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Old 12-07-2009, 10:26 PM   #41
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Re: Gustav

Ran some winter temperature checks today.

Gustav is in our current winter configuration. Plastic wrapped windows (exterior) and upholstery fabric curtains. When I run our wood stove at 400-500 degrees (about three logs at a time with the dampener half-closed) we can reach 80 degrees near the ceiling when it is 30 degrees outside and little wind. On the floor, in the cabinet where the plumbing is it is still around 60.

Ran the propane furnace for a little bit today as well, it can easily get +20 / +25 with little running / effort. Combined, I'm thinking that's about a 60 degree differential with not too much effort.

I used a interesting search engine a while back and revisited it today. It's WolfRam Research's Alpha-One. http://www.wolframalpha.com/ Typing "minimum temperature for wells, vermont" gives me the nightly lows over the last 1, 5 or 10 years. I see that it is -20 degrees at the very lowest, and a January average of 6.

The coldest of the cold doesn't last more than a week or two. So worst case, -20 below plus my 60 degree differential can get me to 40 and keep things from freezing. Again, if I raised the temperature and effort of the wood stove and ran the furnace more I could stay at 50-55 during those coldest days, even with a bit of wind. If there was a severe wind-chill (high-winds sucking the heat out of everything) I can always run the furnace continuously or just air-blast out the water lines and stow the kitchen pantry.

Also, I figure if I keep the wood stove going at night, I shouldn't have to run any propane, except for on the exceptionally cold nights. Still, it's nice to have when I'm away or want to clean out or service the stove. If I have the furnace going on high, I can still use my stove burners just fine. Haven't yet done a full system check with the water heater, furnace, stove and range all going at once, perhaps one of these days, but that doesn't worry me.

I also still have 4 cords of seasoned hardwood and am on schedule for running 5 for a Vermont winter. I'll let everyone know how things progress, but I'm feeling fairly confident going in.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:28 PM   #42
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Re: Gustav

Hey guys. You're so awesome!

I got into the Skoolie club when I was engaged to a hippie girl (I consider myself to be more of a gypsy, though I am what I am and don't strive to be something I'm not). We were gonna get married and travel around on it, but shortly after we bought it, she graduated from college, broke up with me, and left. So now I'm living in the bus and finishing up college. I should be getting my degree in business management in May so I can "work" for non-profit groups. Apparently, there are a lot of good people trying to help, with no knowledge of anything that has to do with starting, running, or maintaining an organization. So far I'm on the board of directors for a new homeless shelter, and I'm heavily involved in the forefront with a group that is turning abandoned lots into gardens, teaching people to organically garden. The garden group doesn't seem to realize that they need my help yet, so all they have right now is a lot of ideas, no organization, and a few small garden plots. I could go on and on about them and all of their "anti-business-planning" ways, but I won't. As for me and the bus, I kind of just ran with it.

I don't really have any pictures up (I have them, just not uploaded) of my project, but it's very similar to yours. With the partially raised roof, solar panels, wind generator, roof garden (which gets really tricky), woodstove, and clawfoot bathtub. That's right, I have a clawfoot bathtub too!

A note about woodburning stoves, as I actually have one up and running in my bus. The ones with windows are the most awesome. I actually bought a unit like that, but the hardware store (Menards) loaded the wrong one into my bus. I paid in cash, and the gateguard was so distracted by my hippie abode that he didn't give me back the receipt (I was too excited to notice). So now I have a rather large black box that's built rather cheaply. I literally cried when I opened the box, but figured it would probably be better to cook on since it is intended for that purpose.

