Homesteading Resources


Did you know that power outages in rural areas can last longer than in urban or suburban areas? Well they can. We have experienced power outages on our homestead that have lasted an entire day or even for several days. These times of outages are never a fun experience.

The house can get quite cold in just a few hours time if it is in the mid-winter with temperatures in the teens and your source of heat is an oil furnace or a propane furnace when the electricity goes off. There’s simply no electricity to allow the blower on these furnaces to work when there’s no electricity.

We are fortunate to have a wood burning stove that keeps a portion of our house warm while also allowing us the ability of warming up foods like soups or drinks when our electricity is off.

Because of the possibility of having the electricity going off from time to time, many rural residents have at least a 5.5 KW generator such as the Westinghouse WGen 5500 Portable Generator (link to read reviews on Amazon).

Many homesteaders prefer to have a 9.5 KW like the Westinghouse Heavy Duty WGen 9500 Portable Generator (link to read reviews on Amazon).

Those with a large house over 2000 square feet would want a 12 KW generator such as the Westinghouse WGen 12000 Ultra Duty Portable Generator (link to read reviews on Amazon).

These generators give people some power or a lot of power depending on the size of the generator during power outages. Generators come in handy during the winter time when even a 5.5 KW generator can keep the blower on an oil or propane heater going, supplying enough power for lights and even a refrigerator too.

Wood Stoves

Reliability in a wood stove means a stove that is build well, has been tested, proven and meets or exceeds EPA Particulate Emission Standards for wood burning stoves. A wood stove that is 80% or more efficient, gives off 80% or more of the heat generated by burning wood is another test of reliability.

An affordable wood stove would be one that does the job well but in the process does not break the bank when it comes to purchasing and having it installed.

When looking to purchase a wood stove its good to know that there are two kinds of wood stoves.

  • Those that have either a metal or ceramic catalytic converter under the top of the stove
  • Those that are without a catalytic converter

A stove that has a catalytic converter will need the catalytic converter replaced as often as every 2-3 years depending upon the type of wood burned in it, how well it is seasoned and how much wood is burned during each heating season.

Catalytic converters usually cost in the range from around $200 to over $300 each plus the labor to remove the old catalytic converter and replacing it with the new one. In some instances replacing a catalytic converter can be a DIY job.

Wood stoves that have catalytic converters can only be EPA Certified if they produce less than 4.1 grams/hour of particulate emissions. Where as wood stoves without a catalytic converters can be EPA Certified if they admit less than 7.4 grams/hour of particulate emissions.

In balancing the cost, emissions and also the ability to heat, we have found an excellent choice for a wood burning stove to be a brand called Pleasant Hearth. They are a non-catalytic wood burning stove made in sizes rated to heat in ranges of 1,200-2,200 square feet.

For an area of 1,200 square feet you would do well with this Pleasant Hearth 1,200 Sq. Ft. Small Wood Stove (link to Amazon) to heat sufficiently. The 1,200 square foot model is EPA rated at 5.1 gram/hour of particulate emissions. This stove can hold a fire for between 6 and 8 hours.

To heat a little larger space of 1,800 square foot you would be able to get adequate warmth from this Pleasant Hearth 1,800 Sq. Ft. Medium Wood Burning Stove (link to Amazon). The 1,800 square foot model is EPA rated at 4.5 grams/hour of particulate emissions. This is close to the EPA rating for catalytic converter wood stoves.

For a larger home of 2,200 square feet you would get better heating efficiency with this Pleasant Hearth 2,200 Sq. Ft. Large Wood Burning Stove (link to Amazon) for that sized area. The 2,200 square foot model is EPA rated at 3.6 grams/hour of particulate emissions which is below the EPA rating for catalytic stoves.

Non-catalytic Pleasant Hearth wood stoves means there is no catalytic converter that needs to be replaced every 2-3 years. Even though they do not have a catalytic converter their EPA Emissions test results are well below the requirement for wood stove without a catalytic converter.

When it comes to efficiency, Pleasant Hearth wood stoves are all rated over 80% efficient. Will they hold a fire for 8 hours, (over night)? With wood that is well seasoned and you have a little experience with the wood stove, even the 1200 square foot model has the potential of holding a fire for 8 hours. The 1800 and 2200 square foot models have the capability to hold a fire for longer than 8 hours. That’s pretty phenomenal.

Pleasant Hearth wood stoves are very affordable. In many instances they can cost about half of what brands like Quadra-Fire, Blaze Kind and other nationally recognized brand of wood stoves cost. You can’t go wrong when considering taking a look at a Pleasant Hearth stove for a main or supplemental heat source for your home.

All Pleasant Hearth wood burning stove feature a brick lined firebox, have chrome handles, an air wash system that automatically maintains the cleanliness of the glass window, has a front-loading solid cast iron door with large ceramic glass viewing area and has a 5 year limited warranty.

Wood Heating Products

Wood Stove Fan

To help circulate the heat from a wood stove adding a Home-Complete Stove Fan- Heat Powered Fan for Wood Burning Stoves or Fireplaces (link to Amazon) will really help. These types of fans work off the heat that is produced from the wood stove or fireplace. The hotter the fire is, the faster the blades turn. This way more warm air gets dispersed throughout your home without any electricity required to run it.

