As you read this blog you will see that an awful lot of thought, money and time was spent on insulation. I wanted the tiny house heating to be done with a wood stove running just a few hours each day. There is nothing worse than waking up at 3AM to add wood to the stove, or worse get the stove going from scratch.
Primary Heating System
My primary source of heat is a Jotul 602 wood burning stove and chimney made from class A chimney pipe. The Jotul 602 is a proven design that has been around forever. There are about three or four different version of it in circulation.
Original Model 602
The most recent version is the 602CB “clean burn” which meets current EPA standards. I have the 602C version which is an older model because I’m too cheap to spend $1400 on a new stove.
I found my stove on Craigslist for $200. For that price point you can’t expect a perfect stove. Mine had a cracked back plate and some rust. The rust is easily taken care of with a wire brush and stove polish. The back plate needed to be replaced. Having burned this stove for a month now, I think I could have gotten away with the cracked back plate had I just applied some stove cement. The stove is very controllable and a couple small cracks would not have caused me any problems due to the additional combustion air.
In any event, I replaced the back plate which I ordered from the web site Woodmans Parts Plus. It was about $150 shipped. Installation was a bitch since some of the fasteners broke off due to age and heat stress. I ended up drilling and taping a number of 5mm holes in the top plate to get everything back together.
When I cleared the land for the Bodega build there were a number of small trees that needed to be removed. Most of them were in the 2-8 inch size range as this lot was cleared by a previous owner many years ago. Many wood burners will discard small trees and branches and focus on larger logs that can be split.
This practice strikes me as wasteful so I have decided to use all wood down to about an inch in diameter. To cut this small wood I use a chop saw rather than a chainsaw. I leave the small wood in the longest lengths possible and feed it thru the table on the chop saw. A small tree that is 20ft long can be cut up in just a few minutes using this method. For larger logs I use an electric log splitter and cut them into splits that are about 4 inches in size. The combination of small splits and small rounds works nicely in the Jotul 602.
This person has the right idea…
To get my fire going I use construction scraps or pallet cut into small chunks. The chop saw with a carbide blade cuts this wood nicely. An occasional nail is handled by the carbide blade without any damage…I do attempt to avoid nails when possible. Since I need this wood to be dry it gets stored in 30 gallon HDPE drums that have rain tight covers.
Another source of firewood similar to the product used in pellet stoves are called Bio Bricks. Other companies produce them in various sizes with different names too. I bought a pallet of them last season for burning in the XS house. They come shrink wrapped in small packages that are easily transported into the house. The stack nicely and are clean so I have a pile of them on my front porch. On weekends, I will toss in a brick here and there to maintain the fire during the day. Bio Bricks can burn very hot so be careful. If you have a stove with a leaky door, you can over fire quickly.
Running the stove
Each night I go out to the wood pile and gather a five gallon pail full of wood. I pick out 2-3 small splits, some small rounds, and a few pieces of pallet wood. This will be all the wood I use for the nights burn.
The stove first gets filled with old newspapers. Then I take a small hatchet and split the pallet wood into small pieces. The small pieces are placed on top of the newspaper. The newspaper gets lit and the door is closed with the vent open fully. After a few minutes the pallet wood catched fire. After it gets going, I drop on a couple large pieces of pallet wood and a small round or two.
In about 10 minutes the stove will begin to heat up. Once the stove warms up a bit, I drop on more small rounds and a small split that will warm the stove up to operating temperature. If its cold, I leave the vent wide open to get things going quickly then I close the front vent to about 40%.
When the stove is up to temperature, I usually add another small split and close the vent to maybe 5%. If you close it too much the fire will smother and go out barely consuming the wood. After the first load of wood is about 75% consumed I load up what ever is left in the bucket of wood. That final burn will last until about 1AM and the stove will be fairly cool by 3AM.
We recently had some very cold weather and I was able to get a good sense how well my insulation performs. Using my typical burn described above, the house temps went from about 50 degrees and topped out between 75 and 80. The loft ends up being hotter than the first floor, so I often will crack the window up there. By 7AM the next morning the house is still above 60 degrees which is good enough for me.
This result was obtained with a 16 degree outside air temperature with very strong winds. With outside temps of 15-35 degrees, I make no attempt to load the stove up for an overnight burn. I end up with a strong burn going from about 6PM to 11PM and winding down by 1AM. In the dead of winter on especially cold nights I expect that I will load the stove up at 10-11PM for an overnight burn. I see no reason why I can’t maintain 68-72 degrees by morning even in the coldest outside temperatures.