Benjamin Franklin, the father of a variety of great inventions, is known for its excellent contributions to society. One of our favorites is the “Franklin Stove”. The Franklin Stove, also known as the Pennsylvania Fireplace, is the predecessor to modern fireplace inserts. The free-standing stove invention was designed to fit directly into the opening of masonry fireplace to help increase safety and efficiency.
Unsafe fireplaces and shortage of wood
During the early 18th century, house fires were extremely common and many people died due to the various hazards of indoor fireplaces. A serious wood shortage had also brought a need for a more efficient heating source. So, Franklin set out to find a solution to remedy these issues.
Kessler et Desaguliers as the sources of inspiration
Inspired by the work of Franz Kessler and Jean Desaguliers, Franklin worked diligently to create a unit that would increase burn time in order to get more heat from fewer logs, and that would also reduce house fires and the dangers related to open burning fires inside. Franz Kessler’s work with an inverted siphon in the early 1600s served as inspiration for extracting combustion gases more effectively. Franklin created a u-shape duct between the fireplace and chimney, referred to as an “aerial syphon,” which was meant to extract as much heat as possible from the combustion gases as it pulled the by-products out of the insert and up through the chimney.
The Franklin Stove was also created with cast iron instead of other masonry materials. Ben Franklin was inspired by the experiments of Frenchman Jean Desaguliers who found that cast iron was better at radiating heat into the room compared to traditionally designed open-burning fireplaces. Franklin found that using the metal provided an enhanced yet comfortable and steady heat which was much more effective at warming a room.
A forgivable defect
As originally constructed, the smoke & combustible by-products were designed to exit the firebox through the bottom of the insert, but this caused a few functionality issues. Since smoke rises, the original design sometimes didn’t work properly and experienced drafting issues, but even with its flaw, the Franklin Stove was still way safer than traditional open burning fireplaces of the time. The insert was a huge hit with people across the country, and Benjamin Franklin’s contributions towards greater fireplace safety saved countless lives.
An insert enhanced over the years
Over the years, Franklin’s design was improved upon by others and new technological innovations led to the modern fireplace inserts you know. New stoves, fireplace inserts, and pre-fabricated fireplaces are extremely efficient and are designed with the newest technological functions in order to provide customers a flawless experience. Of all of the inventions that Mr. Franklin graced our society with, we have to say that we are especially appreciative of the Franklin Stove!