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Wood Fires


Ray!
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With the carbon tax to stab us in the neck on 1 July, electricity and gas prices are going to cost more in a year than a night out with Craig Thompson on your credit card. So today, we finally had a wood fireplace installed to replace our gas, mock wood, fireplace. A 45kg gas bottle was lasting about a week or so, at the fire's lowest setting and run for no more than 4 hours a day, and costing us $127 a refill. We were going broke just trying to keep warm. It just makes one wonder, the more we have advanced technologically in the last 200+ years, the more we now seem to be regressing to what was the norm 200+ years ago.

Cheers

Ray

Edited by Ray!
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There is a lot of Green movement out there to bad wood heaters due to polution..Crazy. Thou, there should be some rules about what people actually burn in them.. Wet treated wood isnt good for my health.

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In our last place in Melbourne, our neigbours put in a wood fireplace, they sold the place and the new owners used to burn what must have been nappies in the fire. When the wind was in the wrong direction, the smoke and smell was abhorent. So as far as wood fires are concerned for suburbia, I'd be voting to ban them. But in the country, like where we are now, it's the cheapest option and no one burns wet, treated or otherwise, wood.

Cheers

Ray

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A 45kg gas bottle was lasting about a week or so, at the fire's lowest setting and run for no more than 4 hours a day, and costing us $127 a refill.

Ray

Pretty much my exact experience with the things as well. They suck gas like it's going out of style.

I made up a hose to fill the bottles from the servo. That was before the gas was taxed and the savings were much more . I believe a 45 Kg bottle is around $90 deliverd round here and it's 60 or 70 to fill a bottle from the servo.

I have AC which is great but I should have my Veg oil burner / Heater ready to install next week. It's going to be an ad hock outdoor unit now seeing we will be moving and not overly efficent but with free fuel, I won't be too concerned. I built a new burner the weekend which I thought would be small enough for the Job. Unfortunately it exceedes design specifications by a factor of about 4. Might try to do a smaller one this weekend.

I'll probably just run it on the slops I pump from the bottom of my settling tanks. Filter out the chunks and dry out the water. One way to get rid of the dregs I wouldn't put in the vehicles.

My ultimate DIY goal is to set up a Lister CS or one of my Merc engines as a co-gen system. Use the heat from the cooling water and exhaust as a heat source and run the AC from the power it generates. I might also be able to use a semi hermetic or try a couple of car compressors or something from a reefer to direct drive off the engine.

The challenge in the project would be not so much making it work but packaging it up into a reliable, clean and quiet enough system not to look stupid in a home.

Once it was going I'd never have to be hot or cold again!

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I wish the price of a 45kg gas bottle was $90 delivered, here it's $127. The wood fire is working brilliantly, keeping the entire house at a nice temperature; a bit warmer in the lounge, but the heat is permeating nicely into the other rooms as well. Drawing the curtains makes an enormous difference to heat retention, as one would expect. The only annoying thing with today's wood heaters is that because of some EPA regulations you can't, by default, close down the flue so that at night the wood goes into a very slow burn. Kind of stupid really, when the solution to that is all too easy. I closed the flue to its lowest setting last night and the fire was completey out by the morning. Part of this was probably due to the type of wood (gum, but not red gum), but also because too much air was moving through the heater box. Remedies are required.

Another thing I found out when I went looking for fireplaces is that many manufacturers are now offering cast iron plates in lieu of fire bricks, as they apparently retain heat better and thus provide better performance. I'm not sure about that, but if it turns out to be true, rather than getting those 'specially' made cast iron plates, which I didn't even ask how much they cost, I might get some proper 20mm mild steel plate, cut to size, and use that instead of the firebricks. The cast iron plates were only about a third the thickness of the firebricks, so a big lump of steel should work a lot better.

Anyway, things are nice and warm, even if the chimney is smoking like a 4.2. :D

Cheers

Ray

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Went to my old mans place yesterday. He has a fairly new slow combustion fireplace.

I didn't think the heat output was all that great even on high. He said there wasn't enough wood in the thing and turn on the fan.

Even without more wood the thing started kicking some serious heat with the blower going.

Went up the back to look at some things and when we came back in the kids and wife had loaded up the fire and the place was like an oven.

Some pretty serious KW there.

It also occoured to me whilst a Veg fired heater may serve the function of heating the place, the charm and visual comfort a fire brings is something a veg heater won't ever come near. I suppose if I got one in the next place in surburbia ( the wife is now keen on one) I could always do what I do with my wood fred Pizza overn and go to the factories and get old pallets to burn. Lot of work in cutting them up to size in the qty I would need.

