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Fitting a small wood stove into a vehicle.
The first thing to really say about the fitting of any small stove into a vehicle is that the vehicle needs to be of a sufficient size. If the vehicle you are intending to fit the stove into is too small then you run the risk of firstly being compromised for space as any stove needs to be in a prescribed size space away from combustible materials. A small van just does not have the space available to accommodate a stove and flue pipe arrangement. Second is that you would never be able to run the stove efficiently as running it at an optimal level would probably just result in a dry sauna type environment as you slowly cooked! Therefore the first question to ask when considering ‘the small stove in your van’ project is ‘is my van big enough? A long wheel based Mercedes Sprinter with a high top would be about the minimum size to make it a practical option. The vehicle involved in this case study is of similar dimensions and volume area. Another great size for a small stove would be an American school bus or a medium to large sized Airstream trailer.
There are several other things to think about if you have the sufficient space to fit a small stove.
The stove needs to sit on a non combustible hearth. This can be a range of materials. Anything from slate, granite, concrete board, steel or ceramic tiles are an option. The hearth you choose will need to be drilled so that the stove can be bolted to it.
I have prepared a pdf to show how my little stove can be bolted down in a vehicle.
The area behind the stove will need to be protected if there is any combustible material and any combustible surfaces within 400mm of the adjacent sides. A shielding board made of vermiculite or similar needs to be of around 25mm thickness and be spaced from the combustible surface with a 12mm air gap. The stove could then sit 200mm from the combustible surface.
It is better if the stove is left in a more open position such as in the vehicle featured here.
Installing the flue system.
Any small stove fitted into a vehicle needs a flue arrangement to exhaust the smoke and gases. A working flue system is essential in the efficient and safe operation of the stove. It must have sufficient draw to enable the smoke and gases to be evacuated safely and efficient combustion of the fuel to take place. A poor flue will result in inefficient running of the stove resulting in a sooty flue which can be unpleasant in many respects and could also potentially be dangerous.
Remembering that the flue pipe can become very very hot it may also require shielding if it’s route takes it adjacent to any combustible materials or surfaces. Anything within 300mm of a 100mm single wall flue pipe will need to be protected. The safe distance from the twin wall insulated flue pipe is 50mm from anything combustible.
Due to the greater heat potential of single wall pipe inside the cabin it can be used internally. Twin wall flue will then need to be incorporated as the system exits the cabin and externally. A system which allows you to take the external components on and off easily is a good idea as you would be able to add on additional longer lengths of flue when you are parked and the stove is operational. The external components are also easily lost by low slung roadside branches if you are fitting the stove on the nearside. It is better if they can be removed during transit.
Where the twin wall exits the roof will need to be weather proofed and the best component to exit the roof twin wall flue pipe through is a silicone boot flashing which has a malleable edge and can be moulded to the metal profile of the roof and bolted down. Inside the van the hole can be covered with a metal trim plate. The flue pipes like the stove will also need to be securely anchored with wall band support brackets. It also helpful if within the single flue pipe there is an access door to allow you to periodically inspect and clean the flue pipe.
Air supply and safe combustion.
The stove needs a supply of air to perform combustion. As a vehicle is very airtight you will need to add an air inlet vent.
You may also wish to consider the addition of directly fed air into the stove itself via a direct air system. Our tiny stove has a system which allows you to retain independent control of both primary and secondary air. Air systems which still allow secondary air via the front of the stove are still using air from the cabin space itself so are much less suitable in this scenario. This is why additional air vents in the space are essential. As is a CO and smoke alarm along with a fire blanket and extinguisher for obvious safety reasons.
Other vehicles with small stoves inside