I have officially proclaimed the rocket stove “not working”. The stove simply does not draw on days without the right wind direction/intensity. It is unreliable. Even when the wind is right, the stove takes too long to heat up (even the barrel itself!) At times, it smokes into the house, which is added frustration.
Something is not right, unfortunately. The stove just does not keep the house warm. When April was home alone in December, she struggled to keep the indoor temperature in the 40s! That is not really livable.
When we got back in January, the temperature inside was in the upper 30s. The house temperature dropped below freezing on a few occasions while we were away. (All of the canned goods had to be moved out.)
Within that first week back, we decided to move a temporary woodstove into the house. It’s a funny little thing – I think it was originally manufactured for chicken coops (the manufacturer name is Buckeye Incubator Co.) and intended to run on coal. It’s a really tiny little thing, and we ran the stove pipe out the window on the southeast side of the house. The whole setup screams “rinky dink” but it works!
We’re able to get the house up into the 60s in under an hour (in the furthest area of the house away from the stove — of course it’s warmer nearer the stove.) The house temperature drops to the low 40s by morning when it’s under 20 degrees outdoors at night.
Without the stove going, the house remains in the low 40s during the day, but like I said… we can get it to the low 60s in under an hour of firing the stove. It’s not bad. My body is pretty okay with less than ideal indoor temperatures, thankfully.
I am now reconsidering the whole rocket stove setup, and I’m pretty nearly set on tearing out the entire stove and cob bed, which is no small task! But seeing how well this little woodstove performs in the cob house, I imagine a nicer stove (such as the compact Jotul F 602 CB) might be a reasonable choice.
It feels like a cop-out to get rid of the rocket stove completely. I really want a working rocket stove, but I’m unsure if I am willing to get through the effort of rebuilding it. I think the bed is a lost cause and would have to be removed anyway. (It’s wayyy too much mass for the stove!) So it’s a lot of work either way. I love the concept of a rocket stove and think it’s ideal for a massive, completely cob house such as my own — heat storage is a huge benefit when you don’t have much insulation! But I think a nice, little and efficient wood stove such as the Jotul might not mean that we have to burn that much more wood for the heat we gain.
It’s sad to say that the rocket stove is a failure, but it’s a learning experience, for sure. I have learned a lot through building it and using it (when it did actually work). I would love to build another one again, but I don’t foresee that happening in the house. It looks like we’ll be going the cast iron wood stove route.