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Corn burner stoves????


Mark Christianson

Question

I know 3 people that have them, and they all swear by them.

Puts out a LOT of heat.

Extremely cheap to keep running.

Clean up is simple.

I am finishing my basement, and was planning on putting in a gas fireplace. Now I am starting to wonder about a corn burner.

Any thoughts a good places to buy one, or at least kick some tires?

What are the downsides you have experienced?

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My BIL bought one at Fleet Farm, and so far he loves it. I will probably have one next year too. Corn supply is not a problem for me. grin.gif Installation was simple, and the wall clearances needed are very minimal.

When we get one, it will be one that can use wood pellets or corn.

The biggest factor is to make sure the corn is dry enough. A lot of the corn stored in farmers bins is a bit high in moisture. Most of the corn we dried was dried to about 15%. With the price of propane, it was not dried anymore than it needed for storage. The burner my BIL has works better at 12% moisture.

We will get around that next year by having the dryer corn for the burner in a separate bin.

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we are building a new house 5000 sq ft. we are going to place one on the main level that is open to the top level for inexpensive heating that will reduce our demands on lp gas. We are putting a fireplace in and buying a fireplace insert cornburner to go in. The IROQUOIS™ INSERT OR FREESTANDING MODEL is the one we are looking at.

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My mom and dad put in the fireplace version into an old farm house and man does that thing crank out the heat! Others are right in saying that the corn does need to be dry, it also does burn very efficent, and has a nice crackle and flame just like wood!

I see that you come up to Battle Lake. There are a couple of places along highway ten that sell these. One is Aldrich Tractor--right on highway ten and the other is in Verndale and they have a sign out and have many models. These are just places that I know of that around the area where I live!

Like I said my mom and dad have had there fireplace for three years and they love it!

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I have one & like it a lot. It's a little bit of work but it keeps my gas bill as low as it is in the summer months.

Dry clean corn are the keys to satisfaction.

I have a St. Croix model. Nice thing about these is that they don't have a "stirator" which uses an additional electic motor which burns out.

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I went with the gas stove in the basement with a thermostat and the main reason is that it will still work in a power outage which is nice if we are not home when power goes off. Where the corn or pellet stove won't,because of the auger and I didn't want to carry all the bags down the steps. Newoodhntr

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thats why you put in a gas furnace and a corn burner. keep the gas furnace set to recycle air slowly with thermostat set low. Use inexpensive corn for most times. Keep a plug wired separately for the corn burner to be powered off a battery or generator.

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WARNING - city boy question coming.

We have a place near Alexandria. Thinking about putting a corn burner in the shed as a cheap heat source then possibly another one in the house when we decide to build.

Corn fields surround us and I know farmers in the area will sell directly to home owners. Most the home owners purchase corn for wildlife feed. Pheasants, deer, etc..

Does this corn (for wildlife feed) typically contain too much moisture for efficient corn burning? How do you tell, and how do you dry it out more if it's too wet?

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Just tell the farmer you have to have it below 15% moisture because it will be used in a corn stove and you should be fine. Corn harvested directly out of the field is usually at the low end 17% to the high end 25% moisture in the fall, then dried in a drying setup or at the local elevator. What has worked really good for me is corn left over the winter as a food plot for wildlife then harvested in the spring, comes out at around 14% and burns great! I have had a corn stove in my house for 10 yrs., this winter it is supplying about 75% of my heat. I am thinking about updating to a new stove this summer also.

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Most farms that store their own corn have a moisture tester.

Corn has to be dried down for storage, otherwise spoilage will take place. Most folks dry down to about 15% or so for storage. That seems to work OK in my BIL's corn stove, but if it is 12% it works a lot better. Corn that has been dried to a level sufficient for storage should be OK.

Wildlife feed corn should be dried to a similar level, otherwise it will start to mold and spoil.

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The St. Croix corn burner I have can be hooked to a thermostat. I think it's the only brand that works with one (it was at the time I purchased it anyway).

I'm working on hooking up the battery back up for it. It will put a slight smoke smell into the house if the power does go out & it doesn't re-ignite itself.

The house I installed it in has a forced air natural gas furnace also. The thermostat for that one is set at like 55º if the corn burner goes out.

I think all the St. Croix models put out 40,000 BTU's.

I pay between $3-4 for 100 pounds of corn near the metro. I know some places are charging $3-5 for 50 pounds of screened corn. Just another thing to consider - availability of clean dry corn.

I use the ash & clinkers (crushed up) as fertilizer in the garden. It's amazing to see how a couple hundred pounds of corn can turn into a small black brick.

