Thursday, October 12, 2006

Corn Stove Update

Being the coldest night of the season so far, I decided to run my new corn-burning stove while I slept last night. To circulate heat without using excessive fuel, I adjusted the blower to high and the fuel rate to low. As I expected, the rooms closest to the stove reached 78 degrees or more, while other parts of the house stayed in the low to mid 70’s.

Because it was still cold outside by the time I had to leave for work, I didn’t shut down the stove. Julie got home about an hour after I left, and was pleased that the house was cozy-warm when she arrived. The stove will shut-off automatically when the corn in the hopper runs out, or it can be shut down by flipping a switch. Julie decided to shut it down for the day.

It will be interesting to see how well the stove performs when the outside temperature drops below freezing. To circulate air to all parts of the house I suspect that we’ll need to use our ceiling fans or the furnace blower.

My stove, the Amaizablaze 4100, is not a highly-automated model. It doesn’t have a thermostatic control, and it must be lit manually. While the lack of these features make the stove somewhat less convenient than it could be, it also results in efficient and trouble-free operation. Because the electrical power needed to run the stove is small, my solar photovoltaic system will easily be able to provide enough power to run it. As a result, I have a reliable emergency-heating system to serve in the event of an electrical power failure. And, as long as corn prices remain low, I have a less-expensive alternative to natural gas heating in my home.

Although it would have been less expensive to buy corn in bulk, I bought mine in 50-pound bags. While there is some dust and dirt involved with the handling of corn, it’s much cleaner than handling wood. Some fly-ash is produced in the burning of corn, but little if any of that enters the house. Corn burns clean, so unlike wood-burning stoves, there is no danger of a chimney fire. In fact, it doesn’t even need a chimney. The air intake for combustion and exhaust flows through a vent similar to that of a clothes dryer.

I’m content with my decision to heat my home by burning corn, and with the 4100 stove. It seems that my heating costs will be lower, and I’m helping to protect the environment through lower carbon emissions. I’ll post again on my experience with this stove later in the heating season.

Solar John

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