Stovetec StoveThe Stovetec Biomass Stove sat on my shelf for over a year. Having bought it on a whim, at a time when I was buying a lot of stuff on a whim, it took me a good long while to use it.

The intended purpose of the Stovetec Biomass Stove is to provide a cheap, cleaner burning alternative to traditional coal, wood, kerosene, and paraffin burning stoves in 3rd World, poverty-stricken nations. They also claim it helps to fight deforestation, climate change and global warming from greenhouse gasses.

Well, I finally put it to use, and what I like about the stove is how efficiently it works. The Stovetec Biomass Stove lit quickly and easily. Cooking on it was consistent and efficient. Unlike my Coleman PerfectFlow 2-Burner propane stove, a light to moderate wind did not affect the stove’s cooking ability and it did not suffer from random bursts of high to low flames.

For sheltering-in-place situations or even car camping, it allows the use of several types of dry fuel such as: wood, paper, or charcoal. These fuel types are plentiful, renewable, and readily available even in urban survival situations.

The Stovetec is not what I would call a backpacking or light travel stove. Weighing in at roughly 19lbs, it’s more than a bit to lug. For car camping or hunkering down though, it’s pretty good.

Using the Stovetec Stove in high winds proved problematic, but this is an issue for most stoves and methods of containing a fire. What I found was that the stove needed to be positioned rather carefully. If the opening where the wood was fed faced into the wind, sparks and embers flew out of the top of the stove, creating a potential fire hazard.

The doors on the model I have (one year old) slide into and out of place. While they worked, it just felt cheap. The brick block in the wood-feeding door was also loose and required some gyrations to get out. Recently Stovetec has updated the design, changing the doors from sliding to hinged. They have also affixed the brick to the door itself – no more fishing the brick out.

Stovetec marketing materials heavily promote the need for cheap stoves. However, the $129 price tag of a Stovetec stove is a far cry from the “cheap” mark. An article on the Ashden Awards website lists the manufacturing cost of the stove as $3.50 – $12 US. So, $129 is a pretty big margin from manufacturing cost. As a devout capitalist, I am all for people making money, but this seems excessive and mis-priced for the market, even when freight and packaging costs are considered.

The Stovetec design is pretty neat, and for a biomass burning stove, I liked it. The idea of an efficient stove that can take just about any organic debris and use it as a fuel source without creating clouds of nasty smoke is great. The price tag just kills it for me though.

If you are interested in learning more about these kinds of stoves, checkout the book Rocket Mass Heaters.