Best Stirling Engine Reviews 2023

If you're a physics teacher in a high school, you will probably be teaching your class about thermodynamics. Here, you might mention Stirling engines and what they are. On top of that, you might wish to show them a working Stirling engine. While you can draw one on the board, you’ll be a much cooler teacher if you bring a working one to class! Naturally, we don’t mean you’ll rip one out of a submarine or a nuclear power plant – you’ll want a small scale engine that will illustrate your point. If that is your wish, then it will do you good to take a look at our top five educational Stirling engines, and a little guide to help you along with making your choice.
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Our Top Choice
Dstar Low Temp Stirling Engine
Dstar is a small but dedicated manufacturer of marvelous little Stirling engines.
Sensitive to temperature differentials. Will work in the palm of your hand. Will also work with cold water.
Quite expensive, considering the similar products on the market.
6 x 3 x 3 inches
Low temperature
Stainless steel
Best Value
Lieyang Hot Air Stirling Engine
Lieyang is a Chinese manufacturer, and we don’t know much about them. However, if we were to trust Fashion and their reviews, Lieyang makes good stuff.
Electric generator attached. Makes for a very good example of thermal to electric conversion. Also very reasonably priced.
Uses alcohol to run, and the tank is small and runs out quickly.
Two-cylinder, alcohol-fueled
1500 rpm
8.3 x 3.5 x 3.9 inches
Low temperature
Stainless steel
Eisco Labs Steam Engine Model
Eisco Labs has been in the business for over 45 years, mastering the production of educational engine models.
Glass pane on side. Cross section of an engine – glass pane allows you to see inner workings during operation.
Simple steam engine, not for advanced users.
Cross section, steam powered
500 rpm
14 x 7 x 4 inches
Low temperature
Stainless steel
ELENKER New Low-Temp Stirling Engine
Elenker is an obscure manufacturer from China, producing a lot of different accessories.
Glass casings for the pistons. Allows you to see what’s going on inside the machine. Can reach 180-200 rpm.
Made of rust-vulnerable steel.
180-200 rpm
8.3 x 5.8 x 4.5 inches
Low temperature
Sunnytech Low-Temp Stirling Engine Motor
Our last manufacturer for this article is another Chinese outfit. Sunnytech produces a wide variety of products, including a lot of Stirling engines.
Glass casings. See how the engine actually works. Very reasonable price point.
Produces loud clicking.
180-200 rpm
3.93 x 3.93 x 4.72 inches
Low temperature
Stainless steel

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Watch Our Stirling Engine Review

What is the Best Stirling Engine?

Of course, there are many engines to choose from, and many models to be picked. So, which one should you pick? Well, pick the one that suits your needs the most. Hopefully our guide helped you get a good idea what you want, and now we can look at our chosen example products.
Our Top Choice
A great little Stirling engine, the Dstar Low-Temperature Stainless Steel Stirling Engine Model is the perfect thing to present to a class, or to put on a TV. If you want a little more action out of your Stirling engine, then you should definitely check out the Dstar Stirling Engine Vehicle.

Dstar Low-Temperature Stainless Steel Stirling Engine Model

First on our list is a product from Dstar. Dstar is a small manufacturer of Stirling engines designed for a demonstration in classes. The company takes pride in producing these pieces of history, and provides manuals and videos on how to use them and perform maintenance. Dstar products also have that ‘ye olde’ feeling to them, as they're made to look like something straight out of the 19th century, making them pleasing to the eye as well as being mechanically sound.

Their Low Temp Stainless Steel Stirling Engine is one of the most basic machines on the market. It’s very simple, has a large flywheel and two pistons. The machine can work with any type of fuel – you can, basically, put a glass of hot or cold water under it, spin the wheel and it will keep spinning. Its simplicity makes it very easy to maintain, and it will look great on your desk, too.

The only bad thing about this little guy is that it's a little pricey. The engine will set you back a hundred dollars. Sure, the craftsmanship is great, as well as the engineering, and it looks great too, but there are similar models priced almost at half the cost of this engine. Also, it requires a steady source of heat to run, so water may not be a great choice, as it loses energy quickly. Try placing in on your TV!

Here are the product’s other prominent features:
  • Transparent cylinders
  • Works with any kind of heat source
  • Fairly sensitive
All in all, this Dstar Stirling Engine is one of the better pieces you can find on the market; a nifty little thing to show your class, or simply stand atop of your TV and keep spinning, it’s definitely a good buy.
Best Value
Want a Stirling engine that performs a function? Check out Lieyang Hot Air Stirling Engine Electric Generator. Want something more powerful? How about the Lieyang Hot Air Quad Cylinder Stirling Engine Model.

