Woodburners & Campervans - What We Have Learnt
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Thinking about getting a woodburner for your campervan? Our woodburner gets a lot of love and a whole lot of questions so we thought we'd answer the ones we get asked the most and settle some of the misinformation out there regarding what can be quite a controversial subject.
What stove do we have?
We have the Cub Stove from Cubic Mini Wood Stoves. When we found this stove online we fell in love with its cute size, brass features and big windows. Then we saw one in action at Camp Quirky and we knew we had to have one. The Cub is the smaller of the woodburners that Cubic Mini Wood Stoves offer and is suitable for very small spaces up to 200 square feet. They also have the Grizzly Stove which is better suited for larger spaces but for us in our Citroen Relay L3H2, the Cub was just right. The stoves come from Canada so if you’re like us and not lucky enough to be based there then be prepared for shipping and customs fees.
Is it safe to have a woodburner in a campervan?
Ah, the million dollar question. Having a fire inside a vehicle is a completely crazy idea right? Well, actually it isn’t, as long as you do it right. Safety is of course paramount when working with anything combustible and the key things you need to think about when installing your woodburner is your size of space, ventilation, the distance between the stove and combustibles and your heat shield. Air movement is important for a stove to work efficiently and safely so a well ventilated space is needed. Check with the manufacture what size space the stove is suitable for and the distance that is needed between the stove and combustibles. This will determine whether you can safely install a woodburner or not. A heat shield is a great way to reduce those distances but please research this fully. For our heat shield we have used an A1 non-combustible fire board and level 4 ceramic tiles. We’ve checked the temperatures all around the stove and shield when it's burning at its hottest and know without question it’s doing the job it needs to do. Plus we have have all the absolute van safety essentials which everyone should have - fire extinguisher, smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm.
Can we still get insurance?
There are a lot of people out there saying your insurance will be void if you get a woodburner. This is just not true. Of course all insurance companies will have a different stance on this subject but it was very easy for us to find a company who would fully insure us. The only difference in cost is that we would have to pay a higher excess fee if our claim is fire related. Seems extremely fair to us. Our friends insurance company covered her new burner without question and without any change in excess fees, so shop around to get the best deal for you.
Was it complicated to install?
Surprisingly the installation process was really simple. Our stove came with full instructions which we were able to follow without any issues. Check out our YouTube installation video to see how we did it. But remember, if in doubt, hire a professional for the install.
Is it soon to be illegal?
In short, no, but when choosing your wood burner, think green. To combat air pollution, the British Government has announced plans to outlaw all but the cleanest stoves by 2022 as part of its wider Clean Air Strategy. We can relax knowing that our Cubic Mini Stove is eco-friendly and only releases very little smoke thanks to it’s clever secondary combustion system! The government is also cracking down on the sale of wet wood so make sure you are burning dry, seasoned wood to minimise emissions and maximise heat. Wood should be left to dry for 2 years before its ready for the stove. We’re lucky, we’ve still got lots of offcuts from the first build and Laurie is a tree surgeon so we have plenty of wood.
Can a little woodburner really keep you warm?
We’ve been using our wood burner on some cold winter nights and by the time we are ready for bed we have been opening the skylights to let some cold air in. These stoves are small but mighty! We plan to do a lot of winter camping in Scotland and the Alps and have no doubt this stove will keep us warm on these trips. What’s even better is the consistency of the heat these stoves put out. We had a gas blown air heater in the last van which was great for short bursts of heat but we’d forever be turning it off and on as the van fluctuated between too cold and too hot. Oh and an other plus for woodburners, they are lovely and quiet compared to some of the noisy gas and diesel heaters out there.
How often do we have to refill?
We’ve seen a lot of jokers on forums commenting about how pointless a little woodburner is as you have to refill it every 5 minutes. Firstly, this isn’t true. Once the fire is burning at its optimum, a good chunk or hard wood will easily maintain the temperature for 45 minutes before adding more. Secondly, for us the wood burner is the heart of the van and so much of the joy of having one is the process of tending to it. The wood burner takes us back to a simple way of living. No mod cons, no tv just the simple enjoyment of sitting around a fire with one another.
Will this be our only heat source?
We always intended to have a secondary heat source and after using our wood burner on on the road we still feel this is the right course of action. Our wood burner will always be our main source of heat but we want something for those short periods of time when you need a quick blast of warmth. It’s great getting the wood burner going in the morning if you are having a lazy start but if you have somewhere you need to be then it’s a pain waiting for the fire to die down before you can drive. We are going to be installing our gas heater next month so stay tuned!
All in all, is a woodburner worth it?
To us, 100%. There is no better feeling than sitting around a campfire and now we get to bring that feeling inside the van. It does a fantastic job of keeping the van warm at a consistent temperature with minimal effort and creates such a wonderful ambience. We would absolutely recommend a woodburner for your van and we especially recommend the Cubic Mini Wood Stoves.
Check out our Cubic Mini Wood Stove installation video on our YouTube. Don't forget to like and subscribe!