Here's what I have discovered. Woodstoves are NOT good for buses when it comes to fire-hazards. Something that I can bring to the table which I would like to share with everyone here, is that there is a product made from recycled ceramic fibers and binding that solves this problem. It's called Fiberfrax. From what I understand, Fiberfrax (the company)purchases scrap pieces for re-sale, so people like us can buy small quantities. http://www.fiberfrax.com/
The insulating boards are what they use for ceramic kilns. You can buy pretty thin peices that can easily be 1000 degrees on one side, and ice cold on the other side. It's a bit pricey, but it's worth it. For instance, my stove is supposed to be 36 inches away from the wall. With the "insulating" boards I bought at Menards for $30 a peice, that can be reduced to 15 inches. However, I have mine 6 inches from the wall. If you put this fiberboard up you'll never EVER have to worry about fires.

Another thing is carbon monoxide. Apparently this is a problem even with wood stoves. Carbon Monoxide is heavier than air and therefore your detector should be closer to the ground, not near the ceiling. If you're burning wood then you need to have a way to bring in oxygen and eleminiate carbon monoxide buildup. I have a mixed blessing, where my front door has a 6" gap above and below it. This apparently is quite useful for this purpose, though it lets in rain and snow... Also, a woodstove's paint will smoke and give off odors as it "cures" for the first 10-12 firings, so maybe you should fire it once or twice outside the bus? I'm new to woodstoves, and this is all information I got from my ceramics professor who has a woodstove at home, and has built several ceramic kilns. The paint tidbit was mine though. I'm not sure if that smoke or odor is anything to worry about or not. It's hard to tell because I burned fiberglass in my stove during the first firing (the insulation I pulled from the ceiling wound up in there, oops) and now my whole bus reeks of burning plastic. Also, it was filled with smoke the first two firings, quite possibly because of the insulation, though I'm not sure. All I know for certain is that there's a nasty chemical residue coating all of everything. Perhaps when I seel the wood it won't smell as bad.

I'm sorry for rambling. I know I'm very detailed, which is good, but I still do apologize for the length. Keep up the good work.
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:18 AM   #43
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Re: Gustav

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
CO is more a product of incomplete combustion, and it has to have a pathway to escape from the appliance (draft-hood, plugged heat exchanger, etc). This was why I've mentioned an Oxygen Depletion alarm would be more valuable than a CO Detector. A woodstove would deplete the breathable oxygen in a bus long before it would dump CO into it.

There's no opening for a woodstove to release CO into the bus.

Smitty
Really? Well that's good to know. I suppose that I should get an oxygen depletion alarm then and not worry about CO (Carbon Monoxide) as much. I'll of course keep that alarm, as it's valuable, I'll simply add to my armory of alarms. Now I just need one that warns about animals entering my bus (through the 6 inch gap above AND below my front door), and one about the zombies approaching and I'll be set!
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:39 PM   #44
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Re: Gustav

Find that sheet metal that has the holes in it, then make spacers that bolt or screw into place without hindering the door. They still let the air through, but block everything else out unless its strong enough to bend the metal or small enough to fit through a hole or the folding gap in the middle.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:47 AM   #45
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Re: Gustav

A bus is so leaky that you shouldn't have to worry about depleting the oxygen. We ran our wood stove for a couple of months even with plastic on the windows and there was plenty of oxygen. However, we did install a fresh air intake, and that was mainly to increase efficiency.

Without the use of a fresh air intake, your stove will use air from the room when it sends its own air out the chimney. The air from the room has to be replaced so it starts to drag in air from the windows, the doors, and anywhere else it can find a leak. For us, this caused quite a bit of cold draft to seep into the room. Once we hooked up our fresh air intake (basically some ducting that goes from the outside of the bus directly to the air intake of the stove) we no longer have that chilled draft air coming in. Instead, it stays warmer and drier in the bus. The stove itself doesn't seem to notice.

We also have a backup propane furnace in case it gets very cold, we're cleaning or servicing the stove, or we're away from the bus for a while. This is also outside air combustion and vents to the outside. Sometimes in houses if you have more than one device they can fight each other with their intake air.

In my grandmother's house they have a furnace and a fireplace. They are on different ends of the house. If the furnace is going, it sucks air from the house down into the basement to burn then send out an old chimney. When it is going it can get so strong that it can suck the air down the chimney from the fireplace and fill the room with smoke. For this reason, they keep the door closed in that room so the furnace has to get the air from somewhere else.

