Are Masonry Heaters Better Than Traditional Fireplaces?
Fireplaces have been around for centuries. Masonry heaters are believed to have been relatively unknown in North America until approximately a quarter of a century ago. Comparing the two is no contest, as far as heat output. Traditional fireplaces are notorious for their inefficiency. Masonry heaters are highly innovative and show what can be done when attempts are made to fully harness the heating benefits of fire. Masonry heaters are often referred to as “masonry stoves;” and they are also known as “Russian fireplaces,” though the design originated in Eastern Europe.
What’s Different about a Masonry Heater?
A masonry heater stores heat in a large thermal mass that can weigh 4 tons, more or less. The mass absorbs heat from the fire and radiates the heat into the home for either hours or days, depending on how long the masonry was heated up with wood heat. The masonry is built with a snakelike inner working (a series of baffles) that extracts heat from the exhaust fumes before what remains is ventilated outdoors.
The real secret of the masonry stove is in the baffle system. The typical length of a baffle system is from 20 to 25 feet, and it is measured in a back-and-forth or up-and-down series. There are materials available that provide step-by-step instructions for building your own masonry heater.
Masonry stoves are designed to keep hot fires burning. The chimney damper is wide open during use, and there is a plentiful air supply. Wood is burned rapidly, but it burns very clean and produces no creosote. Pellet stoves, which are among the most efficient solid fuel heating systems, have about the same amount of emissions as masonry heaters. One fire can heat a home for 12 to 24 hours.
A masonry heater does much more than provide heat for the home. It usually also includes a bake oven and a heated bench. A domestic hot water coil is sometimes an added feature, as well.
Masonry heaters are ideal for houses that are inefficient, creating a comfortable zone of warm air that can fill a room for many hours.
Potential Downsides to Masonry Heaters
Masonry heaters are massive structures. The foundation underneath must be capable of supporting the added tonnage. Building a masonry heater is a significant undertaking. It is essential that no corners are cut during construction. The structure must be capable of withstanding thousands of intense firing cycles. Another possible downside is that building a large masonry heater is expensive and can be cost-prohibitive.
The most important thing to understand about a masonry heater is that it is designed for efficiency. Compare that to traditional fireplaces, which are almost entirely about aesthetics and famous for their inefficiency. The clear winner between the two is the masonry heater, as far as heat output. It depends on your personal taste, as to whether the masonry heater also beats out the fireplace on aesthetics.
Contact us at FyrePro today for more information about masonry heaters. We are authorized dealers for elegant and stunning Tulikivi masonry heaters with a soapstone design. Call 970-266-8556.