which would have barely been enough to push heat into the trailer with our exterior wood furnace but which the princess used to warm up the whole front half of the trailer to high room temperature.  It sure is nice to be turning that wood straight into heat instead of into smoke and ashes.  As you can see, even Huckleberry approves of our new space heating direction.

Simplify your chicken-keeping life with a poop-free homemade chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Wow, that's a nice clean exhaust!

How well can you control the fire with the air intake? I'm curious if a fire would last overnight.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Nov 28 15:51:42 2010

I've actually been doing a bit of experimenting along those exact lines. I filled the firebox all the way up around 9 last night and shut the air control nearly all the way down. Just before I went to sleep around 10 or so, I poked around and was able to fit in another small log. When I got up at 8, there were still a lot of hot coals in the bottom, though no active flames. I tossed on a couple of pieces of kindling and opened the air supply all the way up, and flames were licking up around the wood in no time. The literature says the stove will burn for 5 hours, which might be how long there is active flame in there?

I need to take a photo of the exhaust when the stove's damped down all the way --- I suspect I might see a bit of smoke then, but couldn't see last night since it was dark.

I've been extraordinarily happy, overall, with how easy it is to keep the trailer at the temperature I want. My experience in the past with wood stoves has been that you're either freezing or burning up, but by fitting the stove to our square footage, a hot fire is just right to keep the inside temperature at light long-sleeved shirt temperature during the chilly times of the day, and then we coast on coals over the warmer part of the day. Opening and closing the air intake has a reaction nearly as immediate as turning a light dimmer switch --- flames immediately decrease or increase, depending on what you're doing. But since hot fires burn more cleanly, I've just been adjusting the temperature by changing the amount of wood I put on the fire, which has been remarkably easy.

(I'm in love. Can you tell?)

Comment by anna Sun Nov 28 16:25:44 2010
Nice. Hopefully you won't go through anywhere near as much wood as the old fire, too! Unless your love affair has you continuing to burn stuff as long as possible into spring :-).
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Sun Nov 28 18:30:40 2010

I can already tell we're using a lot less wood. Mark is splitting it into smaller pieces, though, so I hope he's still putting in a lot less time. My vague feeling is that he spent maybe 15 minutes chopping this weekend, which has been keeping us warm since Thanksgiving, with a nice pile left to last through part of tomorrow.

The $300 worth of wood we bought, thinking of the beast, is starting to look like a two year supply....

Comment by anna Sun Nov 28 19:42:04 2010
when we lived in central Pennsylvania, my family would buy a triaxial load of gypsy moth kill. it was around $400 and was more than enough to heat our 2500sq ft house for the whole season. it would surely be enough for three seasons, with leftover for mushroom logs and fencing. this sourcing makes a lot of sense environmentally and is pretty darn cheep. the wood is typically a combination of trees killed by the moths and trees they've thinned out to help control infestation. it is delivered as full trees without branches ~ approx 40' long. i think there would be an issue to deliver it all the way into your property though.
Comment by kevin Mon Nov 29 15:39:04 2010
Kevin --- that's a great idea for people in the northeast! Luckily for us, the gypsy moths aren't a problem here, so there aren't acres of dead oaks to be cut down. We had a heavy snow storm last winter that created enough deadfall for months of burning, though, and we also bought some wood from a neighbor who sells the tops leftover from his logging operations. Our wood pile is in great shape for this year, and maybe part of next!
Comment by anna Mon Nov 29 16:14:33 2010

I am new to this business and I just found out that lighting my Jotul filled my lounge with thick smoke from the vent.

I can't see what (if anything) I have done wrong, anyone know how to help?

Comment by tom Sun Dec 12 17:26:08 2010
That sounds like you definitely have some trouble with your chimney installation. In our Jotul stove, even when I open the door wide, no smoke at all comes into the room because our air flow is ideal.
Comment by anna Sun Dec 12 22:10:05 2010

We have a Vermont Castings wood stove that heated our house the first winter we lived in it, we still use it to supplement our heating system when the temperatures fall below -35C. We then installed a masonry heater/fireplace and have used it as the sole heat source ever since. We are in Canada, and winter temperatures can fall to -30C below zero for days at a time, and we still manage to keep our home reasonably warm. For most of the winter we only fire the heater two times a day, early morning and in the evening, 50 pounds of wood with the damper wide open. After the flames disappear we close the dampers and few hours later the heater begins to release heat. It is quite a commitment to install, but it paid for itself in the first five years.

Comment by Maggie Tue Nov 27 19:23:15 2012
Comment by Black bear Tue Feb 19 20:59:04 2013

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