About this project
Thank You Everyone!
We are honored by your support, and delighted with the success of our first Kickstarter campaign.
In case we can't update this page after the campaign closes, please see here for further news: http://www.permies.com/t/54505/
We would like to thank several people publicly while we have the chance.
Paul Wheaton and the Permies.com community were the "fairy godmothers" of this project. Collectively, they are double lab sponsors, as well as creative contributors throughout the process. We will be making a perennial thank-you gift with our most popular stretch goal item to support their PIE program.
The godfathers, of course, would have to be the Cob Cottage research team that got this whole thing started. Notables include Fornyetenergi.dk, www.cobcottage.com, handprintpress.com, rocketstoves.com, and the Experimenter's Corner at donkey32.proboards.com.
Other high-lining boosters for the campaign itself include Chris Magwood and Uncle Mud, North American Permaculture Magazine, and the Permaculture Podcast. We cannot count the number of friends and supporters who helped share or promote the campaign, and we will continue to honor colleagues and contributors in future updates.
Finally, we wish to thank our publishing team for going out on a limb on this project. It's very unusual for conventional publishers to be involved with a Kickstarter launch, and there were a lot of details to work out. The book will be available this summer (and you can order it through pre-sales now) at New Society Publishers (North America) and Permanent Publications (UK).
Once you can make fire flow upside-down and sideways, you can do just about anything.
You may not be ready for a rocket mass heater yet, but you want one. You are inspired to make your home cozier, more efficient, and more comfortable than you ever thought possible.
To reward your curiosity, we offer great small-scale projects and plans for backers at all levels, in addition to The Book.
(For those new to Kickstarter, reward offers are to the right. Pledge any amount, select any reward up to that value, and you can change your option up to the last day. Payment, shipping and other details will be handled once the campaign closes.)
Thanks to everybody who already pledged, our project is for reals: You will really get your books. But we're far from done here.
Stretch Goals #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6 are in the bag.
1) All backers will get Teeny Tiny Mass Heater plans. (x 2 styles)
This is especially good for those of you who are not quite ready, or don't have the right floor, to install a 3-ton masonry heater in your teeny tiny living room.
2) Backers at $50 and up will get our new Bitter Lessons eBook.
(See updates #4, #5, and #8 for more details.)
3) Backers at $24 and up will get the new Heat Riser Cookbook.
4) Backers at $50 and up will get The Rocket Innovators' Cookbook.
$40,000 Milestone Bonus: The Shrimp
All backers will get compact, rocket wood cook stove plans. (Update #12).
5) The Mysterious Manifold digital download for that tricky transition from barrel to bench (See Update #11.) (Intended for $24 and up like the Heat Riser Cookbook, but since I may not have made this clear in the update, I will probably release it to all backers.)
Plus a seafood recipe for all the fish.
6) All backers get the eBook of showcase rocket kitchens, Rocket Wood Cook Stoves. See update #12
#7) Rockets Go Mainstream for $50,000
"Rocket Wood Cook Stoves and Heaters: The Cleanest, Greenest, Leanest, Most Elegant Wood Burning Stoves in the World." eBook featuring the inside scoop on 12 amazing professional-quality projects, in time for Christmas 2016. Glossy printed copies for Patrons, Sponsors, and key supporters (see update #12).
Will we make another $5K in our last hour, and achieve this final stretch goal? Who knows, it has been a wild ride.
What is a Rocket Mass Heater?
Rocket mass heaters are like a full-body personal sauna, keeping you deliciously comfortable with minimal fuel and pollution. They can be a fun, all-natural green remodel project, and a super-stealthy way to enjoy off-grid comfort and security. They use a special, clean-burning firebox to drive clean exhaust through an earthen masonry mass, which stores the heat and releases steady warmth.
The fire flows upside-down and sideways through natural draft - no moving parts to fail in a power outage. The firebox draws out the flames and mixes them with air for better combustion. The efficient firebox and the thermal mass storage bench save a LOT of fuel. Most users report they now use 70-90% less fire wood compared with their old woodstove. (Yes, that's 1/4 to 1/10 the firewood.)
