Masonry Heaters

Don't confuse a masonry heater with the traditional masonry fireplace. In a traditional fireplace, most of the heat you produce goes straight up the chimney. A masonry heater takes care of this problem and harnesses the heat you produce so that it can be used in the home. Masonry heaters are an efficient, cost-effective way to provide heat in your home.

Masonry is an excellent material for absorbing heat and your masonry heater takes advantage of that fact. While the fire is going, the masonry warms up, storing excess heat so that it can be used later. Then, over the next 18 to 24 hours, the masonry heater radiates that heat back into your home. That means you can burn a lot of wood rapidly without worrying about overheating your home. The masonry functions as a heat regulator.

That makes masonry heaters an ideal solution for cold climates where you're going to be needing steady heat around the clock. Rather than adding fuel to the fire all day long, you can create a couple of fires throughout the day and rely on the masonry heater to dispense the heat created in an even fashion.

Since the masonry heater allows you to make a very hot fire, that means the wood you burn will be used more efficiently. For most houses, you only require 1 to 2kW of heat. That output is less than the "critical burn rate" of a conventional wood stove. The fire inside will start to smolder and to burn inefficiently and incompletely.

Slow, cool fires can produce a lot of smoke. The burning process is incomplete, resulting in a buildup of deposits such as soot and creosote. Even if you are successful in venting all these products to the outside, that's still hard-earned money you're sending up the chimney instead of harnessing it to heat your home. You aren't getting any return on your wood investment for that part. If it doesn't burn, it doesn't produce heat. Meanwhile, you're polluting the air with the byproducts of your inefficient fireplace.

Masonry heaters address these problems head on, allowing you to burn the wood hot and clean to heat your living area over a long period. At the same time, a masonry heater will be less of a danger to children, pets, or even yourself if you accidentally brush against it. When a fire is burning, the surface can get quite hot, but then it cools down to a warm, radiant heat that lasts all day.

A masonry heater is generally built or assembled at your home. You can buy a prefabricated kit and try your own hand at it, or you can call in the professionals. Here are the basic characteristics you can expect to find:

  • A mass of at least 1,750 pounds (800 kg.)
  • Tight fitting doors that can be closed during the burn cycle.
  • Average wall thickness not exceeding 10 inches (250 mm)

Learn More About Masonry Heaters

Hopefully this article has provides a helpful introduction to masonry heaters and their benefits. For additional information, on these unique products you may find the following resources helpful.

Masonry Heater Association: The masonry heater association offers articles, pictures, and benefits of masonry heaters.

Where to Buy Masonry Heaters

Here are a few resources that will provide you with information on where to purchase masonry heaters as well as types of users available.

Temp-Cast Masonry Heaters: Maker of msonry heaters. Web site offers good pictures and an overview of masonry heater functionality.