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Is It Hard To Keep A 30ft Yurt Warm In Winter?

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Old 12-04-2023, 10:02 AM   #1
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Default Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Hey everybody!

I'm new to the forum and would love to get some opinions from you folks.

Me and my partner are looking to build a yurt to live in all year round in the UK. The plan is to be as off-grid as possible but we want enough space to include an indoor bathroom, kitchen living area and bedroom. I've seen some 30ft yurts around but I worry that these will be a nightmare to heat with a wood stove as they have a height of 4.12m.

Does anyone have any experience with

heating

such a large yurt and is feasible?

The other option I had in mind was to go for a modular approach to include 2/3 smaller yurts and heat each yurt with an individual wood-burning stove.

Would love to get your thoughts!

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Old 12-04-2023, 06:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

I heat my 30' yurt with a wood stove without much issue. I go through a lot of wood so if you do not have an ample supply, then I suppose that might be a problem.

If you are not 100% off-grid, you could go with a minisplit too.
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Old 12-05-2023, 12:19 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Welcome! I'm a British expat now living in the mountains outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. We have a small tourist camp where we live year round. Perhaps I can offer some of my own experiences through 2 winters. Some of it might be useful but the climate in the UK is so different. So maybe not.

In Summer:
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In Winter:
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First some history. Traditional yurts ('gers' in Mongolian) aren't well insulated compared to a house. Two or three layers of wool felt is about the most

insulation

they have, which really isn't very thick compared to modern

insulation

- maybe 3-5cm maximum thickness in total.

Instead, they rely on small size and efficient shape to be comfortable. Mongolians made their winter gers very small and low for maximum efficiency. A wood stove in the middle heats outwards from the center and the family sleeps in single beds arranged around the wall.

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Again, these gers are not big or tall. Probably just 6m max diameter, 1.5m high outer walls, 2m tall in the middle. We have 2 of them. The doors and outer walls are low to keep the internal volume small. However, due to the small volume and arrangement of the stove, Mongolians have survived through -40C/F winters for eons. Just burning wood and/or dung. More recently smokeless coal briquettes. Electricity could maybe keep them warm with space heaters but it could be costly compared to other methods.

So, now let's talk about modern gers. We have 2 of them also. They are bigger (ours are 7.2m diameter) and taller (2m at the walls and 3.5m in the center). We have windows and glass doors in our modern gers. With only about 5cm of wool felt insulation, we need to generate a lot of heat to keep them warm through the Mongolian winter.

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We have multiple

heating

methods for our modern gers. I'll list them with their pros and cons.

Underfloor electric heating. Pretty nice feeling to have warm floors but won't generate enough heat alone in deepest winter. It's slow to warm and a gentle kind of heat, widely dispersed across most of the floor. Also, it's invisible so it doesn't change the look of the ger. We have cheap or even free electricity so it doesn't cost what it would in the UK.

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Coal/electric hybrid boiler and radiators. This has the benefit of using smokeless coal (coal briquettes) and/or electricity. Again it's struggling to keep up because the maximum is 95C for the system and we only have 1 large radiator in each 7.2m (40m/2) ger.

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Wood stoves. I love them. Very romantic and nice ambience. Each of our modern gers has a modern wood stove. This creates massive, fast, radiant and conductive heat but needs almost constant attention. They aren't in the center of the ger because I wanted an open plan with no obstructions in the middle. Fast, glorious heat but no good for all night. In Mongolia, they heat the stove before bed then go to sleep. It'll be cold by the morning but they bundle up. The first up makes a new fire.

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We have other methods as backups. Propane room heater is also fast and hot (radiant) but it generates a lot of water vapour and probably CO and CO2. You need to ventilate very well which sort of defeats the object. Unless you rig up some kind of air intake and exhaust which should be heat exchange type. Tricky in a ger but probably feasible.

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Diesel heaters. Also need air intake and exhaust. Quite good heat with a blower fan but a bit noisy. Can be run on vegetable oils, if prepared correctly. If the wind is blowing the wrong way, it's unpleasant. My wife objected to the smell so this is only used in an absolute emergency. Also it needs electricity to run but can be a 12v battery and inverter, if I remember correctly.

