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The Ecozoom Versa Stove… Is it worth it?

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A few weeks back, the guys over at EcoZoom, asked me if I wanted to do a review on their “Versa” model stove.

Being the ever curious gadget hound that I am, I of course sent them my address right away (I’m never one to turn down a product to review)

Unfortunately for me, but fortunate for my yard, we have been in the middle of  the Texas equivalent of a monsoon for the past few weeks.

Well I finally caught a break in the rain and got a chance to test this thing out.

I also talked them into giving us an exclusive discount.

(Just use the coupon code SURVLIFE13 to get $15.00 off of the order at checkout)

First things first, what is the Ecozoom Versa?

Here is the description from the manufacturer:


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EcoZoom’s Versa Stove can burn wood, charcoal, or dried biomass and is our most versatile cook stove. The Versa is a great option for those wanting cook fuel options while still providing the same EcoZoom durability. The Versa is our most popular emergency preparedness model in the United States and is also great for camping.

The Zoom Versa features an abrasion resistant and durable ceramic combustion chamber with a 10 cm in diameter vertical section that forces the gases to mix with the flame, decreasing harmful emissions and adds a refractory metal liner to the inside of the combustion chamber that protects the ceramic insulation, increases the life of your stove, and improves combustion efficiency.

This stove features our new hinged combustion chamber doors enabling for an effortless conversion from wood to charcoal fuels. Both the main combustion chamber door and the damper door (bottom door) have reinforced metal frames and have hinges that serve to securely close the doors and regulate airflow. The Zoom Versa also has a durable, reformulated 6-pronged cast iron stovetop that improves heat transfer for all pots including round bottom pots and woks.

And here is just a short video on how it works.

How big is it?

  • Stove: D-11 in H-12 1/2 in
  • Upper Door: W-4 1/2 in H-2 3/8 in
  • Lower Door: W-2 3/8 in. H-1 3/8 in

Features

  • Shipping Weight: 26.75lbs / 12kg (Free shipping with FedEx Ground!)
  • Refractory metal combustion chamber
  • Abrasion-resistant, lightweight ceramic insulation
  • Two internal grates to hold both wood and charcoal
  • Two hinged doors
  • 6-pronged universal cast iron stove top
  • Stick support
  • Adjustable galvanized steel pot skirt
  • Painted sheet metal body with reinforced doors
  • Plastic and steel handle

Here are just a few pictures from my own personal test on the Versa.

(As a note, I only tested the stove using charcoal briquettes, so your results will vary)

So what did I think about the Ecozoom Versa?

The Good:

Portable- it’s not light but it is portable. At 26 lbs, you’re not going to strap it onto your back but you can use it when you’re camping or in a “hunker down” situation.

Energy Efficient- My test only used charcoal, but 14 coals was enough to keep a fire going for well over 3 hours. which is perfect for times when fuel consumption is a major concern.

Nearly smokeless-  The amount of smoke it produces is up to 80% less than a standard campfire.

The Bad:

the concentrated heat is in a small area and even with the high heat it takes a while to heat a cast iron pan enough to fry an egg

The heat was enough to max out my infrared thermometer,  (over 1022 degrees Fahrenheit) but it seems like most of the heat was contained inside the wall as the heat leaving the  stove was only measured at 300 degrees ( still good for a slow cook, but not hot enough to sear my steaks the way I like it.)

Price- These are a little hefty in the price tag, but they have quite a few options to choose from  and are still cheaper than I have seen some competitors products.

The bottom line: This is a good stove to have if you’re an avid camper or in an area (such as a desert) where fuel wood might be hard to come by. It works well and produces a hot fire, but it is concentrated into a small area and may take a while to fully heat a thick cast iron pan. Once it has been fully heated however it will keep warm for a very long time, with minimal effort. But again 14 coals was enough to keep the stove simmering hot for hours (honestly I just gave up checking after about 3 hours so I don’t know how long it really stayed hot).

If price is your concern, stick with a campfire.  But if you want something that will maximize your heat and cooking time while minimizing your fuel consumption, the Versa is a good bet.

The build quality is very nice and it seems that it would last for a very long time. You wouldn’t really go wrong putting one of these in your camping gear or keeping it stashed in your Bug Out Vehicle.  The small amount of smoke that this produces also makes it a reliable cooking source if you happen to be stuck in the city and need to remain concealed.

The alternative is always to make your own rocket stove.

Have you used the Versa stove?

Do you have something that you think would work better?

Let me know below.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles on our site:

DIY Wood Gas Stove

Twin Tin Can Survival Stove?

[Video Review] Wood Gas Stove…Now We’re Cooking!




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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. tom

    November 1, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    how hard was it to get the charcoal to start toburn without using lighter fluid.the guy in the video used a special light to get it started .what did you use.seems to me buying a certain match light is a waste of money.good luck using regular matches to start charcoal.

    • Tom

      November 3, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      The easiest way we have found to light charcoal is to use our Ignite Discs. Place a half of one on the bottom of the stove, light it and then place charcoal on top. This usually provides enough of a long last flame to light all the charcoal.

