Woodstove recommendations?

Started by RayN, January 12, 2005, 05:38:19 PM

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I'm looking for recommondations on what woodstove(s) people use in their little house.  I know Volgelzang (sp?) sell some small stoves, but the clearances are large.  



I used one daily for 3 seasons (the small box type)tighten all fasteners  annually also keep leather gloves and tongs close by as the top eyes and center piece can be knocked into the fire box.there are better stoves but not for the moneythe gasket around the bottom will need replaced every couple of years


RayN...check out  www.hearth.com  
go to community, forums....lots of information there...

glenn kangiser

I know you guys think I'm full of BS but I really did build woodstoves around 1976 to 1979 in my welding shop.  The parts were made by a family friend in Oregon.  It was one of the best designs I had ever seen but fairly complicated.  I made only about 20 of them but all that I know of are still in use and there were never any call backs for warranty.

The features it had were
1. air channels all around which increased the air convection to about 315 cfm without a fan-  todays stoves I would look for a double wall to increase air flow - It is usually a feature they include on models that have closer clearances and won't usually burn you as bad as the single wall models.  

2.  A coil spring thermostat on the air damper- helps to regulate air flow and make the wood last longer.  As it gets hotter it shuts down the air more.  We used one from the old GM automatic chokes on a car engine.  

3.  Fire brick lining so that if one ever burned out it would only cost about .50 cents to repair it.

4.  Removeable ash pan that could be taken out and dumped or pulled out to give the rocket stove effect for starting fires fast and hot.  The fire burned on firebricks that were in channels above the ashpan.

5.  Air under the fire, over the fire and optional to open on the door.  The glass front model had doors that closed and air flow across the glass (tempered) to prevent smoke from covering it.  All doors were sealed with ceramic rope.

6.  Optional catalytic converter.

7.  Raised base with air flow and double wall underneath for added safety.

8.  Underneath baffle could be left out and cool air pulled through ducts to the bottom of the stove from distant rooms by the convection of the stove thereby pulling warm replacement air to the distant parts of the house.  This would usually require a house with a crawlspace or basement for the ducts to come up under the stove.  By lowering the air pressure in the distant room the replacement heated air would flow there on it's own.  This method did require that doors be open for free flow of replacement air.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


I believe that great wood stoves can be built, with all of Glen's specifications.

The late Ken Kern and somebody else had a book on masonry stoves, now available new only in reproduction form from I think Kern's daughter.  I've got the information stored somewhere.  I can fish it out if you're interested.  Possibly dirtcheapbuilder.com has the information at the site.  She DOESN'T carry the book anymore.  

But it was combination cook/heat, with an upper chamber that could be used as more heating surface. an oven proper, OR bypassed for summer use, outside air intake (probably pre-heated if they ever got around to building the prototype and it worked), etc.  He swore it was fine to cook on in the summer.  He didn't live in the southeast either, although I have friends here who DO cook on wood all year.  He also thought that if you had enough skills to be homesteading, you could build it.  Welding was one of the skills.  Not one of mine.

Made of three barrels (two visible, the third the inner chamber that Glen was talking about) covered with rocks, with a flat cooking surface--
UGLY, IMHO.  I keep thinking I want one.  


One site on wood heating--and I DON'T remember which--characterizes one of the inexpensive wood stoves as "you could put a fire in them, but they're better for decoration."  Not sure if they were talking about the Vogelzang ones or not.

Also the review site mentioned a couple of posts up (none on that brand in the latest 50) had a handful of complaints that such-and-such wood stove had to be started from scratch the next morning, you couldn't use the embers from the night before.  

Would this apply especially to the inexpensive brands, would it be an issue if you had one?