I don't imagine that this would too bad of a problem on a bus. When our stove was pulling from the inside, it could have pulled air down from the composting toilet stack, but we didn't detect this at all. However, we only have been using the stove (without fresh air intake) in more mild climates. If it is quite cold out and with strong winds the draft would be a lot stronger and this might be a problem. Still though, I think that it would be able to pull fresh oxygen in from the windows and doors.

Back when we looked oxygen sensors were wicked expensive. Used in mines, and harsh industry. I talked to one person and they said that if there wasn't any oxygen in the room, there would be carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. So detecting for those other gases is like detecting for lack of oxygen (limited choices as to what gases are in the room). The oxygen sensors are more for use in an environment where you could get other harmful gases (i.e. methane), that would create air with low or no oxygen but also have no carbon monoxide/dioxide.

Another probably commonly known but its our first season so we didn't think of it before burning tip: When we stacked the wood we took out all of the wood that is a complete section of a trunk and quite wide (un-split). Basically uncut all the way around and heavy. It turns out that the larger the piece of wood, the longer it takes to burn. So one large block of wood would burn longer and cooler than two pieces of wood of the same size. The two pieces would burn hotter and quicker. My main intention is to use a large / heavy block of wood when we're going to be leaving the bus for the day. If we have a day-trip or someone to visit, etc... with a large block like that you can burn it for 6 to 8 hours easily and have a really good amount of coals when you get back. Whereas if you filled the stove with smaller pieces and dampened it down significantly, it wouldn't last as long and may even go out depending on the draft / hotness / dampening factor.

Another good reason is we can pick out the largest non-split log and throw a winter solstice party. Not doing any pagan / sun-worship per-say, but more the original Norse / Viking traditions of cutting down the largest tree in the woods and throwing the trunk into the fireplace in the town hall and throwing a party where no one works until the log goes out. Basically a yule log party.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:03 PM   #46
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Re: Gustav

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gypsy_Kid
I got into the Skoolie club when I was engaged to a hippie girl (I consider myself to be more of a gypsy, though I am what I am and don't strive to be something I'm not). We were gonna get married and travel around on it, but shortly after we bought it, she graduated from college, broke up with me, and left. So now I'm living in the bus and finishing up college. I should be getting my degree in business management in May so I can "work" for non-profit groups. Apparently, there are a lot of good people trying to help, with no knowledge of anything that has to do with starting, running, or maintaining an organization. So far I'm on the board of directors for a new homeless shelter, and I'm heavily involved in the forefront with a group that is turning abandoned lots into gardens, teaching people to organically garden. The garden group doesn't seem to realize that they need my help yet, so all they have right now is a lot of ideas, no organization, and a few small garden plots. I could go on and on about them and all of their "anti-business-planning" ways, but I won't. As for me and the bus, I kind of just ran with it.

I don't really have any pictures up (I have them, just not uploaded) of my project, but it's very similar to yours. With the partially raised roof, solar panels, wind generator, roof garden (which gets really tricky), woodstove, and clawfoot bathtub. That's right, I have a clawfoot bathtub too!

A note about woodburning stoves, as I actually have one up and running in my bus. The ones with windows are the most awesome. I actually bought a unit like that, but the hardware store (Menards) loaded the wrong one into my bus. I paid in cash, and the gateguard was so distracted by my hippie abode that he didn't give me back the receipt (I was too excited to notice). So now I have a rather large black box that's built rather cheaply. I literally cried when I opened the box, but figured it would probably be better to cook on since it is intended for that purpose.