We live near the US-Canadian border, at 3200 feet elevation (1000 meters). Our winters are 6 months long (there is typically snow on the ground from October through March or April). We burn 1 to 2 cords per winter. Our house stays conveniently warm for hours or days after the last mischievous little coal is safely extinguished. And it stays cooler in summer, too - 10 or 20 degrees cooler than the daytime high temperatures in August. (5 to 10 degrees C.)
We are not able to keep up with our forest deadfall and debris by burning alone. Each year, we do creative garden projects and forest improvement to use surplus dead wood.
What if more people heated with rocket mass heaters and other affordable, renewable energy methods? Could we cancel some of our frakking, drop oil prices further so we're not tempted by high-risk extraction and resource wars? We could at least feel confident in riding out extreme weather, and feel good about reducing our environmental impact while improving our family's security and comfort.
Traditonal, old-world masonry heaters are beautiful, durable, and can deliver many of the same benefits - if you get the right kits, specialty parts, cutting tools, and masonry expertise. Rocket mass heaters are extremely DIY-friendly, and the entire project can be built with site-sourced stone, earth, and commonly-available parts like brick and stovepipe.
The Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide is a complete, practical, how-to book showing step-by-step construction, operations, maintenance, and troubleshooting. We focus on the most popular DIY version - the J-style rocket mass heater - but also explore upscale masonry heaters and recent innovations.
Are we the right people to write this book?
Yes. Two reasons:
1) We did write it.
2) We know the subject.
Since 2004 we have taught over 50 workshops together, built hundreds of prototypes and demonstration heaters, and helped a lot of DIY builders with online forums, articles, YouTube videos, and collaborative DVD projects.
We have published as-built drawings and plan sets, and answered countless email and phone questions from DIY builders all over the world.
It's time to make all this information available in one coherent place, and in print form.
Advance Praise for the Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide
Seems everyone who sees it has something good to say about it.
A selection of our favorite quotes:
Finally! A comprehensive book about rocket mass heaters. This should put an end to the freak shows of flaming death showing up on YouTube mislabeled as rocket mass heaters. And put an end to getting the same questions asked over and over again. We can start every answer with: "have you read the rocket mass heater Builder's guide?"
"...Thorough, technically advanced, comprehensive, well thought out by the experienced masters of Rocket Stoves."
Ianto Evans, director and founder of Cob Cottage Company, inventor of Rocket Mass Heaters and of Lorena Stoves
"In The Rocket Mass Heater [Builder's] Guide, Erica and Ernie Wisner have distilled the best, most tried-and-true design for efficient, low-cost, low-effort, carbon-neutral, regenerative home heating. Undoubtedly people will continue to experiment, but it will be hard to improve upon the wisdom of this book — what works, what doesn't and why."
- Albert Bates, author of The Biochar Solution
"... this book is a must-read for anyone who longs for practical, detailed knowledge on rocket mass stoves based on extensive experience."
- Dan Chiras, Ph.D., Director of The Evergreen Institute and author of The Natural House, The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy, Power from the Sun, and many more.
"Biomass energy is sensible when used super-efficiently and locally--which is the point of this book. Folks who live in cooler climates can benefit enormously from this simple, do-it-yourself technology."
- Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute
"... this book is an essential addition to every homesteader's and builder's library."
What's in the book?
The Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide combines Ernie's technical details from over 700 heater tests, with Erica's desire to keep things simple and easy to follow. So our Builder's Guide is organized in two parts.
The chapters cover the basic information that anyone would need to build a rocket mass heater:
- Introduction to the design and its parts
- Siting and design ideas for how rocket mass heaters fit in a building
- Examples of similar heaters in real situations
- Step by step construction of our most popular 8" heater (in use from California to Quebec)
- Operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting
- a summary of rules & codes
For those interested in more technical detail, the appendices cover:
- getting started with earthen masonry or refractory materials;
- successful permitting guidelines from Portland, OR;
- a brief overview of other successful experiments beyond the 8" J-type firebox: alternative fuels, alternative thermal mass, oversized and portable heaters;
- home heating details, like calculating your heat load, or comparing upgrades;
- the science of wood combustion;
- related supporting activities like fire-science practice exercises, barrel beautification, and accessory design.
