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hershey8

Rocket Mass Heater To Heat Studio.

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I am looking into building a rocket mass heater to heat my studio (ok....basement). Just wondering if anyone else has done the same. I have an old Jenkins kiln that I'm not likely to restore, and I thought maybe I could recycle part of it to make the heater. For those of you not familiar with rocket mass heaters, they use a refractory firebox, a riser of 6"-8"diameter pipe inside a 30-60 gallon metal drum( this creates a powerful draft), and a flue pipe buried in a massive bank of cob or adobe(clay, sand and straw). Wood is fed into the firebox vertically, where is burns very hot and clean. The drum radiates heat and the flue heats up the bank of clay, which stays warm for many hours after the burn, which usually only takes 2-4 hours. I've read that this thing burns so clean that it gives off only water vapor and co2, and that the exhaust can run horizontally out of a wall. The actual exhaust is supposed to be only warm. Fire box uses insulating fire brick, as well as some hard liner fire brick. Some are using castable fire brick. It uses very little wood of all types and is extremely efficient. One person says, while his neighbors burn 4 cords of wood per year, he only burns 3/4 of a cord per year. Lots of info on Google about these. Any thoughts, info, ideas appreciated. Seems like a great way to heat a studio, and give an old kiln a second life. Seems pretty "green" too. 

                                                                      Thanks, john a.

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Sitting here frozen to my chair on a cold Ohio morning, Heat sounds like a great idea.

I have recently put my heater outside and we are still working the bugs out of the system.

 

Rocket mass heaters are pretty when they are completed, and pretty permanent once installed.

If you build your own research it well and build on a solid existing design, it will limit the tinkering.

A lot of the rocket mass heater people spend a lot of time tinkering with their designs.

I have seen 55 gallon drums used in their construction and other materials used that will not last for the long haul. These items would be difficult to replace. A rocket mass heater is built sort of like a kiln, some of the kiln builders on this forum may be able to suggest more durable materials.

I know they claim it will burn clean, but in this imperfect world I would incorporate a way to clean out the flue pipe.

 

 

The concept of a RMH is a lot like Masonry Heater. We have a guy in the Northern Lake Erie part of Ohio who hales from Europe and has a Masonry Heater. He heats his whole house on a bucket of wood for about three days. He spent a mint on the heater, it is all cut stone and his house has a sick amount of insulation. These heaters are usually built by someone specializing in Masonry heaters and they like to keep their designs secret. He built his own, but I'm sure growing up in Europe helped.

 

I'm still screwing with my simple wood burning heater... My clay is cold and I'm not happy.

Good luck

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Check building codes and check with your homeowners insurance about having one. They may not allow for a home-made version, as it poses a potential fire risk and air-quality risk.

Right about that, Neil. I don't have homeowners insurance (except for liability), and I live rural, so there's not much of a building code issue. But, I agree, anyone considering this should be aware of the legal problems.

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Sitting here frozen to my chair on a cold Ohio morning, Heat sounds like a great idea.

I have recently put my heater outside and we are still working the bugs out of the system.

 

Rocket mass heaters are pretty when they are completed, and pretty permanent once installed.

If you build your own research it well and build on a solid existing design, it will limit the tinkering.

A lot of the rocket mass heater people spend a lot of time tinkering with their designs.

I have seen 55 gallon drums used in their construction and other materials used that will not last for the long haul. These items would be difficult to replace. A rocket mass heater is built sort of like a kiln, some of the kiln builders on this forum may be able to suggest more durable materials.

I know they claim it will burn clean, but in this imperfect world I would incorporate a way to clean out the flue pipe.

 

 

The concept of a RMH is a lot like Masonry Heater. We have a guy in the Northern Lake Erie part of Ohio who hales from Europe and has a Masonry Heater. He heats his whole house on a bucket of wood for about three days. He spent a mint on the heater, it is all cut stone and his house has a sick amount of insulation. These heaters are usually built by someone specializing in Masonry heaters and they like to keep their designs secret. He built his own, but I'm sure growing up in Europe helped.

 

I'm still screwing with my simple wood burning heater... My clay is cold and I'm not happy.

Good luck

I have a nice , big wood heater upstairs that consumes a lot of wood. It heats the upstairs but not the basement. If I can build a rmh in the basement, it would also help to keep the upstairs warm, maybe. It's in the low 40's in the basement as I write this. The clay is not happy.

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It sounds great and somewhat similar in shape to some old wood heaters from Europe.. Send a link or post some pics. I'd like to see what they are. Good luck. Sounds like a green solution.

 

Marcia

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

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hey can you just duct some of the upstairs heat to your basement? 

Possibly, since all the heat rises to the upstairs of my 1 1/2 story mansion(lol...24' x 24' foot print with a couple of tiny bump outs). Sometimes in January and February, it gets so hot upstairs that I have to open a window, and have been known to run the window ac unit for a little while just to cool it down so I can sleep. This place could be a reality show. I could duct from upstairs to basement, but would probably have to put in some sort of air handler just to distribute the hot air. We already tried to duct a couple of bathroom exhaust fans from the highest part of the upstairs ceiling down to the kitchen, and that didn't turn out so well. Pretty much a waste of two f-rt fans and some flex duct. Not enough air flow. The rocket mass heater might really work here, just to heat up the basement and warm the floor of the house above it. I have a lot of free firewood, and wood heat is our main heat source.

