Magic Heat

A Magic Heat heat reclaimer against a white background

Magic Heat Reclaimer: An Honest Review

Wood heat is a time-tested, reliable way of heating your home, even in the 21st century. One of the biggest problems with wood stoves, though, is wasted heat. While much of the heat from the appliance radiates into the room, a not-insignificant amount is expelled through the chimney and out of the home.

Heat reclaimers were invented to solve this issue, and Magic Heat has been saving heat that would have otherwise been lost since the 1970s.

But how does it work? What does it do well? And what are some potential issues to be aware of?

In this guide, we’re going to provide an honest review of the Magic Heat Heat Reclaimer. And before we get started, understand that we manufacture this product. Even still, we’re not shy about being completely transparent about its caveats.

The goal of this piece is not simply to sell a Magic Heat to every wood stove owner in the country. Instead, we’re going to do a deep dive into its capabilities and limitations to help you discover whether or not Magic Heat is a good fit for you. By the time you’re finished here, you’ll have everything you need to know to answer that question.

How Does Magic Heat Work?

A diagram showing how a heat reclaimer operates with orange arrows indicating heat rising through the flue pipe, blue arrows indicating cold air entering through the back of the device, and red arrows indicating hot air exiting the device

We took an in-depth look at this question in another article (how does a heat reclaimer work?), but we’ll cover the basics here, too.

At its core, Magic Heat is a black box with stovepipe connectors on the top and bottom and ten horizontal tubes running through its body. It also has a fan on the back that blows air through the ten horizontal tubes.

Magic Heat is installed in a wood or coal burning stove’s chimney pipe. As the fire burns in the appliance, heat rises through the chimney pipe and into the Magic Heat, heating the ten horizontal heat transfer tubes.

A top-down view of a Magic Heat heat reclaimer showing the exposed heat transfer tubes through the stovepipe connection opening at the top
A top-down view of Magic Heat and its heat transfer tubes

As the heat reclaimer warms up, a thermostat in the device monitors the temperature of the chimney pipe. When the pipe gets hot enough, the fan on the back of the Magic Heat turns on, blowing hot air from the heat transfer tubes into the room.

This heat would have otherwise been wasted, rising through the chimney and out of the home. Magic Heat is capable of reclaiming up to 30% of heat lost from your heating appliance.

Three Pros of Magic Heat

1. It’s the Only UL-Approved Heat Reclaimer on the Market Today

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is one of the oldest safety certification companies around. Products that are UL-approved demonstrate competency on the part of the manufacturer and ensure that the product is tested and safe to use.

The Magic Heat Heat Reclaimer has the distinction of being the only heat reclaimer approved by Underwriter Laboratories. People who use a Magic Heat can rest assured that as long as they’re operating it in accordance with the owner’s manual, it’s totally safe to use.

2. It Operates Automatically

The fan on the back of the Magic Heat is controlled by a thermostat inside the appliance. After you install the device and plug it into a wall outlet, it will detect the temperature of your chimney pipe and run automatically, turning on when pipe temperatures exceed 150 °F and shutting off when pipe temperatures fall below 120 °F.

Another perk, though, is that you can still control the fan manually if you want. Magic Heat comes equipped with a fan switch on the back. Just set it to the ON position when you want it to run. Shutting the switch off will deactivate the fan if the pipe is below 120 °F and put Magic Heat back into automatic operation mode.

3. It’s Made in the USA

Each and every Magic Heat unit is manufactured by skilled craftspeople who have been making them for years. They’re familiar with the electrical components, the metal housing, the internal fan, the flue pipe connections, and everything else that goes into making a Magic Heat tick.

This process helps to ensure quality that’s hard to beat in the heat reclaimer category. Magic Heats are made with care, and it’s this precise construction that helps them to last on stovepipes throughout the country for years.

Three Cons of Magic Heat

A Magic Heat with a six-inch stovepipe diameter and a Magic Heat with an eight-inch stovepipe diameter staggered on a white background with measuring lines indicating the diameters

1. It’s Pricey (Relative to Other Options)

A Magic Heat unit will set you back around $300 or more. That price tag is about double that of other heat reclaimers (like Miracle Heat). The reason for that goes back to what was mentioned above — Magic Heat units are made in the USA, while our competitors make theirs overseas.

