Corn stoves

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by UncleTom, Oct 17, 2004.

  1. UncleTom

    UncleTom Well-Known Member

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    I am interested in hearing about corn stoves? Any of you have them? Do you like them? What are the pro's and con's. What does your homeowners say about them? Any one in town have them? Thanks in advance. UncleTom
     
  2. TXlightningbug

    TXlightningbug Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Uncle Tom,
    If you mean the stoves fueled by dried corn like what you buy at a feed store, I know of a family in Plano, TX, who installed one in their home. They were on the news with it. The stove is hooked up to the ventilation system so a fan blows the heat throughout the two-story house that's, I think they said, about 2,500 square feet. With his $100 of corn per month, he heated the entire home and the light bill came to less than $125 per month in an all electric house. A neighbor of his with the same floor plan, spent almost $500 that same month to heat and light his house.

    They did not mention any drawbacks to them. There's bound to be some as there is always something, but the financial savings was impressive after the initial expense of installing it. They showed how he slowly poured it into a hatch in the top of the stove. Inside, there is a bar that spins around, evenly distributing the corn in the stove for burning. It looked kinda like a popcorn popper at the picture show. I found it interested and want one myself that burns either corn or the pellets that is evironmentally friendly.

    I think the initial investment will be the biggest drawback since it must be fitted to the same ductwork that is used by the AC. If you don't have an AC, then you have to have the ductwork installed too.

    Hope others will chime in and tell their experience/know-how too. I'll be watching!

    TXlightningbug :yeeha:
     

  3. UncleTom

    UncleTom Well-Known Member

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    Thanks TXlightingbug, I am interested in them too. I was wondering about what homeowners would say about them. I have been told that they need to be cleaned every so often too. UncleTom
     
  4. dscott7972

    dscott7972 Well-Known Member

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    I have a friend who has one and is really pleased with it. The only drawback that he has mentioned is that if the corn is dusty they have to sift it. They are expensive, but I suppose any new stove would be. I'll try to remember to ask Sunday at church when I see him anything he would like to add about them.
     
  5. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone else have a queasy guilty feeling about burning food for heat? The ones that I have seen need some type of electrical hookup for the fans and whatnot to work, so if the store bought electricity goes off, what good are they?

    Personally, my idea of a perfect heating system is...

    Its bombproof...no matter what else is messed up, the woodstove will keep on churning out heat... corn stoves won't.

    It's free of external inputs...you've got to buy corn...Believe me, if you raised it yourself (excluding large scale corn farmers) you'd never burn it for fuel. I have unlimited amounts of hardwoods. Just cutting the dead trees on my place would provide 10x as much wood as I could ever burn. Dead trees on neighbors 30x(my potential needs.) I see thousands of cords burnt in 'pasture piles' each year, cause no one wants or needs the wood.

    It survives the 'half froze' test...If I'm half froze, and the electrics are down, will I be able to start the fire up and keep from freezing. I've had relatives come stay during weeklong freeze outs (when the grid is down and their all electric homes are like deep freezers), cause I have a wood stove that won't quit as long as you feed it some wood.


    Now don't let me talk you out of a corn stove. If you have to 'buy' wood, well, my sympathies... Just don't bet your life on them. If you're looking for a romantic and beautiful addition to your home, they'd be just the ticket.

    the devils advocate...
    Phil
     
  6. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    I believe a lot of wood pellet stoves can burn corn.
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Corn heat is catching on here, notably with farmers Most farmers grow corn, and use it as an almost free source. Corn is cheap, especially if you can buy it direct from the farmer. You do have to put in the duct work, but I wonder if you could use it to heat water too?
     
  8. Bruce in NE

    Bruce in NE Well-Known Member

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    Why corn, I am wondering? Don't you have access to wood?

    My attitude towards those types of stoves are: 1. they won't run if you don't have electricity and: 2. using corn as a fuel only serves to perpetuate the mono-culture of corn growing that will eventually ruin the soil -- if it's not already totally depleted. But now with the popularity of using corn to make government subsidized ethanol, the chances of old fashion crop rotation coming back on the scene are practically nil.
     
