The first ever Wood Stove Design Challenge and Decathlon is set to go down soon, hosted by the Alliance for Green Heat. The Decathlon will take place on the National Mall in D.C., and is open to the public Nov. 15 and 16. What’s the big deal? This is an amazing event, the first of its kind dedicated to testing all manner of unique wood fired heaters for optimum efficiency. Wood still proves to be one of the most universally common energy sources, but unfortunately, most burning of wood is done in a highly inefficient, unclean manner. These contestants are all hoping to help change the tide.
Fourteen stove design finalists have made it this far, including everything from classic masonry heaters, to DIY rocket stove-inspired designs, to high tech computer-controlled heaters. I totally wish I could be there for the event, but alas, I will have to settle for the news coverage online.
The Quest for a Cleaner Wood Stove Design
The quest for a cleaner wood burning stove design is never ending, and scanning over the list of 14 finalists, I am extremely pleased to learn about many new projects and products I’ve never seen before. Despite how common wood stove usage actually is, it’s often difficult to collect good information on what options are out there if you’re planning to buy or build a stove of your own.
I am particularly taken with the designs of Lars Helbro and company, who build classic masonry heaters throughout Denmark made of brick, stone, and other relatively simple materials. I have been pining for the day when we have a masonry heater of our own, complete with cook top and oven, but I digress.
Other notable contenders include Jason Stewart’s IntensiFire, an inexpensive downdraft retrofit that claims an efficiency increase of 60% for most wood stoves. It’s hard to tell exactly how it works, but the concept is rather innovative.
On a different end of the spectrum is the Kimberley heater (pictured to the right), made entirely in the USA by Unforgettable Fire LLC. High points include the stateside manufacturing, and incredible specs based on the tiny size of the stove. The heater claims 8 hour burn times using tiny amounts of wood, and it’s also capable of baking, providing hot water, and generating electricity. Wow. (The price tag is impressive, too.)
The list of entries is fascinating and inspiring. Anyone who has the slightest interest in burning wood and meeting their own heating needs, take note! If you’re lucky enough to be near Washington, D.C., check out the upcoming event at the National Mall.