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Yurt / Ger Diary

written by Rene K. Mueller, Copyright (c) 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, last updated Sat, January 3, 2015

24. 1. 2007: Winter Arrived Finally

Winter 2006/2007 Arrived
Tonight the first snow of this winter season which actually also lastet, maybe 10-15cm snow during 6-7 hours. The snow, as you see on the photo, pushes the roof down, in particular the left-hand side. I start now (13:00) to heat the yurt again and see if the snow will slide then - and it did not slide, in other words the new straw-based insulation does its job and the roof doesn't warm up outside when inside is warmed up 20°C.

I came back late night yesterday night, 4°C and heated with the stove to 15°C around 02:00, and 12:00 next day 4°C again whereas -4°C outside.

18. 1. 2007: Another Stronger Storm, Still Mild & Mouse


Storm "Kyrill" next morning
I have fasten the skylight tighter, fastened the roof with additional cords and ropes, now that a new storm or hurricane "Kyrill" is rushing over Europe - and wind speed expected to 180km/h in the alps tonight, wind direction SW, but due the location it turns and creates a whirl so gusts also come from SE and NE coming down from the mountain I am located.

Arround 20:00 strong gusts, maybe 100km/h - with the additional ropes the roof hardly shakes, skylight doesn't move anymore so no wind enters the yurt anymore; I started to heat the stove again (with winds from NE and strong gusts it's possible the smoke pushed back into the stove into the yurt but since the storm isn't as strong as expected I start the stove again); it seems to hit Germany more strong than here in Switzerland.

During the night the winds got stronger, and peaked around 03:00 in the morning, and around 06:00 the winds get stronger again and more gusts wobbling the roof; hardly got any sleep. At 08:00 now the temperature is at 12°C, and the winds are still steady but slowly soothing.

Anyway, the storm wasn't as strong as predicted here in Switzerland by wheather forecast, faster winds yet lesser strong gusts, but Germany was affected more serious. The straw insulation added inertia and so the roof did not wobble as strong as I had with my summer setup. With the 4 or 5 ropes I used to fasten the roof the yurt can withstand easily a strong storm, important is that the ropes tie down the roof canvas so the wind cannot lift it up (as the yurt roof operates like a wing of an airplane).

Mild Days

The temperatures the last week have been 3-5°C at night, and 8-10°C at day - since I was away during daylight, and only slept in the yurt I didn't heat the yurt, and still 10-12°C at 21:00 or 00:00 when I came home, apprx. 5-8°C warmer than outside.


One mouse found the way into my straw insulation, and climed through the wall, and reached to roof as well. It sounded like eating some of the corn in the straw - there isn't much but still attractive for the mouse. I'm not really fond of scaring it away, but the faeces and urine of the mouse in the insulation isn't what I want.

I'm very pleased otherwise with the straw insulation and plan to keep the insulation for the next winter season as well, and actually extend it further.

12. 1. 2007: Strong Storm

Earth Live (2007/14/01)
Last night there was a strong storm, with 120km/h winds, and even the roof with over 110kg was wobbling apprx. 5-10cm at one or two strong gusts, whereas the walls did not shake. The skylight I have tied with 4 cords to the crown-wheel, but it lifted up easily for 1-2cm (spare length of the cords) for 10-15 secs and brought fresh air into the yurt. Anyway, I was awake several hours through the night, and got up and walked outside around the yurt to see if the rain canvas was fasten enough. That's the price or duty when living in a temporary building, so "close" to nature, a strong storm keeps you awake for a couple of hours. One or two firs broke in the nearby forest, 150m away from the yurt, as I saw this morning.

I also found a live shot on Earth, the sunlight and shadow on Earth is calculated, mapped on a cloudless Earth (day & night) and then the clouds are merged from real satellite pictures, updated every hour - see the World Sunlight Map .

9. 1. 2007: Mild Days

Time Inside Outside Heat Source
16:00 22°C 10°C stove
21:00 18°C 7°C -
06:00 13°C 5°C -
12:00 - - covered sky
23:00 12.5°C 8°C -
08:00 10.7°C 3°C -
The last days it was rather mild with temperatures around 5-6°C during the day, when the sun came through it was even warmer, e.g. 10°C. This morning 6:00 in the yurt 13°C, even I stopped to heat the stove around 16:00 yesterday, it kept 18°C around 21:00, so it dropped 6°C within 9 hours in the night. Outside it's exceptionally 7°C and raining. Tonight 23:00 still 12.5°C inside, and a day I wasn't heating the yurt at all today and just came back, outside 8°C. The next morning around 8:00 10.7°C in the yurt, and outside 3°C.

Once in a while I write down all the temperatures, and with 2-3 more series I will be able to calculate the insulation factor of my current setup.

Climate Comparison Mongolia vs Switzerland
To satisfy my own curiosity I checked climate of Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) and Zurich (Switzerland), collected the data from Wikipedia and drawn this chart.

Interestingly the temperature range of Ulaanbaatar is quite extreme, from -20°C to 20°C average in a year, between May and September the temperatures are similiar. Looking at average rainfall it becomes obvious how dry it is in Mongolia compared to Switzerland (or general Central Europe).

