While reading an article in the Alaska Magazine yesterday, I came upon a reference to Russian wood stoves (Pechka) that were commonly used to heat the typical Russian cabin.  The stoves were efficient, comfortable and made from local materials.

I researched the matter more and came upon this beautiful description.


The Masonry Stove

"To the uninstructed stranger it promises nothing. It has a little bit of a door. Which seems foolishly out of proportion to the rest of the edifice. Small sized fuel it used, and marvelously little of that. The process of firing is quick and simple. At half past seven on a cold morning the servant brings a small basketball of slender pine sticks and puts half of these in, lights them with a match, and closes the door. They burn out in ten or twelve minutes. He then puts in the rest and locks the door...The work is done.

All day long and until past midnight all parts of the room will be delightfully warm and comfortable...it's surface is not hot; you can put your hand on it anywhere and not get burnt. 

Consider these things. One firing is enough for the day; the cost is next to nothing; the heat produced is the same all day, instead of too hot and too cold by turns.

America could adopt this stove, but does America do it? No, she sticks placidly to her own fearful and wonderful inventions in the stove line. The American wood stove, of whatever breed, is a terror. It requires more attention than a baby. It has to be fed every little while, it has to be watched all the time; and for all reward you are roasted half your time and frozen the other half... and when your wood bill comes in you think you have been supporting a volcano.

It is certainly strange that useful customs and devices do not spread from country to country with more facility and promptness than they do. 





By Mark Twain"


I'm curious to know if anyone on Home Energy Pros is familiar with these wood stoves and would care to post their thoughts and experience.

Views: 47527

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

aka swedish stoves, soapstone stoves & the list goes on

The biggest catch is the size of them - beyond that yes they absorb & radiate a ton of heat during the day and work best where everyone is congragated in one communl area - once you go into a bedroom & shut the door it won't be helping you

The pictures of the Swedish stoves do not look too big to me, especially when compared to the large footprint and constant care and feeding required for conventional metal stoves.  I would think that the benefits of high efficency, very clean burning, and comfort for the primary living space more than compensate for the extra size.  A circulating fan could take care of moving the warmth throughout the house and into the bedrooms.   

Some of the Russian stoves also have the added feature of a built-in oven that can be used for baking bread (yum).

Sorry James, those aren't the ones I am talking about & the size truly is dependant on the area you are trying to heat. While some get placed against a wall most are located towards the center of a room. As for the fan idea, that defeats the reason for one (slow even heat released throughout the day / night) and will decrease the usefullness of it.

I think Jack nails it all quite well below --- Jack as for condensation, as they are made of stone they can absorb some and release it over time assuming the wood was to wet - beyond that it isn't like a gas burn where water is a byproduct

I think some of the Russian stoves pictured at http://pechka.su/photo/ are BEAUTIFUL and do not appear to take up much more room than a conventional fireplace.  In addition to high energy efficiency, comfortable/even heating, along with easy care and feeding; they have ability to bake bread and cook pizzas.

Conventional America fireplaces bring in enourmous quantities of outside air that often require more energy to heat than the fireplace adds to the home.  I would much rather have a fireplace that only draws in the amount of air needed for efficient combustion, and then retains that heat to be slowly released in the home throughout the day.  Compare that to the heat that is stored in the mass of a conventional fireplace which is completely wasted. Most of the heat of a conventional fireplace goes up the chimney.  Adding insult to injury, after the fire has burned out in a conventional wood fireplace, the heat stored in the mass goes straight up the chimney creating an even greater stack effect, that continues to increases the air infiltration into a home.

These remind me of adobe home designs as well, very nice indeed.

Here are some more photos of modern Russian fireplaces with built-in ovens and stoves.  I found these at http://www.stovestroy.ru/

Yes, they are large, but the mass absorbs almost all of the wood's heat and slowly gives it off throughout the day.  There is a slide damper on each fireplace that is closed to keep the heat from going up the chimney after the fire burns out.  They not only warm your house, they can cook bread, pizza and cinnamon rolls.

The Russian fireplace above has cooking surface above the firebox and an oven 90 degrees on the right.

From what I understand is that some Russian stoves use the bell system.
I set out do something similar. My novel way of constructing (as far as I know ) was without mortar and forming the concrete building blocks myself. It made it relatively fast to build up. A spirit level was hardly used. Only for the first layer really.
The simple chamber/bell system enabled me to become more flexible in the design. It was pretty cheap too.
Here is the link showing a time-lapse movie of the build.
I also designed my own door which I have incorporated and works great.


If anyone is interested in a build I am more than willing to advise.


My daughter and I were very entertained by the time lapse movie you put togther that showed the construction of your stove.



Glad you both enjoyed it. That was my first discussion/forum entry. Glad to have had a positive response.


Shari and Dave Jacoby have used a masonry stove to successfully heat their 2,000 square foot home.

This is what they had to say about their fireplace, "Our masonry heater is the center piece of our 2000 square foot home. Being in a central location allows the heat to radiate evenly throughout the house. Radiant heat is the most comfortable and healthy type of heat, the masonry heater is like having the sun in the center of the house. Our firebox faces the living room so we can enjoy the aesthetics of the intense and dramatic fire. We also have a bake oven that faces the kitchen for convenience."