Here's what I have discovered. Woodstoves are NOT good for buses when it comes to fire-hazards. Something that I can bring to the table which I would like to share with everyone here, is that there is a product made from recycled ceramic fibers and binding that solves this problem. It's called Fiberfrax. From what I understand, Fiberfrax (the company)purchases scrap pieces for re-sale, so people like us can buy small quantities. http://www.fiberfrax.com/
The insulating boards are what they use for ceramic kilns. You can buy pretty thin peices that can easily be 1000 degrees on one side, and ice cold on the other side. It's a bit pricey, but it's worth it. For instance, my stove is supposed to be 36 inches away from the wall. With the "insulating" boards I bought at Menards for $30 a peice, that can be reduced to 15 inches. However, I have mine 6 inches from the wall. If you put this fiberboard up you'll never EVER have to worry about fires.

Another thing is carbon monoxide. Apparently this is a problem even with wood stoves. Carbon Monoxide is heavier than air and therefore your detector should be closer to the ground, not near the ceiling. If you're burning wood then you need to have a way to bring in oxygen and eleminiate carbon monoxide buildup. I have a mixed blessing, where my front door has a 6" gap above and below it. This apparently is quite useful for this purpose, though it lets in rain and snow... Also, a woodstove's paint will smoke and give off odors as it "cures" for the first 10-12 firings, so maybe you should fire it once or twice outside the bus? I'm new to woodstoves, and this is all information I got from my ceramics professor who has a woodstove at home, and has built several ceramic kilns. The paint tidbit was mine though. I'm not sure if that smoke or odor is anything to worry about or not. It's hard to tell because I burned fiberglass in my stove during the first firing (the insulation I pulled from the ceiling wound up in there, oops) and now my whole bus reeks of burning plastic. Also, it was filled with smoke the first two firings, quite possibly because of the insulation, though I'm not sure. All I know for certain is that there's a nasty chemical residue coating all of everything. Perhaps when I seel the wood it won't smell as bad.

I'm sorry for rambling. I know I'm very detailed, which is good, but I still do apologize for the length. Keep up the good work.
Hey, great to meet you. We also have tons of pictures that we need to put up / write up. I have a door locking mechanism that I've been meaning to add to the appropriate lists for a while, a nice removable bed platform, and a couple of other things I've been meaning to comment about.

Yeah, hippies can live fairly free-loving. It's hard to get one to attach to you and when you do it can be a crazy ride. I'm very lucky in that department, of finding the perfect match for my lifestyle. What about a nice gypsy chick? Are they all good at music? I love a good bohemian tune.

Gotta love those claw foot tubs. I've been looking for a way to plug mine for a while. It came out of an old apartment and had the holes for the drain and water supply lines. I found a couple of sink-hole plugs that would fit where the faucet (hot/cold water) comes in, but couldn't find a hole-faucet large enough to plug the drain hole. I finally ended up (just last week) finding a stainless steel door-hole plug. Basically when you order a prefabricated door it comes with the holes for the knob and latch. These then fill that cut-out where the knob goes so you can make a solid knob-less door. The knob was a bit thick for the tub, but with some sawing and some extra spacing I was able to modify the part ok. It was $5 shipped too. So now we can make the tub deeper without draining water. We, of course, celebrated in our hippie fashion by having a candle-light tandem bath. Good place to hang out. It amazed me that I was soaking in a tub of hot water when it was 18 degrees just 6" from the tub (through the bus-wall).

We still don't have the roof-raise, but I did find out about a guy in the area that has 83-86 Volkswagen buses out in the middle of his field. Apparently they are all parts-cars? So obtaining the top to a camper that has no engine, drive shaft, wheels and is rusting out underneath sounds like a possibility, mainly depending on how obsessive his hording / collecting is. I think that if i tell him about the project with enough excitement and the appreciation of not wanting to hurt working / solid VW's that it could go ok.

Our wood stove is rated for both mobile home use and normal home use with a list of minimum distances for both. If we used a double-walled stove pipe (we actually used metalbestos) it reduced our clearances significantly. I built the walls then to the mobile home minimum clearance, but didn't factor in for the heat wall. So our distance to the wall (at a angled stove / not flat against the wall) is 6", but once I have the heat shield 1" from the stove, it is more like 4.5 to 5" away. I was quite worried about this at first, but after running the stove, the heat shield stays cool / cold to the touch.