  2. Chuck

    November 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    To light my charcoal barbecue, I start the charcoal in a fire starter chimney. They are on sale everywhere in the summertime out here in LaLa Land. Mine is galvanized steel, but I have seen stainless ones for sale too. I cut a piece of 1/4 inch hardware cloth the size of the grate in the bottom because I smother my charcoal and reuse it and as it got smaller, it would fall through the grate in the bottom of the fire starter. The instructions say to use just a single sheet of newspaper, but I use three sheets because I am the impatient type and want my fire right now! It does smoke quite a bit while burning the newsprint and perhaps if I weren’t so impatient, I could get it started with less smoke. In a survival situation I guess I would just have to make do with one sheet. I use newsprint because it is readily available, but I suppose dry leaves or any other combustible, easily started material would work. When the coals are all glowing, I dump the chimney into the barbecue and once the coals settle down we are ready to go. It is usually about 1/2 hour from striking my first match until the charcoal is ready to cook on. I set the chimney in the barbecue on the charcoal ring while I am messing with it because here in SoCal one must be vigilant not to set the neighborhood on fire. I have often thought that with a little modification to the fire starter chimney could be used to cook but have been too lazy or something to attempt to modify it.

    • JimD

      November 3, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      I, too, use the charcoal chimney when I don’t want to use my gas grill. It is just as easy as you say. I use just one sheet of newsprint and it works fine.

  3. Tim M

    November 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    For another option, check out SilverFire’s stoves. The owner previously worked with EcoZoom. He had some improvements in mind and started up his own “rocket stove” company. These SilverFire stoves use a lighter and more durable insulation material.

    For more info, go to: http://www.silverfire.us

    • Tom

      November 3, 2013 at 7:18 PM

      EcoZoom also has stoves that use the same lightweight insulation as SilverFire. This type of insulation is found in our “Lite” models. Currently we are out of stock of the Versa Lite but should have more soon.

  4. JJM

    November 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I would prefer that the hinges were very stiff to hold them in a desired position while emptying, but more important while adjusting the DRAFT. Better, would be mechanical latching capability.

    • Tom

      November 3, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      Hi JJM – Your comment and suggestion is much appreciated and something we will keep in mind with future product development. Thanks from EcoZoom!

  5. Rick

    November 3, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    If your worried about charcoal don’t buy it. I’ve never used one of stoves, but i do burn wood as my main source of heat, the charcoal left over from my wood stove, or your campfire if you take a few hot coals and smotthem in a can. Will light no problem with one match and a couple deep breaths

  6. Kenneth T. Long

    November 3, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    very nice !

  7. Joel

    November 7, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    I’m actually glad to learn that the output heat is about 300, as that way I would be able to use my copper-bottoned, stainless steel cookware that I am more accustomed to, even on a camping situation. These items are much lighter to transport than the cast-iron cookware.

  8. Shawn

    November 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    Another option in the chimney stove category would be a Kelly Kettle. No insulation, but rather an outer sleeve to heat water. http://www.kellykettleusa.com/kelly-kettle-kits/large-kelly-kettle-complete-kit.html

  9. Jarrod

    November 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    I would stick with a Solo stove.

  10. Jim

    December 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    It’s much easier to make a Rocket stove out of a old paint can and and two soup cans. Small enough to fit in your backpack and heats up fast! I cook with mine using a old iron skillet, the stove gets hot enough to sear meats, boil water etc: And it burns any dry biomass!

    I keep one rocket stove ready for camping and I made a larger stove using a 5 gallon metal bucket.. 1 gallon paint can… 2 soup cans. I use the stove to heat my workshop..much cheaper than using a oil stove or electric.

  11. Jim

    December 7, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    A easy to make fire starter for your readers :

    remember all that lint from your dryer? Instead of throwing it away.. save it.

    Using a old pan & low heat..melt parafin wax..mix in the dryer lint. Take off the heat & let set til it is starting to set. Use a teaspoon, scoop out and make whatever shape is easiest for you. Wrap in a light layer of old newspaper.. store in a old container. It’s a easy way to start charcoal, wood or anything on fire.

  12. Sam

    December 14, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Answer, no. I would rather use a #10 tin can or a 1gl paint can. Make a grate out coat hangers and you have all you need. It’s lighter, more portable, cheaper, replaceable, and disposable. Your pots ( other cans) and utensils can nest inside. Cost? Nothing but maybe 20 minuets of your time. It may be less efficient but I wasn’t planing on paying for fuel, so who cares. If your not sure yet try to Cary the 26 pounds for five miles and then decide.

  13. Richard

    January 31, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    I have a Stovetek rocket stove…darn near the same as this one as far as I can see. Works wonderful and could not be easier. We trailer camp, often at state or local parks so lots of fire rules apply. I can use this thing at any of them. Can’t pick up even deadfall legally? No worries. I can (legally!)pick up enough small stuff around our campsite to burn in 5 minutes to keep this stove going for as long as I need. Pinecones are especially good. I use the dryer lint/parafin thing also, like someone else mentioned. This stove is VERY fuel-efficient. Have yet to try charcoal, but it came with a different grate for charcoal use. I just haven’t had the need.

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