Overall, the book presents detailed information and resource links for over a dozen different heater designs, along with critical insights to help you evaluate the best option for your particular situation.
Even if you never build a rocket mass heater, the information in this book could help you save substantially on future home improvement projects, or speak knowledgeably to prospective clients about their options. You will also be supporting our work on appropriate solutions for clients all over the world, including regions in Africa, eastern Europe and central Asia, and Latin America where fuel-efficient stoves help save lives and preserve ancient landscapes.
How will the book be produced?
We were approached by 4 different publishing houses before deciding to work with New Society on this book. (While I love self-publishing, as you can see from the rewards packages, I also love collaborating with a deep-green, professional, creative team. The folks at New Society have earned their keep while bringing this long-awaited project to its full potential.) We will also be working with Permanent Publications (the 3rd publisher to approach us) on a UK/EU edition.
The Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide will be just under 300 pages, 8x10 inches, paperback, printed on 100% recycled paper. If you miss the pre-sales bargains, it will retail for $39.95. After the Kickstarter is over, you can ask your local bookseller for it, or purchase directly from New Society.
Why are we doing a Kickstarter if we have a publisher?
Well, we always wanted to do a Kickstarter with this book. A publisher has advantages in getting the book to market through trades distributing and bookstores. But the game of book-selling is changing rapidly. Why not try it both ways?
Our big goal with this book is to make rocket mass heaters more accessible. RMHs have always been developed through public domain, grassroots, open-source, and collaborative experiments - which means shoestring budgets compared with conventional heating technology. Selling author copies on Kickstarter lets us earn more money, and it helps demonstrate demand. We've heard from booksellers who are ordering copies because they saw our launch.
If this Kickstarter reaches enough people, we don't just get more funding for our ongoing work. We get thousands more informed, interested, supportive backers. Builders, owners, and safety professionals who can speak to the benefits of this technology at every level.
Our basic goals are:
- Demonstrate demand: Our initial run goes to print in early April, a week before this Kickstarter ends. Can we sell a thousand books, and get our best price break on first-edition author copies?
- Author pre-sales: Authors earn more money when we sell our own books. Even after the Kickstarter ends, if you buy through the affiliate links on this page, we get a better cut of the book proceeds.
- Share the book in person: We're planning to speak at fairs and conferences on this topic, beyond what's already scheduled by the publisher. Please come see us! If you'd rather save the shipping costs and pick up your book in person, you can let us know on the shipping form when we collect your pledge.
- Updates and Research: We always have plenty of projects to try - not just our rocket mass heaters, but all kinds of appropriate technology using wood, sun, earth, stone, and recycled components. We have several stretch goals for specific research opportunities.
- Global Impacts: Most households spend about half their energy budget on heating and cooling. We could be more comfortable while spending a lot less, and polluting less. What would it take to convert millions of households to super-efficient, renewable heat? What if we make DIY masonry heaters simpler, cheaper, and easier to install?
Sounds like a good start.
- Funding Distribution: The chart above shows the original budget for this project. Dark blue is the money we keep - "Research and Development" supports our ongoing projects and stretch goals, and may also be used for developing new ways to document and share this work with our backers.
Update: We've added a referral program, which means a small kick back to boosters who sign up. But it doesn't necessarily take money from our pockets, or yours - getting our numbers up brings down our cost per book, so everybody wins. Please sign up if you like.
Why would this project have global impacts?
Mudball Effect: Once people see their neighbors heating with tiny amounts of fire wood, or snuggle on a warm bench at a party, they want that for themselves. Like the "snowball effect," but warmer. Ten years ago, it was rare to meet someone who knew what a rocket mass heater was. Today, people recognize us in grocery stores and restaurants and say, "Oh, you're the rocket mass heater people!"
Increased comfort from existing heat: Rocket mass heaters can help with both heating and cooling. They are compatible with passive solar design, climate-banking, and thermal inertia systems. Even if no fuel is used, their thermal mass stores energy as a heat sink, averaging out hot days and cold nights. In most North American climates, a well-positioned thermal mass heater can entirely eliminate heating and cooling bills for several months each year.
Security and Self-Reliance: If more of us can live comfortably without dependence on vulnerable power grids, frakking, oil conflicts, or fossil fuel pollution, we can protect our families and the planet too.
