Masonry heaters have been used in the colder parts of Europe for over two hundred years. Interest is generating in the United States because they are GREEN. The concept has been gaining popularity over the past 20 years. A standard fireplace needs to be fed continually to keep heating the home. Not so with a masonry heater. You load the fire once, heat is stored in the thermal mass and it provides heat for 18 to 24 hours. That helps to save our forests. Wood burned quickly is a clean fuel. Emissions are about the same as a pellet stove. There is a warm comfortable heat, but never hot to the touch. So children and animals will not be at risk, as they can be with a wood-burning metal stove.
After burning our Tulikivi (Finnish soap stone masonry heater) in the evening, we wake up to a warm comfortable home. There is no need to turn on the heat. This is very energy efficient and cuts down the demand on energy. Living in the Monterey Bay area we only use our Tulikivi seasonally. In a colder climate a masonry heater would be burned in the morning and in the evening.
The Masonry Heater Association of North America (www-mha.org) publishes a plans section with different heaters, which have been tested. Envirotech, Temp Cast and others make masonry heater cores, which can be faced with the material of your choice. Temp-Cast masonry heaters are installed in accordance with local and national building codes as site-built fireplaces. Temp-Cast heaters have been accepted as clean-burning heaters by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. However, due to localized emissions problems, some state and local governments require additional testing to ensure that solid-fuel appliances comply with their particular regulations for clean burning. Information is available on building code issues, and contact information for products, resources and certified masonry heater builders. You can view my portfolio on this web site.
Sotero Masonry has been operating in the Monterey Bay area for over 30 years. Ben Sotero became aware of masonry heaters through his travels in the colder portions of Europe. He was trained at the Tulikivi factory in Finland. He became a member of the Masonry Heater Association of North America and is the only certified masonry heater builder in California at this time.