The nice thing about the high price tag, though, is that given enough time — like any other wood burning-related appliances — the unit will end up paying for itself through the heat that it reclaims (and drawing just 0.3 amps to run the distribution fan, its electrical usage is essentially negligible).

2. It Could Be Dangerous During a Power Outage

Speaking of the distribution fan, it’s a vital component of the device, pushing heat out of the transfer tubes and into your home. If your power goes out, though, and that heat is left to accumulate in the appliance (because the fan can’t run without power), the electrical components can become ruined, or the heat transfer tubes may glow red-hot and even begin to deform.

During a power outage, it’s vital to remove the back panel from your Magic Heat within about 15 to 20 minutes. This allows heat to escape the device, ensuring the electrical components and heat transfer tubes remain intact.

3. It’s Limited to Coal or Wood Burning Appliances with 6” or 8” Chimneys

We used to manufacture Magic Heat units for gas-powered heaters, but, over time, demand slowly fell for those units until it just didn’t make fiscal sense to manufacture them.

We also used to make Magic Heats specifically designed for 7” chimney pipes, but again, demand fell over time, so we stopped.

Unfortunately, if you’re one of the few who wants to use a Magic Heat on a gas appliance or a 7” stovepipe, you won’t be able to find a new unit. Rather, you’d have to find one second-hand. Thankfully, though, in this day and age, these cases are few and far between.

Should You Get a Magic Heat Reclaimer?

By now, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what Magic Heat does, and the types and sizes of heating appliances they’re made for. Devices like Magic Heat take the frustration out of lost heat, allowing you to blow some of it back into your home.

But should you get one?

If you have a gas heating appliance or a 7” chimney pipe, Magic Heat isn’t right for you unless you’re able to find an older model.

But if you have the right heater and the right flue size and you want to start saving some extra heat, Magic Heat is designed just for that. They’re pretty easy to install, and they essentially run themselves. If you think you’d be a good fit for one, we’d encourage you to give one a try.

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A Magic Heat heat reclaimer installed on a wood stove pipe with a wood panel wall in the background

How Does a Heat Reclaimer Work?

If you own a wood stove or a wood burning furnace, you probably understand that wood burning is all about efficiency — the efficiency of your wood fuel, the efficiency of the appliance itself, the efficiency of your flue pipe, etc. You want as much of the heat produced by your furnace or stove as possible not to go to waste.

But even the best wood burning stoves have an efficiency rating of 81% at most. That means in the best-case scenario, nearly 20% of the heat from your wood stove is simply going to waste.

Heat reclaimers were created to rectify this issue, capturing heat that would otherwise be wasted and channeling it back into your home.

But how does a heat reclaimer work?

And what kind of appliances should they be attached to?

At HY-C, we manufacture Magic Heat, a heat reclaimer that’s been around since the 1970s. And we want to share with you just how heat reclaimers work their magic to pump extra heat back into your living space.

By the time you’re through, you’ll know how a heat reclaimer gives you back this extra heat. You’ll also know what kind of wood burning appliances are best for a heat reclaimer, exactly how much recaptured heat one of these appliances helps to save, and how to avoid any dangers that may come along with attaching a heat reclaimer to your flue pipe.

How Does a Stovepipe Heat Reclaimer Work?

A diagram showing how warm air is filtered through a heat reclaimer via the flue pipe

One of the most important aspects of a wood burning appliance (whether it’s a stove, a furnace, or a fireplace) is the flue pipe. As wood burns in the firebox, heat, smoke, and other gasses rise through the flue and out of your home.

To install a heat reclaimer, a section of this flue pipe is cut out, and the heat reclaimer is installed in its place.

On the inside of the reclaimer are ten horizontal transfer tubes made of metal. As heat rises through the flue pipe and into the heat reclaimer, those ten tubes are heated up, and a fan on the back of the reclaimer blows that heat out of the tubes and into your home.

