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?
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.
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
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.