Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
Herman Turkstra
On Deciding Between a Masonry Heater and a Rumford

Herman Turkstra

Hello Jim.

Back in 1999, you asked me to let you know what I decided. Sorry for the delay in responding. http://www.rumford.com/Turkstra.html popped up on my screen today for weird reasons, but here's the answer.

I put a Rumford on the second floor in the bedroom for the look and feel and a Danish Soapstone highly effecient wood stove in the first floor living room where it can, when needed, heat the entire 2400 sqft house.

That was in 1999.

This year, renovating an 1884 stone house, there was no room for a fireplace, so until the extra room is added to hold a fireplace, there is an old mennonite wood cook stove in one half of the house and a $450.00 Lowes from Chile airtight with a nice glass flame viewing front door in the living room. The fireplace will go in the new room when built next summer, for all the reasons you said fireplaces are great for.

What prompted me to write is that thinking about masonry heaters popped up again this summer and I resolved it by installing air to air heat exchangers that work down to -31C. (Mitsubishi.) As you said you used your furnace for in 1999, I use them to keep the house at 59 and then use the wood burning appliances when the room is in use. With a 2.7x effeciency rating, the heat exchangers finally make electric feasible for basic heat in northern climates. And much cheaper than masonry heaters as it turns out. Plus they work when the house is uninhabited and the snow is blowing.

Best regards.

Nice to see you are still rolling along.



    It's nice to hear from you again and to know what you decided to do back in 1999. You didn't say anything about the Rumford except its "look and feel". Within the apples to oranges comparisons I offered in 1999 and maybe put more succinctly at http://www.rumford.com/Sargent.html, what did you think of the Rumford as an effective heater compared with the Danish soapstone heater?

    Warm regards,
    Jim Buckley


Well Jim, it comes down to this: I put two 12 inch long, four inch diameter logs in the stove at 10 pm and next morning it's still generating heat. My Rumford in the bedroom is wonderfully soothing and romantic but sort of needs an attendant. But just to be sure we are talking about the same apples, the soapstone is not a masonry heater but smaller unit - I attached a picture. I'm fairly certain I get more BTU's from the Rais stove than from my fireplace but who's measuring.

Best wishes for the New Year

p.s. I am seriously grateful to you for the work you've done in promoting the Rumford. I've passed the message on to countless friends and renovators along with a speech about how helpful your website is.



Mon, 27 Sep 1999
From: Herman Turkstra
To: Jim Buckley "buckley@rumford.com"
Subject: Re: Consulting Services Inquiry

Hello Jim,

As the publisher of an on-line community magazine and company that provides free web sites to hundreds of fitness clubs in the U.S., I have some perspective on web sites and before I respond to your email I want to say that you have one of the best web sites I have found in two years of staring at computer screens connected to the Internet. Someone is spending a lot of time doing it right on your site. It took me over three hours to get partially through the information and links. Five Stars!

Thank you for the article. I think I saw parts of it already on your site, but I will read it carefully.

One of the interesting topics I garnered from your site is the ecology argument. I read your two articles on this topic and then went to links you provided for masonry heaters. There I found all kinds of representations that masonry heaters are better than wood stoves, i.e. more efficient and much lower in particulate emissions. The inference is that they are also better than
Rumfords, which might mean that you are promoting access to a competing form of "fireplace" that claims substantial advantages over your core product. Sort of neat, but a little hard to assimilate to the point of decision making when we are trying to figure out what to do in a new house in a northern climate. It seems to come down to fireplaces as lower cost occasional solutions for moderate climates and masonry heaters as more routine solutions for colder climates. Did I get it correct?

Thanks again for your advice. I will work through the list of local people.

Herman Turkstra


    Hmmmm... Interesting and accurate perspective on my website, I think. I like masonry heaters but when you sum it up: "fireplaces as lower cost occasional solutions for moderate climates and masonry heaters as more routine solutions for colder climates" it doesn't sound so good.

    Let me rephrase. Fireplaces are cheery, quick to warm up, full of charm and emotional warmth and very good at heating people and surfaces in large open well ventilated spaces. They are culturally linked to England, France, Italy and America - places with moderate or maritime climates. Fireplaces require more tending than masonry heaters and are not as popular and probably not as efficient in cold climates like that of northern Europe where masonry heaters developed.

    The representations that masonry heaters are better than wood stoves, and by inference, also better than Rumfords is my arrogant masonry heater friends talking - not me. Many of them can't imagine that a fireplace can be clean or efficient. I think we've proved Rumfords are clean but the jury is still out on the efficiency and the argument hasn't progressed since my "critique" of Skip Hayden's anti fireplace article.

    So, what should you build in a new house in a northern climate? Depends. Do you plan to heat with wood? Then I would install one or more masonry heaters. Do you plan a large open "great room" or are there times in the spring or fall when you'd like to throw the house open when it's 40 degrees outside? Then a Rumford would be more effective and provide faster heat than a more ponderous masonry heater. Some of our customers build both masonry heaters and Rumfords because they heat differently. I now live in western Washington where the climate is moderate and I used to live in Ohio where it could get pretty cold and I use my Rumfords the same way in both climates - I rely on a modern furnace to heat the house to a basic minimum of about 60 degrees F but welcome a cheery fire in a Rumford in the evening (or weekend) to make a room comfortable for reading and relaxing without having to jack up the furnace.

    I think I'll keep my links to the masonry heaters. I don't loose many sales to them. Maybe it's because my Rumfords are "cheaper" but I really think it's because most people like an open fire and are pleased that a Rumford is at least arguably pretty efficient.

    Let me know what you decide.

    Thanks for the kind remarks about my website. It's my data base and my outlet so I do try to keep it useful.


    Jim Buckley

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