You might think that a fireplace and an autonomous home heating system belong to different eras. At the beginning of the twentieth century, low efficiency and high fuel consumption led to the almost complete disappearance of the heating element such as the fireplace. But the attractiveness of a living flame and the chic appearance of an ancient fireplace did not allow people to forget about it, so manufacturers thought about improving the design and began to invent additional elements to increase its heat transfer. This work to combine the functional and decorative possibilities of fireplaces led to the emergence of a fireplace with a water circuit.
In the modern world, many would like to have an old fireplace in their home, not only as a design find that enlivens the interior, but also as an excellent additional heating tool. This is a fireplace with a built-in heat exchanger.
The original responsibility of a fireplace was always to heat the room in which it was installed. Over time, open fireplaces turned into closed-type stoves, which made it possible to use them in almost any room, although they required constant maintenance and cleaning. The next step to improve the autonomous heating system at home was the emergence of solid fuel boilers supplying hot water to the radiator system. In the modern world, designers are paying more and more attention not only to decorative qualities, but also to the functionality of a certain element of the interior. A solid fuel boiler does not look as elegant as a fireplace. That is why fireplaces equipped with a water heat exchanger have proven to be very popular and in demand.
In fact, such a fireplace is a familiar solid fuel boiler, because it has a firebox for burning fuel. But it fits perfectly into the interior, especially when its lower part is made in the form of a classic fireplace. Thus, for the uninitiated person it remains absolutely incomprehensible that a wonderful element of the luxurious design of a country house performs the function of heating it. The main feature of this device is that it can be a source of hot water and heating the house, or supplement the heating of the summer cottage with an electric boiler or even solar panels.
An industrially manufactured fireplace includes double walls, the distance between which is about 4 cm. It is this space that is the water circuit. It is called a heat exchanger in which the water is heated. The heat from a burning wood in a fireplace stove heats water through a heat exchanger and then is transferred to water or other heat carrier to heat the house. In this case, the fireplace works in the same way as a boiler for heating with gas or electric heating.
After one portion of water heats up and leaves the heat exchanger, the chilled water from the lower pipe ("return") rises to the heat exchanger for heating. In this case, the water circulates in portions as it heats up, this heating method is called natural circulation. The operation of the heating system in this case depends only on the timely supply of fuel. This way of circulating water is called open, because it requires an open water tank installed at the highest point of the system and responsible for the pressure of the water column in it.
Another option for supplying water is connected with connecting a pump to the heating system, which ensures continuous circulation of water. This method is called closed, since in this case water immediately enters the pipes and radiators of the heating system. This heating method is less safe, since if the pump stops due to a power outage, overheating of the heat exchanger and an accident are possible. To avoid trouble, in this case, the country house must be equipped with an electric generator (diesel or gasoline).
Also, for greater safety when installing a heating system in a country house, it is necessary to include both operating principles in the heating circuit, that is, take into account both the presence of a pump and its possible shutdown, and combine a closed heating system with an open one. As practice shows, it is the combination of closed and open systems that gives the best result.
The designers of modern fireplaces designed to work with heating systems have improved the conditions for fuel combustion in order to increase the efficiency of the fireplace and facilitate its maintenance.
Usually, the fuel in the fireplace does not burn completely, this is due to the fact that there has always been a direct air draft in the pipes of simple fireplaces, which literally pulled up to 80% of the fuel that did not burn out. Hence the attitude to the fireplace, as to a luxury item, available only to the rich, emerged.
Nowadays, a metal wood-burning "pure burning stove" has been developed, which looks like a fireplace with a door made of transparent heat-resistant glass. Thanks to the door, it became possible to implement the principle of re-combustion, in which a special device for slowing down the draft, the so-called "tooth", which, in combination with an additional air supply, leads to re-ignition of unburned fuel particles, is built into the fireplace structure. Thus, the fuel burns out more completely, the heating of the water in the fireplace circuit is intensified and its productivity increases.
Thus, the efficiency of the fire is increased by 20%. Also, pollution and oxidation of the chimney (soot) is reduced, which increases its durability. Cleaning and cleaning the fireplace becomes easier, and the amount of smoke is reduced several times. It is impossible to install such an afterburning system in a brick oven or in a fireplace without a door, since there is no way to control the movement of air flows in such ovens.
