Putting a woodburner in a van

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  • Hi there
    I've just insulated my van with 3 layers of bubblewrap and a top layer of polystyrene. Ply on top.
    I want to put a small woodburner in but have been told that polystyrene is highly flammable.
    I was just going to put a sheet of metal behind the burner which has worked fine in my squrt for years.
    Would this be ok - close to the polystyrene?
    Any other ideas for heat protection?
    Ta


  • Ceramic tiles are far better than metal; as metal conducts the heat far too well :)

    "The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do."

  • Some insurance companies wont insure your van, if you fit a woodburner in your van, so if you do fit one without informing you insurance would make your insurance would be null.

  • Polystyrene IS really flammable, but it has to get to whatever temperature it is to go up. My caravan's got poly in the walls and I've not woken up shrink wrapped yet :whistle:- even when the burner's been rocking. Mine's in the gap where the shower would of been, and I've lined the space with master board, doubling up on hot spots.


    The burner in me van isn't fixed, so as far as nosey insurance people need to be aware - I'm just transporting it. The flue goes out the driver's window so it can't be permanent anyway :p.


    Hope this helps, good luck :thumbup:

  • Ceramic tiles are far better than metal; as metal conducts the heat far too well :)



    this has not been my experience.

    i have a woodburner in my bus that has ceramic tiles around it (put there by the previous owners,) and they used to get so hot i couldn't roar up the burner for fear of setting something on fire! i could reach the other side of the wood they were supposed to be protecting and it would burn my hands.

    so i mounted a sheet of copper coated ally around it with an inch gap behind for air.

    now, even when i roar the burner right up the wood and tiles are completely cold to the touch.

    this is what i would recommend the most and can show you some piccies if you want coz i decorated the panel with glass beads etc and it looks really nice.

    Quote from Pedrp1979

    Polystyrene IS really flammable, but it has to get to whatever temperature it is to go up. My caravan's got poly in the walls and I've not woken up shrink wrapped yet :whistle:- even when the burner's been rocking. Mine's in the gap where the shower would of been, and I've lined the space with master board, doubling up on hot spots.



    when my bus was in the fire over new years the glass that shattered had a piece of polystyrene behind it and it didn't even melt to the broken glass! (it was safety glass so although it's now in a million pieces its still in the place where its supposed to be!) so that sez to me that polystyrene is able to stand up to particularly high temperatures so long as its not actually touching the fire.

    Quote from Pedro1979

    The burner in me van isn't fixed, so as far as nosey insurance people need to be aware - I'm just transporting it. The flue goes out the driver's window so it can't be permanent anyway :p.



    yeah, it's a particularly grey area that nearly lost me my insurance recently. but my insurance company has a photo of my burner now and haven't informed me that i'm not covered so i'm kind of winging it.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

    The post was edited 3 times, last by stardust ().

  • If my memory serves me well i read a post about wood burners on this site about the death of a couple who lived on a narrow boat.
    Another thing is you must have good ventilation in case of carbon monoxide poison.

  • And have a co2 detector from somewhere like B&Q! Only about £20!


    I have one in my van as a precaution i do have a wood burner i have a propex heater which has an inlet and outlet that are routed to the outside of the van.
    Most vans if not all have air coming in somewhere IE gaps in the doors, if they where air tight then i guess it would be a problem, no air no fire and possible suffocation:eek:

  • If my memory serves me well i read a post about wood burners on this site about the death of a couple who lived on a narrow boat.
    Another thing is you must have good ventilation in case of carbon monoxide poison.


    Was it my post about the lindy lou? http://www.ukhippy.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28969


    That was a fatal fire on a narrow boat, although it is a horrific account of what happened, there are a lot of things that you can learn from it regarding wood burners in vehicles.

  • unfortunately fire is always a risk when you live in a vehicle or caravan.

    not just from woodburners, but electrical fires, engine fires or candle fires, for example. this is a chance you take when you're on the road, and the reason i have three fire extinguishers in my bus and an axe by my bed for taking out the rear windows incase of emergency.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

  • Was it my post about the lindy lou? http://www.ukhippy.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28969

    That was a fatal fire on a narrow boat, although it is a horrific account of what happened, there are a lot of things that you can learn from it regarding wood burners in vehicles.


    Yes that was your post, and a very good one may i add thank you.:thumbup:

  • unfortunately fire is always a risk when you live in a vehicle or caravan.

    not just from woodburners, but electrical fires, engine fires or candle fires, for example. this is a chance you take when you're on the road, and the reason i have three fire extinguishers in my bus and an axe by my bed for taking out the rear windows incase of emergency.


    Stardust you are very wise:thumbup:

  • There are a few regulations which actually cover the installation of different bits of electrical systems and solid fuel burners in vehicles. I can't tell you what they say as you need to give the BSI a silly amount of money to see the documents, which personally should be in the public domain!!


    If you have a few hundred quid burning a hole in your pocket, BS 1645-1648 should be of interest to you. BS 1645 alone would set you back £160 :eek:

  • unfortunately fire is always a risk when you live in a vehicle or caravan.

    not just from woodburners, but electrical fires, engine fires or candle fires, for example. this is a chance you take when you're on the road, and the reason i have three fire extinguishers in my bus and an axe by my bed for taking out the rear windows incase of emergency.


