Russian Wood Stoves (Masonry Stoves)

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'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.

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  • Hi James,

    I am an interior designer, and my clients always wants me to suggest them new styles of stoves.

    While searching for posts on different type of stoves i came to your post and really i loved reading about Russian stoves.

    I am gonna analysis on this Masonry stoves, and definitely my clients gonna love these wood stoves.

    Some impressive stoves are available at : Stoves

    Choose from a wide range of stoves below from Multi-Fuel to Wood-burning stoves, all of which will heat and complement your home wonderfully. You can…
  • I've a radiant slab in my straw-bale home R50+ on all 6 sides. I raised the water temp going to the slab to 125 degrees and only needed to heat my home for 1 hour twice a day (just before sun-up and sun-down). This keeps my home @ 70+ degrees 24/7. FYI I live @ 8,000 ft in Colorado outside temp is -17 degrees and I'm bare foot in shorts and a tee shirt without the heat on. The point being if your radiant or masonry stove is over heating your home use less heat less often.

  • Here's a link to the photo gallery from The Masonry Heater Association of North America.


  • Here are some photos of some of my favorite Russian fireplace/ovens.


    This furnace is installed in a room in the 1700 sq ft with excellent thermal insulation. But still - this is an additional source of heat in addition to central heating, heating pipes are in the furnace body, the water circulating in the heating pipes additionally heated thereby raising the temperature of the entire building evenly.


    Corner kitchen oven lined dolomite, although to be fair, it is worth noting that the thermal performance is enough not only to the kitchen, but also mid-sized house. At the bottom - with the function of the secondary combustion chamber incinerator.


    An interesting variant of the main furnace flue department and two air ducts. The furnace heats the air on the second floor of the house is set masonry and actually the work of the author. p>


    Oven built into the house as their main source of heating. It has several shelves at different levels, a large heated bench at the front of the oven. Lining made of natural limestone. Stonework by professional mason.

    • I found out that the above stove designs are of Russian origin, but they are located in Ontario, Canada, not Russia.  The link to the original fireplace/stove photos and descriptions in ENGLISH are at STOVEMASTER.  See this link for original photos of each of the stoves above.  The photos also include images taken during construction. 



      STOVEMASTER - Masonry Heater Gallery
    • The first photo originally said 17,000 square feet.  I changed the wording to 1,700 because I thought 17,000 sounded too large to be true.  Also, the third photo is of the Russian author's home, not mine.

  • Don't forget that masonry stoves work best (just like radiant floors) in poorly insulated houses when  you need a radiant surface to feel warm.  If you've gotten your home up to a reasonably high insulation level, then it is hard to justify the cost of these units, and hard to use them effectively.

    That said, we have an active Tulikivi dealer in the area and I've really enjoyed being around a couple of them.  Also, the Europeans have a variety of very attractive, small scale, pre-made units that are pretty common over there. 

    • I'm surprised that you say that masonry stoves or radiant floors work best in poorly insulated homes.  Mass stoves and radiant floor heating systems should work well in all kinds of home, from poorly insulated to super-insulated homes.  The only heating system that I can think of that works best in poorly insulated and leaky homes is the conventional fireplace that we see in the typical American home.  While romantic and pleasing to look at, conventional fireplaces only warm with radiant heat like a campfire, while the rest of the wood's energy is wasted up the chimney.   All of the convective and conductive heat produced by a conventional fireplace leaves as hot air up the chimney, or is conducted outside because that is where most of a conventional chimney's mass is typically located.  Any radiant heat gained by the objects heated by a conventional fireplace is almost entirely offset by the additional energy required to heat the cold outside air that is drawn into the home by the draft of the fireplace. 

      Ten pounds of firewood can generate about 60 to 80 thousand BTU's of heat.  Adding this amount of heat to a mass stove could spread this heat over many hours, while a conventional metal stove would quickly burn this amount of wood in a matter of minutes and add it to the home in less than an hour.  The only way to slow down the heat from the conventional metal stove would be to choke off the air supply to the fire, which reduces the combustion efficiency and causes soot to build up in the chimney.

      I don't think the mass stoves would cost any more than a conventional fireplace.  Instead of mounting the brick chimney on the outside of the home, the brick would be kept inside the home where it can be used to store the wood's heat.  The additional floor space taken up by the larger stove could be offset by making the room larger.  The additional wood used to enlarge the room would be more than offset in reduced firewood consumption over the life of the home. 

      • James,  here's what I meant about masonry stoves or radiant floors in poorly insulated homes and it is based on experience with radiant floors.

        Both heating sytems provide radiant heat which is physically welcome when a person is cold and when walls and windows are cold and when a house is drafty.  That's the attraction.  Both systems are also (or can be if designed right) efficient too.

        However, in an efficient home, running radiant floors at temps that feel good, that are "warm", will often overpower the heat losses of the house.  Radiant floor engineers and installers have found that those floors need to be run at 80-85 degrees to match the heat loss of the bulding.  That's cooler than body temperature.  I expect that the same is true for the Russian stoves.

        We've built homes in Montana with design loads (-25 degrees, so worst case conditions) of 20,000 btus/hr. since the 1980's.  Most of the time, the houses need much less heat than that.

        Sizing the heat system and the delivery system has to match the climate and the heat loss of the building.  Mis-matches often result in loss of efficiency and higher than necessary installations.

        Otherwise, I really like the Russian stoves and would like to see examples of small ones. I appreciate your photos, they are gorgeous.





        • Thank you your response Jim.  The radiant home I've seen often open the window to regulate the temperature inside the home.  I suppose the same thing could happen with the Russian fireplaces.  It would be interesting to get feedback from people that have the Russian stoves in their home.

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