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Several years ago when I built my 40x56 shed I looked heavily into corn stoves as the primary heat source. The concept sounds good, farmers keep increasing their corn yields, corn is cheap at harvest time, less than $2 a bushel, it sounded better than wood heat, I've burnt wood for years and by the time you cut wood, haul it, split it, stack it, move it, stack it again, its not 'free' heat. What I found out about corn is the same as what everybody else has said, it needs to be drier and cleaner than normal 'straight out of the bin' corn. So there goes my concept of calling the local elevator and ordering 500 bushels and getting the cheap price. Unless you have a good farmer friend or neighbor that will specially dry and screen the corn for you, you'll end up paying the much higher bag price. So the first thing you have to do is find a good source of corn and figures the cost vrs btu's produced. The second thing I found was that the majority of the corn stoves is that they have the moving parts/augers that feed the corn in and develop 'clinkers' that have to be cleaned out. They wouldn't run for 12 hours while you're gone, they'd plug after a few hours. It would almost be like tending a wood stove, you need to check on it (stoke it) every few hours. My conclusion was that a corn stove wasn't for me, that it wouldn't provide the consistent heat I wanted. Maybe some day when I'm retired and have the time to diddle with it, and by then maybe the technology will improve to where you can use the corn straight out of a bin.

Bottom line is I think you need to do the math, starting at the cost of your best source of corn.

By the way, what I ended up doing in my shed was installing the infloor heat, supplied by an electric boiler. I keep the stat at 40 degrees, then when want to work out there, I've also got a wood stove that I can stoke up to raise the temp. It doesn't take much wood to raise it up to 60 degrees.

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Are the stoves more efficient or just better now?

2 of the people we know, buy bulk corn at an elevator and have it delivered to their houses.

The one couple gets theirs from Buffalo. Its $2 a bushel, they order 120 bushels and delivery is $35.

They drive a truck up, back in the driveway, and auger it right into big holding containers that they have.

For $275 they heat their entire house for the winter as a primary source.

And there is no smell or aroma at all.

Its cornfusing to say the least. laugh.gif

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Slight smell outside, not bad like burning wood. No visible smoke at all.

Shouldn't put any kind of smell in your house if vented correctly & the damper is set correctly.

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I burn straight corn from the local elevator/feed mill in mine. The cheap stuff. Usually around $3.25 for a 100 pound bag. The moisture content of the corn I'm burning is right around 14%. Doesn't plug up at all with that level of moisture.

Depending on the temp setting, mine can run for 2 days striaght without having to do any 'maintenence' on it. I do need to add corn to it, but that takes less than a minute. Pour it in the hopper & walk away.

Most of the time I just do it once a day & it takes less than 2 minutes. Wipe the glass clean of the fly ash & drop the clinker into the ash pan, then once every few days I empty the ash pan.

Mine only has one moving part. Other brands have more & require more maintenence as a result.

They aren't for everybody. You do need to be willing to do a bit to keep it going, especially at higher levels, like adding the corn and dropping the clinker.

I wouldn't put one in a shed or garage. But having it in the house works great since I'm in the house every day.

My gas bill is what it is in the summer. I'm saving at least $100 per month compared to what that would have been this winter. It would be more if it would ever get cold! And if natural gas prices go up year after year, I'll save even more.

For the few minutes a day it takes to run it, the $100 in savnigs is worth it to me. Over the course of a winter thats enough savings for a lot of fishing gear. laugh.gif

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There you go BLB, a user thats given you the straight skinny!! Almost sounds too good to be true!!

Talk to your friends and the Bufalo elevator to see what kind of corn they're getting. Talk to the stove dealers and see what they say about the corn quality. Sounds like the stoves with less moving parts are the way to go. Consider how you're going to get a truck backed into your culdesac and what you'll store it in. I've seen people buy the side unload gravity wagons, put a good tarp on them, and park them by their garages. You could paint it and call it lawn art!!

When we finish off our basement, I was considering getting a gas fireplace, mainly becasue it would run without electricity and would heat the house if the power went out. Will a corn stove run without electricity?

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A corn burner won't run without electricity (unless you have a battery back up). When I lived in a house that had a gas fireplace it didn't do the best job heating with the electricity out because the fan couldn't run. The gas would burn in it, but the ambient heat from that wasn't enough to heat the upstairs very well.

The amount of venting is another consideration when getting a corn burner. I got away with just buying the simple vent kit because of the walk-out basement. That included 5 feet of straight piping, wall thimble, a clean-out tee, an elbow, and an end cap. That's the bare minimum for an installation on my brand anyway. That stainless steel venting is not cheap.

It took me a couple days of trial & error to get the damper set correctly too. Since every install (& every stove) is different, the damper setting is going to be different. This did cause me some frustration & a few bucks in the old swear jar.

Corn storage is another issue. I buy between 500 & 700 pounds at a time. This does take up some floor space in the basement and garage.

Do mice eat corn? I know I spilled a little when a bag tore outside. Judging by the amount of rabbit do-do around it they really appreciated me dumping it.

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