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Old 07-24-2012, 01:36 PM   #1
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Woodstove installation/safety

I have a bunch of spare sheet metal that is quite thick (maybe 1/8th of an inch) and was thinking of turning it into a woodstove for my RV, but am curious about any regulations I may need to follow to make it safe. I've read enough controversy between those who have/use them and those who are afraid of them, and think it can be done safely.

I haven't scrounged up much online, but I'm curious if there are regulations on how to safely install a woodstove into an RV. The stove is custom built and not UL certified, so that may add some extra resistance by the insurance company - though I've read with some indication that as long as extra precautions are made, then it shouldn't matter.

I'm aware of the NFPA 1192 regulations for motor homes, which includes some stuff on fire safety, heat sources, etc. And I'm curious if that's enough. I'm not sure if it goes into enough detail for clearances, heat barriers, etc.

I'm pretty sure I will have a fresh air draft line so it doesn't use up the oxygen in the bus. And I'm guessing there needs to be a slab of brick or something underneath it - though the stove should have 18" legs anyway.

If this gets too complicated, I may just go with a propane stove for now and worry about the woodstove later, when I don't have so much I'm trying to do at once. I suppose the idea is to save $400+ if I can, but if it's a serious hassle, especially with the insurance company, then I may deal with it later and just go the easy route. It may be that a woodstove might work, if it were manufactured and not home-made. And I may be more prone to want to make a woodstove if it weren't in such crammed quarters anyway. I may want to build the thing and use it outdoors for a while and then go through the headache of certification, etc if needed. But it seems a bit much for now.

An RV place down the road says they have propane stoves with ovens for ~$350 used, and compared to the cost of a store bought woodstove, it seems reasonable.
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Old 07-24-2012, 03:35 PM   #2
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Re: Woodstove installation/safety

If you intend on heating a bus with propane in sub zero weather, you will need more than just one RV style propane furnace. You may need two of them as well as perhaps some propane catalytic heaters.

The MOST important thing that you will need is a lot of money to pay for propane because of the amount of propane that you will be using.

Also, keep in mind that RV propane furnaces use an electrical source (usually 12 volt) to run the blower fan.

You want to build your own woodstove? It might be easier to buy a used woodstove.

If it is required that you have a visual inspection of your bus in order to get it registered as a motorhome, it would be wise to install a wood stove after you get your license plates.

Do indeed read a lot of the threads here on this forum. You will learn a lot.
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Old 07-24-2012, 04:59 PM   #3
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Re: Woodstove installation/safety

most modern wood stoves are made out of sheet metal like 16ga or so, and they have built in air reguators, blowers, etc. they use the fireproof insulation as well as fire brick on the sides and the bottom of the stove. if they have a window, that piece as well as the door is normally cast, with the asbestous type cord around the edges.
if you use sheet metal and build your own, it is a good idea to put the insulation with the firebrick on top of it, where the actual fire might be on it.
it isnt absolutely necessary, but your stove will distort, and burn out a lot faster.. not to mention not retaining the heat.
it is easy to build a stove, and many people have even built them out of 5-7 gallon propane tanks, with a small box tubing grate in the bottom for the wood to sit on.
i have built a few stoves, and modified several so that water coils could be inserted in them away from the fire. the one i have in the current bus was one that was a certified stove, but i changed the back smoke outet to the top of the stove, and also welded a flat plate across the top in such a fashion that i have a cooler section and a hot section.. cooler for like keeping the tea pot with hot water but not boiling.

i dont think anyone will inspect your motorhome inside.. i have never had any inspection in the last 25 years in any of them.

if you build a wood stove, dont make the stove pipe too small in diameter for the size of the stove you have. i would suggest a minimum of 4 inch diameter for a small stove so that the air will vent properly... and you also will need a screen inside the stove roof cap for a spark arrestor..
just my 2 cents.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: Woodstove installation/safety

Great tips!

The RV place down the road actually had a propane stove/oven in a junk trailer (fifth-wheel style?) and said if I could take it out myself, they'd give the the stove, sink, microwave, cabinets, etc for $150. The whole trailer was mildewy and the counter was not worth salvaging (too many screws to bolt it down), nor was the cabinet framing. I did however snatch the cabinet doors, drawers, sink, microwave, stove/oven, and hood.

For now I at least want to get the bus converted and I definitely would not live off propane for winter heat. I can at least get 95% of the headache off my shoulders by getting it converted, insured, etc and worry about extra add-ons (ie a woodstove) later. I probably would buy a used woodstove in winter (or go down south/out west) when I have more money. I'm assuming I don't need to tell the insurance company that it has a woodstove? One thing I'm concerned about is safety. Such as clearance from flammable objects, having a brick slab, etc on the floor underneath,etc. Are there safety guidelines other than what would be followed normally for a woodstove? Does the NFPA 1192 cover heat/fire safety that would include a woodstove? Are there other guidelines to consider, to at least give me the best chance at safety?

As for air supply for the stove, I'd probably end up with a second pipe that goes either out the window or into the floor, so it's not sucking air from inside the bus.

I've never built a wood stove before (but definitely want to), so I probably would want to practice it, allow for mistakes, etc without the pressure of getting it right the first time.

Is it possible to build it yourself and get someone to certify it? ie a fire department, etc?
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Old 07-26-2012, 12:13 PM   #5
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Re: Woodstove installation/safety

i dont think you will find someone to certify a wood stove you build mostly cause it would have to pass a test to do so.. just my guess.
my wood stove sucks the small air supply it requires from inside the bus. i dont worry about it mostly because if i burn more than 2 pieces of wood at a time, the heat drives me out of the bus since it doesnt take much heat in a well insualted bus.
you can build a wood stove that is pretty much "0" clearence. mine is a convential stove as mentioned above that was rebuilt a bit, and i used the concrete board from lowes to frame it in, and most of the concrete board is 2 layers thick with under the stove being 4 layers thick. before i installed the stove i built a box outside the bus with 1 layer of concrete board and built a large fire in the stove..which didnt heat the concrete board's exterior side very much.
point is that with proper construction, you can use less clearance. i got the idea after reading about zero tolerance stoves, so i tried it myself.
i also placed a fan behind the stove...
and i dont worry about the stove regulations or the insurance company.
i just dont blab about what i have...
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