How to Heat With Hay Bales

Written by philippa jones
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How to Heat With Hay Bales
Only burn hay bales if you have the right system in place. Otherwise you could start a serious fire. (hay bale image by Sean Wallace-Jones from

Heating with hay bales is an alternative to using electricity or gas as an energy source. The heat produced from burning bales is transferred to water, which is pumped through pipes and into a barn. The pipes act as a radiator network to heat the indoor area. Creating heat this way is cost-effective, but it is a specialist technique, so researching about burning hay bales is important. This ensures that you are aware how the system works to avoid starting a fire.

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Things you need

  • Hay Furnace

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  1. 1

    Assess your land and find a suitable place to install a hay furnace and heating system. A hay furnace measures about 8 feet wide by 12 feet long by 10 feet tall; so find a space that can accommodate the unit.

  2. 2

    Start storing hay bales in a silo, shed or barn for burning once the furnace is installed. As Rural Missouri reports, one bale burns every five hours. On an annual basis, it estimates that you need approximately 350 bales to heat a large chicken barn.

  3. 3

    Check your state's rules and regulations about installing a hay furnace. Your insurance will require notification, as the furnace will pose a new safety risk; therefore, it is likely that your rates will increase. Find out in advance so that you can prepare for rate increases.

  4. 4

    Research companies that can install hay furnaces or provide advice about alternative energy resources. For example, contact the U.S. Department of Energy to find out how to maximise your energy efficiency.

  5. 5

    Prepare for the installation company to come and assess your requirements, and install your furnace. Know the access points to your power, the location of your water boiler and current heating set-up. Clear the area to give space for installing the furnace.

  6. 6

    Begin using the furnace. Feed hay bales into the burner regularly, keeping the supply constant to ensure that heat is being produced. The hay-bale furnace designed by one company, for example, holds two hay bales which take 10 hours to burn, so keep at least 14 bales in stock to supply you with heat for a week. Replenish when the stock drops below this level.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to install a hay-bale burner unless you are qualified. It is a technical operation that requires expert assistance because of the plumbing and installation necessary.

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