I enjoy going to lectures and discussions. Typically the venue is quite large, whether a conference, local Seattle “Old Town Hall” lecture, on Giant Steps at the office (our meeting spaces are named after jazz albums) or events hosted by the UW Architecture program. Earlier this month, I went to a Tiny Talk. Not just a small group, it was also a talk about ‘tiny’, as in tiny house living. The meeting area in the bookstore was completely packed and even after the staff brought in extra chairs it was still standing room only.
Dee Williams, an early western pioneer in the tiny house movement in the U.S., has released a book titled “The Big Tiny: A Built-It Myself Memoir”. The talk she gave at Third Place Books, not a 10 minute bus ride from my house, was fantastic. Dee is such a passionate person about life and living tiny. Her energy and ability to share the experiences of living in a small space with such tactility (I hope I’m not giving too much away) really inspired me to begin putting more energy into my design. Her home was one of the first tiny houses on wheels I discovered and I am really enjoying this book.
Is it possible to fall in love with a stove? Meet Kimberly. This tiny stainless steel wonder is what’s known as a high-efficiency gasifier stove. I’ve been weighing the options, and while burning anything for heat is going to produce some pollutants, I likely will not have access to the grid all the time. Heating a house this small with solar could get very expensive and the necessary panels would not fit on the roof. Also, this little gem can be moved into storage in the off months. It’s light enough to pick up without breaking your back like traditional cast iron stoves.
So, weighing the obvious options of propane versus wood, I choose wood. Most any hardwood will burn well in this stove. A recycled sawdust ‘presto’ log supposedly burns for 8 hours, and produces up to 42,500 BTU/hour. That’s almost 10 times as much output possible with the little marine heater (found in many tiny homes) I was considering. Most of the tiny home owners I’ve spoken with who have that particular propane heater have complained about comfort. Sure, I could go with a residential sized stove, like this one from Vermont Castings. We installed one years ago in the first house we bought in Rhode Island. It served us well through some very cold winters in a drafty 75 year old house. So, I have nothing against gas per se, however typical residential heating stoves take up a serious amount of space. Space that is precious in a tiny house.
Because of the way the Kimberly stove works, burning the gasses in the upper chamber above the main firebox, it produces well below both the EPA and Washington State emission standards at only 3.2grams of particulate per hour. Plus it’s made in the Pacific Northwest.
One more trick, if you’ve ever seen the BioLite camp stove, the manufacturer of the Kimberly offers an electric generator that sits on top of the stove. It produces enough heat that can be converted to bonus energy to charge a laptop, phone or run a small appliance – electricity, from fire! All of this adds up to a no brainer, and it costs not nearly the three months of rent and utilities I won’t need to be paying during winter, if all goes as planned. Essentially, this stove pays for itself in less than a season. Plus, what’s not to love about curling up in front of an actual fire?