Full-time Vanlife Family with a Dwarf 3kw Lite – @roaming.nomads

" When we bought our van we knew we wanted a wood stove for so many reasons "

The roaming.nomads family has been living on the road full time for the last 7 years, 2 of those in their DIY sprinter van equipped with a Dwarf 3kw Lite Tiny Wood Stove as the sole heat source. They've been traveling all over the US and don't mind a snow storm here and there.

Who are you? Tell us something about you!

We are the @roaming.nomads family and we've been living on the road for seven years, traveling all over the US and Europe. We are currently traveling in our Sprinter van with two kids and our dog.

Where did you install your stove? Do you stay in cold climates much?

Our Dwarf 3kw Lite is installed in our Sprinter van as the sole heat source. We've put it to the test plenty of times, for winter in Yellowstone, surprise snow storms in the Sequoias and Colorado fall and winter weather. We've had a lot of snowpants to dry and dogs to warm up and then there's this one incident where we got snowed in and our propane for cooking was empty, so we've also used the wood stove to make some pasta.
We don't necessarily escape cold weather, like most full-time travelers do, and we like to explore areas in the off-season, which leaves us in the snow and cold quite a bit.


How did your tiny living journey begin and what were your reasons?

We moved in a RV seven years ago because we didn't know where to settle down and figured this would be a great way to find out. Turns out the road feels the most like home, so we kept on traveling. There is still so much to see out there, I feel like we could never see it all.
The kids grew up on the road, and they don't know a life other than the one we're living.

How did you decide on a Dwarf stove?

We've had a Dwarf 3kw before, in our vintage Streamline trailer that we lived in for three years. It was our only heat source and kept us nice and cozy even in -15 degree weather (that one time we thought it was a great idea to spend Thanksgiving in Mammoth Lakes). When we bought our van we knew we wanted a wood stove for so many reasons that we've come to love the one we had: independence from both propane and electricity, comfort, dry heat and maintenance.
Propane is something that generally goes empty in the most inconvenient moments. Batteries tend to die during cold weather. Firewood is available pretty much everywhere, and you'll always find something to burn (even during emergencies).
The comfort a fire brings is unmatched and nothing a regular heater could ever provide. Getting up early to get some work done, or reading at night is just so much more cozy when there's afire going and no noisy furnace blowing.
We have five living, breathing bodies in this van. That's a lot of moisture created, plus kids and dogs do have the tendency to bring in a lot of wetness from playing in the snow. The Dwarf helps drying out our van, and all the snow gear while we're at it. Condensation and the electricity issues that come with it are minimized thanks to the dry heat.
Maintenance was a big factor for us. We've had propane heaters in the RVs we've lived in before, and friends of ours have diesel heaters in their vans. All of them broke, and none of them were either easy nor cheap to fix. I don't want to cut an adventure short to find a mechanic! The Tiny Wood Stove is so much more straightforward. The only thing that could break that would really put a stop to heating is the glass, and that's easily replaceable.

How difficult was the installation process? Did you need any assistance of any kind?

To say we didn't need any help wouldn't be fair, since this wasn't our first install. But figuring out what we needed and getting it shipped to us and installed in our van was extremely straightforward and simple. The biggest task was figuring out how to design and build the heat shield so that we'd have a safe setup in a tiny space like we do. Especially figuring out how to protect the door and the fridge, and have a safe bolted down stove in case of an accident where problems we had to think about for a bit. We did end up drilling holes into the Dwarf 3kw Lite to mount a heat shield directly to the body. All other Tiny Wood Stoves have them pre-drilled, but we had to DIY it for the Lite.

How has your experience been using the Dwarf? Have you been enjoying having a tiny wood stove in your space?

I think enjoying it doesn't really describe it, because we love our stove! From splitting wood (which one of us enjoys), to lighting the fire (which the kids fight over who's turn it is) to sitting in a cozy and warm van with a fire going. I've always hated furnaces and tried to not run them because they're noisy and just annoying. It's a completely different feeling having a wood stove going.

Would you recommend a tiny wood stove to others?

I would recommend a wood stove for anyone who stays in colder weather occasionally, and for everyone who doesn't want to trade comfort for the "what everyone else is doing" solution. Building a fire and tending to it every once in a while for a warm night is way worth it compared to the fuel consuming, loud, inconvenient and mecahnical complex heating options out there.

Interested in a small stove for your tiny space? Contact us on the form below and we can help you sort through all the details in getting the perfect stove and installation configuration for your unique space!


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2 thoughts on “Full-time Vanlife Family with a Dwarf 3kw Lite – @roaming.nomads”

  1. benjamin bromley

    hi Roaming Nomads
    i was wondering what size your streamline was, when you were using 3kw tiny wood stove? I’m starting to research wood stoves for my 45′ Class A, it would be my primary heat source.

    1. Yes, that’s a Dwarf 3kw for a 24ft Streamline. It kept them warm and cozy for plenty of cold-weather snaps (turns out Mammoth Hot Springs gets cold in November!). The best way to figure out which stove works for your home on wheels is our BTU calculator here: tinywoodstove.com/btu . It’ll not only take into account the size of your home but also climate, insulation and other heat requirements. Hope this helps!

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