Guess if one incorporated the type of firing in the link from straw bale house above


it would be even more efficient. Instead of water heat exchange use the rocks for exchange. There is a German company called twinfire. They have a fireplace that does this with two viewing windows. If onyone has ideas on this let me know as I may try to incorprate it into a masonry stove.

Being Russian I also have special feelings for Russian Stoves. My grandparents missed those from their youth - yeah, it's very hard to find these days even in Russia. You'd have to go far into countryside where a few of those still exist.

My grandparents tried to recreate a Russian Stove in their summer house. But here is a second reason (first being the size) why we don't see a lot of these around - building them is not just a skill, it's art. So my grandparents could not find someone to recreate it, ended up with a smaller, non-efficient version of it.

Century and more ago people who could build 'em were very valuable masters and were in very high demand. The main challenge there is to ensure that they have sufficient but not excessive draft. And it's a challenge because combustion air is not drafted directly up, it's forced to go through a network of convoluted channels where it gives off its heat to the brick.That makes me think of condensation issues too. Never heard of how that aspect was addressed. 

And another point is - the description of a Russian stove in the article quoted earlier in my opinion is not quite accurate. From what I know it's main feature is a ton of thermal mass, not miracles. I don't think it's possible to heat a house for a day with the amount of wood described there, it simply does not contain enough energy. My understanding is you would keep a fire in it during the evening, for at least a few hours and then it would give off heat throughout the night. And traditional Russian houses had only one room with the wood stove being in the center, so multiple rooms where not an issue. 

So while I think Russian stoves are a wonderful part of our heritage and culture, in the modern day they have extremely limited use and even fewer people who can build them.

Here is page in Russian that is aimed to help those who want to build one of those. You can scroll through just to take a look at pictures:



Forum Discussions

Efficiency of furnace

Started by Jignesh in General Forum. Last reply by Barbara Smith on Monday. 7 Replies

Best brands for furnace

Started by Jignesh in General Forum. Last reply by Barbara Smith on Monday. 1 Reply

Insulation Blower Recommendations?

Started by Jim Conlon in General Forum. Last reply by Cameron Home Insulation on Monday. 2 Replies

2005 EPAct tax credit

Started by Mandy Leazenby in General Forum. Last reply by Sean Lintow Sr Feb 15. 3 Replies

Latest Activity

Home Energy Magazine's blog post was featured

How We Turned Our House into a Giant Foam Box, Part I — Wall Insulation By Wen Lee

Chris Stratton and Wen Lee are a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are DIY…See More
4 hours ago
Home Energy Magazine posted a blog post

How We Turned Our House into a Giant Foam Box, Part I — Wall Insulation By Wen Lee

Chris Stratton and Wen Lee are a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are DIY…See More
4 hours ago
Profile IconDavid Carson, Jesse Smith, Vincent Pezza and 4 more joined Home Energy Pros Forum
6 hours ago
Leslie Jackson posted a blog post

How We Turned Our House into a Giant Foam Box, Part I — Wall Insulation By Wen Lee

Chris Stratton and Wen Lee are a husband-and-wife team living in the Los Angeles area who are DIY…See More
7 hours ago
Chris Stratton replied to Chris Stratton's discussion Technical question about mini split heat pump line set maximum length
"Hi Chris, Thanks again for your help. Update: the system is now up and running. Chris"
7 hours ago
Home Performance Coalition's blog post was featured

From Philly to DC: Join Us on Capitol Hill

By now you have probably heard – as part of this year’s …See More
12 hours ago
Diane Chojnowski added a discussion to the group News & Announcements

Nominate a visionary leader for the Linda Wigington Leadership Award

The Linda Wigington Leadership Award celebrates visionary leaders doing extraordinary work to…See More
12 hours ago
Home Performance Coalition liked Chris Morin's blog post HVAC: A Fast Growing Career Opportunity
14 hours ago
Home Performance Coalition liked Diane Chojnowski's blog post Home Performance Coalition Calls on Congress to Support Federal Energy Efficiency Programs
14 hours ago
Home Performance Coalition liked Home Energy Magazine's blog post Andrew Scatizzi- Stick to the Basics in New Construction
14 hours ago
Home Performance Coalition posted blog posts
14 hours ago
Safe-R Insulation commented on Safe-R Insulation's blog post What are the advantages of Cavity Wall Insulation?
"Hi, Cavity wall insulation are more effective and increase wall life. And it will also help to save…"
16 hours ago
Sara Watson posted a blog post

6 Tips to Pick Out The Best Solar Outdoor Lights

You have a beautiful home in Florida and plan to add a little sparkle to your front garden, patio,…See More
DesignTech liked DesignTech's photo
Anthony Roy is now a member of Home Energy Pros Forum
Barbara Smith commented on Barbara Smith's video
Barbara Smith replied to Jignesh's discussion Efficiency of furnace
"Installation and proper sizing is important to getting the best performance out of your furnace.…"
Barbara Smith replied to Jignesh's discussion Best brands for furnace
"Check ENERGY STAR and Consumer Reports.…"
Barbara Smith replied to Diane Chojnowski's discussion Support Mike Rogers, a long-time home performance hero, as he battles sinus cancer. in the group News & Announcements
Barbara Smith joined Diane Chojnowski's group

News & Announcements

Share your news and announcements with the community in this group.To post news or an announcement,…See More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2018   Created by Home Performance Coalition (HPC)   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service