Magic Heat heat reclaimers on a production line with their distribution fan exposed

The heat reclaimer’s fan is thermostatically controlled and designed to turn on and off based on the temperature of your flue pipe:

  • The fan turns on when the pipe is 150°F or hotter
  • The fan turns off when the pipe is 120°F or cooler

A heat reclaimer’s fan is positioned only to blow air through the ten heat transfer pipes, not through the flue pipe itself. This prevents smoke from blowing into your home while still allowing heat to filter in.

How Much Heat Does a Heat Reclaimer Recover?

So, how much heat does a heat reclaimer actually circulate back into your house? To answer that question, we’ll have to do some math.

Let’s say you have a wood stove that is 80% efficient.

Now let’s imagine that you burn a log inside of that stove that has 10,000 BTUs of energy in it (a BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a measurement of a fuel’s heat energy).

Without a heat reclaimer, burning that log inside that wood stove would radiate 8,000 BTUs of heat into your house (80% of 10,000).

Our Magic Heat heat reclaimer, as an example, is capable of recovering up to 30% of the heat energy lost through the flue pipe — in other words, 30% of the 2,000 BTUs lost in the wood stove from our example.

That means in this particular case, a heat reclaimer would recover 600 BTUs of heat energy and send it back into your home.

That may not sound like much, but this example covers just one log. Throughout a cold season, you can expect to burn hundreds of logs in a wood burning appliance. If you burn four cords of wood during the fall and winter — about 3,000 logs — you can recover nearly 2,000,000 BTUs’ worth of energy using a good heat reclaimer.

Which Appliances Can Use a Heat Reclaimer?

A Magic Heat heat reclaimer installed on a wood stove flue pipe on a black-to-white gradient background

The kinds of appliances you can use a heat reclaimer on depend largely on one factor: whether or not they have a flue pipe. Most heat reclaimers are designed to work on appliances with a 6” or 8” flue diameter.

With that in mind, some of the most common heaters to use a heat reclaimer include:

  • Wood burning stoves
  • Pellet stoves
  • Corn stoves
  • Wood burning furnaces
  • Coal furnaces

Out of these appliances, wood burning stoves in particular utilize heat reclaimers more than any other.

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The Dangers of a Heat Reclaimer (and How to Avoid Them)

First and foremost, just like the flue pipe that comes out of your heater, heat reclaimers can get very hot. Touching the appliance — especially the heat transfer tubes — can result in burns and skin damage. So be sure not to touch your heat reclaimer when it’s in use and be sure that any curious kids or pets in your home can’t get near it.

Another concern about heat reclaimers revolves around creosote buildup. Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood with too much moisture in it. It’s highly flammable, so it’s best to avoid creosote buildup in your chimney flue by burning dry, seasoned firewood.

Creosote may also leak out of your heat reclaimer if it’s installed incorrectly, which is very dangerous, as creosote formation on the outside of a wood burning appliance can easily cause a house fire. To prevent this, the crimped end of the heat reclaimer needs to be installed facing downwards toward your heater.

A stripped-down Magic Heat heat reclaimer on its side with white text and red arrows indicating the crimped end and non-crimped end of the flue pipe connections

If the crimped end is installed facing upwards, there will be a gap in the flue pipe that creosote could leak from. Installing the crimped end down ensures that creosote stays confined to the inside of the chimney pipe where it can be safely cleaned long after the fire has extinguished.

Should You Get a Heat Reclaimer?

Before now, you may not have known much about heat reclaimers or how they work. At this point, though, you should understand how a heat reclaimer functions, how much heat it saves, and how to avoid any potential dangers they entail.

As to whether or not you should get one for yourself, that depends. If you have a wood stove, a furnace, or any other kind of heater with a flue and you’re interested in recapturing some burned heat to increase the efficiency of your appliance, you may be the perfect candidate for a heat reclaimer.

Just be sure to adhere to the proper instructions when installing your heat reclaimer for maximum safety and efficiency, and follow good burn practices when using your wood burning appliance to keep your heat reclaimer in working order for years to come.

If you’re considering buying a heat reclaimer, Magic Heat — a HY-C product — is a solid model that’s been around since the 1970s. The in-depth review below takes a look at the pros and cons of the Magic Heat to help you decide if getting one is right for you and your heating appliance.

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