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Rocket Mass Heater Myths: for Tinkering in Garages and Shops Only

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http://richsoil.com/heat Several times per year somebody tells me that rocket mass heaters are not yet ready for being in homes. Kirk Mobert and Ernie Wisner start off with how that used to be true, but it hasn't been that way for a long time. Ernie lists off rocket mass heaters currently installed in homes that are working much better than conventional wood stoves. Kirk points out that if you DO like to tinker with things, rocket mass heaters are awesome to tinker with. Although rocket mass heaters are so amazing as they are now, it is amazing how much room there is for continued improvement. Kirk conveys that when a parade of people walk past a rocket mass heater, there are two kinds of people. Those that are not interested, and those that say "I can make that better!" So nearly everybody that contemplates a rocket mass heater has the passion to tinker. Ernie and Erica talk for a bit about how rocket mass heaters are now in the building codes in Portland and other cities/counties because the regulators really like rocket mass heaters. I point out that rocket mass heaters have been working great in homes for five years or more. Eight years ago there were some rocket mass heaters in homes that were great and some that were dodgy. Ernie and Kirk point out that the rocket mass heater in Myrtle was built about 20 years ago. And it is still going strong. Kirk wants to point out that while the J-tube style is rock solid and working great in homes, the batch box style is now ready for homes also. I think the batch box is the future of rocket mass heaters. And really good installations would be ready for homes. But I think the batch box style still needs a little bit more polish and testing with with experts before it is truly ready for prime time. Ernie makes a point that conventional wood stoves still put smoke into the room and therefore, the batch box style rocket mass heater doesn't need to be perfect, just better than conventional wood stoves. Kirk points out that he once operated a "right way stove" and if you didn't open the door correctly, you would get not just a lot of smoke back, but a big gob of smoke and flames out the door. Apparently they had a chimney fire every year with that stove, and the whole family had to coordinate to put the fire out. The conversation then turns to whether or not to have a system with glass so we can see the flames. More about rocket mass heaters in our DVD set at https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp http://permies.com Thanks to Dan Ohmann of The Grass-fed Homestead channel for helping me with the editing: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc2ka-aGChwIiX0mEXzfmoA Relevant stuff at permies: https://permies.com/t/72557/rocket-mass-heater-myths https://permies.com/f/260/rocket-mass-heaters https://permies.com/wiki/63312/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree Permaculture Playing Cards https://richsoil.com/cards.jsp 177 hours of Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course https://permies.com/pdc Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heaters 4-DVD set https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp Wood Burning Stove 2.0 4-DVD set http://www.woodburningstoves2.com/ World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set https://richsoil.com/wd-gardening.jsp Permaculture Homestead Podcasts https://permies.com/f/88/permaculture-podcast Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course https://richsoil.com/pdc.jsp Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree https://richsoil.com/rmh-workshop.jsp Sign up for my daily-ish email, or my devious plots for world domination http://richsoil.com/email.jsp music by Jimmy Pardo http://permies.com/t/30796/Jimmy-Pardo Thanks to my patreon peeps for pushing me into making videos again: Jocelyn Campbell Julia Mason Dominic Crolius Josh Phillips wade L Jason Hower Bill Crim Suleiman ALAQEL Full Name Chris Holly Doug Barth James Tutor David Ingraham Ash Jackson http://patreon.com/paulwheaton
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Text Comments (32)
paul wheaton (7 months ago)
thanks to my patreon peeps for getting my youtube engine running again http://patreon.com/pwvids
royalspin (4 months ago)
Love the horror story about the airtight stove belching flames. Got a good laugh on that one . I recall driving home one day and to my shock I saw a chimney shooting flames 6 ft or more above the chimney 😨 So naturally I say oh crap and pull into this person's driveway and start knocking on the door to see if someone was home . A couple of minutes pass by and now I'm pounding on the door and ready to call 911 . Just when I go to grab my phone a man opens up the door and asks why I'm pounding on his door . I just sat there in disbelief and said as calmly as I could,,"You do realize that you have flames shooting out your chimney well above the roof ...right ?? 😮" He tells me he was aware of the situation and that he's "cleaning out the chimney" ... Meanwhile I can see his roofing around the base of the chimney starting to smolder which I pointed out to him . He agreed that perhaps he had used "too much heat"... Couldn't believe that . He was an older gentleman and his wife was disabled so I didn't leave till I knew for sure that it was safe to do so . I helped him with cooling down the roof by watering it and stayed awhile till it seemed safe to leave . I also decided drove by a little later on to check on the house to make sure it was still good . That was pretty scary to see and I'm glad I was able to get his attention in time . Not sure what would of happened had I not got their attention but I can imagine it wouldn't have been good . An ex girlfriend of mine had a chimney fire that took out part of her and her husband's home one night and because they hadn't dealt with the creosote build up in several years and didn't know much about wood stoves . Anyway this is interested stuff . I'm researching tons of info before I go and start building anything .I love the idea of being able to see the fire as I think most people would . I've already made basic proof of concept set ups and have a good idea of what I want to build. I plan on routing copper tubing around the stove and then going through radiators with fans on them so heat the air quicker which of course would heat up the surfaces of the interior that much faster than waiting for the mass heater to do its job . This way the stove can help maintain the heat afterwards . Having fans going is a must since most the heat will rise .I would like to have a radiant heat system as well but can't retrofit . When I do finally build my own I plan in ducting in fresh air for the intake instead of using the inside air which should help eliminate the issue discussed in this video .
