From the mailbag: wood stoves, municipalities, neighbors, and gasification.

Vancouver BC Canada build
hi I just discovered your site absolutely fantastic information. glad to find so many people that are equally as passionate about saunas and life. I’m in the process building my outdoor sauna and a half your questions. do you have any experience or knowledge Harvia legend 150 Stoves?also what is your experience with municipalities in general bylaws surrounding outdoor wood burning stoves in Canada or US? I tried doing some research even called the fire department and the district and nobody could give me the bylaw. They all defaulted to the standard, you can’t burn on an open stove or fire pit etc but when pressed on a sauna they weren’t sure? Im wondered what happens if my neighbor calls the district by laws to complain, unlikely but just wondering what other people experience has been. Thanks
The Harvia 150
The Harvia 150

Hi Christian.

Harvia 150: is a decent stove.  It is imported from Finland and is well road tested over there.  I like how it is made with sauna rocks surrounding the heat chamber.  Lots of thermal mass and Loyly potential.
Municipalities/laws:  I hear you.  Outdoor saunas fall into a grey area and authorities shrug their shoulders.  My approach (too loosey goosey for many) is don’t ask don’t tell. I appreciate your concern of neighbor whistle blowing and complaining, yet, what’s to complain about?
The only possible neighbor issue besides “they’re having more fun than us” is a complaint about smoke from the wood stove.  The cool thing is that modem wood stoves are (or should be) engineered for gasification – the burning off of the smoke gases during combustion.
I have built a bunch of saunas, two for myself, all using the Kuuma Wood Stove from Tower, MN.  Daryl’s stoves are all UL approved.  This alone may placate some nosey neighbor or city inspector.  More practically, after lighting the Kuuma stove, smoke will appear out the chimney for five minutes or so, then it will disappear completely, when the fire box becomes hot enough for gasification to kick in.
Looking out a backyard window, I will have to stare awhile at my sauna stove chimney, looking for those Sahara desert type heat waves, to make sure the sauna stove is still going.
Anyhow, big tangent there. Long story short: build it. If neighbors don’t wander over in their bathrobes with towel and nICE mug in hand, they should have nothing to complain about if you use a well made wood burning sauna stove.
Christian, not a hard sell, but for $20, you may very well benefit from my sauna building plans.  Lots of useful tips. If the spirit moves, paypal me saunatimes@gmail.com.  BC is great sauna territory.  When completed, would love to see a picture of your sauna set up, digging yourselves in your BC garden all misty wet with rain.

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8 thoughts on “From the mailbag: wood stoves, municipalities, neighbors, and gasification.”

  1. Thanks Geoff,

    I’m hoping that someone will be able to share there experiences with the Harvia Legend wood burning stove as well. Im interested in the smoke it produces or lack thereof.

    I really love the rounded design as it lends nicely the orientationthe of the stove tucked in the corner without breaking up the flow if you know what I mean?

  2. a note of caution regarding ul-listed stoves: they only maintain their listing if installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. that means maintaining all the clearances from combustible surfaces, installing air gaps, etc. as detailed in the installation manual. this isn’t to say that the stove will be a ticking time bomb if the directions are not followed but it will technically ‘void’ the listing.

  3. Good point, I’m in the process of researching tasteful heat shielding ideas of the non combustible variety for the rear and side walls adjacent to the stove.



  4. if building a sauna to meet stove ul requirements, you almost need to pick your stove first and start designing around that. stoves are similar but various manufacturers may have different clearance requirements. the clearances will dictate hot room size, bench arrangement, etc. using the kuuma stove as an example, a full 38 inches of clearance is needed between the side of the stove and a wood wall! with a heat shield on the stove, that distance drops to only 18 inches. with shields on the stove and the wall, distance drops to 11 inches. that’s over two feet closer than if no shielding is used!

    early decisions regarding the stove and use of shields clearly makes a large impact on how a sauna gets laid out…

  5. Miller is right, you NEED heat shields if your hot room isn’t the size of a small airplane hangar. I’ve been in several saunas that had blackened walls near the stove due to lack of heat shields where the stove was placed too close to the wall. It’s also important to pay close attention to the are where the stove pipe goes through the wall or roof.

  6. Thanks Miller and Mike, I’ve been looking at 3/4 inch thick Mica flag stone approx 48 w 40 high pieces they are organic shapes and have a silver and gold metallic shimmer. Basically mount with hardward lag bolts so it comes off as utilitarian and not as Martha Stewar or somet pho fake wall cladding. Also looking at doing the floor is same stone but smaller sizes/scale. Should I be concerned with high heat transfer from stone on the floor compared to say wood.

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