A wood fired water heater can be good for off grid applications. We have one in a remote cabin and it produces all the free hot water we want to use. It’s similar in shape and size to a small gas water heater but has a small wood firebox at the bottom.
This type of water heater can be plumbed into your home’s hot water line, just the same and just as easy as any traditional gas or electric water heater. We actually have both a propane and the wood fired water heater hooked up parallel next to each other. A valve between the two allows us to simply direct which one the water will flow through.
The only problem with the wood fired water heater is there is some inconvenience. In order to have hot water we have to plan ahead and build a fire ahead of time.
The firebox is small and the door is even smaller so it can only handle small pieces. It does draft very well and is easy to get a fire started. We mostly use small flakes and wood chips that accumulate around our wood splitters for fuel. Just a few of these is all it takes to heat the whole tank of water.
It can take up to 20 minutes to a half hour for the water to get over 120 degrees. At that point there is enough hot water for two hot showers. And I don’t mean just quick showers, there is actually enough to enjoy a good shower, plus enough left over to wash the dishes.
For a remote vacation home, the wood fired hot water heater works great. For every day use, building a fire every time you want hot water is probably too much of an inconvenience for most. But for someone who has no other choice, or for someone who just wants to heat their water with free renewable energy, a wood fired water heater like this one can be very practical.
Our water heater was bought 10 years ago or more and unfortunately the manufacturer is no longer building them, otherwise I would include their contact information. If you know of anything similar or have had any experience with wood fired water heaters that you can share please post a comment below.
I recently found a new wood fired water heater made by an Australian company. I have not tried it but it looks promising. It is a simple and clever way to use heat from your wood stove to heat your water. Check out the Axeman Fire Flue wood fired hot water heater.