  9. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    DH's uncle farms about 2,000 acres and they have a corn stove. (They also rotate crops ;) too) They got it years ago so I am not sure how much tehy still use it.

    We also farm full-time (with crop rotation and no participation in government programs) and I'm thinking ... hmmm .... maybe $1.70 corn could make a good substitute for the gas furnace. Wonder about dust, though. That might be a BIG drawback. And if a person had allergies, well, might have to ask Uncle and Aunt about it.

    Ann
     
  10. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I have had personal experience with a corn stove. Maybe it was a lemon but I came to believe it was a POS. It had problems with fines and the delivery of the augered corn kernals and it malfunctioned and created a clinker from hell that had to be chiseled from the burn area. No way would I spend good money for one! Buy a wood stove, something that is proven the world over to work and work without electricity in times of power outages!
     
  11. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    But other than that ... what did you really think of it? :) Whooeee, now we've definitley got to talk to Aunt and Uncle
     
  12. TXlightningbug

    TXlightningbug Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Phil,
    Thanks for playing the devil's advocate. You raised some good points. Here are some of mine.

    First, where I want my farm, I'll be planting trees for lack of any but a few scraggly live oaks. Therefore, I have to buy my fuel, no matter what I install.

    Second, burning wood pollutes. I'm looking for something with less pollution when it burns than wood. That's why I'm looking at corn or pellets. They supposedly cause less pollution while burning.

    Third, I'll be installing an Alternative Energy Package of solar panels and windmills to generate electricity independently with a state grant. That will, hopefully, take care of the possibility of the on-grid electricity going out. I spent too many weekends huddled around a wood stove with not enough output to heat the entire house at my relatives. I want to be able to go to the indoor outhouse without having to crack the ice in the bowl, if you know what I mean.

    Fourth, a corn or pellet stove comfortably heats a 2-story house of 2,500 square feet is nothing to ignore. My house that I want to build is about half that size.

    Fifth, if the corn is dusty, screen it. That'll get rid of the dust which can be explosive if just dumped in there along with the corn. Wear a face mask to do it if you have allergies like I do. I'm actually allergic to dust and dust mites.

    Sixth, you gotta keep all fuel - wood, corn, pellets, whatever - dry. Now. What's going to take up less room? A winter's worth of wood? Or a stacked pile of bagged fuel? I'm betting a pallet of bagged fuel. Where to store the fuel? Some counties have laws that tell how close the wood rack can be to the house. Set a shed a few feet off the back porch and set the corn in there. How much room does it take to set some replenishing fuel near the stove? A pile of wood or a bucket? I'm voting on the bucket. What happens if you accidentally kick it? I don't know about you, but wood hurts my big toe while a bucket of corn is going to scoot and/or spill. Which is easier to clean up? Corn. Hands down, thanks to the vacuum cleaner.

    Seventh, all stoves require maintenance. That's a given. Which one - wood or pellet/corn - creates the most creosote? I'm still trying to find out that one.

    Eighth, which is more likely to have critters like snakes and polecats in it? Both. Corn is going to appeal to mice and rats so it will need to be contained in a metal can or broken chest freezer. Wood has been occupied by snakes and polecats in my family's history with woodpiles. The snakes can be dealt with, but - as my great-grandfather (a young boy then) learned the hard way - polecats can shoot back and ruin the entire winter's supply.

    So, yes, there are good points and bad points to any system. Each person has to make up their minds as to what will suit their needs best. But anything is better than paying the big electric companies oodles of money for service not rendered during severe ice storms, hurricanes, etc..

    TXlightningbug :yeeha:
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't have one, but they are becoming pretty popular here in the cold mid-west. Corn is so cheap. And it is not raised in a monoculture - it is a corn/ soybean rotation. Tho research in the past 20 years, such as Richard Child's who raises 400bu per acre corn, shows that carbon and fertility can actually be built up with corn on corn more easily... But I digress....

