Are you looking for an alternative heat source and number one on your priority list is that it must use a renewable environmentally friendly heat source? Let us introduce you to the Masonry Heater. This renewable heat source is certainly not new to Europe, Eurasia and the Netherlands, but here in the United States it is in it’s infancy, but we would like to change that. Arrogance has us believing that we are the first generation to be concerned with the earth and all it’s precious energy sources but that is a fallacy. Mankind has always been keenly aware how precious the resource that generates heat is; but have we always understood the resource and it’s renewability, probably not. As man evolved it became evident that traditional open fireplaces were inefficient. They used too much precious wood and weren’t able to warm larger structures. The need for a more efficient appliance to warm homes, palaces, castles, convents and monasteries gave birth to the Masonry Heater. Many of these original heaters and Kachelofen (Wood-burning masonry heaters with ceramic tile exteriors) can still be found today in European homes and museums housing stunning heaters that were turned into true pieces of art by talented craftsmen thousands of years ago. So, why haven’t we heard more about this type of appliance here in the United States? Good question, but we honestly don’t know. There are probably many reasons why, though be that as it may, Masonry Heaters are growing in interest and popularity.
Just how does this centuries old heat source work? The wood-fired heater-box is fired intermittently at very high temperatures to heat up the thermal-mass, which then radiates heat into the stone, brick, tile or stucco masonry elements of the heater. This heat then radiates throughout the home or business.
Let’s talk the aesthetics of this heat source; it pretty much can look like a standard fireplace with the available options of a pizza oven, a heated bench and a cooking oven, which can be used as a secondary oven during the holidays. The exterior finish can be made from stone, brick, tile, soapstone or stucco that can be dyed to match the interior of the room. A masonry heater can be as small as a mini refrigerator and as large as a commercial refrigerator. Heaters are available in kits and can also be custom made. Kits with soapstone can start at around $15,000.00; custom Masonry Heaters can start around $40,000.00. Cost-wise new construction is the best time to consider a Masonry Heater but this environmentally friendly heat source may also be added to an existing building.
Masonry Heaters burn hot and clean! Environmentally speaking, Masonry Heaters burn wood very rapidly at high temperatures. The result is almost complete combustion with little very little pollution. Unlike a wood stove or fireplace, where you typically start a fire and keep it burning by adding wood, with a Masonry Heater you heat it in batches, and the wood is typically entirely burned by the time the next fire is started. This means that you have to start frequent fires, and for some people this may not be convenient. From a performance and comfort standpoint, masonry heaters take a long time to heat up, but they continue radiating heat for a very long time, typically 16 to 24 hours. Speaking of radiating heat, a Masonry Heater has been compared to the feeling of the suns rays warming your skin on a cold day. It has been said that one armful of wood could possibly heat a home or business for days.
There is a certain elegant simplicity to Masonry heaters. If a house has the space for it, a Masonry Heater can be the most environmentally friendly way to heat with wood. If you are considering new construction, now is the time to educate yourself on the benefits of this century old way of heating your home with a renewable resource, wood.