corn furnace vs wood furnace

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by ridethatpony, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. ridethatpony

    ridethatpony Well-Known Member

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    any thoughts or opinions regarding these furnaces. We are thinking of going with an indoor corn furnace at this point, but are not as of yet totally committed.
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    if you are growing your own corn i would go for it. if you have access to go and cut firewood for yourself, i think wood is the way to go. if you have to buy either one, lol, to me it is a toss-up. corn seems cleaner, at least to handle. i am just considering the market prices of buying each fuel. if there is a bad crop of corn, you may experience major price fluctuations. also, if ethanol plants become popular, the price of corn may rise. firewood prices have risen as well, i guess that is due to the demand and the fuel oil prices help to drive it as well as the cost of gas to cut and transport it.
     

  3. Countrybumpkin

    Countrybumpkin Well-Known Member

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    I have a wood burner, but my neighbor has a corn burner-now, he doesn't have a ton of wood sitting around, and no tired, sore musles from cutting, splitting and stacking the stuff, but he had to find a gravity wagon ( and the price sure is going up on those things!), and figure out a way to get it good and clean so it will burn right. Corn doesn't take near as much room, but you have to keep the wagon inside, or at least well covered-high moisture content not wanted! The price changes also-he figures he'll spend $2/day to heat his house-not counting the cost of the corn furnace, mind you...thats at a price of $2/bushel-about what it is around here. Hope more people go to corn, though-firewood is getting harder and harder to find around here!
     
  4. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    We asked the same question and the salesmen all talked about the clinkers. And how much trouble the clinkers are. We went to three different stove stores too.

    We used to burn coal/peat, when we lived in Scotland. So I designed and I am currently building a new 200,000 BTU coal/peat stove for our new house.

    Just a couple more days working the fireclay and then we can stand it up, connect the stove pipe and plumb the water-pipes into the radiant flooring loops.
     
  5. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I was talking to a friend who has an uncle with a corn furnace. Biggest problem seems to be regulating the heat when it's not so cold out. The house gets too warm. It's an encouraging thought! That said I have a wood furnace and while it can have regulating problems too you can burn inferior woods on warmer days and softwood when you need a serious shot of heat on the very cold days. Can't do that with corn but there must be better systems to regulate the corn feeding into the furnace you'd think. All fuel prices are going to go up but if any are going to be slow moving up it will be corn. I wonder how well tossing a shovel full of corn onto wood embers works?
     
  6. redbudlane

    redbudlane Head Zookeeper

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    We just built a new house and are heating entirely with corn. We've put a corn furnace in and also a small corn/pellet stove in the living room which we only use pellets to get started then burn all corn. We've used the little stove but not the furnace yet. We figure once we get the hopper full on the furnace dh can just bring home a couple of buckets of corn from the bin every night. We are anxious to see how it works out. Sure is nice not to have that ugly old propane tank sitting in the yard.
     
  7. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    Ross I have a neighbour who throws ear corn in his outdoor furnace from time to time and says a cob or two really drives the heat up. Problem with corn for me is I couldn't just get it out of the bins in the yard, has to be cleaned first.
     
  8. tomorrowschild

    tomorrowschild New Member

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    Gotta weigh in here.
    Most of the "corn stoves" are actually "biomass" stoves, in that they will burn most seeds of a similar size to the kernels, and which will feed through the feed augers. Sunflower seeds, most beans, peas, etc. So, if one can raise any of the above, it may well cost less than $100 for a seasons heat (cost of seeds).
    On the other hand, you do need a source of electric for the fans in these stoves. A "regular" wood burner has no such needs, and you also have alternatives to the fuels used in them. Compressed paper bricks, compressed straw (or other biofuel) bricks, etc.
    Guess ya pays yer money and ya takes yer pick. Personally, I'd be for going for each, one as a back up for the other!
     
  9. RLMS

    RLMS Well-Known Member

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    Any suggestions or warnings regarding brands/types?

    Sure would help.

    Thank you!
     
  10. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    A 50# bag of corn is costing me over $10.

    A pallet load would cost more than $400.



    We price checked here locally [there is a company that is making the bio-whatever compressed bricks down in Ct] what they are labeling as being equal to a cord of wood costs $250.

    Cord wood is going for $80-$150 [depending on softwood-hardwood and age].

    What are you finding as being the cheapest bio-mass fuel?
     
  11. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are a couple of advantages as I see it to the pellet/corn stoves. First, they take less attention than a regular wood stove--just pour in your pellets and you are set for awhile, less messing with feeding wood and cleaning out ashes. Using one is much more like having a gas space heater than a "regular" wood stove, and this is a big deal to many people who don't want to deal with the mess of wood chips, bark, and ashes in the house. Bags of corn or wood pellets are a lot neater than stacks of odd shaped chunks of firewood.
    More importantly for many people, many pellet stoves can be vented horizontally, instead of requiring the kind of chimney that a regular wood stove needs.
    If you happen to have a commercial cherry orchard, or are near a cherry processing plant, maybe you can get free/cheap cherry pits, which many pellet stoves can easily burn. This is true of other seeds as mentioned previously, and could in itself be justification for getting a pellet stove (I'm using the term "pellet" stove for the class of "biomass" stoves that use pellets or corn, etc.)

