Homestead Hacks: DIY Radiant Heat with a Rocket Stove Boiler

This “Homestead Hack” shows how to build a rocket stove boiler to power DIY radiant heat in your house.

| December 2016/January 2017

  • The "Dragon" rocket boiler is designed to heat water for radiant flooring in the Luce home.
    Photo by Sheena Pendley
  • Search your local salvage yard to find and fit the components for your own "Dragon" rocket boiler.
    Photo by Timothy Luce
  • The fuel chamber grate to hold fuel wood in the "Dragon" rocket boiler.
    Photo by Timothy Luce
  • Outer skirt for the "Dragon" boiler's riser tube.
    Photo by Timothy Luce
  • Dry-fitting the riser tube and burn chamber components for the "Dragon" rocket boiler.
    Photo by Timothy Luce
  • Wrap the copper tubing around the burn chamber to add even more heat-capturing surface area. Concentrate the coils around the bottom third of the chamber to gain the most heat.
    Photo by Timothy Luce

My wife and I designed our house for DIY radiant heat. I installed copper heat exchangers in the firebox and stovepipe of the Fisher Grandpa Bear stove I grew up with, and pumped water through it to heat our radiant floors. After a hard winter spent feeding the stove, I realized that a rocket stove would better fit our needs. (Rocket stoves are efficient, convection-driven, biomass-fueled stoves that burn hotter than conventional stoves.)

It took me two to three days to build what I call the “Dragon” rocket stove boiler. It has three main components: the burn chamber, where combustion starts; the riser tube, which is the convection engine that fires the stove; and two heat exchangers. The heated water is stored in a 330-gallon tank separate from the stove. I designed a closed system, meaning no water enters or leaves the system. To build your own “Dragon,” take a trip to your local salvage yard and size up the scrap-metal components, avoiding aluminum.

Learn more about this rocket stove boiler project.


• 1⁄4- to 3⁄8-inch-thick steel for base/grate
• 1⁄16- to 1⁄8-inch-thick steel for burn chamber inner and outer walls
• 1⁄16- to 1⁄8-inch-thick steel for riser tube base
• 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch-thick steel for riser tube/connecting tube and riser tube outer wall
• Two 50-foot coils of 1⁄2-inch soft copper tubing
• 3⁄4-inch rubber hose rated for hot water


• Hammer
• Welder
• Jigsaw
• Reciprocating saw
• Torch
• Grinder or plasma cutter for cutting metal

Burn chamber. The burn chamber consists of a base, a grate, an inner wall, a soft copper tubing heat exchanger, and an outer wall with a lid. The diameter of your outer wall should be approximately 1 1⁄2 inches larger than the diameter of your inner wall.

1/14/2019 12:37:33 PM

Hi Everyone, Timothy Luce here. my latest invention is now live on Kickstarter It's an Alexa-Enabled Automatic Chicken Door. (Solar, iOS, Android, Sunrise/Sunset, WiFi controlled as well)

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters