Kachelofenverband

The future is renewable!

Von • Apr 28th, 2010 • Thema: Interviews

Interview with DI. Dr. Thomas Schiffert

Dr. Schiffert, how do you as the Managing Director of the Austrian Association of Tiled Stove Producers view the future of tiled stoves?

The tiled stove has a long history, a very good position in the present time, and I also see great opportunities for the future. Many determining factors are currently changing in favour of this so well-loved heating appliance.
One factor I can name in particular is the change in people’s awareness of the climate change issue.
Aside from a few hopeless cases, these days we all know that the future of energy supply must be sustainable and renewable. The fact that we should consume less energy in the space-heating sector in the future, and newly built structures as well as those being renovated will therefore be better insulated, is also good news for tiled stoves. If I only need a little energy, then even a very small storage space is sufficient for the wood, and I will also only need a very small amount of heating, and there is therefore hardly any physical exertion necessary either. Innovative solutions – such as the automatic cut-off devices frequently used today – optimise ease of operation to a remarkably high level.

What will be the significant opportunities and challenges in the years to come?

The need to change our energy supply to renewable energy sources has generally been accepted now amongst the general public. The determining political factors will in the next few years lead to a boom in heating appliances based on alternative energy, especially in the space-heating sector. Because tiled stoves are naturally operated virtually exclusively using wood (usually firewood, but increasingly commonly with wood pellets, too), it will definitely further develop its position as the most popular form of heating in Austria.

The most important challenge will without a doubt be to adjust the details for use in low-energy and passive houses. We must in particular reduce the output and guarantee the external supply with combustion air. One main focus of the research which is already in progress is to further reduce the particle emissions from tiled stoves, which are already very low as it is.

The Austrian Association of Tiled Stove Producers runs its own research institute; what are its main tasks?

Research, development and innovation have always been crucial criteria for the development of the tiled stove industry, which has enjoyed success for many centuries now. The Austrian Stove Fitters‘ Testing and Research Institute (VFH – Versuchs- und Forschungsanstalt der Hafner), has for a long time provided important services in this area. In addition to the continual improvement of the already very high quality of combustion of tiled stoves, it is also heavily involved with research into the health implications of heating appliances. Important services provided by the VFH also include technical advice from master stove fitters, leading collaboration in national and international standardisation, and conducting tests approved at the European level.

The keyword here is international; do tiled stoves actually have any sort of significance in Europe?

Tiled stoves are naturally also of high importance in many countries outside Austria. In order to optimally get to know their requirements and make use of their experience, VEUKO, the European Association of Stove Fitters, was founded. Under Austria’s leadership, VEUKO has just succeeded in reaching a crucial milestone in the history of the tiled stove with the creation of the first European standard.

One final question, and it has to be this: how do you heat your own home?

Naturally I am neither able nor willing to do without the cosy warmth of a tiled stove in my own home. But it’s not just me – my wife and two children would not be without it either. The only negative side is that I myself rarely get to light the fire because one of my children has already done it.

Dr Schiffert, thank you for the interview.

Fire and flame

A fireside chat with Professor Wolfgang Kippes

Professor Kippes, as one of the two managers of Schönbrunn Palace, you can of course be reassuringly described as „Lord of the Tiled Stoves“. Do you actually know how many of these show-pieces are housed in the palace?

WK: You will already be familiar with our exemplary project to present the entire layout of the palace and the surrounding area in a 3D visualisation which is accurate in every detail. With the help of this unique technology I am able to recognise virtually every sick tree in the park from my desk. As part of this project, the entire inventory is of course being not only recorded but also provided with comprehensive details. The origin, the condition, the material characteristics and the dates of repairs and restoration work are also being ascertained, along with links to literature, documentation and other information relevant to each item’s history. To return to your question: In the showrooms of the palace there are 16 tiled stoves on the ground floor and 24 on the upper floor. We keep 20 tiled stoves in storage – in reserve, so to speak. There are also 20 tiled stoves on show in the exhibition room of Vienna’s Hofburg Imperial Palace.

Are they originals or reproductions?