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Ive built one. The thing behind rocket stoves is that they function primarily as radiant heat through the barrel top and the thermal mass duct line. Theyre designed to heat homes throughout the day and are not always advised for temporary used spaces. So if youre planning on starting your day and working through it then it could be a good choice. If youre planning to work a few short hours then it might not reach temp and give off enough heat to be comfortable while you work. ANother thing is that the way to get the best performance is to really plan your thermal mass to run through your space so that ALL the heat is utilized. The only down size to the thermal mass that I find is the fact that it can be a large space hog if you are limited. If metal barrels are free/easily acquired in your area some people save money by using half barrels for the thermal mass duct work instead of buying A/C / heating pipes.

 

Another way for great and cheap heat is using a Double Barrel wood stove. You can build one yourself or you can acquire two metal barrels and use the Vogelzang Kit. Not only is the size of the burn drum great and can really give off a butt load of heat it takes advantage of the second upper drum to capture and radiate even more of the exhaust heat. You could also have a very small wood stove, maybe makeshift one out of a old propane tank, and make more of heat sync out by adding fins around it 4 or so inches, then enclosing the fins and blowing air through the enclosure. If you go small enough then you could get by with smaller diameter piping (metal supplier near by and that stuff comes cheap) and avoid the expense of double wall stove pipe except for when going through walls.

 

A third way to utilize some easy heat, since you already mentioned you burn wood, is a coil water line around your already burning stove. Hook it up into a open end boiler set up. Closed setups build up pressure and you can risk explosions. You can run a pump to pump water through the line around the stove, then through a radiator device (old car radiator/old ac unit heat sync) which has a fan to blow off the heat, then the water dumps into a cooled reservoir where the pump is. Im sure you could probably get by with out the radiator and just run another line in front of a box fan. Or it could act like Hydronic floor heating without a fan. All is possible with a good DC bilge than you could hook to a solar setup to utilize free energy. Ive gone this route to heat my greenhouse at one point in time.

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Ive built one. The thing behind rocket stoves is that they function primarily as radiant heat through the barrel top and the thermal mass duct line. Theyre designed to heat homes throughout the day and are not always advised for temporary used spaces. So if youre planning on starting your day and working through it then it could be a good choice. If youre planning to work a few short hours then it might not reach temp and give off enough heat to be comfortable while you work. ANother thing is that the way to get the best performance is to really plan your thermal mass to run through your space so that ALL the heat is utilized. The only down size to the thermal mass that I find is the fact that it can be a large space hog if you are limited. If metal barrels are free/easily acquired in your area some people save money by using half barrels for the thermal mass duct work instead of buying A/C / heating pipes.

 

Another way for great and cheap heat is using a Double Barrel wood stove. You can build one yourself or you can acquire two metal barrels and use the Vogelzang Kit. Not only is the size of the burn drum great and can really give off a butt load of heat it takes advantage of the second upper drum to capture and radiate even more of the exhaust heat. You could also have a very small wood stove, maybe makeshift one out of a old propane tank, and make more of heat sync out by adding fins around it 4 or so inches, then enclosing the fins and blowing air through the enclosure. If you go small enough then you could get by with smaller diameter piping (metal supplier near by and that stuff comes cheap) and avoid the expense of double wall stove pipe except for when going through walls.

 

A third way to utilize some easy heat, since you already mentioned you burn wood, is a coil water line around your already burning stove. Hook it up into a open end boiler set up. Closed setups build up pressure and you can risk explosions. You can run a pump to pump water through the line around the stove, then through a radiator device (old car radiator/old ac unit heat sync) which has a fan to blow off the heat, then the water dumps into a cooled reservoir where the pump is. Im sure you could probably get by with out the radiator and just run another line in front of a box fan. Or it could act like Hydronic floor heating without a fan. All is possible with a good DC bilge than you could hook to a solar setup to utilize free energy. Ive gone this route to heat my greenhouse at one point in time.

One of the main things I like about the rocket mass heater is the "warm", super clean emissions and the fact that you can run the exhaust in a horizontal manner, without having a vertical chimney. I have a covered porch/ deck around my whole house. There is not a practical way to run a chimney or stove pipe through the porch/deck and it's roof and then up the side of the house. It's just not doable. So I thought I could just run it horizontally out of the concrete block wall of my basement. I would put a spark arrestor on it, though I doubt that one is needed. I realize that there are variation in design, and maybe part of the flue has to be vertical for a short while, but then I should be able to turn it and go out the wall. No danger of catching the deck on fire and no smoke to get on the deck or the house.  I like your other options, but a rmh seems like it would be the ticket. Space hog of thermal mass, sounds like a good place to dry pots, maybe put some shelves over it or near it. Sure would love to see your's if you have any pix.   Btw, my email is fritter@tds.net    Thanks for the reply,   john autry

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I see. Yeah you could definitely use the thermal mass for a place for drying pots. I came across a restaurant that lined their patio with it and used it for booth seating. I actually dug mine up :-/ My studio is very long and skinny ( 10ish by 40ish) and I decided after a few months to pull it up because the heat dissipated by the time it got to my far wall where my wheel is. The place where I put it was the only area where Theres no foundation. Its the same in the summer with cooling, I have fans but the flow stops by the middle. Its in an old pole barn. The other reason why I switched is because we do all our car work so we have a ton of waste oil from all my families oil changes. Plus I do smelt from time to time and I have need of a waste oil burner. Waste oil heaters can crank out heat so thats my future setup.

 

I agree with the clean burn and low temp if any exhaust. Btw I used Kawool for my inner burn chamber and old salvaged fire brick from a torn down house. There is yet another option. Its basically very close to the same idea as the rocket stove. It was invented in Europe back in the day during a wood shortage. Its very decorative and Im sure you can fabricate one on your own. It uses very little wood and burns crazy efficient with long lasting heat. The Kachelofen. Masonry stoves for another name.

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