The old man has firewood everywhere at his place, not keen on carting it 300KM though may not be a lot of extra trouble if I'm going up there anyway.

I have also read and seen vids of people with wood heaters with an oil feed into the things. Some drip it on the wood to make it go further and some put in pans and have a wood fire to get things hot then just run on the burning oil. It will certainly burn clean if the air fuel balance is right.

These things on Ebay look good for improving efficency of a wood fireplace.

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Put them in the flue as a heat exchanger to capture waste heat out of the Chimminey. Possibly you could pit them in the ceiling enclose them, put a fan on one side and a duct on the other and take the heat off to another part of the house.

Personally, I have been looking for one of these for years.

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My aunt and uncle in the country have one. Freaking awesome.

You can cook the food on the thing, it warms the house with a gentle soft heat and it provides hot water as well.

I really like the contrast of one of these in my relos kitchen. The place is very modern in styling and the wood fired stove is a bit more modern than this one but looks as well as functions great. They also have a conventional electric stove for summer. I have seen a number of these wood stoves set up to take waste oil as well as wood.

My Uncle has it set up so when the water tank is up to temp, a sensor changes a valve and runs a very small circulator pump so the water then passes along pipes he put in the hall way in the extended skirting boards and up to a little radiator in their bedroom .

The house is very long and wide so this really makes the whole place warm up.

My fathers place is long as well and he was saying that the fire is at the other end of the house to his bedroom and it dosen't warm up that well so I suggested putting a fan above the fireplace and running ducting in the roof and putting a vent in the hallway near the bedroom door to warm the other end of the place like that.

I have seen that done before in another house and it worked brilliantly.

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We have been using a wood fire for the last 20 years and has always worked a treat, To slow it down at night all you have to do is close the ash door holes to limit the amount of air that can be drawn thru the firebox and hence the fire burns accordingly, As for wood left in the morning, once you know the amount of gap to leave in the ash door the fire is always smoldering in the morning, so throw another piece in open the holes and away you go, works with red, white,yellow box ,all types of gum...Even some old pine we had.

As a side note all our fires have always had a fire grate and an ash tray below...Only thing is after 10 years or so the grate needs replacing due to the extreme heat it has to bear

As for banning them in suburbia i would like to see then try!!!

Edited by richo17
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I just got home from a wood hunting expedition and only had to go 3km, and loaded nearly a cubic metre of dry wood in the back of the Patrol (filled the full width and depth, and more than halfway up the windows). I cut the wood to the depth of the rear so that there's less cutting in the bush and everything stacks better and is more stable, and then cut to suit when back home. There's still at least another equal load I left behind, so if the weather is kind, will go and get the rest.

I'd love one of those wood fired stoves, but having lived at my uncle's for a year where that's what they used, including one massive oven that could have rivalled a commercial pizza oven, they just tend to be too much effort overall. The major thing is that you start to use too much wood to keep things going, You can't let them die down, as then it takes too long to get things fired up again. It's a lot easier and perhaps more economical to run an electric or gas oven etc, than use wood, unless you have an endless supply in your back yard.

The idea of taking heat from the flue and directing it to other parts of the house is reasonable, but to do that you have to then run the fire pretty much at full bore all the time. I've been monitoring our fire now for the last few days, especially to see whether the heat generated on the back and sides is worthy of concern, because of the close proximity of the wall and furniture, but the temperature, even when the fire is set to highest isn't a problem. I have one of those IR temp gauges and when the fire is set to low, which produces a nice warmth without burning excess wood, the temp at the top of the flue, where it joins the ceiling, is only 42C (and that probably includes the heat that is collected at the ceiling). If you were to try and redirect what is on the other side of the ceiling to the far side of the house, given the colder air above the insulated ceiling, transfer losses at the heat exchanger and losses in transmission, I'm not sure you'd gain very much at the other end. What might work is trying to redirect some of the accummulated warm air on the inside of ceiling, maybe mixed in with what the heat exchanger picks up, as it has to get air from somewhere anyway, so why not start with warm air.

Cheers

Ray

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We have been using a wood fire for the last 20 years and has always worked a treat, To slow it down at night all you have to do is close the ash door holes to limit the amount of air that can be drawn thru the firebox and hence the fire burns accordingly, As for wood left in the morning, once you know the amount of gap to leave in the ash door the fire is always smoldering in the morning, so throw another piece in open the holes and away you go, works with red, white,yellow box ,all types of gum...Even some old pine we had.

