Heating and Cooling a Yurt

“At this point in time I would definitly recommend Laurel Nest Yurts… we visited some friends who dwell year round in their Laurel Nest yurt, and we were impressed with how warm it was in winter, and how nicely it was built.”                                                               Sarah Mackey

Can you heat a yurt?

How do you heat a yurt?

Do you have a wood stove installation kit?

What is the insulation like and how does it work?

What does snow and wind load kit consist of? Where would it be necessary?

Do yurts work in cold climates?

Do yurts work in tropical climates?

How do yurts handle hurricanes?

Yes, we live in our yurts year round.  We choose to have a propane heater, and it works very well.

  • Many have found success with a wood burning stove.

  • We prefer to use propane because we are not consistently in our yurts throughout the day  and the effort of keeping a wood stove going all day does not make sense for our lifestyles.

  • Electric or kerosene heaters also work well.

  • We make it a habit to try to sleep in down comforters and or sleeping bags and leave the heat off in our yurts while sleeping at night.

We are able to heat it with propane while we are awake and quickly turn off the heat once we have warmed the bed. This is one reason that we recommend smaller yurts that are joined together instead of one larger one.

You can use pretty much any kind of heat that you’d use in a conventional home; however, most yurt dwellers use wood heat or propane. Another great option (though fairly permanent) is a radiant floor (where warm water circulates through pipes in the floor)

  • Wood or pellet stoves: The advantages of wood and pellet stoves are that they are renewable resources and that they produce a dry heat.  It is possible to find efficient stoves that produce minimal emissions. A ceiling fan is helpful in circulating the warmth.

  • Propane heaters: A propane heater produces water vapor and carbon monoxide as byproducts of combustion, so they need to be vented and should be installed by someone who knows what they are doing. Un-vented propane heaters make a yurt damp and can cause carbon monoxide poisoning (symptoms include headache and nausea). A portable fan clipped to the rafters above a propane heater, or a ceiling fan, can help send the heat across the room or back down from the ceiling.

  • Radiant heat is the most efficient and comfortable form of heating for any shelter. The floor is usually poured concrete with tubing running through it, but it can also be made of cob or adobe. Options for heating the water include a wood or propane-fired boiler, a wood stove, and electricity.

  • Rocket Mass Heaters use thermal mass to store and then release heat for 6-12 hours. These heaters are efficient in their use of fuel (wood), non-polluting, and you can build it yourself! Check out Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans. *

  • Electric heat is probably the least desirable option because of its high energy usage.

Yes, we make an optional wood stove panel that consists of two pieces of metal flashing that sandwich the fabric.

  • A hole is provided for a 6” double insulated pipe to fit through and high heat caulk is provided to seal the outside edge.

  • A support pole will be needed outside to attach the stove pipe to allowing it stability from the wind.

  • The stove pipe should be run high enough to get a good draft and clear the height of the dome.

  • Local codes will give details as to what is considered safe.

  • It is also a good Idea to have a hearth and wall cover to deflect and possibly even absorb some of the heat from the stove.

It works by reflecting the radiant heat in both directions, thus making the inside warmer in the winter and redirecting the summer warmth.

  • The insulation that we use is a reflective double foil insulation.  It is approx 1/8” thick, and it is similar to the silver foam that many people put in their car windshields to keep them cooler in the summer.  This Insulation can be cut and taped to fit any size yurt.

  • Another option that is available is the same product only one side is white.  This will allow the customer to choose not to get an interior liner without feeling like they are in a spaceship.  This option is slightly less insulating and slightly less fire resistant.

  • The other is a ceramic acrylic coating that can be applied to the inside and outside of the fabric.  This product has been engineered to reflect up to 85% of the radiant heat that is directed toward it.  This coating contains very small ceramic spheres that have most of the gas removed from them and a vacuum is created inside the sphere.

Since a true vacuum cannot conduct the transfer of heat, the coating reflects the heat back into the yurt when it comes from the inside of the yurt, and protects from heat and damaging UV rays that come from the sun.

Yurts originated in Mongolia, one of the coldest climates on the planet. Their circular nature makes them more efficient to heat (with 12% less surface exposed to the elements than their rectilinear equivalents).

We use a reflective insulation or ceramic acrylic coating (see description above) to ensure that you will get full value out of the heat you use in the yurt.

Yurts are ideal in those tropical climates where heating needs are minimal and cooling needs can be met with a ceiling fan and ventilation through the windows.

  • Our domes are made to open to allow the hot air to escape.

  • Areas where most homes require air conditioning can take advantage of our real window option and an air conditioning panel can be installed.  Floor model A/C units are more readily available and usually drain through the floor.

  • Yurts are probably more difficult to keep cool than they are to keep warm. It seems obvious, but sitting a yurt under deciduous trees is your best option for keeping it cool.

  • Turning your window covers into awnings (and perhaps covering those awnings with reflective foil) will help a great deal.

  • Having good ventilation and installing reflective insulation is extremely important in reflecting the sun’s heat away from the yurt.

It is impossible to know what will happen in an extreme situation like a hurricane. We do know that yurts do well in high winds, partly because they are circular (and therefore the wind goes around the yurt, with no corners to catch the wind). The other factor is the amazing strength and flexibility of the integrated roof and wall structure.

  • The choices that are made concerning hardware, types of wood, fabric, and strength building options will make the difference in the overall strength of the Yurt.

  • Many yurts have withstood winds of up to 100mph or more.  However, if enough time is given as warning of a severe storm, the yurt can be taken down quickly and a small concrete storm shelter can be built to store it and it’s important contents including you.

It is possible that some of the UFO sightings were actually yurts that did not want to come apart but rather just lifted off when winds reached 150mph (just a theory).


About the Author

yurtmanI live in a little sustainable minded yurt village in western NC near AshevilleView all posts by yurtman →