Bad Caps, Solar Cooking, and the Outdoor Wood Stove

goopWhat’s up with the caps on adhesives? This isn’t the first cap that I’ve broken like this, and I don’t think I’m over tightening them. This isn’t a cheap product. You’d think they could make a cap that would last through a few uses. It seems to be the smaller sized tubes that have this problem. I think I’m going to start saving caps, if they don’t break.

_DJT3504Now that I’ve got that behind me, let’s talk about something much more appetizing. I don’t often eat meat, but I bought some chicken legs so I could bake them in my SunOven, and I was not disappointed. I let them bake for 90 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The SunOven is powered 100% by ambient sunlight, so the cost of baking the chicken was zero. The SunOven is a good deal when you have clear, sunny days. I love my SunOven. I use it to bake bread, brownies, energy bars, etc. I use it as a dehydrator, simply by propping the lid open a bit to let the moisture escape.

I don’t know if you remember my outdoor wood stove project. I heated my house with it during the severe winter of 2013-2014, but the design was not optimal. I had a 6″ diameter round duct transferring the hot air from the stove to the house, and that simply wasn’t a big enough pipe. In a nutshell, the outdoor wood stove consists of an insulated box around a combustion chamber that heats the air in the box, which is circulated into the house by a blower. There is a cold air return duct and a hot air duct. The hot air box is sealed and insulated to minimize heat loss, and it is separated from the actual wood fire, so no smoke goes into the house.

_DJT3499I removed the old duct and built a 6″ by 14″ (inside dimensions) rectangular duct that is also insulated and encased in a plywood enclosure. In the photo on the left, you see the outer box around the duct. The wood stove enclosure is on the right and the house is on the left.

_DJT3497The photo on the right is a view, looking down the duct from inside the house. There is a door on the outer box that is open, or it would be dark inside, since the box is completely enclosed in cement board (fireproof).

The old 6″ pipe had approximately 19 square inches for airflow. The new duct has 84 square inches, which is more than 4 times as much capacity. That will not only allow a greater volume of warm air to move into the house, but will also prevent pressure from building up in the outside box. That should cut down on heat loss through air leaks.

I made some additional improvements to the wood stove and I’ve got a lot of wood split and stacked for winter. There are a few more things I’d like to improve on the stove, but they might have to wait until next year. I’m looking forward to sitting by the warm fire and reading a good book on cold winter nights.



homemade sun baked breadWell, it looks like the heatwave that has been moving east from Colorado has arrived here. The heat is repressive. The strange thing is that my SunOven, which is heating up as I write this, won’t get as hot today as it would on a cool, clear fall day, in spite of the fact that it is nearly 100F (38C) degrees, outside. I can expect the oven to hover between 300F (149C) and 325F (163C) while my bread is baking. On a clear fall day, I would get temperatures around 350F (177C) and higher.

The good news is that I’ll have fresh, homemade bread and I won’t have to use electricity to bake it and more electricity to pump the excess heat out of my kitchen. I love homemade bread, and it’s even better when it’s baked in the SunOven. If you don’t make your own bread, you’re really missing out. Then again, you could do like my dear friends; you could just find someone else who makes bread and eat theirs.

For those who believe that all of this crazy weather is just a natural cycle in the planet’s continuously changing climate, I must ask you to look into the time span over which those natural cycles occur. I think you’ll find that natural climate cycles span thousands, or even millions of years. In a man’s lifetime, there should be no noticeable change. I can tell you, with certainty, that many things have changed in my lifetime. What’s even worse is that the changes are accelerating. Whether you agree in anthropogenic climate change, or not, it just makes sense to conserve our precious resources. One thing I am sure of is that if the sun ever stops shining, life as we know it on Earth will cease to exist. As long as the planet is habitable, there will be sun, so using solar energy as much as possible is a no-brainer, for me.