First Ever Wood Stove Design Challenge

by ziggy on November 4, 2013 -- 3 comments -- Follow

Masonry Stove Design by Lars Helbro

One of 14 finalists in the Wood Stove Design Challenge

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. Kimberly Wood Stove

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.

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  • Joe

    I installed a Lopi Woodstove last year and only regret is not getting one that could heat more area. I am especially interested in some of features of stoves in future that can cook and bake and produce all the hot water that a house can use like the Amish build kitchen king or queen cook stoves that can cook, bake, keep food warm, heat water for a hoisehold and heat large houses depending on model bought. I have wondered why a large wood burning stove could not be used to produce electricity like the small biolite camp stove- one would think that a large stove integrated with thermal mass in a house, with solar and perhaps wind power could provide all electric, hot water and heat that a very passive solar designed house integrated with a greenhouse would need.

  • Hello Joe, Thank you for this comment. I would just like to respond by saying that all of these thoughts are not just possible, but reality. By going back in time we can see that simplicity reigns supreme in a world fraught by complexity to the point of stupidity. Our team goal is to provide people with cost effective solutions to real world issues. Over the next year we will be rolling out new technology based on the things you mentioned above as add on equipment to the two stoves we now have to offer. Both versions can cook, heat, produce hot water, electricity, and do these things all at the same time on small amounts of fuel while caring for our fragile environment. We do not need to use chemistry to do what physics can do. Instead we have employed durable methodology which is far less susceptible to failure than catalytic elements that can be destroyed by simple accident. Our products are very eco friendly and reduce overall maintenance. My analogy is simple, look at the automotive world. People SHOULD change the oil in their car every 3000 miles, but who dies that? Now ask yourself who will change their catalytic combustor in a wood stove……..?

  • Joe

    Roger fantastic looking forward to it- hopefully will be a stove that will produce at least 1kw of electricity and can be integrated into other energy systems like wind, solar etc and can be either net metered or use batteries to store energy .

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