The stove is a double walled stove, where it has a steel core and a cast iron exterior. This keeps the stove constantly convecting its own air and keeps the outside iron touch-able while keeping the inside steel at 500 degrees. The glass door still gets to hot to touch, which is normal, and the chimney gets hot to the touch, but not until 4 or 5 hours into a good burn.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:10 PM   #47
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Re: Gustav

More on wood stoves...

--- Another important difference been having a fresh air intake vs. using the bus cabin air ---

When we use cabin air, we not only get that chill air drafting in, but the air that comes in contains outside moisture level. Because the air leaks in through the windows mainly, it makes the windows quite damp, beading up water and even dampening the curtains. Luckily our curtains are mold-resistant, etc... so we don't have to worry about the accumulation too much. However, when we use fresh-air intake, that moist water is no longer being drawn into the bus and our windows (when we run our wood stove for a while) stay nice and dry, no sign of any dampening.

When we boil on the stove we can still put some moisture in the air that can gather around the windows, but the wood stove takes care of that in about an hour or so. (Most prominent while pouring the boil into a strainer - i.e. draining noodles in the sink.) Next week we should receive a vent that we can place over the range and suck air outside while we are cooking.

--- Another important factor is stack height ---

Our stove stack height is 8.5 feet total. Four to get form the stove top to the bus room, 6" piece to get through the roof and above our flashing, and another four feet that goes above the flashing. For us, this keeps a good draft going, and its easy to take off that top 4 feet and leave the rest in-tact and still maintain minimum highway clearance. You want to have the end of the chimney significantly higher than the bus roof.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:08 PM   #48
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Re: Gustav

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
I'll share a couple pieces of building code (granted I'm outta the loop now, but doubt it has changed much).

Combustion air requirements for fossil-fuel appliances were 1 sq. in. per 1,000btu (divided between one high, and one low). Now this will be a guess....just grabbing numbers, but a woodstove could easily provide 25,000btu (compare it to a large kero heater). Now that's a 5"X5" opening (25 sq. in.). I don't know about you, but I don't want that kind of leakage in my bus, and it (mine) will be sealed extremely well, intentionally. I will provide any fresh-air/ventilation/combustion air I need. I wouldn't count on your bus leaking enough, unless you religiously leave a window open.
When we first started running the stove we left a widow open at the front. When it got colder we shut the window and didn't have any problems. It is important to note that we still have all of our original bus windows, and have not sheet metaled over any of them. So we are quite leaky.

As for the combustion air requirements. The stove itself only requires a 4" diameter air intake ventilation. This is from the installation codes written in the manual for both mobile home and normal home installations. The stove itself is rated up to 56,000 BTU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Vent piping was 24" above anything within a 10' radius. So tie a 10' string to the center of the flue cap, and run in a circle at that level. Hit anything? Go 24" above it. This may require setting your last piece of vent-pipe in place once you arrive at your destination, not a huge deal, and outweighs downdrafts/poor draft, and a bus full of smoke.
Yes, and the more the better (to some extent) we went with 4.5 feet mainly because several stove installers felt that we didn't have enough length of chimney on the inside of the bus. So we wanted to get at least 8 feet total (8.5 feet actual). Our stove is higher than some because it resides over the front wheel well (where it provides the best dynamic stability by putting your heaviest items as close to the wheels as possible.) So keep in mind not only a 24" above everything else requirement but also some kind of minimum overall length requirement.

We also went with as high as we did because we wanted to just make the top section itself completely removable for driving, and a 4 foot section isn't that much more than shorter sections once you get into metalbestos. Also, we don't have any elbows in ours, making the draft a bit smoother.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Smitty

ETA: And suffocation can be the end result of not having enough infiltration of air to replace what has been burned by the stove. Close the air-shutter on the front of the stove, what happens? You smother the fire due to lack of oxygen......same effect it will have on your body. There's no magic air supply to save the day once you've consumed all the air in the cabin......it's lights-out, for good.
What else also happens? It doesn't instantly create a vacuum... it fills with smoke. The oxygen is replaced by smoke, so detecting for smoke may be as good as detecting for oxygen. If the oxygen in your bus goes into the wood stove and undergoes combustion and the bus is so airtight it can't replace it with oxygen, it will at least pull smoke back out from the stove. So a smoke detector should be enough.

