Going Off Grid – Part II

After we made the move to a more rural setting, my focus turned to our reliance on the grid and what that meant for our long term survival after some type of catastrophic event.  Just being away from people did not provide enough security, we needed to cut the cord.

This is Part II of a series of posts.  To read Part I (click here)


prepper wood burning stove

Because of budgetary concerns, I focused on the basics first.  My first thoughts were about heat.  Without heat, our home would become an ice box in the winter.  Living in a climate where it was cold 5 months of the year and most of the summer nights dipped into the mid-40’s made me start researching ways for off the grid heat.

A major benefit about living away from the city was that we had almost unlimited access to wood; all you had to do was be willing to chop it.  Chopping wood is not an easy task, so in addition to investing in a good axe and chainsaw.  I also shared the cost of a wood splitter with my neighbor who also burns wood for heat.  The trick about wood is that you have to chop it several months in advance to let it season (dry out) before you burn it.  Otherwise, you won’t get the maximum amount of heat from the wood and it will be hard to light on fire.  So a little bit of preparedness when it comes to wood goes a long way.

Our home, like many built with in the last 10 to 15 years, focused on natural gas which seems to be abundant and relatively cheap at the moment.  With radiant heat throughout our home, as long as the gas keeps flowing and the power stays on, we are set.  Remove one of those components and we are screwed.

Rumford Fireplaces

prepper wood stove review

Our home did come with a rumford wood burning fireplace with gas assisted log.  We tested the fire place on several occasions and due to the room size and the amount of windows in the home, the rumford proved it was not up to the challenge.  The rumford fire place has been around for more than two centuries and in certain types of homes I think it would be sufficient.  I think the rumfords are most effective in homes with low ceilings and smaller rooms.  Unfortunately, our home had more of an open layout with vaulted ceilings.  During out testing, most of the heat from our rumford went right back up the chimney.

Again, because of budgetary concerns, we decided against ripping out the old fire place and instead decided to go with a wood burning free standing stove.  This was not an easy choice because we did not know how the wood burning stove would look inside of the existing fireplace.  To our surprise it looked quite nice and most people did not know that our fireplace was not designed that way.

prepper wood burning stove review

When researching the existing brands on the market, I keep reading good reviews about Pacific Energy out of Canada and their baffle technology system that produced almost no smoke.  I thought “What a great idea, a stealth fireplace that would not send a smoke signal to the non-prepared that someone was warm and well prepared inside this house.”  When I dug deeper into the brand, I found out that they had a cook top model which was ideal for heating large spaces – Alderlea T6.  Now I was really happy.  Burns wood, puts out almost no smoke, and it could be used to cook dinner.  That is a prepper Trifecta.  I won’t go in to all of the other details about the Alderlea T6 including the extended burn technology (EBT) but I will say that it lived up to its reputation as a fine stove.  No complaints.

In our previous home, we had an Regency Hampton brand fireplace and the quality was also excellent.  I didn’t feel like Regency had a comparable match at the time to the Alderlea T6 stove and the T6 stove just fit our needs.   We decided ordered the largest firebox made which accepts 18″ to 20” logs and is designed to heat a large room.

Here are the specs for the T6.

Height 29.8125 inches
Width 29.25 in.
Depth 28.75 in.
Flue Distance from Back 8.5 in.
Weight 560 lbs

Technical Information
Heat Output Cord Wood (BTU) 99,000 BTU
Heat Output EPA (BTU) 38,500 BTU
Efficiency 80.5%
Emissions 3.9 gm/hr
Log Size18 – 20 in.

prepper wood stove

When we first ordered the stove, we decided against the electric fan which fits nicely out of sight on the back of the stove.  That was a mistake.  After a month of being modestly happy with the amount of heat it put out, we ordered the fan.  The fan more that triples the amount of heat circulation we were able to produce with the same amount of wood.  It also has a nice feature that turns on the fan when the stove gets to a certain temperature and then shuts off the fan when the stove cools down.  The fan is almost fire and forget.  If you leave it in the auto position, it will automatically turn on when the stove gets to temperature.  The stove will work with or without the fan but if you have power the fan is a nice addition.  We had to add an electrical outlet behind the stove which took an electrician just a few hours to put in place.


Prepper Wood Burning Stove Review

Although our cooking stove in our home works just fine, we decided to test the pacific energy wood burning stove for cooking.  It passed the test with flying colors.  We have fried eggs, cooked stews, beans, and chili on the stove.  It probably goes with out saying but we found the cook top to work better with the circulating fan turned off.  It takes more time than cooking on a direct flame but in a pinch you will be happy.  Also, for Thanksgiving when you are running out of stove space, you easily have a spot for three more pans.  If nothing else, you can use this stove as a place to keep your meals warm.

Our second step to off the grid living was complete.  First we moved away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Then we got back to basics of providing reliable heat for our home and for cooking.   It was a good feeling to know that even in the worst situation that I could imagine, I would still be able to heat a small room in my house and provide a cooked meal without going outside.

