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  #1  
Old 04/13/13, 04:27 PM
Bubbas Boys's Avatar  
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 765
Lil House Outdoor Heater

I am building a house this summer and I have been looking at the Lil House Outdoor Heater. Wondering if anyone has any experience with one or knows someone who has. The concept is a single supply duct and pulling air with air returns. Really like the idea because I want to heat with wood for sure and love the easy and simple installation. Would require little duct work and I can do the whole installation. Just worried about it being the only heat source. The house is going to be 2000 sq. ft. and single story. Any opinions wood be great.

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  #2  
Old 04/14/13, 09:22 PM
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Northern New York
Posts: 271

I have no experience with it,but I like the concept . Their website makes it look pretty simple. I will be watching your thread,thanks for turning me on to this heating option.

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  #3  
Old 04/14/13, 10:05 PM
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Location: Central Illinois
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No prob Dale. Hope to have more info for everyone as well as a personal opinion soon. Haha. Thanks for reply.

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  #4  
Old 04/18/13, 07:50 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Missouri Ozarks
Posts: 70

We have been using a Lil House furnace for 15 years now and love it . We just built a new home and got a new one (left hand model) for the new house 1400 sq ft . plus a 168 sq ft. greenhouse . Bradley enterprise (Ozark Mo.) are great folks too stands behind his furnaces , fast to drop ship and thing you may need. We have 4 home's on our place that heat with a Lil House furnace. I have also built a 12 volt back up blower for grid power outages and run it on our off grid solar . Our first furnace is still in use 15 years old it has got a new barrel kit and a new blower in that time .

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  #5  
Old 04/18/13, 08:36 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Maryland
Posts: 3,190

My husband has really been wanting to build his own version of a Lil House heater, but I just can't get excited about cutting a hole in the side of the house or taking up valuable window space.

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  #6  
Old 04/18/13, 08:55 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Central Illinois
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Great thank you so much for the input. Have really wanted to hear from someone who has one. I am really looking forward to having one. Thanks again.

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  #7  
Old 04/19/13, 08:49 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Missouri Ozarks
Posts: 70

Sent you a PM

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  #8  
Old 05/24/13, 09:06 PM
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 247

We have heated our home for the last 5 years with it. I love it. We are going to need to get a barrel kit in the next year or so. Our home is just under 1700 sq feet. Works beautifully.

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  #9  
Old 05/24/13, 11:51 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Central Illinois
Posts: 765

Good deal onebizebee. Do you guys have a back up or supplemental heat source? Is your house a really open floor plan or no? Thanks for input.

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  #10  
Old 08/21/13, 08:19 AM
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 247

No back up or supplemental heat. There was a propane heat pump when we bought this place. It was costing us an arm and a leg to keep the propane tank filled so we got rid of the tank. We have a generator to run the wood stove blower in case of power failure also solar and inverter battery system if gas becomes short. We also keep a spare blower and thermostat if there is an issue there as well. We live in a doublewide mobile home. We just close and seal all the main room vents in the house and leave the vents in the far bedrooms open. My husband hooked in to the houses existing vent system. I just seal it up the extra holes in the in the spring after it gets above 45 degrees for night time temps. Then open all the main room vents and run the A/C part of the heat pump during the summer.

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  #11  
Old 08/21/13, 11:28 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Illinois
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I often work with my buddy who is in HVAC. Occasionally he gets the opportunity to work with some alternative heat stuff as well as PV. We have installed both hot air and hot water versions of very similar products you are speaking of and here's my 2 cents about them.

They all work OK, and are fairly easy to run, install and not much problems with the equipment of designs however, if you are looking for something extremely efficient these devices are not that. You would get much better efficiency with an in house wood burner/boiler.

If the cost of wood to you is not an issue i would say do what you looking at, but if you have to purchase wood i think i would reconsider or at least check out the options a little.

Back in the day Mother Earth News was reviewing something called the HASA (not sure that's the exact acronym) similar to your idea.

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  #12  
Old 09/05/13, 10:05 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: South Central VA
Posts: 465

I didn't know you could buy these. I built one five years ago. We used it until last year when I built a dual purpose unit that heats our water too. I also don't use a blower just convection. I put it below grade out back and ran two ducts into the house with no return. If we need more heat just crack an upstairs window. More draws in. Gotta watch the hot water though it gets to hot. Ours is way over size but only has to be loaded twice a day. Pretty cool to know someone builds and sells these.

Larry
A World Away

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  #13  
Old 09/11/13, 09:07 AM
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 247

I don't honestly know about the actual numbers for the efficiency part of our outdoor wood heater. I will say we have the warmest house I have ever been in for minimal cost and labor. We have unlimited access to wood. Yes we have to cut and stack it ourselves. We have a splitter that does the brunt of the work. So we spend a few days in the spring and fall cutting, splitting, and stacking wood. If I do not want to do that a full cord of wood delivered and stacked is $50.00 I say we burn between 3-6 cords of wood a winter and that really depends on how low the temps drop here in east Tn. The last few winters were very mild. Prior winters we have been below 20 degrees Fahrenheit for the daytime highs for three weeks in a row. It was terrible outside but very toasty in the house. We of course burned more wood during those super cold days. I keep my house at about 75 degrees during the winter. I let it go to about 65 during the night. Can't sleep in a hot house! Another benifit I can burn other wood in addition to hard wood. I throw a couple pieces of pine in regularly. The chimney is short I do not get much build up in it at all. If I do I just burn hot and burn it off while I am out there in the morning. I usually use feed bags to get a really hot burn. I love this stove and the initial investment was small compared to the other outdoor units. We live in a double wide manufactured home so we could not legally put in a inside unit and still keep our insurance. I do have a soapstone wood stove sitting in my building that was in one of my previous houses. I might use it in a green house.