Lieyang Hot Air Stirling Engine Electric Generator Power Machine Model with LED

Our next product comes from Lieyang. Now, we haven’t a lot of information about Lieyang, but we do know something about the brand’s active vendor. Fashion is a very prominent vendor and one that puts customers first. It maintains an air of professionalism and makes sure you get the highest quality products. All products are 100% well-constructed and QA checked before going on the market.

Today, we’re presenting Lieyang’s Hot Air Stirling Engine Electric Generator. This is a very neat little product, very well-built, made out of aluminum and wood. The engine has two cylinders and uses alcohol as fuel for burning. It also has an LED light and an electric generator that’s actually powered by the engine. The product is covered by a 1-year warranty against all defects.

In the end, this is one neat little machine. It runs smoothly, and presents an interesting example of conversion between thermal, mechanical and electric energy. It has some flaws, but they’re mostly negligible, compared to the pros. We just wish the machine had a larger alcohol ‘fuel’ tank.
If teaching engine technology engineering is what you do, the Eisco Labs Steam Engine Model will help you do your job. Or if steam engines aren’t your style, maybe you can check out the Eisco Labs 4 Stroke Gasoline Hand Crank Engine Model.

Eisco Labs Steam Engine Model - Working Piston, Slide Valve, and Link Motion

Third up is Eisco Labs with their Steam Engine Model. Eisco Labs has been in the business for over 45 years, and grown to become one of the largest corporations that manufacture science and engineering educational equipment in the world, operating in 85 countries. It produces educational tools concerned with physics, chemistry, biology, and makes glassware for laboratories worldwide.

The Steam Engine Model is one of the best engine models around. It's actually a cross section of a steam engine, and it comes together with a working piston, link motion, and a side valve. The cross section has a glass pane over it so you can view the inner workings of the engine. The movement wheel is very light – even if you just blow on it, it will move.

All in all, if you’re looking to teach a class, it’s best you use this particular engine. The glass pane makes it perfect for that, but the packaging can ruin the experience, as you may receive a damaged product.
If you're looking for a cheap product, you should definitely consider the ELENKER New Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Education Toy. Are you also teaching or learning about electronics? You could get an ELENKER 1CH wireless RF Remote Control Switch Transmitter

ELENKER New Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Education Toy

Our penultimate product comes from another not-so-well-known manufacturer. We couldn’t dig up any info on Elenker, but they seem to be in the business of producing all kinds of accessories. Among those is the New Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Education Toy.

This toy is actually very similar to the Dstar, featuring the same-looking flywheel we saw with that engine. Elenker features the same base and similar cylinders, placed in glass casings so you can see what's going on inside. This is a low-temperature Stirling engine, meaning it's pretty sensitive, and you can start it up at a lower temperature difference. The product can achieve a total of 180-200 rpm and is quite affordable.

The product is all around well-built and works like a charm, but it does have one fatal flaw. Namely, the steel parts of the product aren’t made of stainless steel, but of plain, regular steel. This might create problems if you don’t know this fact, as you’ll carelessly use water to run it, causing the product to rust and become unusable.

A marvelous product, indeed. We only wish they used stainless on the parts.
Like reasonably priced but solid engines? Try out the Sunnytech Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Motor Steam Heat Education Model Toy Kit (LT001). Or, if you like a generator attached to your engine, you could try out the Sunnytech Hot Air Stirling Engine Motor Model Educational Toy Electricity Generator Colorful LED Sc001.

Sunnytech Low-Temperature Stirling Engine Motor Steam Heat Education Model Toy Kit – Available in 5 Styles

Our last product comes from Sunnytech, another Chinese manufacturer producing a vast number of products, but with a large choice of Stirling engines.

Among these is the Stirling Engine LT001. This is a nice and reliable toy and looks very similar to the Elenker and Dstart, products. Nonetheless, the engine works just fine and has all the attributes a Stirling engine should have – low temperature start, glass casings for pistons, and a very sensitive flywheel. On top of that, this product is very affordable too.

In all, this is a very decent product. It works well, but there is a clicking noise it produces that may put people off.

How Do I Choose the Best Stirling Engine?

When you think about the kit a pupil needs for learning at school, there are certain things that spring to mind. A pen, for instance, will be essential, and perhaps a pencil sharpener. Beyond that, they’ll need a backpack to carry everything around in. What you probably didn’t think of, for learning in physics class, is a Stirling engine.

