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If you miss curling up by the fire on a cold fall or winter’s evening because you’re on the road in your RV, you may want to look into real wood-burning stoves for RVs.
These compact units, in addition to lending a rustic appeal, supply all the heat most RVs would need on cold nights—or days.
Having a wood-burning stove in a RV requires certain things:
Wood heat has its advantages:
Wood heat also has disadvantages:
Among people who convert other vehicles into RVs—school buses and cargo trailers, for example—wood heat has proven to be viable, effective and safe. It works in a commercially made RV as well if you have the space.
All wood stoves must have a clearance area for walls, ceilings, floors and furniture. Propane heaters have clearance requirements, too, but those for wood stoves typically are larger.
You’ll need to buy and install a surface-protection kit that has fire-resistant surfaces and insulation to prevent the intense heat of the wood stove from migrating to wall surfaces, ceilings and floors. Alternatively you can make barriers out of non-flammable materials.
If your stove is mounted off the floor, you may have storage space underneath. High mounting also eases loading and cleaning.
RV woodstoves typically are painted with black heat-resistant enamels. Some offer bright metal trim, such as on the window surround on the door, or on other stove details. Stainless steel models are bright.
To see the flames you’ll need a stove door with a window. The windows are ceramic to provide a view and hold up to the intense heat. If watching the fire isn’t important, a metal door may save a few bucks.
Hardwood makes the best fuel. It burns longer and cleaner, so it won’t coat the chimney with creosote as quickly or as thoroughly as softwoods do. Creosote is a fire hazard, so periodic cleaning is required. When you install a stove, check the cool pipe weekly for creosote buildup. When you spot a buildup, clean the pipe, then repeat the cleaning in about as many weeks as the first buildup took.
Stoves also burn pressed composite fire logs. Keep some on hand for emergencies when your firewood supply is exhausted.
Some stoves also burn coal, but be warned: Coal dust is heavy, unpleasant to deal with and can fly with the slightest disturbance, including cleanouts.
Store firewood in a sealable plastic bin or bins. A lid ensures that any insects inside the wood won’t get into your RV.
Woodstoves that are EPA certified burn clean.
RV-adaptable woodstoves are quite compact. Generally speaking, the bigger the stove, the higher the heat output. But woodstoves pack a punch, and you might be surprised at how much space a modestly sized stove can heat.
The Dickinson Marine 00-NEWSF Newport Solid Fuel Heater is extremely compact at 10x8 inches, with a height of 17 inches. It weighs just 15 pounds. It can burn one or two small logs, a composite log, charcoal briquettes or coal for a modest output of 3,000 to 8,000 BTU, enough for a small camper, or for a van, truck or cargo trailer conversion. There is no glass window for viewing flames. About $425. Caution: Do not confuse this with similar-looking Dickinson propane models if you intend to burn wood or coal.
The Cubic Mini Cub measures less than 1 cubic foot and weighs just 27 pounds —surprisingly light for a wood-burning steel stove. Its 6,000 to 14,000 BTU output is best for RVs of less than 200 square feet, so you could use one in an 8x20 travel trailer if you’re willing to burn the stove hotter and tend it more often. These are ideal for space-challenged RVs. About $900 with all you need: stove, wall and floor protection, plus chimney with air intake.
The Summers Heat 1,200 square-foot Woodstove is bigger but still compact at 21x15 inches, with a 32-inch height on its steel legs. A built-in fan more evenly distributes heat. Burning typical 16-inch logs, it can put out up to 60,000 BTUs of heat, more than you would need for even a large RV. About $650.
For a long, unattended burn, consider the Kimberly Mini Wood Stove, but be prepared to pay for your uninterrupted sleep. The price nears $4,000. The Kimberly uses less fuel and produces nearly smoke-free exhaust because it’s highly efficient. The 10-inch cylindrical stove has a 12–inch diameter base and is 27 inches high. It needs just 6 inches of clearance without wall protection. It can heat from 150 to 1,500 square feet on up to 40,000 BTU of output. There’s a small viewing window. The Kimberly weighs just 56 pounds.
If you do decide on a woodstove, and you travel during the winter, save a tin of cooled ashes. They are a wonderful traction aid on ice and packed snow.
Photo Credit: CubicMiniWoodstioves.com
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