I  have always wanted a stove with a great deal of mass.the new england cape  houses had massive amounts of stone in there chimneys  running up the center of the house. The stove glenn  describes sounds very good and the masonry stoves with  all that mass with a small fire over a long period of time would be a steady even heat. But  allot  of weight and investment.. The vogelzang was bought after an ice storm as back up heat for 129$about a dollar a pound. It soon  became the primary heat source, loaded at bed time and closed down 9 out of 10 mornings all i had to do was open the draft. But when loading if a piece of wood hit the top the eyes  and center piece will fall into the fire box. a safety issue  and window opening experience.

glenn kangiser

Most of the problems with not having fire in the morning have to do with:
1. Excessive air leaks in an airtight stove oxidizing (big word for burning up-I used it to look intelligent) all the fuel before morning
2. Stove not big enough to put in a large enough log at night to hold the fire
3. Not using a backlog if necessary - a possibly wetter or larger piece of wood that will burn slower holding the fire over until morning.  A problem with small stoves is that there is not room for the backlog.  This is where the expression of having a backlog of work came from.  Its something left over to work on later.
4.  No way to get sufficeint air to the bottom of the fire to give the rocket stove effect (like a forge with a blower).--Really starts the fire fast in the morning as the draft past the coals makes super hot air ignite the new dry kindling above.
5.  Wood damp or no dry kindling- the drier the wood the easier it is to start and the more heat value it has.  If it has to dry as it is burning it loses a lot of heat to just evaporating the water.

Another point I learned is, to lower creosote build up keep the stove open longer on startup so you gain heat from the gasses that would otherwise go up the chimney and condense.

The way to get the most heat out of wood is to switch to wood gasification, but I can't give you a bad time about that because I haven't even done mine yet.  One of the wood gasification sites states that most of the heat value in wood is wasted by not gasifying it.  -- I mean - Hey - than can only lead us to water -they can't make us drink!!! ???

Hopefully I will motivate myself and do something about it so I can report back and we can all benefit.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

glenn kangiser

Stoves with a lot of mass are good also if you are warm enough for the first half hour or so or are able to open them to warm up as the mass is heating.  I am speaking with reference to my cat shaped clay oven on my front porch.  A type of masonry stove made from clay, sand, straw, and water (mud) unstabilized if covered, it actually takes about 4 hours for the heat to reach the outside, then it is only reasonably hot -not burning, but it stays hot until the next day.  This is a zero dollar cost fireplace that will not burn out and is easily repairable- probably will not meet code specs since the materials they specify cost lots of money.  My clay oven probably weighs about 2000 lbs.  I could have greatly increased its efficeincy if I had known what I know now but it still works good.

Rob Roy has some information on his masonry stove in his book - I think he only uses about 3 cord of wood per year in a very cold climate.  He fires it similar to a rocket stove with a very hot fast burning fire.  The masonry retains the heat.  This type of stove has to be built right or may be hard to get started as the mass of the cold chimney cools the exiting smoke and makes it hard to start.  I learned that when I stayed in a cave in France in the village of Troo.  The landlord had to come down from the cave above and show me how to slowly start the fire- I had totally filled our cave with smoke  ;D.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

John Raabe

High mass masonry stoves are great for climates where there is a long cold heating season. They do not work well in the shoulder months or in mild climates where the cycling of the thermal mass will give you heat when you need it least (building a fire in the morning yeilds heat by afternoon when the sun is pouring in the windows and the house has its solar warmth).

The Masonry stove book: http://www.hollowtop.com/cls_html/do-it-yourself/masonry_stoves.htm
Pics of some nice ones:http://www.mha-net.org/html/gallery.htm

Here's a project where the owner built a cast iron stove into a masonry surround: http://www.motherearthnews.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4471

None of us are as smart as all of us.


The rocket stove is a hot topic on another list (pun intended, I think).  The one with the heated flue bench.  

There are essentially two chimneys on these.  The burn chamber and the first, called a heat riser, do get very hot (1500F IIRC) and speeds the smoke up enough to send it through pipes in the clay (and stone) bench.

Yes there are appropriate cleanouts.  Occasionally one has to start a draft in the vertical parts of the second chimney by lighting a fire at the right angle bend.

And reputedly no smoke odor and it stays warm for days.

Here's a picture of a famous one.  I can tell you that there was no fire going in it as the picture was taken--Evans' elbow is on the cover for the top of the heat riser.


another and a bake oven or two here.  


But not really great for wood-floored buildings.

