Q&A: How Does the Eco Fan on My Woodstove Work?
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Q&A: How Does the Eco Fan on My Woodstove Work?

August 12, 2019

hi everybody sean james here for my self-reliance welcome to the cabin so most of what I do here at the cabin is without power so mostly building things with hand tools and and getting water from the stream or melting snow and things like that so I’m not using any outside energy sources the only source of energy really is wood I’m heating and cooking with firewood on the wood stove inside as you probably know but I do get a lot of questions about the fan that’s sitting on top of the stove because it’s a moving fan and question is what’s powering it the answer is it’s a thermal electric generator which means it generates power where this device generates power through differences in temperatures so the heat of the stove and the coolness of the the fins here I’ll kind of dissipate the heat so the cool up here and the extreme heat on the stove down here creates a some voltage so electrical electric current and it powers this fan now that principle can be used to power other things as well but it’s not a very efficient energy generation source or technologies but it is good for generating power for something as simple and as low in that low of demand as a as a simple fan like this so basically what happens it’s the bottom here that coil heats out for that thin piece of metal and transfers the heat back up into through here and then it generates some current and that that fan gets moving now I’m not sure what exactly the differential in temperature needs to be but basically as soon as that stove heats up to the point where I can feel it the fan starts turning slowly and then it reaches a maximum speed doesn’t go anything any faster this one was actually sent to me by G stove they were kind enough to send me and my wife a portable stove to use for winter camping we’re freezing over the nice side so they sent this along with that stove to be used with that on top of that little stove to generate some circulation and something like a hot tent or a small cabin I find it’s usually not necessary in a small space like that in a hot to a small cabin or an ice hut but in this larger cabin it’s nice to have that additional air circulation this fan on top of the stove pushing the heat around the cabin a little bit so if you want to look that up it’s called the Seebeck effect it’s similar to the Peltier thermoelectric cooler or heater so if you want to look that up online look up try you can look up Peltier so PE LTI ER or the Seebeck effect Seb e CK I think and it’ll explain a little bit more about how the thermoelectric generators work so hope that answers your questions and put this back on the stove it’s a beautiful day out here above thinking cut above 10 Celsius and sun’s shining you can hear the water dripping off the cabinet starting to melt but there’s a ton of snow on the ground still so we’re looking at another week at least before this clears and before the ice clears off the lake so it’s getting down a little freezing again tonight so a little bit of air circulation the cabin will be appreciated so thanks for watching this video I look forward to seeing you up here at the cabin again next week take care [Applause] [Music]

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  1. Thanks for watching everybody. I will be uploading a short Q&A video at least once per week, so please let me know what questions you have that I haven't answered for you and I'll try to get to them all as time permits.
    Have a great day – see you Friday!

  2. What you present is the Peltier heat pump. It is a pity that there is no electricity generator from the chimney smoke. It would be a great way to power this cabin. How far from the civilization is this cabin?

  3. I have used one of these for years on my lake house cottage. It's a very simple process how they actually work but very effective.

  4. Like the van alot. we have one on the woodstove in our kitchen. It spreads the heat in the room verry well. And it dont need electric plug in 😉

  5. I have a fan on my fire and yes it pushes the heat round nicely, looks nice and bright there 🙂  Keep safe.

  6. I heat with wood and have a couple of stoves in the house. I use those fans but they break after a few gears. Why is that? What " fries?" Thanks for the videos.

  7. I circulate the woodstove heat in my living room with the ceiling fan, but plan to get one of those fans for when the electric is out!!!

  8. Gid'ay from New Zealand Shawn,
    just found your channel and loving it, learning so much.
    1. You've mentioned courses, do you have a link for your courses? are they online or in person only?
    2. Also I'm interested in how you film, how you get some of your shots for example using the drone or the takes when your moving through the bush. I guess you set your shot up film yourself walking moving away from the camera and then return to retrieve your camera? etc – its very professionally done, well edited, good camera angles, good natural lighting, good background/accompanying music – the banjo is especially a nice touch as I assume your playing it. Interested in how you do it, whether you've taken a course in filming/editing/framing etc.
    Thanks again, great show, great lessons to be learned and great philosophy. Certainly some food for thought about how to possibly live your life. I've already decided to start thinking about how to give up my job and follow my passion and be able to make a living from it too. Say hi to 'Cali' for me please, for me she steals just about every shot shes in …I love her.

  9. A Canadian engineer called AvE did a video on this with a little camping stove he has, you can cook on it and the temperature differential can be used to charge your phone.

  10. There is an outdoor twig stove which uses the same technology Biolite is the manufacturer….it’s pretty cool tech but it has its pros and cons like everything else.

