Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter 2012 on its way

After spending most of the hot summer camping in east TN and western NC, we have spent the past month installing our woodstove.  We decided (after MUCH study) to get a catalytic stove.  We live in a region with mostly mild winters.  Often the woodstove would not be run continuously here as it would be in more northern regions.  Catalytic stoves run more efficiently at lower temperatures than do non-catalytic (secondary burn) stoves.  The catalyst begins burning smoke at around 500 degrees whereas secondary burners ignite at more like 1000 degrees.  Thus, by buying a large catalytic stove, we can have long, low burns that will not be so hot as to drive us out of the house.  We settled on a BlazeKing Princess parlor model stove.  It has a thermostat, so instead of fussing with the air supply as the fire develops, you just set the thermostat to your desired level and the stove adjusts the air supply from there.  We did all of the installation ourselves, which included tiling the back wall, building and tiling a half wall behind the stove, building the stone hearth, building a mantel, putting in an outside air supply, cutting the chimney through the roof and setting up the stove.  Here are a few pictures.   Moving the stove into place with a come-along.

Enjoying our first fire.  We built the initial fire using a good amount of kindling, then adding 3 large logs at about 6pm.  The next morning at 6am the catalyst was still on and there were many hot coals.  After 14 hours we could have started a new fire with the existing coals (but it was going to be 70 degrees that day).  After 20 hours the stove was still quite warm!  We are pleased so far.

Tigerboy discovers the stove.  This was taken the morning after the fire was built and the stove was still very warm.

Update on the solar array:  After 4 months of operation, our net electric "bill" was -$373.75.  So they owe us $373.75 after taking off our house use.  Of course our generation will get smaller during the winter because of the lower sun angle, some shading from tree branches and more cloudy weather in general during the winter.