Ode to the Ecofan

by Maggie Wells on 10 October 2009 10 comments
Photo: ecofan

Judging by the the thermostat this morning, I’d say it’s time to turn on the heat (37 degrees this morning). As we settle in for another fall/winter season that’s sure to see high prices in oil to heat our houses, or take time most of us don’t have to stack firewood and build fires, I present to you my favorite cost cutting item that I was initially super skeptical about: the eco fan. I usually have an issue with buying anything if it’s $100.

The ecofans run about $79-$159 depending on size. Ours was $100 from Gaiam. That model is now $109. But there are a ton of places online you can get one these days. You can use them on either oil burning or wood burning stoves. They work best in houses that are ‘cabin-style,’ split levels — anything that’s really open. Our bottom floorplan is really one giant room of the kitchen, dining and living room with no doors that would block air flow. With an ecofan on the top of our stove we can keep our oil stove turned to 1/2 — not even one — on its dial. Without the ecofan to get the same amount of heat from where the stove is in the kitchen to the living room, I’d have to turn it to 4-6 (floorplan is 1000 sq. ft.). The guy who comes and fills the kerosene tank often has commented that we go through less than most of his customers in our area. We also have dual paned windows which helps keep all that heat inside.

The ecofan works by you placing it on top of the stove while the stove is on. The heat turns the fan. There’s nothing to plug in and no hassle. I dust it a couple of times a year. That’s it. What seemed like an extra added expense a few years ago, now feels like a godsend as we’ve been able to last through our tank of kerosene for a full month longer than we did before. If you tend to like a really hot house, be careful. If you have a bigger space than what I listed below, you’ll probably want one of the bigger sized fans. Either way, you’ll save money on oil and labor on wood.

Oh Ecofan, I love you!

Disclosure: I was not given anything for this review.

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Guest's picture
Tim

Was curious if this would fit on a portable oil radiator or if you knew of a model that would. We keep one room in the cabin heated in the winter and this might reduce the energy needed to do so.
Thank you!

Maggie Wells's picture

With the top of the surface giving off heat to work. There's nothing on the fan that would burn or catch fire. If that helps.

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
maureen

Woulod this work on a cast iron propane stove/heater?

Maggie Wells's picture

Cast iron oil stove. It also works on my mother's cast iron wood burning stove. As long as the top of the stove gets hot, it'll work.

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture

it seems like quite the nifty little gadget but i dont think that i will get one of them

Myscha Theriault's picture

Very interesting.

We don't really need one in our new location, but this sure would have been handy in Maine during the winter. I've never seen these before, Margaret. Cool post.

You can also follow me on Twitter and Trek Hound.

Guest's picture
Glue

I have been eyeballing these for a couple years now, so thank you for the input!!! I use wood almost exclusively in the fall and early winter so I had wondered if the product was worth the money.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes! The ecofan is worth every penny! We used one for 4 years in our cabin and loved it. Our only heat was a wood burning stove, and when the ecofan got going, it distributed the heat nicely around the living area. It' safe and economical because it works off the stove's heat. We love it and if we get another wood stove at our new home, we will definately use it. We were even thinking of getting another one and have the fans facing different directions.

Guest's picture
Gus

The fan as it is designed is mainly a heat sink for the heater. What it does is create a greater surface area for heat to be transmitted into the living space. This is advantageous in a chimney evacuated system such as a wood or pellet stove. It pulls a little extra heat out of the system before it is vented. The caveat to this, or other heat-grabber type setups, is increased creosote and condensation build up in the chimney due to the lower flue gas temperatures. For a non-vented system the usefulness would be low or non-existent. This is because 100% of the energy remains in the living space.

As for the fan, I am suspect to it's actual usefulness. The fan is being moved from the upward current of air caused by convection. The spinning would would be the reaction to the air rather than the other way around. It's like saying a child's pinwheel is making wind when it is blown on. It is merely reacting, causing no new or augmented air currents.

I would recommend recommend a nice ornamental cast iron sculpture. The idea is to have the heating surface area increased. Also, a ceiling fan would be even better for any loft-like buildings. This is because you want to keep the heat as close to the people as possible and not trapped up against the ceiling. Additionally my neighbor always kept a cast iron pot filled with water on his wood stove. The pot increased the surface area, and the water increased the relative humidity (which helped maintain the warm feeling even at lower temps).

Just my two cents. Stay warm!

Guest's picture
PH

$100 is pretty expensive. What is the payback period? I'd like to see empirical evidence that shows this fan is worth the cost.

Until then, I'm sticking to my stove's circulating blower and a $15 electric fan from Kmart.