Frank Johnson (11 months ago)
Being a person who works in technology. I have thought about putting a MIC near the J-tube mouth, mounting a larger monitor on the wall and linking it all to a computer. The monitor will display a fire and the mic will record the rickety sound of the fire. With a good set of speakers you can control the volume you play back the fire sound.
Paul Jones (1 year ago)
How would you be able to retrofit a batch box heater into a modern 2 story home with air duct system in place?
Paul Jones (1 year ago)
Sort of.. I guess. Id have to retrofit onto a current Heater/AC gas furnace. In a 1950s built ranch style home over a full basement.
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
retrofit? wouldn't this be a fresh build?
threeredstars (1 year ago)
You said the batch box solved one of the three problems so I was wondering what the two unsolved problems were?
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
A podcast will be out in a coupla days that has oodles of details about this. The batch box is awesome and will be the future of rocket mass heaters - and ... there are five problems with a batch box. 1, 2 and 3 is the need for an inch of space around the wood (front, back and top). #4 is the door. #5 is a standard way to close off the air intake when the fire is out - something that any dummy will mitigate when starting the fire.
Paweł Nowak (1 year ago)
Hi Paul. Can you tell me what are the rest of those four issues with that batch box? Maybe I would help. I've got some ideas to which you would solve that problems with. But I'm not sure if we think about the same. I'm asking you because I'm not an english speaker, so I can't hear everything clearly. Cheers
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
The batch box has four problems. Peter's recent works solves one of the four: there needed to be a gap at the back between the wood and the opening to the riser. If your wood got too close and started to block the opening, then that's a problem. Further, people that use conventional wood stove techniques with a batch box rocket will not mind plugging that hole. Peter's new design (still being tested) moves the opening to where it cannot be plugged.
GunTotnHippie (1 year ago)
I might not be the best person to ask your question about smoke in the house. I NEVER get smoke when the fire is burning. The only time I might get a little smoke is when starting the fire. The batch box sounds really interesting to me as I don't like the idea of having an open hole and not seeing the fire bothers me. I have kids and having an open hole will always lead to playing basketball.
julie r (1 year ago)
Ditto here. I have an old Earth Stove and unless it’s VERY windy outside I never get smoke into the room. That comment by Ernie puzzled me, because I’ve had several different types of wood stove in my life and smoke when opening the door has never been an issue to me. Sounds like poorly installed stove issue. Properly installed = good draft = no smoke out the door.
Trenton Quarantino (1 year ago)
So obvious it should come with carbon credits, it's amazing the government cannot "approve". They love to spend the money.
Niall Wildwoode (1 year ago)
My inclination is to use a J tube pattern if I'm running underfloor or workshop/greenhouse heating. But a visible flame batch box system is my essential for Winter sanity in the living space. Who's ever tried telling stories by the light of a J tube?
I would love to make one myself with clay, stones and perlite mortar mix .. but in the netherlands building someting like that in a rental house is a no no. So im hoping to build one on next spring on my porch and close my porch up if i get the permit and see if i can cut down the costs on my conventional radiator heating of the house... when the porch radiates heat into the house. And then in a few years when we can buy property and land i can make one indoors😍. That would be amazing. I'm not even a home owner or land owner i dont have my garden yet...but I am totaly addicted to your channel and the premaculture videos. Thanks for the time you put into it. Becuase for someone like me sitting home with sebere mental health isseaus and no income....learning about thermodynamics engineering things and premaculture and selfsustanability to get more freedoms some day...that is an amazing feeling. I feel you make me able to provide for my fam without having a 9 to 5 job. And failing miserably because society dont know what to do with me... Bieng outdoors growing thinking building...wow that would give me so much freedoms that most my isseus would melt like snow in the sun. So you make.me able to dream and dream big and prepair for that one day... Wishing you happy holidays and fam.time. Kind regards rose🌹
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
Suppose it is $500 and 2 days to get a j-tube system with no view of the fire, or $1500 and 4 days to get a batch box system with a view, which do you want?