- I added a great pic! (JCR)

glenn kangiser

I finally did it -- built a rocket stove style hot tub heater today.   Built from a 55 gallon drum with a 7 gallon  steel bucket let into the side at the bottom for the fire elbow.  10"x15" stainless plate salvaged from a microwave for the wood shelf in the 7 gallon bucket- air under it- steel expanded metal screen inside to hold the wood up a little - cut a hole in the side on the bottom and made a cover for a cleanout.  I put a water tube coil from an old house heater in the top and wrapped the whole thing with 4' salvaged fiberglass insulation -about 2 arm loads of scrap sawmill wood heated the 600 gallon hot tub from 60 degrees to 95 degrees in 2 hours- a little over a hundred in 3 or so but I eased off on the firing.   ;D  It felt reeeeeal gooooood :)

Somewhere there's a math story problem in there for you energetic ones who want to figure out the BTU's. ::)
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.


Thank you John, for putting that happy picture of Ianto Evans and whoever it is--the second link above the picture is his, IIRC.

I'll bet Glenn's stove did get a bit hot.  that sounds like a quite a bit of hot water.


Anyone enlighten me on what a "zero clearance" fireplace is?  I mentioned we wanted a wood stove in our house and the contractor frowned at us saying that it was too expensive with all the fire regulations and insurance issues.  He suggested a zero clearance fire place but I can't imagine there is much benefit to one besides being able to see the fire.  I want something that I can heat the house with and need that feature since we do lose power frequently at my lot.

Out here in New England, many many Vermont Castings go in.  I can't vouch for them besides that we had one in my house growing up and that sucker totally heated our house and would hold embers the entire night.  http://www.vermontcastings.com/

I bet these have a hefty price tag, but they look to be pretty efficient:  http://www.vermontwoodstove.com/

Of course Vermont is just around the corner from me so ymmv.
Où sont passées toutes nos nuits de rêve?
Aide-moi à les retrouver.
" I'm an engineer Cap'n, not a miracle worker"



A zero-clearance whatever just means that it's allowed closer to the framing members because of it's design and piping.

I doubt that a fireplace of any sort will suit you.  They're just for ambiance.

I don't know why the guy is balking unless there's something about the design that's the hang-up.

Vermont Castings and others are making furnace rated gas stoves with logs and flames, but you use heating oil.  Don't know about that.  There are also some furnace rated gas fireplaces with blowers and a small amount of ducting.

Is wood cheap there?  Must be.  Around here it's getting close to $200/cord.  Thank you spotted owl.
It did drop a little when the USFS almost burned down Los Alamos.  People got serious about thinning.

You might also check out pellet stoves depending upon your cost of fuel.

Best way is to go to a speciality store that sells them all.  You can compare/contrast them at the same time.
It's a dry heat.  Right.


I'm not sure why the problem, we are looking at the universal 2 story cottage so I'm not sure what's up ???  He did mention that if we went straight out then up the side of the house special materials are required in lieu of the vinyl siding (this is the cape so it is either that or cedar and I'm not rich :P)
I think we are slightly lower than $200 a cord (also depends on what kind of cord you mean) , this isn't for primary heating, but could become that if the primary heating source increases.  There are a lot of trees on the north side of my lot that need to go for the solar gain to the house so I will have a jumpstart on supply.  
We looked into the pellet stoves (and the multifuel pellet/corn ones) but I think they need electricity to operate and I am not sure if we will have a backup generator system or not...it may be the answer.  They have some nice pellet stoves that give the ambiance by being able to see the flame.  And ones with soapstone for thermal mass.
Où sont passées toutes nos nuits de rêve?
Aide-moi à les retrouver.
" I'm an engineer Cap'n, not a miracle worker"



Volgezang is about as cheap as it gets.  I might use one those to heat my garage or work shop but not my house or cabin.

If you're patient just look around for a used quality wood stove.  You can find them on ebay or probably even in you local paper.  A few weeks ago I was at Lowes and they had a few wood burners on end of season clearance for a pretty affordable price.  I think they were marked down to about $200, probably not a top of the line model, but it was air-tight and a huge improvement over those box-stoves.  I think they were made in Canada instead of China like the Vogelzang's.

Also - those Volgelzangs aren't even UL approved, so you'd never pass inspection (if you needed to), and you're insurance probably wouldn't cover you.

John Raabe

Here's a link.


I've used an airtight version of the boxwood stove,

to heat 1600 sf for over 20 years. Mine was a Taiwan copy of the Jutol airtight stove. Very efficient, but it also is not listed and not covered by some home insurance policies.
None of us are as smart as all of us.