2. 1. 2007: Interior Photos & Water/Wood Usage

Some photos of the interior:

Development desk (south west)
2007/01/02 14:14
Kitchen section (east)
2007/01/02 14:16
Bed (north)
2007/01/02 14:17
Bed, crown-wheel, skylight & fan (north)
2007/01/02 14:19
Office desk (west)
2007/01/02 14:20
Door / construction desk (south)
2007/01/02 14:20

Yurt Interior Layout (2006/2007)
As you noticed there is little space left (since last setup without kitchen/bathroom), e.g. for the shower I planned. It's also noticeable darker, since 7/8 is covered with the straw-based thermal insulation of roof and wall.

The kitchen/bathroom combo is mainly a table, with electric stove, water cooker and two bowls, one to wash dishes, another to wash myself (bathroom). Below the table a box with hoards (pasta, rice etc food which has to be dry but isn't that temperature sensitive). A shelf with bathroom utilities, dishes and food. The food which requires to be cool I have in a plastic box outside, and leave outside as long it's above 0°C - and take it into the yurt when it gets colder than that. That's in short what has changed with the setup recently.

Yurt at Night (1)
2007/01/02 21:28
Yurt at Night (2)
2007/01/02 21:29
Yurt at Night (3)
2007/01/02 21:29
Water Usage

Since the main water access nearby with the sink had to be shut down due freeze, I solely use now the spring water. I use apprx. 6l water (4x 1.5l bottles) per day, apprx. 3l to cook, clean dishes and wash myself, the other 3l for drinking. I can use the washing machine of the neighbour, so the total water usage I can't say - I wash cloths 2-3 times a month, gonna look up the water usage of the machine - just curious about average water usage living like this.

Wood Usage

Since mid of November til now I used 8 boxes of wood (17 boxes = 1m3 = 1 ster) apprx. 0.5m3 for 6 weeks to heat the stove and the yurt thereby. This usage of wood is partially due the mild winter until now, and also the new straw-based insulation I have for this winter. The coming weeks with lower temperatures (e.g. below -10°C) will show how good the insulation does.

Here a few numbers I found (3.6 MJ = 1 kWh):

Oil (l) Gas (l) Electricity (kWh) Wood (Hard) (m3) Wood (Soft) (m3) Pellets (kg,m3) Chipped Wood (Hard) (m3) Chipped Wood (Soft) (m3)
1000 1085 10080 4.9 6.8 2060, 3.2 13.2 16.1

Efficiency: Oil/Gas = 94%, Wood = 87%.

  • 1m3 Wood (Hard) = 204 l Oil = 222 l Gas
  • 1m3 Wood (Soft) = 147 l Oil, = 159 l Gas
  • 1m3 Wood (Hard) dry = 520 kg = 2000 - 2300 kWh = 7200 - 8300 MJ
  • 1m3 Wood (Soft) dry = 370 kg = 1445 - 1780 kWh = 5200 - 6400 MJ

Of course it needs to be noted, using a stove and fireing with wood is even less efficient, the first 20-30min 80% of the heat leaves the stove through the pipe outside, only when the pipe can be closed (75%), and the smoke and air draft soothes, and majority of the heat radiation remains in the stove, then the efficiency is getting better. So, I would guess at least 25% of efficency is sacrified using a stove with wood.

Baking Bread on a Stove

I also tried to bake a small bread on the stove (unfortunately the stove is otherwise not suitable for baking), prepared a small dough (flour, salt, yeast), and let it rest for over an hour, and formed a longer apprx. 1-2cm thick bred, laid it on the stove direct - and after 10-15min I turned it until both sides where brown - so, it's possible to make a small bread this way, maybe in a (frying) pan even.

Baking a bred on a stove (1)
2007/01/04 20:28
Baking a bred on a stove (2)
2007/01/04 20:41
Baking a bred on a stove (3)
2007/01/04 20:46
Baking a bred on a stove (4)
2007/01/04 20:46

Of course a real stove with an oven to bake would be much better, or even making a stone-oven outside of the yurt, e.g. into the ground or an earth oven.

31. 12. 2006: Visiting Chris Aeppli & His Yurt

Via my yurt neighbour I've got to know Chris Aeppli (DeepMongolia.com ) who lives in his 7.5m diamater yurt near Winterthur (Switzerland):

  • 7.5m diameter, 1.80m wall height, and
  • thermal insulated with large hempmats (apprx. 2m x 3m) 4.5cm thick,
  • a strong/heavy polyester/cotton mixture as rain cover, and
  • on top a cotton layer to protect the rain cover
  • floor with wood planks, 6cm thick glas-wool in a grid, and leveled apprx. 1m of slope using a wood construction.

Chris Aeppli's 7.5m Yurt
2006/12/31 14:29
2006/12/31 14:32
2006/12/31 14:31
2006/12/31 14:30
As you can see his outer cotton cover catched moos along the north side of the yurt, on the southern (sun) side there is none.

2006/12/31 14:24
2006/12/31 14:26
2006/12/31 14:26
2006/12/31 14:26
2006/12/31 14:27
2006/12/31 14:25

He used a multi-layered crown-wheel, and round wodden bars at the ends with steel pin which enters the crown-wheel. The lattice wall is made of 3 layered wood, sawn into laths, fixated with bolts. As skylight an acrylic 1/3 sphere. If time permits I will make a brief interview with him and publish it in the yurt-section.

Update 7. 1. 2007: a dedicated page with Chris Aeppli's yurt construction and a brief interview.

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