Check out Part 3: Off the Grid Part III – The Back Up Generator

Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

18 thoughts on “Going Off Grid – Part II”

  1. we have similar heater at hunting cabin. it is five times the heat as fireplace and uses a fraction of the wood. much less risk of catching house on fire too.

  2. Very well written article. I am looking forward to the rest of this series. I currently have a house with no fireplace, although its truly only uncomfortably cold about 3 months of the year. Slab foundation with permanent wood sides. Does anyone have any experience installing a wood stove in a similar house? I have natural gas (powers heater, stove and water heater) right now, so this hasn't been a budgeting priority.

  3. When I was gill-net fishing we ran a Dickinson stove in our boat with a Ecofan. Might be something to take a look at if you were to loose power.

  4. That stove has a surprising efficiency, for some reason I was expected somewhere around 60%. I guess I was just thinking about a normal fireplace where a lot of the heat just goes upwards. Anyway, interesting post. I know what to look for when I go to buy my stove. Thanks!

  5. i like this article/ reminds me of us when we moved out to the stix 15 years ago. , generator, wood burning stove, deep well, and plenty of lnd for gardening, hunting, and a pond for fishing… i dug out the pond myself, and stocked it with pumpkinseeds (red eared brim) and a few catfish… something to think about

  6. Excellent article. I have been thinking about getting a wood cook stove. The more elaborate cook stoves are quite expensive. This sounds like it might be just what we need. How much maintenance or cleaning does it require?

  7. I agree with Tolik , the "Russian stove" or "Russian fireplace" was developed in an area of Russia that was largely deforested & they needed a fireplace that got the maximum heat out of what little brush they had. It was designed to burn small to medium sized branches. So if you don't have a chainsaw (or no gas to operate one) to cut cord wood, you would still have more than enough heat for the house. The way they work is, you only burn wood in it maybe 3 hours once or twice a day & the rock or brick would radiate heat the rest of the day. Some of these fireplaces had surfaces to cook on, ovens & some even had shelves big enough to place a mattress on. It was made with either natural rock & mortar or brick & mortar. The draft in these fireplaces are wide open to burn the material at 1800°. The massive rock & baffles absorb all the heat & by the time it comes out the chimney it is cool enough to hold your hand over it, if done correctly. The good news is it won't deplete your woods because there is always branches falling out of the trees as well as standing dead wood.

  8. If I were to go "Off Grid" I would make sure to have redundant systems, meaning at least 2 of everything! I would go with Full Solar electric power with a wind generator also and a larger bank of batteries. I would have a couple of "Wood Stoves" and a Fire place, A cook Wood stove/oven. The "Wood Stoves" I would have would be Duel Fuel or multi fuel variety that could burn Wood pellets, corn, olive pits, Cherry pits, wheat, etc.. and I would have one that is strictly wood logs. I would have a Solar water heating system with electric water heater tied into the solar/wind electric power system.

    • 2 of everything? Are your pockets lined with gold? I guess that you could do it over a long period of time, that way you could shop around and find a reasonable price add on. But if your just starting out double of everything is totally not possible. You have to craw before you walk. This is a very good series with a lot of good information. It needs to be used wisely.

  9. Another thing to look in to for heating is a corn stove. It uses feed cord as fuel. A couple of bags of corn is supposed to last for the winter. I don't have one but they sound very interesting. Just google corn stove and you will find plenty of listings.

  10. one thing I have noticed if you have a straight flu pipe it lasts if you have a elbow it will burn out quickly.

    I just got some steel pipe and I am going to buy a weld saddle using plate and all thread bolts to cap it.
    I will have to weld hinges basically small tubing and steel rod.
    Welding is the part we are going to have to get around then it would be rivets but drilling into thick steel is not easy without power tools.

    I can see where a wood stove now is very important when things go south your not going to find one.
    A butterfly damper a weather cap and a lot of flu pipe if you need it and don't have one your in behind before you get started, as it is not easy to build one without basics.

    you have to figure out what size so you have the BTU's to heat your space too small is very bad as it will never heat the space so better to be larger and you can cut back on fuel.

    As far as corn stoves I am against burning food for people or stock there ares so many things that can be used
    other than food for fuel it may require that you have to take more time feeding it or processing it but without TV what else are you going to do ?

  11. there are heat powered fans they ain't cheap but if your not wanting to count on electrical power
    I would invest in this type.
    just stand them on top of the stove and the rizing heat does the rest

    I like the first budget box type stove or it's type more room as a cook top nice total area to expell heat
    I have had a few and the pot belly is the least effiecent the heat seems to flow right up the flu.

    The log wood type are low and long and a back breaker to load and clean.

    Some stoves need to be placed on a pedestal to give you comfortable use height adapt your tools to your
    needs not you adjusting to them the feet of a stove dont get hot you need a base as coals will fall out at times.


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