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Outdoor wood furnace


Lawdog Dago Dom

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What do you heat with now? 


They do require a small amount of electricity for the draft door, when open, and for the constant recirculation pump, and then the blower motor in the house if you use a central heating and ac ducting for your house. Also, you can plumb in a heat exchanger with your tank style water heater and heat your house water as well. Depending on your hot water consumption, you could see hot water temps as high as your outdoor wood furnace water temp, 160-185* depending on what you set your outdoor furnace water temp at. Heating your hot water with outdoor furnace will probably keep your water heater from ever kicking on, I flip my breaker off, so you would save that electricity money which probably more than offsets the cost of the draft door and circulation pump. 
 

Biggest downside, when sized properly for heating load and burn efficacy, you will have to tend the fire and add wood once every day. So if traveling for the weekend or more you will need someone to tend it for you, or have a backup source of heat for your house. 
 

if you have the time, ability, and supply of wood to use as a heat source then I say yes they are worth it. But I have no $$ figures to prove it. 

Edited by Renegade Plowboy
Additional thought.
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Definitely cheaper to heat with wood over Electricity :o

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3 minutes ago, Lawdog Dago Dom said:

We have electric heat. No natural gas here. Just electric or propane.

Mine is a Central Boiler model. It was specially ordered as a dual fuel model. It can be set up with a burner inside to burn fuel oil, waste oil, kerosene, NG, or Propane with the correct burners. However, we never added the backup fuel source burners. Original intention was for used engine oil, but we haven’t gotten that kind of supply yet. Brush piles eat up most of that, lol. 
 

if you had a sawmill close by that you could get there outer slabs from for cheap, those do work well and are usually CHEAP for what you get and how much heat you will get from them. You just have to cut the long slabs down to pieces short enough to fit in your furnace. 

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I'm outside jeff city. Neighbor had one that worked great.  He also heated his water with it.  Went out in the morning and loaded wood for the day.  If you are near a sawmill you can buy scrap like square ends and slats for fuel cheaper than cordwood.  

 

I used an indoor stove with a ceramic catalyst to heat and ran about 1.5-2 cords a year.  Father-in-law and bil use wood furnaces and keep the houses warmer than needed.

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With all the previous comments outta the way, now more towards your original question with your current heating system. 

 

Pros :  Can hook the heat exchanger module (like a heater core in an auotomobile) from outside furnace into you existing central heating ac unit, and use existing wall mounted theromstat to control temp of house just like your current electric system. This is presuming you have central heating and or ac system and not seperate base board heating and mini spilt ac system.  If your wall mounted thermostat is capable, you could also still keep the electric system and have it set as a backup heat source in the event you skip town for a few days and don't have anyone to tend your fire. House temperature regulation is just as easy as the electric heating system. You still get instant heat when you want it by adjusting the thermostat. No waiting on a fire or heating coils to warm up first. Oustide wood burner means all the mess from burning wood is outside the house. No bark, wood debris, or possible bugs from the firewood to deal with in the house. All ashes, and ash dust when removing them, are already outside so no mess inside from them either. No worries about carbon monoxide from any burning substance (wood or propane) building up inside the house. No exhaust systems/vents from these systems to maintain either. House insurance shouldn't go up with instalation of outdoor burner, it might if you decided to go with an indoor wood burner or propane. Can hook into house water heater circuit and have HOT hot water. Summer when not burning wood, just close valve to outside furnace circuit and just use normal electric for hot water heater. In event of a power outage, a much much smaller generator, or solar panel set up, would be enough electric to operate the circulation pump and draft door solenoid as compared to the electric heating coils in the electric heating system. Both would still require the same current for the air blower motor to distribute the heated air in the house. You get a new excuse to get out of the house for a few hours at a time to stockpile wood for the next season. You get ALOT more exercise from cutting and stockpiling wood verses picking up the phone to call for propane. Also, you never have to argue with the propane supplier that your tank is empty, or close to empty, when their computer estimater says you should still have 25% in your tank and your good for another 2 weeks.  You never have to wait on the propane supplier to show up and fill your tank either.  You have a good reason, aka excuse, to get out the the conversation in the house that you never wanted to be in, or leave someone elses house when not enjoying yourself, for same reason. If your like us it's kind of a family affair so dad, brothers and myself sometimes get together and cut a bunch at a time together. We do enjoy that. Much faster also, especialy with a tractor and loader. 