Long burning mode. This option was invented by hunters who spend the night in the forest, and is currently used in fireplaces. In this case, the air flow is reduced, so that the wood no longer burns, but smolders. One tab of firewood is enough for almost 8 hours. Thus, the temperature is maintained longer and the fireplace does not require a constant supply of firewood.
Not all stoves and chimneys are designed for a slow combustion cycle. These are stoves - industrial fireplaces, equipped with pipes, and indicating in the characteristics, in addition to fire modes, additional functions: smoldering or slow mode, which increases the combustion cycle.
A brick fireplace that is built to run continuously for 2 or 3 hours cannot be converted to run for 8 hours.
Advantages and disadvantages
In a situation where it is impossible to provide gas or electric heating of a country house, you can use a stove - a fireplace with a water heat exchanger.
The advantages of such a heating system are enough:
- Operation on a cheap and affordable type of fuel;
- The possibility of combining with other types of heating systems;
- The ability to provide the house with hot water for bathing and washing dishes (in the case of installing a double-circuit heat exchanger, both circuits in which are completely independent);
- The presence in the interior of a beautiful, romantic fireplace, around which you can gather on a cold evening;
- For some models - the presence of a hob for cooking (oven - fireplace with a stove).
Some owners may be repulsed by the presence of disadvantages inherent in any type of fireplace, namely:
- In winter, such a fireplace must work constantly, respectively, it should not be left unattended;
- A fireplace with a water circuit requires fuel supply in "manual mode" (an exception is an automatic fireplace operating on wood pellets - pellets);
- An extinguished fireplace cools down quickly enough, causing the radiators to cool and the temperature in the room to drop;
- There are certain limitations on the power of the device that you need to be aware of when purchasing a fireplace.
How to do it yourself
If you intend to independently equip your country house with a stove - a fireplace with a water circuit, then carefully assess your capabilities and abilities.
There are quite a few ready-made devices of this type that can be bought assembled, installed in a convenient place, brought in a chimney and connected to a water heating system. For the installation of such a structure, it is imperative to prepare a special base: a foundation and a tiled fireplace area. The latter is especially necessary if the floor in the house is wooden, since small coals falling out of the fireplace insert can cause a fire.
Stove - a fireplace heats up when burning, so you should not place it near other interior items, or close to wooden walls. The plus is that when heated, such an oven heats up the room in which it is installed.
Typically, such ovens have a transparent heat-resistant glass door, through which you can admire the tongues of burning flame. If necessary, such a device can be relocated to a new location without losing its performance.
You can also build an open fireplace with a brick water circuit with your own hands, which will last you a lifetime.
First, you need to decide on the size of the fireplace and its permanent location, because a brick fireplace with a heat exchanger will be impossible to move to a new place. The size of the fireplace should be commensurate with the height of the ceilings and the surrounding interior. There should be enough space around the fireplace to accommodate all the guests of the house.
If you're an experienced builder, you don't need to limit yourself to your design choices.
The main elements of an open fireplace with a water circuit:
- A solid foundation, which is poured from concrete mortar, or laid out from bricks;
- Firebox with a water heating circuit;
- Portal with a recess for the firebox (which is then covered with stone or tiled facing);
- Elements of the portal lining;
- Heating connection system.
Most structures use brick, which is the most economical material for building both the foundation and skeleton of the fireplace.
The fireplace insert is selected based on its approximate performance and the size of the room. It is advisable to purchase a more powerful device, approximately with a margin of 25-30% of the required consumption.
The design of the firebox and its type are important. There are corner and built-in inserts - inserts, but they all require proper installation and subsequent cladding.
All fireplace inserts with a water circuit provide heating not only for the coolant, but also for the surrounding space. This fact must be taken into account during installation and build a portal for the fireplace stove in strict accordance with the drawings indicated in the documentation.
When creating a brick portal, it is imperative to use refractory ceramic bricks. Another option is to use foam blocks that are laid on fire-resistant glue and reinforced with reinforcement.
The arrangement of the chimney must comply with fire safety standards, for which it is necessary to invite a specialist and obtain the necessary permits from the fire control service.
To give the fireplace an attractive appearance and create a romantic setting, the surface of the portal is faced with natural or artificial stone, tiles or tiles.
It is necessary to connect a home-made fireplace with a built-in water circuit very competently, since the efficiency of its work will largely depend on this.
