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Jill’s Tiny House Homestead

"We have had a great time enjoying our wood stove. The stove does work very well even in the high winds that we get on a weekly basis. "

Jill and her husband settled down on the Maine coast after decades of traveling, living tiny for over 19 years. They built their current home in 2012 and they are using their Dwarf 3kw as a primary heating source.

Who are you? Tell us something about you!

My husband and I are in our late 40's and have settled on the small island of Deer Isle Maine after traveling most of our 20's and 30's domestically and internationally. My family is from the island and since my husband is a wooden boat builder, which is one of the main industries in this area besides fishing, it made since to settle on the coast as we got older. We raise quail for meat, eggs and income and we grow as much of our own produce as we can on our land using hugelkultur, drip irrigation, self watering planters and our greenhouse. We built our tiny (10' X 20') home in 2012. It is on a traditional basement foundation and has a traditional septic system, normal bathroom, washer dryer and everything you would expect in a traditional home.

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

We installed our stove in our tiny house. We live in Maine all year around and have enjoyed the addition of our wood stove. Winters here can get down to -20 degrees and the average high temps can be 0 degrees in January and February. We used our stove from Sept to May this past year. We cut all of our wood by hand with a hand saw and split it our selves on a small cast iron kindle splitter.

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

We began our tiny living journey in 2001 when we purchased a piece of land in Charleston Maine where we built our first home. We wanted to build something tiny at that point although the "tiny" movement had not really gotten off the ground. We had read about mortgage free living and decided that this would be a great option for us as we did not have a lot of money saved to be able to qualify for a traditional mortgage and were not interested in paying interest for years in order to be able to own our own home. Over the course of two years we built a 700 sqft passive solar off grid home and lived there until 2008. We sold it after returning from living in Asia for a year were learned that we could live in a much smaller footprint than we thought. We moved around and rented for several years after the 2008 financial crisis and finally landed in Deer Isle Maine in 2012. We built our second home on the island in 2012. We decided to build tiny again as banks were not lending money for mortgages due to the financial crisis and we were not interested in getting tied down with a traditional mortgage anyways. We also decided to build tiny due to the decrease of costs for heating, property taxes and building materials, as well as the decrease in time needed to maintain our home after the build was complete. Our original build was 200 sqft and two years after living in the home we added a 35 sqft mudroom for all our shoes and coats. Over all, we have been living tiny for 19 years and have enjoyed the evolution of our journey.

How did you decide on a Dwarf stove?

We had a Vermont Castings wood stove in our first home in Charleston Maine. It was our only source of heat since the passive solar construction worked well for most of our heat. We wanted a wood stove in our home that we have currently, but learned that sizing a wood stove for your space is crucial to the success of using a wood stove in a small space. We researched different wood stove for many years looking for one that was small enough for our space and burned efficiently and cleanly. Most wood stove were to big for our space and using them would only lead to inefficient burning and creosote build up. We found the Dwarf stoves a couple of years ago, but needed to save up for the expense of the stove and chimney before being able to purchase it and install in correctly.

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

Our installation was difficult. Our house has cathedral ceilings at a 14/12 pitch with spray foam insulation. We were able to source some of the chimney parts from Tiny Wood Stove but the rubber chimney boot was not usable on our roof and we had to manufacture a metal boot to work on our pitch. Also we added the fresh air intake and had some trouble sourcing the actual vent as most available were 3" and we needed a four inch. We made our own custom cabinet for the wood stove as well as our own custom heat shield which took a lot more time to get right. Over all the project took several weeks but we are happy to have the stove. We were able to do the installation ourselves as we are well versed in building and have personally built both of our homes ourselves. My husband is a professional builder as well which helps with house projects. However, I would suggest that other would want to hired a professional installer as it is important to install a wood burning stove correctly.

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

We have had a great time enjoying our wood stove. The stove does work very well even in the high winds that we get on a weekly basis (25-60 mph+). We have enjoyed having the heat of the stove as it does not compare to heat from any other source. We use a Rinnai direct vent propane heater as a second heating source which turns on in the early morning as the temp does drop in the house because the wood stove will not burn overnight due to the small size. However, we much prefer the heat from the wood stove. We did live for several years in our home with just the propane heater and have really loved having the addition of wood heat this past winter. It was a big expense for us but will be worth it in the long run. The only issue we have had is that we do get some condensation on the inside of our double wall pipe if we do not fire the stove on days that are around 40 and this condensation runs down the inside of the pipe and sits on the top of the baffle inside the stove and is beginning to rust the metal.

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Would you recommend a tiny wood stove to others? Why?

I would. However, a wood stove is not something to be taken lightly. I have lived through two chimney fires in my past and a incorrectly sized,installed or operated wood stove can be very dangerous. However done correctly, it can be a great addition to any home.

More pictures of Jill's beautiful tiny house on the coast:

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