Fresh ideas, inventions that I pass along to the world. Maybe they’re useful. Maybe they’re fun.
An electric woodstove. This fresh idea is actually from a few years ago, but last night’s threat of snow encouraged me to write it up today. Make a woodstove that works as a woodstove and that doubles as an electro-thermal radiator.
Why would anyone want to combine the two?
Pre-heated backup heat
For people who prefer the ease and cleanliness of electric heat, a power outage is a dramatic switch. A fire has to be started in the woodstove, and the first heat goes into warming hundreds of pounds of metal. The cold metal keeps the firebox temperature low and more likely to smoke. A woodstove that was already acting as a radiator was probably already hot. The fire would start quicker and cleaner, which is good for the house, the resident and the environment.
Simplified furniture placement
Live in a house with a woodstove and you soon learn to keep a safe zone around it. Code requires it, but pragmatism also encourages space for the safety of people and furnishings. The same thing is true with electric baseboard heaters. Put a woodstove in a room with baseboard heaters and there’s little room left over for a sofa. Build the baseboard heater into the woodstove and the available floor space increases.
Wire the woodstove up correctly and it might even act as an electric oven, a cooktop, or both. Kitchens operated from wood-fired ovens and cooktops. It should be possible to make a stove and a cooktop that can operate from whichever the cook prefers.
The idea seemed odd to me at first. Wiring up a big hunk of metal to make it hot enough to heat the room only seems odd relative to baseboard heaters and forced air or radiant floor systems. Compared to a woodstove, there’s no difference, except for the plug.
A large mass of metal acts as a heat sink or source, gradually and quietly responding to the need. Odd? Maybe. Dramatic? No. Maybe we need many more quiet incremental solutions to today’s problems.
Hmm, I wonder if the heat sink could absorb energy from wind and solar too. Another idea!