    The older small stoves had issues with clinkers. More modern designs have lowered that problem.

    The corn needs to be dry, 15% or less, you can't use high-moisture stuff.

    Comparing costs & resources used, you can check out this place, it's near me, of course if they sell corn furnaces you can guess corn comes out looking the best, but it's a starting point for data anyhow:

    http://www.year-a-round.com/

    They make some big furnaces & boilers, no little southern stove that's pretty to look at.... :) Toured the plant,t hey had 5-6 of their stoves running inside the plant for demo, all venting exaust into the building, not outside. I did not notice any issue with odor or fumes - not that this is probably recomended, but it sure seemed to be a non-issue!

    Anyhow, burning corn seems to me to be a lot more sense than importing petrolium or any of the other options - other than wood. Corn is a raw cheap commodity, doesn't need to be refined or specially handled, is renewed every year, and is not toxic if spilled or damaged, and is pretty dern easy to handle. If we use some of it, we can sure produce more - all you want.

    For negatives, corn seems dusty & attracts rodents, I'd wonder about that.

    Me, I just bought a wood stove, but i've got 3 acres of old grove.... :)

    --->Paul
     
  14. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    The corn stoves I've seen do not need a chimney but cost more to buy than a wood stove. Still you'll save on instalation costs. The feed store across the road from me uses one and he loves the thing. No duct work but he is only heating 500 square feet or so.
     
  15. Annie in MN

    Annie in MN Well-Known Member

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    I have one, and I love it. It was about $2000.00, but it paid for itself the second year of operation. Yes, it does rely on electricity, but it uses so little that the little battery converter I have operates it for about 24 hours non-stop, without recharging. I've gone through ice storms nice and toasty, thank you very much.

    I have an old 250 bushel gravity wagon that I fill once, back into the empty stall in the garage, and I'm set for the winter. The rent I get for my 4 acres of tillable land pays for easily.

    Adding a handful or two of oyster shell to each hopper of corn takes care of the clinker problem.

    I heat about 1200 square feet. I don't have it directly tied into the duct work, but there is a cold air return in the same room as the stove, and I operate the fan on my back-up propane furnace. It pulls the heat through nicely. I also run the ceiling fan in this room. I could also connect the stove to a thermostat, set the temperature, and it will auger in the corn at the correct rate to maintain that temperature, but haven't done so yet.

    I do have to run the propane furnace periodically in the coldest of January/February days so that the pipe coming in from the well doesn't freeze, but generally the corn stove does a remarkable job.

    I have a 1 1/2 hour commute each way to work, so am gone 12 hours at a time. I fill the stove in the morning, and it is still burning when I get home.
    There is a small ash drawer that I empty about once a week, sometimes less. The vent to outside also needs periodic cleaning (twice a month).
     
  16. handy

    handy Member

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    I did alot of research on the corn stoves. They are a wonderful invention and use about a bushel a day. As previously stated, dry ,clean corn is needed. People who think that the corn burned should be eaten should go eat a handful of field corn. You don't burn sweet corn, it's field corn and any homesteader worth his salt knows the difference. Corn is a great , renewable in a year, fuel supply. Plus you can eat it, feed it, burn it, distill it for fun and ethenol. Been around since the mayans and incas were in power. Good clean alternative to being dependant on foreign oil. Even saw some plastic looking panels made from corn. All around great plant, the corn stalk. Handy
     
  17. DreamingBig

    DreamingBig Well-Known Member

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  18. TXlightningbug

    TXlightningbug Well-Known Member

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  19. ponyboy

    ponyboy New Member

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  20. rorei

    rorei New Member

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    Most corn stoves are multi-fuel stoves, they will burn corn, pellets, cherry pits, olive pits, and other grains.

    There is a guy in Takoma Park Md, who is a real evangilist for them, he talked the stove company into funding a silo on public land in suburban DC, so area residents can buy their corn by the truck full.

    http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/corn.htm