WK: I will have to give a bit of detail for this question, too: The tiled stoves are what are known as „change-over stoves“. Because Schönbrunn Palace was really intended to be a summer residence which was inhabited from the beginning of April to the end of October, the stoves only had to produce a low heat output. Then, when in the 19th century the royal household grew ever larger and the palace was also partly inhabited more and more in the winter, the tiled stoves frequently suffered heat damage, as they had of course never been designed as a full heating system. A few select companies were permitted to repair this damage as „purveyors to the court“. Some tiled stoves were therefore reconstructed several times according to the original designs. In answer to your question, I can therefore tell you that most of the stoves are from the second half of the 19th century, but were reconstructed according to the designs of the 18th century.

Is it possible to put a value on a tiled stove of this kind?

WK: No, not really. Such unique pieces must not only be treasured for their value as an „antiquity“, but they should also be seen in the context in which historical rooms such as these were first completely furnished, which from a historical viewpoint also tells us a lot about life „in the good old days“. Even today, however, it is possible of course to produce a reproduction of a show-piece of this sort, and you can expect production costs of approximately € 100,000, not including assembly and installation.

Is it true that the tiled stoves were all stoked from passages which ran behind the rooms? How would you imagine that to have been?

WK: There is indeed a servants‘ corridor behind the royal rooms, which was also used to load the tiled stoves with wood. The aim was to avoid disturbing the nobles with the task of stoking the fire and to prevent the living spaces from becoming dirty.

And one more quite personal question: do you have a tiled stove yourself?

WK: What a question! Of course I would not want to do without the cosiness and the feel-good factor of a tiled stove myself either, so I chose a small Austrian tiled stove for my apartment.

Professor Kippes, thank you very much for talking to me!

The future is renewable!

Interview with DI. Dr. Thomas Schiffert

Dr. Schiffert, how do you as the Managing Director of the Austrian Association of Tiled Stove Producers view the future of tiled stoves?

The tiled stove has a long history, a very good position in the present time, and I also see great opportunities for the future. Many determining factors are currently changing in favour of this so well-loved heating appliance.
One factor I can name in particular is the change in people’s awareness of the climate change issue.
Aside from a few hopeless cases, these days we all know that the future of energy supply must be sustainable and renewable. The fact that we should consume less energy in the space-heating sector in the future, and newly built structures as well as those being renovated will therefore be better insulated, is also good news for tiled stoves. If I only need a little energy, then even a very small storage space is sufficient for the wood, and I will also only need a very small amount of heating, and there is therefore hardly any physical exertion necessary either. Innovative solutions – such as the automatic cut-off devices frequently used today – optimise ease of operation to a remarkably high level.

What will be the significant opportunities and challenges in the years to come?

The need to change our energy supply to renewable energy sources has generally been accepted now amongst the general public. The determining political factors will in the next few years lead to a boom in heating appliances based on alternative energy, especially in the space-heating sector. Because tiled stoves are naturally operated virtually exclusively using wood (usually firewood, but increasingly commonly with wood pellets, too), it will definitely further develop its position as the most popular form of heating in Austria.

The most important challenge will without a doubt be to adjust the details for use in low-energy and passive houses. We must in particular reduce the output and guarantee the external supply with combustion air. One main focus of the research which is already in progress is to further reduce the particle emissions from tiled stoves, which are already very low as it is.

The Austrian Association of Tiled Stove Producers runs its own research institute; what are its main tasks?

Research, development and innovation have always been crucial criteria for the development of the tiled stove industry, which has enjoyed success for many centuries now. The Austrian Stove Fitters‘ Testing and Research Institute (VFH – Versuchs- und Forschungsanstalt der Hafner), has for a long time provided important services in this area. In addition to the continual improvement of the already very high quality of combustion of tiled stoves, it is also heavily involved with research into the health implications of heating appliances. Important services provided by the VFH also include technical advice from master stove fitters, leading collaboration in national and international standardisation, and conducting tests approved at the European level.

The keyword here is international; do tiled stoves actually have any sort of significance in Europe?

Tiled stoves are naturally also of high importance in many countries outside Austria. In order to optimally get to know their requirements and make use of their experience, VEUKO, the European Association of Stove Fitters, was founded. Under Austria’s leadership, VEUKO has just succeeded in reaching a crucial milestone in the history of the tiled stove with the creation of the first European standard.

One final question, and it has to be this: how do you heat your own home?

Naturally I am neither able nor willing to do without the cosy warmth of a tiled stove in my own home. But it’s not just me – my wife and two children would not be without it either. The only negative side is that I myself rarely get to light the fire because one of my children has already done it.

Dr Schiffert, thank you for the interview.

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