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  #14  
Old 10/04/13, 08:25 AM
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I bought a Lil House Heater over a year ago and installed it myself. I didn't have too much problem installing it. It puts out a lot of heat. There are some important things to consider when installing it. Instead of working like a furnace that ducts heat into multiple rooms, it draws cold return air from the rooms and lets the heat move by convection through the house. So, you want to make sure that your house allows the heat to move throughout. You can encourage better heat movement by putting return air ducts in the most distant rooms. I found that it helped a lot to install vents in the bedroom doors so the heat could flow through with the doors closed. I put a louvered door on the utility room. Depending on where you live, it's important to make sure that your plumbing gets enough heat so it doesn't freeze. It gets below zero a couple times a year here in Ohio. My house is 1200 square feet and is well insulated. I have to keep the stove throttled back because it can get up to ninety real quick even on the coldest days.

The other important thing to consider with the Lil House Heater is where to locate it outside of your house. It has NO thermostat. You regulate the heat output by adjusting the air vent on the door. The blower turns on when the air gets hot enough and off when the heater cools down. So, you want the heater in a place where it is quick and easy to get to. When you first start using it, you will find yourself adjusting the vent a lot until you learn how to build a steady, even fire. So, you REALLY want the thing where you don't have to walk all the way around the house to adjust it, feed it and clean it, especially during nasty weather.

I thought the heater did really well on wood. It has insulation around the heat chamber and just gets just a little warm on the outside. Its also an airtight stove. I'm sure an indoor stove could be a little more efficient. But, it takes up space and lets ash and smoke in your house and you have to have the wood mess in the house. The Lil House Heater keeps the mess outside.

BEFORE you install an outdoor wood heater like this one, its very important to letter your home insurance provider know. Mine wasn't familiar with the stove, so I sent them the documentation. They gave me a few minor requirements for spacing from the wall and they came and took photos after I was done installing it. Because the firebox and chimney are outside of the house, the premium cost me less than having a wood stove inside the house.

Something I learned the hard way: Use three chimney braces, not two. Two may seem strong and sturdy. But, a seventy mile an hour gust of wind says differently. You don't want to have to fix it during a storm. You should also plan on having a generator or power inverter to operate the stove during an outage. It doesn't have a heat dump, so you can't operate by convection only without overheating it. The blower is very small and there are no electronic controls, so you don't need much of a generator to keep it going. The heater does have to have routine maintenance. In fact, I recommend giving it better coating of paint after you install in, the factory paint didn't seem to weather well. Also make sure you install it so water doesn't stand on top. That can cause it to rust.

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  #15  
Old 10/04/13, 08:49 AM
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Northern Wisconsin
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Looks like a great system for not-so-cold winters. So for central IL this would probably work well. Don't know about sub-zero winters like we get where I live.

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  #16  
Old 10/05/13, 08:13 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Central Illinois
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Robb40, thanks a lot. I have been dyin to hear from someone that has been through it. I found this and knew I had to have one long before we even designed the house. Haha. Thanks again, all great info.

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  #17  
Old 10/05/13, 08:41 AM
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Sounds like a lot of money for a barrel heater with a box around it ? by the time you add extras and $50.00 to pack it for shipping ? all in all about $2,500.00 before installation ?

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  #18  
Old 10/16/13, 09:05 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doingitmyself View Post
I often work with my buddy who is in HVAC. Occasionally he gets the opportunity to work with some alternative heat stuff as well as PV. We have installed both hot air and hot water versions of very similar products you are speaking of and here's my 2 cents about them.

They all work OK, and are fairly easy to run, install and not much problems with the equipment of designs however, if you are looking for something extremely efficient these devices are not that. You would get much better efficiency with an in house wood burner/boiler.

If the cost of wood to you is not an issue i would say do what you looking at, but if you have to purchase wood i think i would reconsider or at least check out the options a little.

Back in the day Mother Earth News was reviewing something called the HASA (not sure that's the exact acronym) similar to your idea.
Might want to look at the website. These folks are talking about a relatively small unit that is nothing like most things you may have seen, or installed. Sounds like you have done a few outdoor furnaces that tie in with existing hydronic baseboard? I agree with you, I have seen locals blow through 10-12 cords a year keeping those things fed. While my all electric house generated a 175-200$ month bill. Given the investment in the unit, installation costs, and 12 cords of wood a year, it will never pay off.

As for the Hasha units, I know a family that installed one back in the early eighties. incredible design. A wood furnace surrounded by hundreds of feet of pipe and thousands of pounds of sand. That thing was well worth the cost. A quick, small fire 2X a day and it kept an old, rambling farmhouse toasty warm. Wasn't cheap to build, and it did have a leak, which was a design flaw, located deep in the sand/piping maze. But, it was extremely efficient, and cheap to run.

EDIT: I decided to take a look at the current state of affairs regarding the HAHSA heaters. It appears that the hundreds of feet of pvc pipe in the system was somewhat of a fatal flaw, and many users grew tired of disassembling, excavating and repairing them. Sad to see, as current technology would allow a completely bulletproof installation of PEX tubing in the sand, and eliminate the issue. At this point it doesn't appear that there are two many of them being used or new ones being built.
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