Resilience: Woodburning Stoves for Heating & Hot Water

Thermal Store from BoilerStoves

Thermal Store from BoilerStoves

A lot of time is spent discussing how we’re going to stay warm after the peak, and increasingly people are installing woodburning stoves and / or solar hot water systems  as a part of their solution for heating and hot water. There is a great discussion on this over at Powerswitch and a whole heap of useful links:

Multi-Fuel Stoves with Backboilers

These can burn wood, coal, and a whole range of other combustibles. They have BackBoilers – literally a boiler attached to the back of the stove – to heat water for radiators / hot water.

Gravity-fed Boiler Systems

You can use a pump to get the hot water from your stove-back boiler to the hot water tank, but if the pump fails then you are at rick of damaging the boiler. A simpler way is to use a gravity fed layout, which work on the basis that hot water rises:

 Solar Systems

For even greater resilience we’d have multiple options for hot water and heating. Pairing a Sola Hot Water system with a woodburning stove makes a lot of sense – Solar works best in the summer when you don’t want the stove heating up the house, and in Winter the heat of the stove is a welcome side-effect.

Hot-Water Cylinders and Thermal Stores

These have changed a lot since I was a kid, when we had a big coppery tank in the Airing Cupboard with a thin, patchy red jacket strapped onto it for insulation! Now there’s a whole range available with cast-over insulation, and – essential for our resilient system – multiple inputs. So you can plumb several heat sources into the one tank: Solar, Gas, Electric, or Solid Fuel. A Thermal Store (or Heat Accumulator) is a good way of making the most of your solar and wood-fired hot water. Think of it as a huge hot water tank that can take all the heat your stove can throw at it while going at its most efficient, fast, burn.

Online Tools and Calculators

There are some great calculators available online to help you work out the heating requirements of your house, and to help you design and layout your system: 

  • Tuscan Foundry Calculator – great for calculating the heating required per room
  • idhee – Calculator for ensuring that you get the correct size boiler
  • Heatweb – great schematic designer and calculator for specifying system components

Flues

Short, or poorly-insulated flues seem to cause many problems for woodfired stoves – causing them to let smoke into the room among others.

  • Flue Systems – supply everything your flue may need, including insulated twin-wall flues, chimney fans and cowls.

Well that’s enough background to get started – I’ll add more when I’ve worked out what we’re going to do!

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