...not just a "summer evening let's get rid of all the rubbish fire", but a real fire with wood because it was really chilly and damp. We've been in and out a lot to give the goats hay, to tie up fallen plants, and to check the new drainage system and it's nice to come in and dry off in front of a cosy fire.
I love this fireplace, it's really comfortable and cheering. Fabrice made the chimney above very narrow with an amazing amount of rocks and reinforced concrete above to act as a heat sink, then the chimney twists off centre to reduce the speed of the flow of hot smoke and trap more heat in the firebricks to warm the airing cupboard upstairs. The house stays warm for a long time after the fire has gone out.
The caldron is a kind of back boiler full of water which forms part of a closed system leading to the hot water storage tank situated in a little drying room behind the fireplace. The pipes wind round inside the tank and the heat exchanger heats the mains water without mixing with it, the pipes also heat the two radiators upstairs when they're switched on. The system's connected to our solar panels which heat the water in the summer on the same circuit.
The fire stays in all night if we cover it over with ashes before we go to bed. In the morning we clear the ashes away add a bit of wood and it lights well every time. We use it a lot for slow cooking and it gives a lovely wood smoke flavour to the food.
We also use our fire for barbeques, for drying out mushrooms, wellies and socks and it's enough to heat our 168m² house in Spring and Autumn. When the temperatures really drop, we light the woodburner.
There are more details of our renewable energy systems in THIS link.