As a side note all our fires have always had a fire grate and an ash tray below...Only thing is after 10 years or so the grate needs replacing due to the extreme heat it has to bear

As for banning them in suburbia i would like to see then try!!!

As I pointed out, all modern wood fireplaces have the amount that you can close down the flue restricted, but that's easy to modify. The other thing that allows for a slow burn is dense wood, the stuff we get here burns very well but, unfortunately, a lot faster than the stuff available in the high country. Working bee and BBQ come summer at our place. Working bee will happen north of Licola to collect wood. :D

As long as people burn the right stuff and not nappies and other crap, then fine in suburbia. Unfortunately, many don't and boy did we suffer at times from whatever our neighbours used to put in their fire when the wind blew our way.

Cheers

Ray

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Ray try installing a ceiling fan in the room where the fire is to bring down the heat caught at the ceiling...Works a treat

Also our fires have had no flue restrictors but ash doors which are below the fire

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Ray try installing a ceiling fan in the room where the fire is to bring down the heat caught at the ceiling...Works a treat

Also our fires have had no flue restrictors but ash doors which are below the fire

You've forgotten how our two hounds react to ceiling fans. :o

There's no ash collector on our fireplace, the designs have changed and some have ash collectors and some don't.

Cheers

Ray

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It was my understanding that many flues were made of an inner and outer tube to shield the points where they passed through roofs etc from the heat.

I know not all are like that but I was of the belief most new ones were for saftey reasons as well.

Flexible Aircon ducting is also double walled with a layer of insulation in between. I have installed and removed miles of it and have a heap of it here.

It has to be insulated otherwise you'd have a fridgid ceiling and a boiling house and Ducted air would be completely unviable especially in commercial premises. I'd be surprised if you ran hot air from one end of the house to the other if you lost more than 2 o of temp once the inner ducting itself warmed up which wouldn't take long at all.

I don't know about the wood consumption of the stoves. All I know is my aunt and uncle are both in their mid 70's now and use wood off their own place and have not seem to have a problem keeping up with the wood demand. Maybe the newer ones are more efficent that the one you had experience with.

Inany event, on those stoves a small modification to allow them to run waste oil could be worthwhile. I think if one had a source it would be a lot easier to pump that around than cut wood especially in qty.

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My missus' olds have ducting from their lounge room which is wood heated, to their bedrooms. It works very well and also lets some heat through when the fans aren't turned on. Very cheap to run as your just running a fan.

What about an American/Euro style boiler? Put a cube of wood in an outside furnace that allows a slow combustion and get a water jacket around it and into the house. My old man is looking at doing that for their pool to heat it in winter and he was telling me about when he was a kid his neighbour built a pool on the side of a hill with a cavity underneath that he would load up with wood and a combust it slowing heating the pool and it would last a few weeks.

Edited by heyhey
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As for banning them in suburbia i would like to see then try!!!

I know in sydney this has already happened in some council areas. Amazingly I know blue mountains council was one of them but not sure if it got through in the end. I also know My aunt and uncles council were trying to do the same thing. They are at Casino.

It was all due to the green madness. They are on country property where they couldn't hear the neighbours house explode even if they can see some in the distance so no chance of offending smoke but still the council tried it on.

Looked so likley to go through at one stage my uncle installed an electric hot water heater. Previously they used the solar boosed by the wetback on the stove in winter and the solar only in the summer or they could light a small fire to heat the water on wet days. Had it like this for 20+ years they have been in the place.

I haven't been up there since last year when the water heater was connected and plumed in temp with the stove but they were stll using the wood stove then.

How the fk these green morons think burning coal 500KM away to generate power to heat water is more eco friendly than burning wood that has fallen on the ground anyway at the point of use to make hot water is beyond me.

I said to my uncle, get a copy of the regs and if there is nothing about burning sump oil, we'll modify the stove to burn that and have it smoking like an Iraqui oil well and then invite the green possessed councilours around so you can show them how you have converted the stove from the banned wood fuel to something the ordinances see as acceptable.

Arsewholes

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Yes, all the flues are double tubes, and the part inside the roof cavity is triple tube, but what they do with wood heaters (our gas heater wasn't like this) is have a perforated outer shell (front half) so that the radiant heat in the flue is directed into the room, increasing the efficiency. That's one reason why the flue temperature drops as you measure it higher up the flue, as heat is radiated out, rather than collecting in the flue.

