Well, I've had my wood stove installed and running for about three weeks now, and I must say it is an excellent solution to the problem of heating the bus. I wish I had installed one years ago for several reasons:
1. It is pretty economical -- so far, I'm burning about one big armload of wood per day (maybe a dozen sticks 3" square and 16" long), and so far all my
wood has been free for the gathering. I've spent about 4 hours every two weeks to gather, split, and cut enough wood for the next two weeks. This
summer, when I'm not in school, I'm going to cut and split enough for the whole of next winter. I didn't last summer because I didn't have a wood stove.
2. It keeps the bus WARM. Not just tolerably warm like the two 1500W electric space heaters that I was using, but honest-to-God WARM. Sometimes I
have to open a window to cool things down because I let the stove run too hot. I can bank the fire in the morning and go away to school for several
hours, and when I come back, the bus is still warm, and there will still be enough embers in the stove to start another fire -- very convenient.
3. Safety issues seem to be rather simply addressed.
a) I have external air-supply, so that all the hot air does not get sucked out of the bus, and so that I'm not burning all my breathing air.
b) The heat shield that I designed is phenomenal. The stove is 10" from the heatshield, but the heat shield never gets warm. NEVER. It is always
cool to the touch, even though other surfaces that are much farther from the stove will feel warm to the touch.
c) I need a CO alarm for safety -- and will get one as funds become available. I don't think I will put in a smoke detector, though, because I
generate a substantial amount of smoke from cooking and smoking and opening the stove to feed it, and I think those would trip it so often that
I would go deaf.
4. The installation required almost no modifications to the bus body: I didn't have to cut a hole in the roof, and I only had to drill 4 1/4" bolt holes
in the floor. This is a big plus for me because I am really skeptical of my ability to make holes in the bus (especially the roof) and keep water out
of them afterward. In the summer I could remove the entire setup and regain that floor space very easily. The window was not modified in any way,
so once I remove the chimney thimble that I made to fit the window, the window will operate as it did before.
My neighbor, who has lived in camper trailers at various worksites in remote places (Alaska, Montana, etc.) said the heat shield is the best he has seen. He wanted a wood stove for his current camper, but was concerned about the heat. After seeing how effective my heatshield design is, he is going to put a wood stove in before we start back to law school next semester.
Honestly, if you are considering a wood stove for your bus, it can be done fairly easily and very effectively.
Some advantages to having a wood stove - you can cook on it if you can't get any other power source; you can heat water on it when your water heater is without power; the dry heat of the stove is good at drying damp laundry hung in the bus if the weather has not cooperated for line drying outside; it's current carbon-cycle, not stored carbon-cycle (coal, LP, natural gas, electricity other than nuke.)