World peace? Saving life on earth? Maybe not in our lifetimes, but we can cause less harm and have more peaceful evenings at home.
Why did the video mention extreme weather, wildfire, and pollution?
- Weather: It may be obvious that a heat-storage mass helps you ride out extreme weather, just like it keeps you comfortable from day to day. With lower fuel use and clean emissions, you are not just doing less work, but also doing your part for clean air and carbon-neutral renewable energy. If you feel frustrated watching weather events getting more extreme as global temperatures rise, this is a way to help.
(If you don't like us for mentioning climate change, I could try to cater to your tastes with a more generic sales pitch, but I won't. Instead, I will suggest you look at this Bloomberg article "What's Warming the World." I'm sure we can agree on other things about the sorry state of politics and science. But since Ernie sailed a work boat to the North Pole, without an ice breaker, back in the 1990s, we can't in good conscience pretend that climate change is not real. See update #6 for more detail.)
- Wildfire: One of the best ways to protect your property from wild fire is to remove ladder fuels near your home. A rocket mass heater can burn for years on just deadfall and tree trimmings. You can double your return on effort by doing wildfire protection and fuel harvesting at the same time.
- Pollution: Smog, soot, and smoke are causing many cities to ban wood-fueled stoves, reducing our ability to remain self-sufficient on renewable fuels. Clean-burning and efficient rocket mass heaters prove that you don't have to choose between smoky smog or fossil-fuel extraction to maintain a comfortable home. Locally-harvested fuels reduce dependence on fickle energy markets, and can support local economies (and the original household "economy," thrift).
These are just a few of the ways that rocket mass heaters offer hope for a safer, greener, easier, and more economical future.
How might this book fuel your own dreams?
Right now, rocket mass heaters are popular in the DIY, off-grid, eco-friendly and survival/prepper niches. Lots of people love the idea ... but widespread confusion and mis-information make it hard to succeed on the first try, and harder to convince others to let you keep trying.
In this book (and our other rewards) you'll find practical guidance for a project that works right the first time. Finish the project, get warm, and get on with your decorating and the rest of your life, instead of repeatedly troubleshooting and starting over.
To all you Builders out there:
We can't wait to hear how you like this book.
Thanks for your support.
Risks and challenges
Will I get my stuff on time?
We're fairly confident. New Society has a good deal of experience bringing out books on schedule, and our self-published stuff is already uploaded at Scubbly.com and ready to go. Our budget covers hiring help for shipping, if needed.
What about the 4-DVD set from Paul Wheaton that I'm still waiting for?
While we are featured in that project, we are not the project owners. Paul and his team are doing their best, but it's a big project, with complications. We will continue to support and encourage that project as we can, but our book is a separate project.
Despite Paul's great successes with all his Kickstarter projects up to his current one, we took a lesson watching his stressful adventures. We are happy to be working with an experienced publisher like New Society for our big book project. Although our margins are tighter, we believe they are realistic.
Will this burn my house down?
We have never yet seen a book than can burn down a house by itself. We can't take responsibility for what you do with the information inside, but we believe it will help people avoid known errors that are, on the whole, a bigger risk.
What if Ernie's leg gets infected again and he dies and you decide to run away from your sorrows by becoming a smoke jumper and Washington has its third record-breaking fire season in a row and you die too and I don't get my book or workshop?
Frankly, I'm surprised you're still thinking about a Kickstarter purchase after hearing that kind of news. But if it's that important to you, we can see about leaving some instructions in our wills.
However, Ernie is on preventive penicillin now, so the more likely scenario is that he will be really grumpy and not eating well, and Erica will teach your workshop while telling Ernie repeatedly to go sit down.
Also, we have had good snow-pack this year, and most of the deliveries will happen before fire season.
Really, we've been through most of the things that could interfere with this process in the past 10 years, and honored our commitments anyway. We've driven through a smoking national disaster area to deliver the manuscript on time and catch our plane to the next workshop.
We discussed this pre-launch Kickstarter with our publisher, and set up all the rewards and delivery arrangements with their approval.
Now let's enjoy the fun part: sharing the fruits of our work with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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