  11. Have you removed the pump by the sink? If so, why? (Or perhaps I'm just seeing vids out of chronological order?)

  12. Nice to see the reflection of Cali frisking around. I was wondering about how the fan worked. I have seen what I think are similiar fans on top of stoves in videos of canal boats in England.

  13. Shawn I have been looking for on of your videos and can’t find it. You were cooking and talked about how your blood pressure had gone up and you changed the way you were eating. You cut up some vegetables and added chopped tomatoes. Was that something formal or something you came up with? My blood pressure is up so I wanted to try it. My wife got sick so I have been cooking for us or me. What you made she never would have. Funny my son is named Shawn and I was. In Toronto. Small world. Bruce from the city of orange in Orange County California

  14. I'm also from Toronto trying to find some property in the darcett area near Algonquin love your videos be nice to meet up some day

  15. Thanks for explaining!
    I've seen them before but was just thinking it was a heat rising thing. Really enjoy your sharing. I'm hooked!

  16. I would think a related device based on the same principle might also be useful to keep batteries charged. Wouldn't matter that it doesn't produce much power, it's continuous and your battery needs are probably not urgent.

  17. Thanks for the explanation. I knew it worked due to heat generation, but not exactly how. Now I have a better idea. Stay safe.

  18. Naw, that ain't it, it's freakin' magic man. There's a little wizard in every fan. Don't believe me? Where's your little wizard? See? They're pretty hard to find, thanks to tiny fans.

  19. I've asked myself that question since it first appeared in a video. Guessed it was either thermal or battery. Quite the "cool" little fan. Thanks for explaining it to us, Shawn

  20. Shawn, I have an idea for you to consider, which I'm sure its crossed your mind too. Perhaps every so often (every two weeks), you supplement the weekly video with a Q & A video on a Tuesday. You can do the Q & A at any location or simply use old footage if not at the cabin. I bet most of your viewers would love this…I know I would.

  21. Hey hope everyones in good spirits and looking forward to the warmer weather. l couldnt see what that was so l didnt say anything but thats very inventive an cheap to run lol. My question is 'are you starting a Bathroom this Year.

  22. They start at 180 F, and do work, a little pricey but do pay off on a coal/wood heat source , model I got even included a separate magnetic temp gage

  23. iv been watching your carpentry & you are obviously experienced but i was wondering how accurate you have to be with the joint making – using the auger in particular – does every hole have to be perpendicular? i used to be a metalworker & learnt carpentry building our cabin & i tend to be over accurate , trying to get things spot on.
    Im really enjoying the videos & glad that its not a version of shopping channel with endless product endorsements.Weve been living in our cabin in the woods for 16 years & its great to see a fresh perspective & learn something new. Keep up the good work.

  24. Holy christ on a bike, do you mark every single comment with a heart?? If you're that bored get a TV in that cabin.

  25. have. 2 on our wood stove Really helps you can find them on ebay starting at 25 and up they move air slowly and. make quite a difference away from the stove I bought the cheap ones. not being shure they would help in our larger set up but it gets the air aound the corners

  26. You can use same technology " Thermoelectric Cooling Peltier Plate Module " to power your LED lights. These things are fairly cheap.

  27. I need to purchase one..Good to see some melting of snow. .your be breaking out the mud boots soon.. keep up the good energy. Ps how's the maple syrup?

  28. Great video again Shawn, thanks. My question is about MOLD. Do you have any isuess with mold in the cabin? Does the dry air coming from the stove and fan help with any mold issues? Thanks again for all the great videos, will look forward to the next. Thumbs up as usual!

  29. Hello sir, I'm Vijayant from Darjeeling, India. It's funny but I wanted to know what you do you feed Cali ? ?

  30. Great explanation of the fan Shawn, it works very well by the looks of it. In Siberia they used long bimetal rods from in the cabin to the ice outside, producing enough power to provide low level lighting almost all year.

  31. I did wonder about the fan. Thanks for explaining. I have a different question. Why do you cover your windows at night?

  32. I think NASA uses something similar to this to power some space probes and mars rovers. But the source of heat is a nuclear device. Pretty interesting stuff.

  33. Very cool Shawn, I always wondered about the fan. What are your building plans for the spring? Bath house or work shop? I'm sure you're getting tired of sweeping up shavings off of the floor.

  34. Hi Shawn,thanks for your explanation,now i know how the eco fan work,but i still do not know why you need it, for waht purpose,can you please notice my question and answer it? I am a fan from China, here are a group of people like you, your cabin, cali and so on, we all want to know the answer,but most of them cannot get to youtube like me ,so i come here on behalf of all of them to express our appreciate and support to you.