They are whisper quiet with the only moving part being the blade assembly. You can literally say good-bye to the loud noise of an electric forced-air fan! You will feel the warmth but you won’t even know this fan is even there! These are especially great for off grid situations.

They are virtually maintenance free. You just need to dust it off occasionally and put some light oil on the blade shaft to keep it spinning smoothly and quietly. You automatically know when it’s time to stoke the fire when the fan slows down. The higher the heat, the faster the blades will spin.

So when you’re not feeling the heat as much as you were and the blades have slowed down, it’s telling you it’s time to stoke the fire. How cool is that? It simply couldn’t be any easier!

Cast Iron Kettle

There’s nothing better than the heat from a wood stove, but it is a dry heat that can dry out the air in your home and also dry your skin. The most common way to add moisture to the air heated by a wood stove it to place a kettle with steaming hot water on top of the stove, adding humidity to the room. Just be sure to check the water level every day, adding more water if needed.

We love the look of this Vogelzang Fireplace 3 quart Cast Iron Kettle (link to Amazon) that is like the one we have sitting on our wood stove. This kettle is constructed entirely of cast iron for durable, practical use while also serving as a decorative addition to your stove.

The Vogelzang kettle has a cool touch chrome spring handle making it safe and easy to use. A kettle like this will last you for a long time giving you just the right moisture to the air that’s need when heating with wood.

Firelogs for Wood Stoves

Duraflame Logs are not designed to burn in a wood stove. However, the Duraflame Stax Crackling Firelogs (link to Amazon) can be used in a wood stove.

Stax crackling fire logs are made with 100 percent renewable resources It can be used in fireplaces, wood stoves and even outdoor fires. They will stack and burn like a real wood fire. They are perfect for a cozy hassle free fire.

Reclaim Chimney Heat

How about obtaining even more heat from your wood heating stoves. A HY-C Magic Heat Bottom Crimp Heat Reclaimer for Use with Wood Burning Appliances (link to Amazon) can fit in the single wall chimney that is above the wood burning stove. It’s made in sizes to fit 6″, 7″ or 8″ diameter chimneys. A heat reclaimer can reclaim up to 30% of the heat that escapes up a chimney. It has a small electrical blower that circulates the heat.

The Magic Heat Reclaimer is the only UL listed heat reclaimer on the market. It reclaims up to 30% of the otherwise lost heat that’s going up your chimney, distributing it into your home. Its crimp down configuration is designed for use with wood burning heating applications with inside flue temperatures exceeding 350 degrees and surface temperatures of the single wall pipe below the Magic Heat exceeding 280 degrees.

It’s easy to install and fits 6″, 7″ or 8″ flue diameter depending on which one you get. The built in soot scraper cleans tubes internally allowing for maximum heat transfer. The Magic Heat Reclaimer plugs into any standard 110V household outlet.

The removable back allows for easy maintenance of the heat reclaimer. It’s designed for use with single wall connector pipe. You can either run the reclaimer continuously or thermostat controlled by using the toggle switch that allows the 225 CFM fan to operate in two modes.

You are saving fuel as well as labor by saving lost heat. You really can’t afford not to own one of these Magic Heat Reclaimers that are made in the USA.

Prevent Chimney Fires

Chimney fires unfortunately do happen, much more than they should. There are ways to prevent a chimney fire though from ever burning down your house!

One way to prevent a chimney fire is to be sure to have the chimney inspected and cleaned out by a competent chimney sweep before each wood burning season. Or you can learn how to do it yourself, its not really hard to do.

Making sure to burn wood that is dry and well seasoned lessens the chance of having creosote building up on the inside walls of the stove pipe and then catching on fire.

Its a must have to have a thermometer such as this Midwest Hearth Wood Stove Thermometer – Magnetic Stove Top Meter (link to Amazon) on the surface of a wood stove. This thermometer is calibrated to be used on the outside surface (or the location the stove reaches the hottest temperature) of a metal wood stove. We definitely have a thermometer on our wood burning stove. Make sure you get the one that is for a stove.

The Midwest Hearth Wood Stove Thermometer has a magnetic attachment on the back side to easily attach it to your metal wood stove. The magnet will hold to steel up to 800°F. It has easy to read zones to optimize efficiency, prevent overheating and minimize creosote build-up. It will compliment your beautiful wood stove with its premium quality porcelain enamel finish.

The operating temperature that is best for most wood stoves is between 400°F and 650°F and is illustrated as the middle zone on this thermometer labelled “BEST ZONE”. Temperatures that are below 400°F can create a dirty, smoky fire that will lead to creosote buildup in your chimney.

