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How to increase the efficiency of your wood or coal burning stove


How to increase the efficiency of your wood or coal burning stove

Today I spent hours trying to inform myself about wood stoves and how to make them more efficient etc..

So far, I came up with the following solutions:

0.) Always burn well seasoned wood with water content lower 20%, preferrably 15% only. Too wet wood is said to be the nr. 1 factor in creosote buildup / chimney fires / house fires. Learn how to dry your wood properly, see
Another important factor is exhaust pipe temperature, always check this, for example with a permanently installed thermometer at the correct spot in the exhaust pipe.
Still get your pipes cleaned regularly, or clean them themselves if you know how to do it properly!!
1.) To burn wood and/or coal efficiently, you have to have a good, highly efficient woodstove / coalstove / multifuel stove. Preferrably with secondary burn. For example efficiency over 90%. I guess a DS stove - which is as far as I can see a copy of an Amish design, who make excellent stoves - would be a very good choice, here you can see why
2.) The stove must be connected to a clean smokepipe / chimney with the right draft. All hot surfaces must be far enough away from combustible materials etc.., so I suggest you make sure everything is installed according to fire safety regulations / insurance regulations and measured by a professional after installation (or installed by a professional right away and then measured, I guess thats cheaper than burning the house down and not getting a penny from the insurance company ;-)).
3.) A double glass pane - for security reasons - self cleaning window will let more infrared radiation into the room, therefore increasing efficiency.
4.) Measure the exhaust gas temperatures for example with a permanently installed temperature gauge to make sure exhaust gases are in the correct temperature range.
5.) Use dampeners to slow down the fire once it really gets going, according to the stove manual, to maximize efficiency. Just make sure you do not dampen too much, this will create smoke, possibly carbonmonoxide and creosote! Dampen it down as much as possible (without the mentioned side effects of dampening too much) to save fuel, by controlling / limiting the airflow and controlling the exhaust temperature.
7.) The flames should be blue, greenish or purple, NOT yellow.
8.) There are devices which draw additional heat from the stovepipe, like:
Just make sure your exhaust temps are still right, too low might lead to creosote buildup. Might, depends on the oven and if the wood is seasoned well enough.
I guess doint this is very smart, as long as these systems work passively from the outside and are not inside the stovepipe, or they could clog up.
Use this in combination with a simple electrical fan. The airflow must be directed directly onto the stovepipe. Basically what you are doing is the same what the heatsink and processor cooler is doing with your processor.
9.) Using firebricks placed around the woodstove is probably smart, as matter stores heat well, but placement is king and wrong placement can damage your stove. You have to leave so called "airgaps" as well. The question is how many and how many kilograms you should put around your stove, this surely depends on the stove and various factors.
10.) If you have any problems with draft, wind, bad weather, downdraft etc. the so called "Fluecube" MIGHT be a good idea:
Might, no guarantees, if this thing clogs up and you have a chimney fire, it would be bad. Please check if this is certified, legal and safe.

For safety, make sure you get a CO-warning device with a permanent battery, a good certified smoke detector and keep a fire extinguisher near the stove.

So, I guess these were the most important points.

If you agree, please give me a thumbs up. If anything is not correct or you know how to improve this article, please write me a comment. Thanks for reading!

P.S.: There is probably an even more efficient (!) stove design, called a "rocket mass heater", but you have to make sure it is legal / certified / get it certified if you want to build something like this, here:
Oh and you might laugh, but I know why he calls it "work" when using his toilets in the later part of the video...it is work, because he is doing it wrong...the correct posture for humans to defecate is squatting, see http://www.naturesplatform.com and the correct way to sleep is inclined, see http://inclinedbedtherapy.com . I wrote more about all this in my channel here.
How efficient is a rocket mass heater? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0cs8PWDfwg
Oh and beware of this Paul Wheaton guy, lets say doing a research about him might be advisable. 
Here is how a rocket stove works:
This guy also explains it very well:
Regarding the efficiency of rocket mass heaters:

P.P.P.something ;-) : An interesting entry from youtube:
M Mullen
vor 5 Tagen
 @Health And Homestead  You will be glad you don't have a rear vent. I've been heating with woodstoves my entire life and the best installs, if your room allows for it, is straight up to the chimney cap. No bends. Less smoke spillage, better draw, less creosote. This is especially important with more modern woodstoves. If you are burning seasoned wood properly, you won't get enough creosote each year to worry about. Of course, as you pointed out, it can build up really fast too but that is a sure sign you are doing it wrong or your stove or install is defective. A straight install has the added advantage of being able to use a bright flashlight to inspect it. If it's clean as a whistle, no reason to sweep it. A good install with good wood can heat  years of burning all winter long with no cleaning necessary.

I was heating with a 1980's EPA woodstove and going through 3 cords of wood/winter. I switched to a Blaze King catalytic and, using the same types of wood, my consumption dropped to less than a cord/year. And the house stays more consistent temperature. With the old stove the house would go from too hot to too cold and I would need to build up to three fires a day. Now one fire is still burning 24 hours later so I don't have to re-light it. I just rake the coals to the center and fill the firebox again. Once/day.  This is with low btu softwoods.

P.P.S.: This posting is free of copyright (CC0), please distribute freely :-)


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