Paul Jones (1 year ago)
Batch box with no view 99.999999% of families just want to stay warm, and go on living their own lives.
palmbeachcitizen (1 year ago)
Can the Batch Box style produce the same amount of radiate heat for the same amount of time (12 hours or more)? And does your cost estimation, posted in your question, refer to the Batch Box style you guys are sitting beside in the video, or are you referring to something else more compact?  Will this also have a warming bench, or will it be a bell configuration like the one in the Red House?
FallingLeaves (1 year ago)
A tenth sounds excellent to me.
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
I am looking forward to hearing about "one tenth the wood"
FallingLeaves (1 year ago)
If the Batch Box is still going to get me through a South Dakota winter with a third of my current wood costs, then it would pay for the upgrade in a year or two at the most. Probably worth it then.
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
This concludes "season 1" - part 9 of 9. What did you think? What would be topic for the next season?
julie r (1 year ago)
I’d like to see a side by side comparison of sorts between an RMH and an airtight woodstove with draft and damper that has maybe a foot thick of bricks on all sides except the door. How much more efficient is the RMH?
paul wheaton (1 year ago)
Al, lots of good stuff. As to kickstarter content: that was made available at the $1 level. And was provided to the kickstarter supporters over two years ago. The people at the $1 level got a lot of other candy too. Next up came the whole thing about how there are some huge an important points in that video that were sorely missing in the general public. Further still was the stuff in the microdoc where the supporter names are shown. Those are the people that supported the kickstarter at $10 and higher. I thought it would be good to get those lovely names into more eyeballs - especially since a lot of those were mighty clever. Further, I am pissed that the world has not jumped on rocket mass heaters 50 times more than it currently has. So I think "what's the hold up?" As I ponder and scratch my chin, I think a big part of the hold up is misinformation, combined with a lack of information on some key pieces. So I think that it is possible that making this video public could turn out to play a critical role in this angle. Next comes the angle of patreon stuff. I kinda didn't think a lot of patreon when folks convinced me to sign up. But in the last couple of months, it became clear that patreon solves some problems in getting content out there. In a few places I made it clear that I was releasing this in the hopes of getting more patreon support. The result was one more supporter at $1. Not a big win. But, as I'm sure you know, my philosophy in this space is "try 100 things. 2 will work out, but you never know in advance which 2." So, yeah, not a slam dunk. But I did weigh it a long time. In the end, I made the decision to put it out there. It is a roll of the dice on whether it was a smart move. I suppose we will find out in a few years whether it was smart or not. I suspect that if you were in my shoes, you would have done the exact same thing.
Al gebra (1 year ago)
It's good to have a steady little trickle of info on the channel. I think the "mythbusting" angle was a good one to take. The pacing was good (I would have been satisfied even if you released the series a little bit slower). As a Kickstarter supporter, a slight emotional response was invoked when I saw fundraised content released to the public for free — so I think you need to be mindful of "invalidating" (perhaps not the right word) supporter's investments too soon after a campaign... or you run the risk of "no point supporting the Kickstarter because we know he'll release the vids on YouTube in a year or two"-type thinking. As far as future topics are concerned, I really like _mythbusting_ so I'd like to see more of that. Specifically, on a regular basis (on smackdowns, speeches at events, etc.) I've heard you take "conventional wisdom" and then dismantle the logic underpinning it. As an example, you were once involved in a discussion about using woodchips on paths, and you basically said "you want to put woodchips, that will break down, and enrich the soil, on a path, where you *don't* want anything to grow... that's so stupid". Not an exact quote, obviously, but the logic is rapier-sharp and it was a pleasure to hear and have existing assumptions/preconceptions challenged. (One exception to the logic I'd possibly make, is that a path made of black locust or red cedar woodchips would perhaps be ok due to how long it will take them to break down.) The mental models that support belief/behavioural systems can be broken down by strategically targeting pillars that support them and then creating cognitive dissonance that cannot be refuted logically. 'Mythbusting' can do that and promote 'the cause' so I'd personally like to see more of it. So, not really a 'topic' suggestion, but an 'approach' suggestion.
Trenton Quarantino (1 year ago)
Portable, rocket stove kit? How to find water on a property, dowsing? Harnessing energy from a river?

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