Rumfords in Thailand
by Dan depew

Pictures by Dan Depew

Thailand, a country with an annual high of 38 degrees Celsius, isn't widely known for it's cold seasons. There is a winter in Thailand, lasting from November until early January, when it isn't uncommon to see temperatures as low as 10 degrees C in some places. Sweaters, jackets, blankets, and water heater blowouts fill stores for these months.

The McKeithen family responded to this year's low temperatures by installing a Rumford fireplace at their house in Chiang Rai.

Housing contractors in Northern provinces, including both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, aren't all that familiar with the idea of fireplaces but a surprising number of fireplaces have been installed. No Rumford fireplaces, however, had ever been built in Thailand until the McKeithens constructed one in their home.

"I was looking through design books, which brought me to searching the internet," recalled Keith McKeithen. "That was when I ran into Buckley Rumford."

McKeithen said he was very intrigued by the theory of the Rumford fireplace; particularly in the idea the Rumford heated surfaces, not air. He researched the design on Buckley's website (

Ordering online, he received the signature throat piece by freight a little more than a month later. Keith said he did talk to Jim Buckley, founder and president of Buckley Rumford Company, with various questions, as well as Superior Clay in Uhrichsville, Ohio, about measurements for the throat piece.

McKeithen was thrilled with the results. "We used it at our Christmas party, and wow, it just heated everyone in the room." Keith was also fond of the design: "No smoke at all," he told a visiting friend, "The throat shape gets all of the smoke out and heat reflected [into the room]."

"Our local potter was impressed as well and came to take measurements one day." Both liked the design and saw a possible demand for it in Chiang Rai.

Mrs. McKeithen saw this too. As both the contractor and designer of her house, she saw the Rumford installation throughout the process, working with mason, Sutep Mintakiew. She added that she was so pleased that she now suggests Rumford fireplaces for all of her clients and friends. A new one is just being finished across the road because of the McKeithen’s strong recommendations.

Both fireplaces were Rumford designs adapted from the work of 18th century Count Rumford and used components from a kit sold by Buckley Rumford and produced at Superior Clay.


    Rumford fireplaces are tall and shallow to reflect more heat, and they have streamlined throats to eliminate turbulence and carry away the smoke with little loss of heated room air. Rumford fireplaces are generally appreciated for their tall classic elegance and their heating efficiency.
These aren't the first Buckley Rumford fireplaces to be built outside of the US - just the first built in Thailand. Rumfords have been springing up in South India, Kuwait, Romania, and Japan, as well as throughout Europe and South America.

More Pictures of the Chiang Rai Rumford
Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
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