Although it may seem intimidating at first, you can build your own wood burner. There is some advanced welding involved and you will have to obtain a few key parts. In the end, though, you can use your own wood burner to heat your home with great efficiency.
Most people who decide to build their own wood burner seek out large 55-gallon drums. These are the drums that hold discarded oil which you typically see behind gas stations. Although these drums can be a good essential part for a wood burner, they tend to be inefficient and difficult to regulate. More importantly, 55-gallon drums have become scarce and many junkyards have begun to charge hefty fees for a single oil drum, upwards of £65. In turn, Jo Hooper of Off-Grid.net suggests that you obtain a discarded electrical water heater.
Other essential parts you need are four metal legs to attach to the bottom of the wood burner; they must be tall enough to raise the burner off of a combustible floor. You also need to obtain parts for a venting system that will flow out of the top of the wood burner. This system includes a metal pipe that will act as a chimney for the wood burner, as well as another pipe that will be the cold-air intake, which draws in outside air to fuel the fire within the wood burner.
Additionally, you will need to construct a "hooper box," which is a square metal attachment that acts as a door on the top of the burner. Its hinges allow you to open the wood burner and add more wood to the fire, as well as to clean out ashes after using the wood burner.
Advantages of an Electrical Water Heater
The most important advantage of an electrical water heater is that its metal walls are nearly four times as thick as those of an oil drum. This is crucial for the longevity of the wood burner. Given the electrical water heater's construction, it is much easier to make the wood burner airtight. More importantly, the cost of an electrical water heater is much less than a conventional wood burner.
Also, considering the scarcity of 55-gallon drums, electrical water heaters are easier to locate. They are found in most every home and they tend to be in good condition when discarded. You will want to make sure that your electrical water heater is in good condition: Inspect the exterior of the water heater for any apparent cracks or gashes. For assistance in locating a heater, contact your local appliance store, which is likely to have unused or unsold water heaters in its inventory.
For the simplest assembly, you will attach four legs to the electrical water heater and create what's called a "hooper box" with a hinged lid. This part can require some welding knowledge, but you will lay the water heater on its side and attach the metal legs on the underside. The hooper box is an additional hinged device that sits atop the water heater and allows you to add wood to the fire. Finally, you will need to obtain an "exhaust stack" or "smoke boot" to regulate the smoke that exits from the wood burner. Ideally, you will extend the smoke boot to your ceiling to force the smoke out of your home. If you have a basement in your home with existing hookups for the wood burner, that is an ideal set-up to utilise.