I'm not saying that redirecting heat from a flue to rooms further removed won't work, but I'm not sure how much you will gain. I know from experience in open plan office buildings where heating/cooling systems, that were installed as per the original open plan design, failed miserably when the internals were changed to create offices, partitioned areas etc. It boils down to fluid dynamics and air flow can be incredibly complicated, even for seemingly simple situations.

If you can get really good wood, like red gum which is slow burning and gives off great heat, then combustion stoves etc can work extremely well. Nowadays, to by a metre (no one seems to sell by the ton anymore) of red gum, will cost you between $160-$180. And that metre may include a lot of empty space in the tipper.

Cheers

Ray

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What about an American/Euro style boiler? Put a cube of wood in an outside furnace that allows a slow combustion and get a water jacket around it and into the house.

This is what I am looking to do with my oil burner. It's a backyard job and I wouldn't trust the thing in the house in a pink fit although with testing it's never gone wrong and I cannot see how it would. Not being a combustion engineer there are probably 50 ways for something undesirable to happen which is why I want it outside where I can prevent any risk through different stratigies.

I'm thinking ultimately of using a 1000L IBC or my pool to store heated water so I can run the heater when I'm around to supervise it and then just run the circ pump when asleep so everything was safe. I have 100% confidence in my abilty to run braze water pipes so they will not leak, especially seeing they will be under very limited pressure. Not so confident in my ability to build a 100% accident proof waste oil burner. :P

My intention was to use the pool as a thermal mass which would give year round swimming ability and a warm house as well!

With a suitable cover to stop heat loss ( have a piece from a council pool that was ripped put away) The idea was to just fire a large heater once or twice a week and bring the temp much higher than normal and just circulate the water to heat the home from that.

My old man is looking at doing that for their pool to heat it in winter and he was telling me about when he was a kid his neighbour built a pool on the side of a hill with a cavity underneath that he would load up with wood and a combust it slowing heating the pool and it would last a few weeks.

What the hell was the pool made of???

Surely concrete wouldn't respond kindly to haveing water on one side and a fire on the other? I'd think it would explode bits off till there was a hole.

Can't think of any other pool construction material you could light a fire under and I have never heard of a metal shelled pool.

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I just fired up (Pun intended) our Nectre Mk2 wood fire...............I love it. We got rid of the gas heater a couple of years ago and started collecting fire wood. I am enjoying playing with the chainsaws and bush bashing with the trailer on. After growing up in rural areas and moving to the city for 20 years or so, I had forgotten how good it all is. Great exercise too.

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For those with wood fires, here's something worth considering: http://smartburn.rtrk.com.au/?scid=129688&kw=5849497&pub_cr_id=12141138403. our neighbour told us about this product, as he uses one each year to clean his flue (it's a bloody long one), and he says it works a treat. According to the web site, it's good to use pretty much all the time, especially for low burning fires where smoke etc is generated the most. Might give one a try.

Cheers

Ray

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  • 2 weeks later...

We have a Kent Tile Fire, which I've modified a bit. Started off I had to replace the inner "roof" bit, coz it had warped badly, along with the flue "trap door" thingy.

Couldn't get fire bricks at the time, so I filled the base with sand. This actually holds heat better than fire bricks, which I found, installed, and removed again. (sold them a the local Lions Club Auction for more than I paid for them)

Next trick, was to weld in some lengths of steam piping across the base, inside the casing, running front to rear. these are covered with sand, and holes drilled in the casing so air can be vented in one end and out t'other. This acts as a very good heat sink, and it's possible to hold ya hand against the base of the casing, whereas it was previously somewhat uncomfortable.

I've tried running water through a length of copper pipe, through said pipes and I think I'll be able to heat water and run it to a radiator in other parts of the house, but for now they allow for some air to flow through and get some more warmness happening.

Also, because the some of the tiles for the side of the casing were broke, I put a piece of "mini orb" corrugated iron in place, with the intent of getting new tiles.

Mini orb is still there 15 years later ... allows more heat to radiate out sideways, and looks better too IMO

This'll be a job for next summer, as the inner roofy bit needs to be replaced again.

I also plan to build in an ash grate, using the heat sink pipe system, coz I've had enough of digging ashes and shit out every week. but that's gunna take a bit of thought, and maybe some trial and error stuff.

Edited by Eddy
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