The Many Uses of A Wood Stove

Very few items that you place inside your tiny house can serve you in more ways than a wood stove. The biggest and most notable point to mention about a wood stove is that the fuel can be free if you’re willing to put some elbow (and back) grease into acquiring and processing the fuel. From there you can use this free fuel in many ways, which we’ll get over in this post.

I recently purchased a little over three acres of wooded land where I will be building several off-grid cabins to enjoy with family and friends as well as live several months out of the year which may eventually lead to full-time living. With about two days of recent hard work I downed enough trees, processed them, split and stacked the wood to have enough fuel for this coming winter. The trees I downed didn’t even make a dent in the hundreds of trees found on the property. Since the cabins I will be building on the property will be tiny, they require much less fuel to heat than a traditional-sized home. This means less trees cut, making wood a more sustainable long-term heating fuel for me.

There is also a state forest close to where I live where it is legal to process and use already-downed trees. Oftentimes the wood is already seasoned and ready for burning since the tree or limbs fell many months prior.

Also, in the free section of Craigslist I oftentimes see folks who have recently cut down a tree on their property who are giving the wood away or are in need of trees to be cleared and the compensation is your getting to keep the wood.

So now that we know fuel for your wood stove can be free, let’s go over the many ways that a wood stove can serve you and your tiny home.

Heating: Obviously the most important reason for having a wood stove is to heat your home. I personally prefer the heat generated by a wood stove much more than heat from other methods like electricity or propane. It seems to warm your bones and spirit much more. I know a good number of folks who are afraid to leave a wood stove cranked up when they leave their homes because of fire hazards. This is a valid concern, especially for folks who have just begun using wood stoves and aren’t fully convinced of their safety. The problem with this is when you return home it will be very cold inside. For this reason you can do one of two things. The first is to stay bundled up until your home is up to heat, or you can purchase a small heater like this one to heat the home until the wood stove catches up.

A tiny house with a small wood stove used as its primary heat source. Photo courtesy of Tiny Happy Homes.

Hot water: Since the surface of a wood stove is obviously very hot, this heat can be transferred into a pot placed on the surface. Not only will this provide you with hot water for various things like taking a shower and washing dishes and clothes, it will also help add moisture to the air since wood stoves will remove make the air dry in a small space. There are also less primitive and more convenient ways to heat water. For example, you can wrap copper tubing around the stove’s pipe that circulates water through the pipe and back into a reservoir where the hot water remains until you’re ready to use it.

Teach’s wood stove hot water heater in Ireland. See more photos of his tiny house here.

Cooking: Much in the same way that you can warm water in a pot on the surface of a wood stove, you can do the same with cooking food. But you aren’t only limited to cooking as if you were using a stovetop, you can also bake on a wood stove but using an oven like The Coleman Camp Oven which you simply place on your stove and the hot air circulates inside for baking. When you’re done, simply fold it and stow it away.

Using a wood stove to whip up a meal.

Electricity: There are a good number of products out there called thermoelectric generators that convert the heat generated from your wood stove into electricity. At least for me, the idea of generating electricity from something that I’ll already be using anyway is very exciting. Rain or shine, day or night, your wood stove can assist you with generating electricity, topping off batteries and charging electronic devices. The Power Pot is an excellent example of this. Simply put water in the pot, place it on your wood stove and plug your electronics in. Or you can produce electricity from generators that sit on top or are mounted to the side of your stove like The Devil Watt.

The Power Pot is a thermoelectric generator that turns hot water into electricity.

If used to its full potential, the wood stove can become the “heart” of your tiny house and can play many roles in your tiny abode. In the warmer months, why not have one of these outdoors to do many of the things mentioned above?

So what about you, do you have additional uses for your wood stove that I didn’t mention? Or do you think a wood stove is a viable option for your existing or future tiny house?


Steven Harrell is the owner and operator of Tiny House Listings and Tiny House Swoon. He became interested in the concept of tiny living in 2008 and shortly after began creating solutions for people interested in living a more simple and meaningful life.

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5 Comments → “The Many Uses of A Wood Stove”


  1. laurie

    Feb 19, 2014

    love your books and ideas ,interested inany foe sale in my area

    Reply

  2. Roland

    Feb 19, 2014

    How about using this little absorption chiller for your icebox… stick it on the stove a while and then stick it in the cooler. cool technology… not quite available yet I think.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/adam_grosser_and_his_sustainable_fridge.html

    http://www.ecogeek.org/efficiency/2382

    Thought this might be an interesting addition to your list.

    Roland

    Reply

  3. CathyAnn

    Feb 22, 2014

    For me, a wood stove is a viable option for heat, hot water and cooking. Many years ago, I lived in the mountains where winters are very cold, in a small two-bedroom home where the only source of heat was a wood stove. Until I learned how to operate it properly, it would get it so warm inside that I’d have to open windows. I loved it.

    The Power Pot is an interesting option for electricity, but for me, a Goal Zero kit would be a much better option to power lights and recharge electronics.

    Reply

  4. Pat Rayta

    Feb 23, 2014

    How big are the wood stoves that people put into their portable tiny homes, and how do they safely install them, since they should be 3′ away from the wall?

    Reply

  5. shane clarke

    Apr 28, 2014

    If you’re looking to generate light, and you have a wood stove, the Stove Lite is a great option. One of the models has an internal battery as well as a USB port.

    They simply convert your wood stove heat into electricity, and the electricity to light.

    http://www.stovelite.com

    Reply

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