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What's the BTU Output of a Dragon — A Furnace with Wings?

 

I went to see The Hobbit recently. Of course, the center of the story is a dragon, Smaug, that invaded the ancestral home of the dwarves many moons ago and set them on a long diaspora. The story begins as a band of justice-seeking dwarves, having conscripted the reluctant Bilbo Baggins from the Shire, set out on their journey to take their mountain home back. Preparing Bilbo for the dangers ahead, they describe the dragon to him: "Think furnace with wings," one of them said.

hvac dragon furnace with wings

So that got me to thinking. Have you ever considered heating your home with a dragon? The BTU output of one would certainly be high enough to 'git'r done,' as they say. And it could be the ultimate zoning strategy, possibly better even than mini-split heat pumps. (Well, OK, maybe not that good. Dragons can be temperamental, you know.)

Of course, you'd want to do a proper load calculation or time the runtime of the existing heating system and then choose the proper species of dragon. If you had a really high heating load, for example, you might want to choose a Ukrainian Ironbelly,* the largest species of dragon. At 60 feet long, they aren't really suited for homes, but I could see using one in a larger space, like an arena.

The smallest adult purebred dragon is the Peruvian Vipertooth, and at 15 feet long, it might work for some larger homes. Naturally, you'd want to keep your distance, because it's one of the venomous species. If you really have a deathwish, though, you'd probably go with the Hungarian Horntail, which is one of the most vicious. The Horntail also, to its credit, has one of the highest heat outputs. Because they're so squirmy, it's difficult to do controlled experiments to measure the BTU output of their breath of fire, but judging by the damage they cause, it's an extraordinary heating capacity!

hvac furnace atmospheric combustion burner dragon heating capacity

For high performance homes, you'd certainly want to go with the infant and toddler dragons, not only because of their smaller size, but also because they're still in the cute-and-cuddly phase. One species you might want to consider here would be the Swedish Short-Snout. According to dragon experts, "its powerful flame is also a brilliant blue colour - and hot enough to reduce timber and bone to ashes in seconds." This dragon also the reputation of having killed fewer humans than other dragon species, although that's probably due mainly to its isolation and lack of contact with us.

If you're considering using dragons for heating your home, be sure to take all the proper precautions. My first suggestion is to find yourself a knight fully skilled in combustion safety!

 

*Yes, I know. I'm mixing J.R.R. Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth dragons with the dragons of the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling. I've also recently used the Aztec calendar for the Mayan and even worn clear with muddy colors in the same ensemble. The world will go on, however, even though the Mayan calendar is coming to an end in a few short hours from the time I'm typing this line.

 

Image of dragon by Beverly & Pack from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license.

Comments

Hey Allison, 
Hey Allison, 
 
Tolkien's mythical Earth, Rowling's Wizarding World, and Manual J are all great works of fiction. Today being the last day of history, I'll suspend logic and reason and pretend they are all possible. 
 
I'll take a fully modulating variable speed dragon with a 5 to 1 turn down ratio. 
 
Merry Christmas 
 
pj
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 5:25 AM by pj
May I suggest Puff - The Magic Dragon... However, that may add a bit more than heat to the IAQ...
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 6:13 AM by Reed Donelli
PJ you really are living in a mystical world if you think anybody is actually BUYING modulating furnaces. Never seen one installed, and I go to several houses per day.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 6:20 AM by Bob
Oh, and Allison - thank you as always for being both entertaining AND informative.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 10:10 AM by Adam Gloss
My wife has accused me, on occasion, of possessing dragon breath. This is typically after either consuming quantities of chili or salsa. Or salsa on chili. 
 
Informal experiments seem to indicate no increase in my Btu output. What am I doing wrong? 
 
Send large quantities of chili and salsa and I will continue my experiments. 
 
Always willing to do my part to advance science for the public good... 
Bill Smith
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 11:43 AM by Bill Smith
PJ, rotflmao, RIGHT NOW!! 
 
BOB: "PJ you really are living in a mystical world if you think anybody is actually BUYING modulating furnaces." 
 
They're all I sell, unless it's a mobile home. It's your sales guys not SELLING them, that's why you don't see 'em. 
 
Wanna know why they don't sell them? They're harder to sell, increase risk of losing the sale, and the lion share of the benefit for the effort goes to the homeowner.  
 
"NMEB (not my energy bill), and I like to get paid for a days work, which requires closing sales. So I sell 'em what they think they want."  
 
Can you blame them? I think not. But if we start tracking energy results, get ready for a massive shift in how things are sold.  
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 3:15 PM by ted kidd
Nobody in our area sells the modulating furnaces. Condensing furnaces make up about 10% of what I see in the field. Furnaces with variable speed blowers are 5% of what I see. A 2 burner furnace as the sole heat source in a single family home is like finding a unicorn, even though a 2 burner furnace is large enough to heat any house that can be cooled with 3 tons or less of AC in our area. 
 
Breaking the "bigger is better" mentality is hard enough, selling anything above minimum equipment is tough.
Posted @ Friday, December 21, 2012 4:48 PM by Bob
Heating your home with a dragon? This is something weird I am hearing for the first time. Which is the best dragon to be used for a home having large space? What benefits can we get by heating homes with dragons?
Posted @ Friday, December 28, 2012 4:41 AM by Tony Scott
What about including the three dragons in the Game of Thrones books? Pretty nasty creatures
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 1:07 PM by Jim Gunshinan
Nice post and I really like to read it. Thanks for sharing.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 08, 2013 6:20 AM by Mike J
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