 

Cons:  You have to go outside and tend the fire at least once daily durring the seasons your runing it no matter the weather. Some folks must tend it twice a day, depending on size of outdoor wood burner and load on the outdoor wood burner.  Rain, snow, sleet, wind, storm, darkness of night, or calm and sunny, If its cold outside and  you want heat, you gotta add wood to the fire.  You do have to source the wood your going to use wheather it be cord wood, or slab wood, your buying it already processed or going to the woods or mill to cut it yourself. You should be doing this a year in advance so the wood can dry down, aka cure, making it more efficant to burn. If you do get one of the newer models (probably only thing available now, I know in Central Boilers case the newer more efficant models are all you can get) you do need to have dry, cured wood.  If you burn wetter or "greener" wood, you will have more creesote buildup in the flues and will have to clean it out more and have more upkeep.  You do have some transportation, fuel, equipment (chainsaw, wood splitter, truck/trailer ect, ), and storage space for your stockpile expence. Keeping the wood under cover, but not airtight, helps it to dry and keep it dry so it burns better.  You have to dedicate time to sourcing and making the stockpile. You still need a small amout of electric in the event of a power outage to make the heat in the burner, tranpsort the heated water to heat exchanger in the house, and run the blower motor to distribute the heat. An indoor add on wood burner in a basement can function 100% without electric, you just wouldn't get as good of heated air movement throughout the house, but it would keep the house warm. 

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I had one before they had the higher efficiency secondary burn and I liked it.  Big house, wife likes it warm, it also did >90% of the hot water.  I don't mind cutting wood.  If you were buying wood, not worth it IMO.

 

I had to load mine 2x per day.

 

They smoke some when the air comes on.  and in between they smoke a bit as they smolder.   If you have close neighbors...

 

I suspect that for a small two person house and not wanting to cut firewood you have better options.  Solar panels?  Higher efficiency heat pump?

 

Consider that $15,000 buys a lot of electric or propane.  Simple payback analysis.

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If you have happy neighbors near by you won’t for long once you install an outdoor furnace, they often burn cool and produce a lot of smoke and with a chimney 10 feet high or so that smoke stays at ground level, I had a girlfriend that lived next door to one and her house stank of creosote year round, I often thought of throwing a can of 3f in the door and running

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12 hours ago, Lawdog Dago Dom said:

We have electric heat. No natural gas here. Just electric or propane.

Hooray for solar panels.  With the rebates I get from the electric company for electricity that I generate more than I use I get free electricity about seven months out of the year.  It often is enough to pay the lease on the panels, too.

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I have a friend with an outside building for his wood burner. He has 80 wooded acres and cuts enough to provide his needs.

 

The electric companies are pushing “no fossil fuel” initiatives though they still have multi day outages. When they go after smoke generators, there’s going to be a war.

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12 hours ago, Forty Rod SASS 3935 said:

Hooray for solar panels.  With the rebates I get from the electric company for electricity that I generate more than I use I get free electricity about seven months out of the year.  It often is enough to pay the lease on the panels, too.

I like the idea of solar panels, but we have a ton of trees. I would have to see how much sun the roof facing south actually gets.

 

Neighbors are a couple of hundred yards away, but if I went with the outdoor burner I would place it where it would not create a nuisance.

 

All good info and I thank you folks for taking the time to post.

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26 minutes ago, Lawdog Dago Dom said:

I like the idea of solar panels, but we have a ton of trees. I would have to see how much sun the roof facing south actually gets.

 

Neighbors are a couple of hundred yards away, but if I went with the outdoor burner I would place it where it would not create a nuisance.

 

All good info and I thank you folks for taking the time to post.

JFWIW, my solar panels face east and work just fine.  When we had them installed they said we needed 23 panels.  I insisted on 30 because everything is going electrical and I didn't want to run short down the line.

 

We leased the panels, but were I to do it again I'd buy them outright.  I'd have then paid for by now and I'd be getting free electricity about 10 months out of the year and very low bills the other two months.  I'm not paying much but I'd have a gun a year extra cash.

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I am surprised how good my west facing panels perform vs the south.  Clearly South is best but...

 

Then with Solar Panels they do more than just heat and the payback is quick IF you assume they add some value to the house.  Otherwise with the government subsidy I figure a payback of 7  years.

 

I've had the OWB and I liked it but it was work and I didn't have neighbors.  Now I'm older and I chose solar for this house....even if I didn't have neighbors.

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