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Old 01-22-2012, 08:47 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: los angeles
Posts: 28
Default Re: Building an oven with ultimate control

hey all.
thanks for the feedback. i am quite excited about the project. its actually part of a larger pizza making project. i am also building proofing chambers with arduino controllers that will allow me to create a ramp/soak schedule for the proof process. essentially, i will be able to do a cold proof and slowly move the temperature up to optimal over a longer period of time. i use a wild sourdough for all my pizzas (almost 1,000 done in my current WFO), so this will be quite helpful.

in regards to using the forced air and wood burning, i do hear everyones point that stone is slow to absorb and adjust in temperature, but i believe the thermal mass will actually work to my benefit. in all PID environments i have worked with, the better the insulation, the more stable the temperature control can be. that being said, we will likely play with some electric coils and gas as well as the wood.
i am sure the argument has been made 100 times, but is there a good post/sticky about the merits of wood burning over electric/gas? I would like to make sure i am getting all the gains of wood, while adding the ability to have consistency from pie to pie.

lastly, i do appreciate that this is a huge departure from the truly romantic and timeless work of a traditional of a WFO, but my goal is to pay homage to the traditions and benefits of wood burning and brick ovens, while utilizing modern technology to "tinker" with the process.

looking forward to posting progress.
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Old 01-23-2012, 06:54 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 1,719
Default Re: Building an oven with ultimate control

Hi Avidan!

As it seems you have a WFO, you are, I assume, therefore aware of the subtle qualities you are tweaking...

WRT mass, I think hearth mass is pretty much necessary to get good results. I am not so sure of dome mass, especially if you go electric for wood flame temp should be in the 1950 deg F range so I suspect you would like to be in at least the 1700 range for the whole dome. Heating any significant mass to that temp electrically is beyond my experience. No doubt in the kiln range but??? Gas flame for the oven would be tidier and would provide the veil of flame to caramelize the toppings and would have faster response time...Not sure you really need mass in the dome. Seems like really good insulation might be the most important factor there.

Good luck!
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Posts: 26
Default Re: Building an oven with ultimate control

Hi Avidan.
It seems you have been busy avoiding boredom.
Well, I've been thinking the same stuff and reached some conclusions.
Make the heating element electric simplifies a lot the problem of PID control. But I think it's not interesting at all. You'll get a standard domestic appliance (ok, bigger) no matter if PID or ON-OFF controled.
The challenge is control the full thing with firewood (gas firing has the potential of convert the brick ballon into a bomb). As far as you are intending to control the whole system with Ardunios and use a fan i'd suggest to use a lambda sensor for get the optimal combustion. More air than necessary and you cold the oven, less and you get too smoke and less heat again. Not necessary to have a separate fire chamber, just a tight door and the air entry with the flux controled by the fan.
So we have a "constant" flow of high temperature gas. How can we switch on-off or more-less? The amount of heat we get in this point of optimum combustion depends only of the quantitie of burning wood mass. As we want to make the state of the art of the WFOs we want to stack a lot of wood and drink cold beers while the inferno-machine works . Well, for switch on-off we can use dampers (quite easy to electromecanically manage them). Of course, a separate firing chamber is now necessary. But if you switch off the fire to the oven you need to let the fire escape to the flue, or better into a laberinth of heat retaining bricks, and finally to the free atmosphere. This accumulated heat can be recovered whenever needed for heat the oven. As several temp sensors are used is quite ease to program a strategy for "where I take-deliver" heat from. Is like control a stream of water pumped from a well. In the start for fill a bath tube you turn on the pump, once it's full (imagine you can't stop the well pump) you can deviate the water flow to a swimming pool size tank.
I think that with this conditions the mass of the oven can be reduced a lot as we don't need to store the heat in the oven mass, only the necessary for the bulding self standing could offer enough termal inertia for the control.
Well, this are my thoughts about this interesting challenge.
Maybe someone is still awake
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