Skoolie Wood Stove: How We Heat Our Bus + Review
Published May 18, 2018

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Hey all! Last November, Cece and I returned home to Montana after backpacking in Europe for a few months. When we got to our nearly completed shuttle bus, we were shocked.

There was snow on the floor; ice on the bed; and moss in the windows.
HOLY SH**! The leaks!

Winter had come, and our bus wasn’t prepared. During the summer months while we were constructing our home, we didn’t think too much about HEAT! We would “deal with it later.”

And so, no insulation + no heating source equaled lots of discomfort and frustration.

Luckily, we were savvy enough to order a mini skoolie wood stove before leaving for our vacation–and it had arrived!
But how, then, would we install it? And where in the small space?

Skoolie Wood Stove

Figuring out the wood stove puzzle was one of the more difficult parts of our bus conversion. Not because it was difficult to install, but because we were afraid of cutting a hole in our already snow-covered ceiling and messing everything up.

The other difficulty was finding 3″ double-wall stove pipe for the tiny wood stove (most wood stoves have a minimum 6″ stove pipe). We hadn’t ordered this online because it was so expensive.

So to help you avoid some of our heating frustrations, this article is about HOW WE DID IT and made it work. We will also be reviewing the adorable Cubic Grizzly Mini Wood Stove which we used this winter to keep us toasty and warm.

Skoolie Wood Stove Installation

Initially, we had plans on installing the wood stove near the middle of the bus, where our couch currently resides. Unfortunately, as 1982 shuttle bus dwellers, our home is not square. The walls/windows angle outward forming more of a triangle.

This made a wood stove flue installation tricky. Should we vent out a window? Should we curve the flue with the walls? We were SO STUCK trying to figure this out.

If our stove pipe went straight up through the ceiling, it would run into the steal frame of the roof. IT WASN’T GOING TO WORK!

We needed a backup location, and stumbled upon the front passenger seat as a possibility. Cece and I rarely travel in the bus together (she has a separate vehicle), so we really didn’t need a passenger’s seat.

The new location would make for an easy installation, too. The fiberglass ceiling in the front had no steal obstructions or windows to go through.

We decided that this would work.

After removing the passenger seat, we built a tiled platform and backdrop for the stove, and cut the hole in the ceiling. We installed a 3″ flue exit thimble that would allow a 3″ double-wall pipe to fit.

Skoolie Wood Stove

Skoolie Wood Stove

For the stove pipe itself, we went a bit against the books and purchased 3″ Duravent Pellet Vent double-wall pipe.

NOW! Before you tell us that this was stupid and dangerous due to Galvalume fumes, we never burned our stove hot enough for this to happen. Duravent is rated to 570 degrees F and we used a thermometer to keep the stove temperature under this.

The Duravent pipe has worked very well and was much cheaper than the online 3″ wood stove pipe alternatives.

Ultimately, having our wood stove in the front has been GREAT! It has stayed out of the way of our living space while still giving plenty of heat to reach everywhere in the bus.

Now that it is summer, we have removed the wood stove and have gained some extra mud-room space. 🙂

Cubic Grizzly Mini Wood Stove Review

The Cubic Grizzly Mini Wood Stove is AMAZING! Not only is it cute and efficient, but it gives PLENTY of heat for small spaces and is great to cook on (with small pots/pans).

You can check out their website here.

For us, this mini wood stove was ideal. It was cheaper than its competitors and delivered expected results.

The only con is it’s firebox. It is TINY! I mean, tiny. We are only able to fit a few 4″ long 2x4s at a time, which burn quickly. The average burn time is about 45 minutes.

While I say this is a con, it is to be expected. It is a MINI WOOD STOVE, after all! 🙂 The materials are durable and it is built well. Overall, it burns wood, and that is good.

We 100% recommend the Grizzly to any bus/van/tiny house dwellers wanting a wood stove in their home!

Alternative Heating Source

We also use a small space heater in our bus. This is for maintaining a constant temperature for our instruments/belongings and to give a little extra comfort.

We bought this $20 space heater from Amazon, and it has lasted for months!! Not bad for something so cheap. It draws 1500 watts maximum.

Note: We have 30 amps of shore power in our home. We will be doing an electrical overview soon 🙂 

Sometimes, it is just too much darn work to make a fire and the space heater does the trick.

That’s How We Stay Warm!

As always, let us know if you have any questions/comments/need extra help! We are happy to talk about anything bus-conversion/lifestyle/minimalism related. Check out these articles if you haven’t already!

Considerations Before Living Tiny With Your Partner
Bus-Life Challenges
How to Paint a Skoolie (CHEAP!)

Riley & Cece


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