In a Nutshell: Wood Stoves for Tiny Homes

When considering buying a tiny home for living where temperatures will drop into an uncomfortable range, you should be thinking about how you will heat the home. Although central heating is now the preferred heating method for traditional homes, this option will not work for the tiny home. There is not enough room for a furnace and ductwork for the distribution of heat. Fortunately, however, the exponentially growing demand for tiny homes has created many other options for heating a tiny home, using different kinds of solid fuels as well as gas. In this blog we will briefly consider only those heating solutions that involve the use of wood-burning stoves.

Choosing a wood-burning stove for heating a tiny home is much easier than it was 20 years ago because there are now many more options regarding cost, quality and styles. However, the basic constraints for tiny homes are what they always have been. This is largely due to having much less space for a wood-burning stove, less room for insulation, and the lack of space for storing large quantities of fuel.

The tiny home also imposes constraints due to safety issues and the limited number of commercial options for your own “perfect” solution in style, size, and security. To get an idea about today’s diversity of small wood-burning fireplaces/stoves, please click on Tiny Home Wood Stoves, and then return here to read the rest of this blog.

For the purpose of illustrating a range of options in tiny homes, and not as an endorsement of one stove over another, we present three kinds of wood stoves below. In general, these have been good choices for today’s tiny home market. From our readers’ point of view, important features to consider are the width and depth of a wood stove, the required clearance distance between a tiny home’s combustible walls and furniture, the efficiency of the burn, and a stove’s weight. These details are given below for each of the three models we present, but remember that there are many other kinds of small wood stoves available in today’s market place and the price range among them is large.

One other feature you may want to consider is the degree of air pollution in their exhaust streams. Keep the following relationships in mind. The higher the efficiency of the burn, the higher the heat during the burn and the cleaner the exhaust will be. The latter will be enhanced if the stove design includes the gasification of residues in the stove’s exhaust. Only a few stoves offer this option. The following paragraph explains a bit more about the process of gasification as it relates to small wood-burning stoves.

Gasification diagram.png
Figure 1: Gasification

During gasification, as illustrated in Figure 1, fresh air (which is 20.95% oxygen) is drawn into the bottom of a wood stove (stage 1), this air is heated as it rises and passes outside, but close to, the firebox, located in the stove’s lower interior in this diagram (stage 2). The heated outside air is then combined with the exhaust gases from the firebox, which ignite the combined mixture in order to burn residual carbon compounds that remain in the exhaust gas from the firebox (stage 3). The end-products in the final exhaust stream will primarily be carbon dioxide, minor amounts of carbon monoxide, and a few remaining particulates.

The remainder of this blog presents three examples of wood-burning stoves that have been designed specifically for the limited space available in tiny homes.

Hi-Flame-Shetland-Wood-Stove-e1474950054673.jpg
Figure 2: The Shetland by Hi-Flame America, Inc.

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  • 16.75” deep x 17.5” side to side x 24” top to bottom
  • Burns logs up to 12” in length
  • Weight is 174 pounds
  • Flue diameter is 6 inches
  • Heats an area of 800 square feet
  • Non-catalytic clean burning system
  • Overall efficiency is 85 percent

This stove has a built-in, rear heat shield that enhances air convection and allows for a smaller rear clearance from combustible walls. Its burn time is up to 8 hours if using a full load of fuel. This allows a single fuel cycle (hot coals-to-hot coals) to last overnight. However, this wood stove has no gasification system, which may be an important feature for those who wish to minimize air pollution and maximize burning efficiency. In both cases, however, increasing the amount carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be a by product of burning wood, albeit only faster than if the wood were to be left to rot on the forest floor.

the_hobbit_stove_31_patriot_blue.jpg
Figure 3: The Hobbit by Salamander Stoves
  • 9” (302 mm) wide, 10.7” (272 mm) deep and 18.3” (465 mm) high
  • Burns up to 12 inch long logs
  • Weight is 110 pounds (50 kg)
  • Capable of boiling water on top of stove
  • Flue diameter is 4 inches
  • Clearance from combustibles is 16”
  • Overall efficiency is 75%
Kimberly in camper.png
Figure 4. The Kimberly™ gasifier wood-burning stove.
  • About 10” in diameter and 25.5” high
  • Weight is 56 pounds
  • Flue is 3″ double wall
  • Holds two 3” x 10” logs
  • Heats up to 1,000 square feet of well-insulated space
  • Has a cook top for heating water or a can of soup
  • Approved for just 6 inches of clearance on sides and back of flue
  • Gasification with an emission of only 3.2 grams/hour
  • Burns up to 8 hours on a single load of fuel (coal bed to coal bed) Link.

To see a much greater diversity of wood-burning stoves being used in tiny homes, please visit our Pinterest board at Tiny Home Wood Stoves.

Kendall W. Corbin, Ph.D.

October 2, 2017

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