    For years I was in the habit of leaving, usually rice, slow cooking in a pressure cooker on a gas ring while I did a bit of shopping. I'd return about 25 minutes later and the rice would be cooked and ready. A few months ago I came out of a shop, looked across the car park and saw a big plume of black smoke coming out of my van. If I hadn't had an extinguisher in the cab that I was able to reach I'd have lost everything. I was very lucky that I only had to replace windscreens, seats, wood paneling etc and not the whole vehicle. I won't be leaving the rice unattended again. :(

  • yup. i have one fire extingisher by my door, one by my drivers seat and one by my bed, seeing as my burner is between my bed and my door. the door one is very very important, as my mate discovered when he went in to get two kids out of a burning truck. he succeeded coz there was an extinguisher to hand on the way in.

    though none of my extinguishers would have been any use in my buses recent baptism by fire!!!!

    i've had four mates lose everything to fire, thats what makes me realise how fuckin lucky i am to still have a bus! (she was in a barn fire and got dragged out by a tractor coz i wasnt there at the time)

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

  • So are burners OK if the insurance know?


    Yes but some insurance brokers wont insure you if you have one also lots of normal campsites will not allow you on site if they see a sticking out of your van cos its a fire hazard :eek: And what with you being in tyne and wear you have no chance.

  • I used the specifications taken from that lindy lou site/thred(and a bit more caution just in case) when fitting the burner in me new bus.


    agreeing with stardust about the heat generated to the surrounding area (pweeese claire can you make us a copper surround now the jobs finished :D)


    we also have fire extinguisher by the door n carry my very own carbon monoxide detector called Bertie :p
    (old miners methods)


    dunno about polystyrene.


    n insurance, mine were fine but wanted photographs ect.


    i think like pedro said tho if you have any problems in that dept make it removable innit.



    my burner has changed my wheels from a van to a home, i love it :D
    no more soggy jean bottoms for us .
    n constant hot water , yeyyyyyyyyy


    but just like useing a chainsaw, never get complaceent about it,they can kill if not handled with respect.


    good luck and enjoy.

  • Hi everyone, as I just posted in the 'Say Hello' bit, I hoping to have enough money to get a van in next few months. Had some vans before but more weekenders than full time. Unfortunatly it means I got loads of questions (sorry :rolleyes:)

    Thought Id start with wood burners:

    having read the sticky one about insurance, is it safe to say if you look around, you can find insurers that wont mind the burner?

    also, not having used one, what happens if you need to move? I will probably be doing some part time work and moving the vehicle regularly, so might need to move each evening and also leave van alone for parts of the day. Would this be a problem witha wood burner. As in, can you leave it burning alone (assume not), or drive when its still really hot. Can you cool one down quickly if you need to.

    (also any tips on ways to get the best out of a burner, best fuel, keep it in all night etc.... would be cool)

    cheers in advance, Glenn


    PS already found so much useful stuff just by looking through the threads, cool site :)

  • I wouldn't have polystyrene anywhere I lived. The problem isn't that its particularly flammable, but if it does catch fire its like napalm and drips sticky burning liquid. Don't ever use it for ceilings. In fact I'm sure it's banned for that purpose now but there's still a lot of it around, if you have it, rip it out and replace it with something else, it's lethal.

  • i'm considering putting a burner in my new minibus, and have been well informed by this thread, i was already going to have a 'stealth chimney' to avoid unwanted attention, though i was unnaware of the insurance issues. i spent a large part of my childhood in benders/ yurts/caravans etc, so i have good training in burner awareness and avoiding fires, but my bus is fully insulated with a wood frame, fiberglass stuffing and sheet metal all over, lined with carpet. how dodgy is this combo fire-wise? what sort of surround is reccommended? could i whack the chimney out of a window or skylight or would i need to cut through all the insulation???

  • were can i live with out this city life ,and with out the law and tax and all that none ofmy mates r in to what im in to dont know what to da as i want to be free and somewere away from hear its hard to decide any help lol

  • Hiya we are putting a burner in our bus can anyone tell us what a stealth chimney is?;)


    i'm considering putting a burner in my new minibus, and have been well informed by this thread, i was already going to have a 'stealth chimney' to avoid unwanted attention, though i was unnaware of the insurance issues. i spent a large part of my childhood in benders/ yurts/caravans etc, so i have good training in burner awareness and avoiding fires, but my bus is fully insulated with a wood frame, fiberglass stuffing and sheet metal all over, lined with carpet. how dodgy is this combo fire-wise? what sort of surround is reccommended? could i whack the chimney out of a window or skylight or would i need to cut through all the insulation???

  • a stealth chimney is, i think, a general term for some system that means when you're on the road it's not obviously got a chimney sticking out all the time, i've sen a couple of variations, a metal porthole in the side that you undo and poke the chimney through when in use, i was thinking of some sort of fake fan that you just slot over the top of the chimney when its cold.... i think the imagination is the limit on this one.....:whistle:

  • Hello :)

    Someone mentioned a metal sheet with an air gap between it and your wall which is a great idea, I know room is tight in a van bit obviously leave as much space as poss and then fix a couple of battens on the wall tto create say an inch gap and then mount your sheet of metal or GRG board (modern fire proof asbestos substitute) leaving a gap at the bottom as well. Wood burner heats the sheet up, warm air rises drawing cold air up the gap between the sheet and your wall leaving your wall cool, sorted :D

    just remember to cut your ceiling lining well away from the sides of your chimney where it passes through ya roof.

    Happy heating :)

    Daz