Gene Kroupa's Combination Wood Heating and Wood Cooking Stove

Necessity drove Gene Kroupa to invent a combination wood heating and wood cooking stove that was efficient at both functions. For a little extra you could add a water heater.

| January/February 1981

Until recently, it wasn't considered possible to make a combination wood heating and wood cooking stove in the same appliance. The quick, hot fires associated with the small fireboxes common to most cook stoves just aren't compatible with large-bodied, draft-regulated, slow-burning, airtight heaters. Without question, cook stoves do provide radiant heat and airtights can be used for cooking ... but each is designed to perform a specific task, and does so at the expense of the complementary function.

Well, as any regular reader of this magazine is aware, we're not in the habit of heralding the arrival of every interesting new product ... but if an invention comes along that seems to be innovative enough to set conventional wisdom by the wayside, we think you should know about it. So when tall, red-headed Gene Kroupa gave us a demonstration of the wood stove he'd recently completed, we jumped at the chance to feature it in these pages. Why? Because the Kroupa Stove not only combines efficient and convenient cooking and heating capabilities in the same appliance, it even allows you the option of setting up the heater to warm your water, as well.

A "Necessity" Invention

The inventor didn't intend to get into the wood stove business when he began assembling his prototype three and a half years ago. Rather, Mr. Kroupa had a more immediate goal: He needed a wood burner to heat his just-completed home, cook his food, and warm his water, all in the demanding climate of Nova Scotia. And, after three years of studying burn patterns, testing ideas, and making innumerable improvements on three different versions, Gene finished the wood stove he'd set out to build. What's more, he realized that he'd invented a truly versatile appliance ... one that other people just might want to buy!

How It Works

Essentially, the Kroupa Stove is three wood stoves connected by a precise and intricate (but easily controllable) set of baffles. The base of the unit is a 17" X  23", airtight, 1/4" steel, brick-lined firebox equipped with an adjustable, preheated primary draft (which introduces combustion air at the front or back of the firebox) plus a Vycor brand (it's rated to handle temperatures of 2000°F) self-cleaning glass window in its door. Directly above the 9" X 15" firebox opening are a pair of sliding metal shutters—with chrome wire handles for barehanded operation—which monitor the draft for the entire stove. And directly on the back (cooking) side of the wood burner (see the illustration) are two push/pull knobs that regulate the direction that inflow will take.

With both knobs pushed in, for example, air flows through a preheating channel above the fire and then down the back of the firebox to an inlet located about 10 inches above the stove's bottom. When the baffles are set in this manner, a hot fire works its way down the length of the logs and toward the firebox door.

The smoke is routed in one of two directions: When the rotating baffle located to the right of the draft opening is in its normal closed position, exhaust gases rise through a grate at the left side of the firebox and flow immediately beneath the 5/16"-thick, 18" X 22" cooking surface. The hot smoke is then divided to flow evenly through the 2"-wide passages that surround the baking oven, and recombines to exit through the 8"-flue. However, when the time comes to reload the firebox, the baffle is swung open momentarily to allow a direct exit for the flue gases ... thereby preventing the possibility of back-puffing when the door is opened.

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