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

How small can a wood stove fire be?

small fire

Our 2nd Jotul wood stove can sometimes heat my small room to the point where I need to open a window. I've been experimenting with different ways of controlling the size of the fire with mixed results.

The first lesson learned is to not worry about letting the fire go out. The super draft on the Jotul makes it really easy to start. I usually stop feeding it if my inside temperature goes above 68.

Another trick I like to use is putting a log in the corner so one of its sides is up against a wall. I think it burns slower when less surface area is exposed.

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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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I have the same problems with my small stove. Unfortunately I don't have a good flu control. So I have to resort to a rather annoying cycle of heating the stove and house too much, then let it die out. During this cycle I go from thermal underwear, pajamas, undershirt, watchman's cap and shirt down to boxer shorts and no shirt. Then I slowly layer back on until I get to the point, usually around 60, when I fire the sucker back up again.

I'll try your tip to put a log against the walls to slow down the burn rate. Some year I'll buy myself a good wood stove, but I got mine used for $150 and money is tight right now.

Comment by Danny Fri Jan 13 20:34:11 2012
Nice picture, Mark.
Comment by Errol Fri Jan 13 21:19:34 2012

Danny --- Heating with wood does seem to be quite a learning experience. Our little stoves have great air control, but Mark's room is so small and well insulated that almost any heat is too much.

We do thoroughly recommend an energy efficient stove as soon as you can afford it, especially if you're buying firewood. In our main space (the trailer --- badly insulated, so we burn a lot more wood), I figure we will have repaid the price of the stove in just three years through lower wood burning. (We did get it during the 2009 tax year, though, when we were able to write a whopping 30% off on our taxes, if I recall right. The rebate has gone down a lot since then, I think.)

Daddy --- Thanks! I like it too!

Comment by anna Sat Jan 14 11:51:47 2012
Yeah, I've run the math on buying a new stove. I live in a small, poorly insulated, house. I was aware of the rebate incentives, but at the time I had other projects that were sucking up money, like rehabbing a rental home so I can get some passive income. Luckily, I do at least have plenty of free sources for wood as long as I provide the labor, so for the moment it's a bit more of an annoyance fiddling with the stove than it is an economic argument.
Comment by Danny Fri Jan 20 18:07:19 2012
Yeah, it becomes harder to merit the high price of a fancy stove if you're splitting all your own wood. The environmental effects of the extra pollution is still there, but it's true that efficient stoves are expensive.
Comment by anna Sat Jan 21 08:20:01 2012

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