  35. Hello this is Bill I am one of your followers I thought that was always cool to see how your fan work but I never remember to ask about it well and thank you for explaining how it works seeing how there's no electricity that runs per se why don't you see if you can mount one upstairs on your exhaust pipe so it'll help push some of the heat from your exhaust pipe around your upstairs to help keep your upstairs warmer as well

  36. I know this video it’s not about cooking or recipes but I got to say that stew that you showed looked amazing! Maybe you can share the recipe in a video? LOL

  37. I will help you explain it here. I went to wikipedia and looked it up and this is where I cite my source from. It uses simple convection that causes an induced voltage in the TEG cell.


    Thermoelectric power generators consist of three major components: thermoelectric materials, thermoelectric modules and thermoelectric systems that interface with the heat source.[4]
    Thermoelectric materials
    Main article: Thermoelectric materials

    Thermoelectric materials generate power directly from heat by converting temperature differences into electric voltage. These materials must have both high electrical conductivity (σ) and low thermal conductivity (κ) to be good thermoelectric materials. Having low thermal conductivity ensures that when one side is made hot, the other side stays cold, which helps to generate a large voltage while in a temperature gradient. The measure of the magnitude of electrons flow in response to a temperature difference across that material is given by the Seebeck coefficient (S). The efficiency of a given material to produce a thermoelectric power is governed by its “figure of merit” zT = S2σT/κ.

    For many years, the main three semiconductors known to have both low thermal conductivity and high power factor were bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3), lead telluride (PbTe), and silicon germanium (SiGe). These materials have very rare elements which make them very expensive compounds.

    Today, the thermal conductivity of semiconductors can be lowered without affecting their high electrical properties using nanotechnology. This can be achieved by creating nanoscale features such as particles, wires or interfaces in bulk semiconductor materials. However, the manufacturing processes of nano-materials is still challenging.
    A thermoelectric circuit composed of materials of different Seebeck coefficient (p-doped and n-doped semiconductors), configured as a thermoelectric generator.
    Thermoelectric module

    A thermoelectric module is a circuit containing thermoelectric materials which generates electricity from heat directly. A thermoelectric module consists of two dissimilar thermoelectric materials joined at their ends: an n-type (negatively charged); and a p-type (positively charged) semiconductors. A direct electric current will flow in the circuit when there is a temperature difference between the two materials. Generally, the current magnitude is directly proportional to the temperature difference.[citation needed]

    In application, thermoelectric modules in power generation work in very tough mechanical and thermal conditions. Because they operate in very high temperature gradient, the modules are subject to large thermally induced stresses and strains for long periods of time. They also are subject to mechanical fatigue caused by large number of thermal cycles.

    Thus, the junctions and materials must be selected so that they survive these tough mechanical and thermal conditions. Also, the module must be designed such that the two thermoelectric materials are thermally in parallel, but electrically in series. The efficiency of a thermoelectric module is greatly affected by the geometry of its design.


  39. I may have missed it, but what do you use to power your laptop and camera? And do you use a 3g/4g dongle to upload videos to YouTube?

  40. Did you need to use any heat shielding for your wood stove clearances? Would be interested in a video all about your stove and chimney! Cheers!

  41. Very interesting Peltier and Seebeck!!! I just assumed that the heat alone was causing the fan to turn because of the shape of the fan blades perhaps along with the movement of atmospheric gases during the application of a heat source….thank you!

    The various animals make your journey in the cabin and on the land very exciting. I saw a Moose or maybe it was an Elk in Utah once during a trip. They are so majestic. I might not do well when you hunt because I love deer, foxes, etc., but I trust you are just being truly self sufficient and….besides…you are such a great cook….I forgive you(lol). Can't wait!

  42. Thats great that company sent you the fan and outdoor stove, them things ain't cheap!

    Its nice to finally see the weather warm up a bit eh. Maybe the snow will be all gone by next weekend.

    It sure looks muddy there around the camp fire.

  43. just catching up on a backlog of your videos Shawn, i like these fans, i'll have to check if they are available in the UK, I'm hoping to fit a log burner in my house at some point.

  44. hello the alkes supper what you do here. If only one question about your house. why do not you make a porch on the doorstep? would bring more heat inside and you could store a lot in the stem of materials or food. It's just an idea of mine

  45. Obrigado por por a legenda, sempre assisto os vídeos mais não sabia para que funcionava algumas coisas obrigado abraço.

  46. since you use the stove so much why don't you get a 100 watt thermoelectric generator to attach to the stove and recharge your camera / phone / small battery bank?

  47. Sorry but the fans don’t work. I have one of those. If you hold a burning matches in front of the fan you will see that the flame won’t move at all. I did try with mine and could not see any air movement in front of the fan. Great videos.

  48. I have been using a fan like this on my wood-burning stove for years and they work great. I highly recommend them.

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