AMHOP For Consumers - Masonry Heater Guide

Please click on a topic below to learn more about how a masonry heater will fit into your life as a homeowner.

Consumer Guide to Masonry Heaters

A masonry heater provides very energy efficient heating for your home or room. The masonry heater provides a very clean-burning method to heat with wood. There is a long tradition from Europe of slow heat release appliances. Grundofen, Kachelofen, Kakelugn, Putzofen to name a few, were constructed over 500 hundred years ago. A masonry heater uniquely captures and stores large amounts of heat from hot clean fires, and provides even, radiant heat for up to 18 to 24 hours at a time, after the fire has gone out. The radiant heat supplied by a masonry heater creates a healthier comfort level that simply cannot be equaled by convection or forced air systems. Imagine heating with wood without dust covering your room!

Masonry heaters are as clean burning as EPA-certified wood stoves. As mentioned on the EPA site, masonry heaters are exempt from certification. The key is the short hot fires that achieve very complete combustion of the fuel. This energy efficient system then stores the heat in the masonry mass. This allows you to rapidly burn a large charge of wood without overheating your house or chimney creosote buildup. And the masonry surface is not too hot to touch! If you need less heat, such as between seasons when you simply want to take off the chill, you simply burn less frequently. Yet you still burn it quickly and cleanly.

Masonry heaters range in size from smaller room heaters to larger systems designed to heat an entire house. All masonry heaters are constructed with a masonry or refractory core, but utilize a variety of materials and shapes. There are several types of internal construction, which allow very different designs to the external appearance. The core is surrounded by another layer, which may be a finish material such as brick, kachelstone tile or soapstone. Less expensive material, such as a layer of firebrick covered with stucco or tile, may cost more in labor. The simplest masonry heater, often referred to as a contraflow, is similar to a fireplace with downdraft channels. Next in complexity is a multi-channeled heater, sometimes called a Swedish, which has vertical channels up, down and up again. A combination heater, Austrian or German, has vertical and horizontal channels. Masonry heaters are available in core kit form that must be assembled by a knowledgeable installer or builder with a facade of stucco, brick, stone, or tiles. Masonry heaters also come in manufactured units that must be site built by an authorized representative. Finally, custom designed and engineered masonry heaters may provide maximum efficiency and be sized precisely for your home or room.

The same size room or house will have varying heat requirements based on your local environment, building materials and construction. The easiest way to determine your heat loss/gain calculation is to call your HVAC representative. They may employ computer modeling to determine your BTU requirements. Alternatively, you can consult published formulas. A small masonry heater may have an output of between 8,000- 10,000 BTU's per hour. This would heat the average 700-900 sq foot room. A slightly larger heater outputs about 14,000 BTU's- a small home. A mid size heater would be a medium whole-house heater, with an average of 26,000 BTU's per hour. Larger masonry heaters generate around 55,000 BTU's per hour.

Masonry heaters are located directly in your living space to take advantage of the radiant heat. This affords many additional features such as bake ovens, benches, shelving or mantles, and wood storage. Foremost for consideration is the facade material: brick, field stone, soapstone, stucco, ceramic tile, or combinations. The denser and thinner the finish material such as soapstone or kachelstone ceramic tiles (within building parameters), the more responsive the rate of heat transfer to the room. A masonry heater's appearance is limited only by creativity of the builder, the availability of materials, and your budget.

Heat is one of the primary requirements for habitation in temperate zones. The quality of heat from a masonry heater is unsurpassed by any other appliance. While the initial cost of a masonry heater may be greater than that of oil or gas fired furnaces, the heating costs per year are substantially less. A masonry heater uses a local, renewable energy resource which does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. It is independent of electricity and fossil fuel. And the value added to your home appreciates and allows a quality of heat your health will attest.

Masonry heater and oven builders have varying levels of expertize. At the basic level, the installer should be trained in kit building that follows the manufacturers instructions. You can trust a professional AMHOP certified installer to have the proper insurance and follow local building code, and licensing requirements. AMHOP requires members to build according to the only current regulative guide ASTM E1602 "Standard Guide for Construction of Solid Fuel Burning Masonry Heaters".

At the mid-level, the experienced builder is certified to follow the design of a master builder for a custom installation. Again, all proper insurance, local bulding codes and licensing will be followed by the professional AMHOP member.

The AMHOP certified master designer/builder will design and install the proper custom heater for your space. He will use the latest calculation technology to ensure proper function, lowest emissions and highest efficiency. When size of the footprint is a concern, his skills will enable use of the smallest amount of space needed to heat your home.

Copyright © 2012 Alliance of Masonry Heater and Oven Professionals.