"Masonry heaters are also known as "Russian," "Siberian," and "Finnish" fireplaces. They produce more heat and less pollution than any other wood- or pellet-burning appliance."
-US Department of Energy
Masonry Heater options can include:
Cook stove top
Heat Coils for domestic water
Hydronic heating systems
Many aesthetic choices
A masonry heater allows you to heat your home with wood in a unique and sustainable way.
Advantages of a Masonry Heater.
Less particulate: Cleaner smoke is good for the environment and good for your chimney.
Lower CO2 emissions: CO2 Emissions are lower than any other wood burning appliance and equal to those of pellet stoves. This means that Masonry Heaters contribute far fewer green house gasses.
Radiant heat truly heats the mass of your home. Unlike a regular wood stove or forced air heating system, which only heats the air in the room, radiant heat acts like light: warming any surface that is exposed to the Masonry heater.
Even heating means no stratification of temperature. This means that it is the same temperature upstairs as it is downstairs.
No drafts: Radiant heat does not work by air convection, so you won't feel windy drafts as fans attempt to circulate the warm air.
Fuel efficiency: The hot burn (nearing 1700 + F) releases more BTUs than a regular fireplace burn. By igniting the volitile gasses otherwise lost in a far cooler conventional stove, a Masonry Heater is able to use far more of the available energy in one piece of wood.
Convenience of fewer fires: Because the heat is released slowly, one fire can charge your heater for 24 hours.
Pleasure of a wood fire: You still get to enjoy a wood fire with less effort and more comfort.
Conduction. Because the surfaces of a Masonry Heater are stone or brick and only around 160 degrees, you can snuggle up to your heater without getting burned. This means that you can soak heat right up into your body like a warm rock at the river.
Masonry Heaters can be built to serve a wide variety of needs.
The above heater for example has a pizza oven built into the secondary burn chamber on the kitchen side of the heater. This allows the ability to cook and bake in a wood fired oven any night one chooses throughout the winter. Masonry Heaters can also feature a water coil installed so that domestic hot water can be heated by the daily charge of wood heat burned in the stove.
Some stoves like the one below, are built with a bench through which hot flue gases travel: This creates a place to warm your body by direct contact. Masonry Heaters can also have cook tops, much like a tradtional wood cookstove. The heater below has a larger fire box than most Masonry Cook Stoves so that it functions as a shorter Masonry Heater that supplies retained heat for the whole house.
Note the ergonomic warmed reclined back rests.
Are Masonry heaters Appropriate for the west coast of California?
It is sometimes supposed that masonry heaters are a technology that is only appropriate in very cold climates like Russia or Vermont and that they would over heat a home on the west coast. Because the surface temprature of a Masonry heaters never goes much above 200 degrees F (ideal is 180 F) with a steady out put, they are far more gentle than a conventional stove. The immediate heat released by a hot conventional wood stove is far greater (nearing 400) than any Masonry Heater so the over heating is much more of a problem. Not only this but the house is only hot as long as the fire is burning after which your ambient temperature quickly drops (depending of coarse on the insulation of your house.)
Another interesting property of the thermal mass of a masonry heater it that it will release heat relative to the ambient temperature of the room: the colder the room the quicker the mass will "leak" its heat. This means that it can in theory act as its own thermostat.
The point is that there are no temperature extremes with a masonry heater, heat is released slowly at the rate that you need it. The house maintains an even temperature.
All of this, gives Masonry Heaters a greater advantage in our climate because as the temperature differential here is only about 35 degrees F (65 F inside 30 outside) on the colder days of the year. Many heaters were designed to accommodate climates as cold as -10 F or even -50 , thats a temp differential of over 100 F.
With A Masonry Heater in your home, you can stay warm with staggering efficiency! A Masonry Heater can keep a 1500 sq house with decent insulation warm, burning one fire per 24 hour.
There are many different kinds of Masonry Heaters, each with their own benefits and aesthetic charm. The Masonry Heaters below were built by various members of the masonry heater assoc. of N. America you can click on the pictures for more info.
Humboldt Hearthstones can build any of them to suit.
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