That being said, regardless of the reason, I strongly recommend the purchase of a wood stove with a fresh-air intake hookup on the stove itself. According to my stove manual, a fresh-air intake is required for mobile home installation by code, not just by the stove company itself. The fresh air intake isn't just a hole in the wall either, it's a way to directly connect ventilation (from the outside) directly to the stove. Many stoves may not have this function by default, and others may require the purchase of an add-on or adapter to achieve this functionality. But well worth it, if not just required.

I also strongly recommend AT LEAST double wall pipe, which may also be a requirement for mobile home installation (not sure on this one). Not only does it reduce the minimum clearances to combustibles, it is also a lot safer and well worth the extra money. For us, we even went with an insulated double wall called metalbestos (there are other brands.) Basically its like a double walled pipe, but the outer wall is filled with fiberglass insulation much like Gypsy_Kid was talking about. Expensive, but safe.

We actually got several pieces for half-off because they were scratched and dented. The had gone into an installation where the owner of the house looked at stove (after purchase and installation) and said, "No, let's go with something else." And had it all ripped out and started over. We have a few of these types of people in the area, (Money from the City) and getting untouched appliances and building materials at extremely reduced prices help a little with putting up with them. All we had to do was ask the stove store if they had any discounted materials, a question well worth asking just about anywhere.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:23 AM   #49
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Re: Gustav

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty

You stated prior the process of combustion would draw-in outside air (through infiltration/ leaky windows/gaps), but now say it doesn't ( Quote: "The air from the room has to be replaced so it starts to drag in air from the windows, the doors, and anywhere else it can find a leak."). A "vacum" isn't required for death, merely a lack of sustainable oxygen in the cabin.
First statement was for most buses, my bus, it is leaky and outside air is sucked into the cabin to replace the air that goes out the chimney. Second statement was for a "theoretical" "leak-proof" bus, to make the argument that a smoke detector is as good as an oxygen detector in this type of situation. If the stove takes air from the room, the air pressure of the room is reduced. In a normal bus, this negative pressure creates a draw on outside air and outside air enters the room until pressure is equalized. In a theoretical leak-proof bus (only possible in theory) if it is not possible to equalize this pressure through outside air or through another appliance, then either a) the stove will be unable to draw air from the room any more and it will go out, or b) the negative pressure in the room will draw air from the stove, even if it means drawing smoke down through the intake. Thus the room will fill with smoke.

There has to be air in the bus, and if that air doesn't have oxygen, then it'll have smoke, because those are the only two things in the environment.

Secondly, now that we have our fresh air intake hooked up, our fresh air intake is vented and connects directly to the stove. There is no hole in the floor near the stove where air can be replaced. There is little to no opportunity for the outside air intake to mix with the cabin air. It does not cool or fill the cabin with cold air in any way.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:36 AM   #50
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Re: Gustav

More research on low oxygen sensors or oxygen depletion sensor systems.

There are two main types of oxygen sensors going into combustible products. One monitors the air intake in order to automatically mix the air with the combustion gas in order to maximize the oxygen to combustible ratio for increased efficiency.

The other is for use specifically with propane or natural gas products, which not only put off carbon monoxide but also nitrous oxide. However, these types of sensors are usually built into the appliance, shutting the gas supply off in the event of low oxygen. (For if either it starts to fill gas in the room / like a pilot, or if the gas combustion by-products start to fill the room.)

Smitty, can you find anything on the use of a "oxygen depletion sensor" or a "oxygen detector" in conjunction with a wood stove? (Not a gas stove or gas fireplace, etc... but for the combustion of wood?)
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