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I think the wood stove is a good choice for simplicity and off-grid suitability. Just be prepared to be cold in the morning. Lots of bedding helps. If you can get an efficient coal/semi-coke burning stove, you can get an all night burn but it depends on availability. Anthracite is great if you can get it. Smokeless coke is good too.

In Mongolia, the absolute cheapest way of heating is now smokeless coke briquettes. And can certainly be off-grid. The simplicity of solid fuels is an advantage but there's quite a bit of maintenance involved: starting fires, cleaning fires, ash disposal etc.

Please reply because I'm curious what you decide.
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Old 12-05-2023, 10:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Thanks for the responses!

@Jafo that's reassuring that the wood stove heats a 30fter! We're looking to buy some woodland in the UK so hopefully we'll be able to supply enough wood with the land. How big is your wood burning stove and do you use any fans to spread the heat around the yurt?

@UKadventurer, thanks for the details on you're set up - very helpful and interesting learning about the traditional use of yurts! We are in the very early stages of planning so just trying to scope out all the options. I like the idea of a water/air heat pump (granting we find some land with a flowing river) to power underfloor heating/radiators used in conjunction with the wood burning stove. There's even the option of connecting extra electrical heaters to the solar power if needed!
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Old 12-05-2023, 07:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBlewit View Post
@Jafo that's reassuring that the wood stove heats a 30fter! We're looking to buy some woodland in the UK so hopefully we'll be able to supply enough wood with the land. How big is your wood burning stove and do you use any fans to spread the heat around the yurt?
Here is the stove I use: https://www.woodstove.com/ideal-steel-hybrid-wood-stove

I do have a ceiling fan which does help. I only turn it on periodically.
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Old 12-06-2023, 07:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Thanks for showing your stove Jafo. I definitely dig the 'Spacely Space Sprockets' on your George Jetson space heater. lol...
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Old 12-06-2023, 08:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBlewit View Post
Thanks for the responses!

@Jafo that's reassuring that the wood stove heats a 30fter! We're looking to buy some woodland in the UK so hopefully we'll be able to supply enough wood with the land. How big is your wood burning stove and do you use any fans to spread the heat around the yurt?

@UKadventurer, thanks for the details on you're set up - very helpful and interesting learning about the traditional use of yurts! We are in the very early stages of planning so just trying to scope out all the options. I like the idea of a water/air heat pump (granting we find some land with a flowing river) to power underfloor heating/radiators used in conjunction with the wood burning stove. There's even the option of connecting extra electrical heaters to the solar power if needed!
I'm happy to help. If you have a source of "free" wood that could be a huge advantage. We have a massive forest next to us but frankly I'm too lazy to collect it, cut store and season the fallen trees. It's very labour-intensive, ideally requires special tools so few people are willing to put the effort into it. I know I'm not. Semi-coke is cheap, electricity is cheap and even firewood isn't too bad. If I was broke then I suppose I'd put the effort into preparing my own firewood.

A 9 meter diameter yurt is huge. That's way bigger than Mongolian gers (typically 5 to 6 meters diameter). We decided that two 7 meter gers would be a more liveable arrangement with a hallway / bathroom connection between them.
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Old 12-07-2023, 04:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

Yep wood stoves heat you three times. haha

I'm definitely diggin my 12'6" redo. I'm regularly out back shooting my stickbow or farting around in my tool shed. Duck into the yurt and lay on my cot reading my ipad. haha What a retired life I have.. Hard to believe I stashed it for four years. The olive green G.I. grade waxed canvas panels I made for the walls recently are really holding in the heat. I really like being in there with fire going when it's cold, stepping out to look at the stars, and duck back in where it's nice and warm.

If I lived in my little camping yurt it would definitely be insulated with at least one layer of canvas panels under the main roof cover in addition to the walls. A small yurt like mine is very easy to heat. And just a whole lot of fun.
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Old 12-08-2023, 09:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: Is it hard to keep a 30ft yurt warm in winter?

I must say of all our heat sources, our wood stoves are my favourite. The caveat, like beautiful women, is they need a lot of attention.

I love their ambience. Its somehow fundamental to the human to like to see the source of the heat.
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