Creosote can be a safety hazard, possibly burning down your house. This temperature range is illustrated on the thermometer and labelled “CREOSOTE”. A temperature that is above 650°F consumes more wood without additional room heat as more energy is lost up the stove pipe. This area is illustrated on the thermometer as “TOO HOT”

The alternative to having a wood burning stove thermometer is to have a Midwest Hearth Wood Stove Thermometer – Magnetic Chimney Pipe Meter (link to Amazon) on the stove pipe about 12 inches about the top of the wood stove. Be sure to buy the correct model…one is for the stove and one is for the stove pipe. If your pipe is insulated you need the one for the stove.

The Magnetic Chimney Pipe Meter is calibrated to read temperatures on a single-wall flue pipe only. The Premium quality Porcelain Enamel Finish of this thermometer will compliment your beautiful stove. The thermometer attaches to the stove pipe using the magnet that is on the back side of the thermometer. The magnet will hold to 800°F.

The best operating temperature of the chimney for most wood burning stoves is between 230°F and 475°F which is illustrated as the middle zone on this thermometer labelled “BEST ZONE”.

Temperatures that are below 230°F can create a dirty, smoky fire that leads to creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote can be a safety hazard, possibly burning the house down. This temperature range is illustrated on your thermometer labelled “CREOSOTE”.

An area that is illustrated on this thermometer as “TOO HOT”, is a temperature that gets above 475°F. This temperature consumes more wood without giving additional room heat as more energy is lost up the stove pipe.

At least once a day during the wood burning season, be sure the fire gets hot enough that the thermometer reads the appropriate temperature degrees for a much safer wood burning stove experience for heating your home.

By keeping the temperatures where they should be it will keep the creosote from sticking to the inside of the stove pipes. If there is not creosote sticking to the inside of the stove pipes, there is no creosote to catch fire and burn causing a chimney fire.

But, just in case there is a chimney fire you will know by hearing a loud sound often described as a jet airplane taking off when a chimney fire starts. Its a loud, roaring sound accompanied by loud cracking and popping noises. The stove pipe can glow red hot and it may shake or vibrate. You will see very dense, dark smoke from the chimney from outside the house and plume of flames and sparks sometimes 10 feet high.

When this happens, one quick method for stopping the chimney fire is to use a Chimfex Chimney Fire Extinquisher (link to Amazon), activating the stick according to the simple directions and placing it in the wood stove beside the fire, not in the fire.

The Chimfex are safe and easy to use, works to put the fire out in just seconds. The Chimfex Chimney Fire Extinguishers are also used by Professional Fire Fighters. The emissions that rise up the flue from the Chimfex replaces the oxygen so the fire goes out.

It is a good idea to have Chimfex sticks available to stop a chimney fire before it gets out of hand. We have friends who used 2 Chimfex sticks to save their house when they had a chimney fire one winter. We keep a couple of these sticks on hand ourselves just in case. It’s an indespensible tool to have on hand as the first line of defense for controlling a chimney fire!

Wood Splitters

For splitting firewood, probably the most popular method is to use a gas powered hydraulic wood splitter, usually ranging in size from a 25 ton splitter to a 35 ton splitter.

Yardmax (link to Amazon) makes gas powered hydraulic log splitters. The Yardmax 25 Ton Half Beam Gas Log Splitter, 4-Way Wedge, Briggs & Stratton, CR950, 6.5HP, 208cc is a one person assembly splitter. Works with horizontal and vertical splitting.

It has a patent pending 4-way wedge and a pair of large log cradles that are included with the splitter. It also has a pending U-Beam structural design that is significantly stronger than a typical I-Beam design.

The Yardmax is a rugged gas splitter built for maximum performance and comes with numerous standard design enhancements for better and longer performance.

Ready to take on heavy-duty applications, the compact designed Yardmax is easy to assemble and maneuver, it splits logs safely and effortlessly when loaded from either side of the splitter. A Yardmax gas log splitter provides durability under challenging scenarios, time and again.

Yardmax gas log splitters are all powered by Briggs & Stratton engines. It can accommodate logs up to 26″ logs with its longer table length. Oversized hydraulic components provide short cycle times. The hydraulic oil filter is mounted inside the reservoir, which prevents damage from falling logs and operator entanglement.

It has dual end cylinder support for equal weight distribution and wear reduction. The beam handle offers easy transition from a horizontal to a vertical position. There’s a log stripper mounted to the end of the hydraulic cylinder to remove tough log jams.

For a good all around choice for a log splitter is the Champion 25-Ton Horizontal/Vertical Full Beam Gas Log Splitter with Auto Return (link to Amazon). A log splitter like this Champion would handle most homestead wood splitting jobs.

The Champion Gas Log Splitter has a full powerful 25 tons of splitting capacity and is powered by a 224 cc Champion single-cylinder OHV engine. With a fast 12 second cycle time it is capable of 300 splitting cycles per hour.

The Champion quickly converts from horizontal to vertical splitting allowing ease of handling those large heavy logs. It has a low oil cutoff which improves engine protection.

The Champion is towable up to 45 mph, has 16-inch tires and takes a 2-inch hitch ball. The extended tongue makes towing with ATV/UTV’s easy to accomplish greatly simplifying your homestead wood splitting needs.

Champion Gas Log Splitters have a 2 year warranty and Free lifetime technical support from Champions own dedicated experts.