Important conditions due to which the water circuit will be protected from overheating:
- Creation of a so-called "safety group" when connecting, which is necessary so that in the event of an emergency increase in pressure in the system, it can be urgently reduced;
- Installation of a "mixing unit" with a control valve to redirect part of the hot water to another circuit, for example, to the "warm floor" system;
- Installation of an expansion tank. In the case when a closed heating system is installed, a membrane tank is installed to prevent oxygen from entering the pipes. For open heating systems, an option is provided in the form of a tank built-in at the highest point of the system;
- The use of metal pipes when connecting elements of the heating system. Since the heating of water can reach its boiling point, pipes made of metal-plastic or PVC may become unusable. The best choice is metal pipes. Copper pipes are an excellent choice, as they are durable and do not form internal deposits (rust) on them. However, in this case, it is imperative to use brass adapters and copper radiators, since it is unacceptable to mix copper and aluminum products during the installation of one system, this can cause an accident.
Selection tips and reviews
In most cases, when choosing a fireplace with a heating circuit, buyers pay attention to the price and design. At the same time, the real criteria for choosing such a fireplace should be:
- Its strength, power and safety;
- Burning duration;
- Additional functions (for example, the function of slow fuel combustion);
- Design and the ability to save on price.
Both stand-alone stoves - fireplaces and fireboxes - inserts can be made of either steel or cast iron. Steel products are not sensitive to temperature changes and impacts and are not as heavy as cast iron. It should be remembered that cast iron is a rather fragile material that requires careful handling during installation and cannot be re-installed. Cast iron stoves - fireplaces are better than steel, retain heat and are more durable, respectively, higher in price.
A well-known brand can be a guarantee of the reliability of the device, since a manufacturer with a good reputation is necessarily interested in a high level of technical characteristics, as well as the safety of its products and gives a longer warranty. In most cases, such firms also carry out post-warranty service of their products.
The power calculation is indicated in the product data sheet. It is always necessary to purchase heating devices with a certain power reserve.
Fireplaces equipped with a heat-resistant glass door are more economical and safer.
An additional advantage that can significantly simplify the maintenance of the stove - fireplace in the cold period is the presence of a long burning function, which must be indicated in the accompanying documentation.
Ready-made devices often have a built-in oven and a hob, but such a device can no longer be placed in the living room precisely due to the pronounced "kitchen" design.
A firebox - an insert will cost less than a ready-made fireplace with a water heat exchanger, but costs will be required for the construction of a portal under it and subsequent cladding.
A fireplace with a built-in insert - an insert, will undoubtedly look much more spectacular, will bring comfort and magic of a real antique fireplace to the house. Such fireplaces look luxurious and in no way give out the utilitarian features of their device.
It is necessary to be very thoughtful about the installation of a fireplace with a water heating circuit, since there are important details that must be known and must be taken into account, since this device is primarily a heating device and requires compliance with safety precautions.
The rating of manufacturers supplying fireplace inserts - fireplace inserts with a water circuit and fully equipped fireplaces - is headed by well-known German, Italian and French brands.
SchmiD Ekko fireplaces are considered super-elite, the company provides an opportunity to order a fireplace insert according to individual dimensions, all the wishes of the customer are taken into account, thereby each owner is given room for imagination in creating an individual fireplace.
In user reviews, special emphasis is placed on the rotary function of the smoke collectors of this German company, which makes it possible to connect to the chimney at the most convenient angle.
All fireplace inserts are equipped with facing material from the German company Camina, as well as marble portals made by Arriaga.
EdilKamin offers an underfloor heating compatible fireplace unit, equipped with a hob and, on top of that, allowing you to grill food. The reviews about this model are the most impressive.
The furnaces are also presented on the market - inserts from such Russian manufacturers as Termofor or META.
In terms of ease of installation and functionality, the insert META Elba Aqua 800SH suits even non-professionals and does not require too much time. The design of these stoves - fireplaces with a water circuit is quite attractive, they are equipped with wide doors made of heat-resistant glass. According to customer reviews, such a fireplace resembles "a large TV set with fire and heat."
With all the functionality of this device, a fireplace with a water heating circuit is, first of all, an outwardly beautiful and romantic fireplace, around which it is so pleasant to sit in the evening.