Now, let's get one thing straight – when we're talking about considerations, we're talking about model engines and model engines only. Why are we emphasizing this? Because the difference between a full-sized, working unit and a small model is vast. With that, let's start by saying, the first consideration you need to make is what type of Stirling engine you want. There are several types available, and we'll talk more about them below. There are three basic types; alpha, beta, and gamma. Each type operates on the same principle, but the way they perform the job is vastly different.

Secondly, you need to consider the way all parts of the product fit. This is, by far, the most important consideration you can make. A loosely fitted product will be much more likely to break and stop working. If for example, the rods are of inappropriate length, the flywheel may stop spinning entirely. On top of that, this might create clicking or squeaking noises, all of which you don't want – not only because they're annoying, but because they may indicate there's something wrong with your unit and it may fail and suffer irreparable damage. Furthermore, you need to consider the quality of the material used to make these products. Depending on the type of fuel you're using, and you will most likely be using water, you need to check if the steel used is stainless, and hence rust-proof. You will also want products with glass chambers for the pistons, and for other things, as they will allow you to view the engine’s insides.

The last consideration, and perhaps, the least important one, is how long it takes for the product to heat up and start running, and how long it will keep running. This is an important consideration if you're a teacher, as you will certainly not want to wait half an hour to get the engine to run. You should also select products that are quite sensitive. Some products can start running when they're heated by your hand – these are called low-temperature Stirling engines. These are, as we said, much more suitable to a classroom environment. As for the runtime, well, it doesn't hurt to see that little flywheel spinning a little while longer, does it?
The price of Stirling engine models varies greatly. Depending on the complexity of the model, the additional features, the materials and the brand, a single model can cost as little as 30 dollars or as much as 350 dollars. You may find cheap stirling engines for even less money, but if they aren’t engineered to an extremely high standard, they will not operate correctly. All the models on our list are high quality, good value purchases.
While there are different types of Stirling engines, all of them operate on the same basis and have similar features. One of those features is a flywheel and rods that connect the wheel and the different parts of the piston. As far as additional features go, Stirling engine models often have an attached electric generator that displays the transference of thermal energy to electric energy.

Alternatively, there are engines attached to small vehicles, displaying thermal to mechanical energy transference. All Stirling engines require an external heat source to activate them. Many models feature glass chambers or panes of glass that let you see what’s going on inside the engine.

To sum up all the features, here is a short list:
  • One or more pistons
  • Glass parts that let you see inside
  • Flywheels and rods
  • Attached vehicles or generators
  • Required external heat source
Construction and Design
As we've already mentioned, there are several types of Stirling engines, and while they operate on pretty much the same basis, they have different layouts. Stirling engines are external combustion engines, which means they require an external source of heat to work. In Stirling engines, this external heat source heats up the gas inside that drives the pistons. The gas is completely sealed off from the outside, so Stirling engines don't produce any kind of emissions. On top of that, they're very efficient, being 13.5 to 15.5 % more efficient than internal combustion engines.

Alpha engines have one chamber that contains both the piston and the displacer, a piece much like a piston, but one that doesn't touch the walls of the chamber. The displacer's job is to displace, i.e. move the warm gas and the cold gas so that it may be heated and vice versa. Engines are usually made of stainless steel, as steel heats up quickly and nicely, but doesn't rust and is less susceptible to fatigue than iron. Beta engines operate in the same way, but the displacer and the piston are placed in different chambers, as well as the hot and cold exchangers. Gamma engines are a combination of the two. There are also free piston engines, low-temperature engines (these ones we mentioned before) and rotary piston engines.
Performance and Ease of Use
Let’s recap the key points. When it comes to performance, Stirling engines are much more efficient than Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs). In fact, they’re so much more efficient, they were considered as an alternative to ICEs halfway through the 80s. However, due to the fact they take a while to get heated up, and they’re not as responsive to temperature changes, plus with the abundance of fossil fuels thirty years ago, the idea was abandoned. We also mentioned these engines produce no carbon footprint, as they can use any kind of energy that produces heat to run. They’re very easy to operate, but, again, their need to heat up limits their application in the automotive industry, although the engine has found its use in other industries (nuclear plants are, in fact, much like large Stirling engines).

Get the Best Stirling Engine of 2023!

And, with that, we put a stop to our story about model Stirling engines. There are plenty of toys and models to pick from, so you will choose the product that is the best for your needs.

Our Top Choice
Dstar Low Temp Stirling Engine
Best Value
Lieyang Hot Air Stirling Engine
Eisco Labs Steam Engine Model
ELENKER New Low-Temp Stirling Engine
Sunnytech Low-Temp Stirling Engine Motor