    I've been using "regular" wood stoves and furnaces since 1977, and probably won't be getting a pellet/corn/biomass stove because I dislike the idea of having to use a processed wood product, or a grain that could be food, for heating my house. Remember, also, that insulation is cheaper than fuel in many situations.
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Please, please, please buy corn from me......... ;)

    I know, might isn't cleaned & it's bulk not bagged for you which all adds to the costs.

    But, I'm real lucky if I can get over $2 per 56lbs of corn. You could get 11,000lbs for $400.

    --->Paul
     
  13. RLMS

    RLMS Well-Known Member

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    I was going to say the same thing.

    I have 18 acres of corn that we didn't pick last year as a multiple experiment.

    I wanted to see how much we would lose if it stayed on the stalk over the summer AND how dry it would be in the fall AND if the turkeys and deer were more plentiful and any fatter because of it.

    I would never illegally feed the wild animals but those little beggars are such thieves.

    Seems to me that letting it dry on the stalk and then picking it in November the following year may have some advanyages.

    As far as retail cost Tractor Supply only charges $5.47 for a 50 pound bag.

    Just my two cents.
     
  14. tomorrowschild

    tomorrowschild New Member

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    Re: that $100 for your winters heat, I referred to growing your own corn, and meant the price of the seed kernals for enough corn to feed your corn burner through the heating season. Yes, indeed, to buy corn for your heat is FAR higher, of course!
    But, if you have a couple of acres for this purpose (didn't I say that before?), then, buying seeds of what will grow well in your area would seriously lessen the cost of your heat.
    What biomass would be best, least expensive, etc.? That which, once again, you produce for yourself! There is a simple device for making (compressing) paper bricks for fuel, and the same principle will work for straw, dried grass leaves (this is, in actuallity, a straw, also), even pressed sawdust. Yes, indeed, when you have an entreprenuer who finds out that people will pay such exhorbitant prices, they will produce the product and charge those ridiculous prices. But, making your own, say, paper bricks will cost you very little in money, and not a whole lot in time either! The paper bricks are made from soaked (for a few days) shredded paper (shredding optional). Then they are compressed (manually in this case), and set aside to dry. Mother nature takes over and does the drying, then, come winter, your have provided for your own heat.
     
  15. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    When we lived in Scotland, burning coal and peatnoss was very popular. Looking on the WWW it still is, and this combination is used as the primary home heat fuel throughout Northern Europe.

    In this area we have native peat moss bogs and fens, so we will be trying that once again this coming winter.

    I have been looking into farming sphagnum peat moss and it appears that it is generally a crop that can be harvested and re-planted approximately every 6 to 8 years.
     
  16. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    I applaud anyone utilizing current renewable sources of energy so I hope no one participating in this thread interprets this as criticism but depending how much fossil fuel was used to plant, fertilize, dry and transport the corn it may not be a more environmentally friendly fuel than wood if you consider all the cost involved. Of course if it's your own corn you're in control of all of that.
     
  17. ET1 SS

    ET1 SS zone 5 - riverfrontage Supporter

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    I do understand.

    It is the same debate that goes on when discussing alcohol-fuels.

    Some are in the school that says every field must be tilled with a fuel-burning tractor.

    Every crop must be watered using water that was pumped using fuel-burning machinery.

    Every field must be sprayed with petroleum-based pesticides.

    Every X ton of cereal grain must require Y tons of petroleum-based fertilizer.

    Harvesting must be done with fuel-burning equipment.

    Processing the grains uses fuel-burning equipment.

    Milling the grain, mixing the wort, heating the wort, circulating the wort, primary-distilling the batch, finish-distilling the batch, all require consuming fuels.

    Transporting the fuel to locations for merchandising requires fuel.

    On the other hand, there exists another school that has been doing all these steps without using petroleum-based fuels, and organic-farming, and low-till methods.

    The real difference?

    Well one was a university study done in America looking at American Corporate commercial farming methods.

    The other is a look at how alcohol is being produced in a military dictatorship where the law was laid down, forcing the industry to go without petroleum-based fuels, and low-till methods, and organic-farming.

    These two viewpoints are entirely in opposition.
     
  18. 4sarge

    4sarge Well-Known Member

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    I bought a corn stove this year (January) to heat (supplement) our homestead LPG furnace. I live in the corn belt and can buy all of the clean dry corn that I want for around 2 a bushel (56 lb). I didn't choose wood even though, I have all of the free wood for the taking that I would ever need. For several reasons, 1 been there, done that, 2 higher insurance costs w/wood. I found that I do not supplement our furnace, my LPG furnace is barely if at all running with the corn stove in use. My LPG Budget this year is 25 a month for 2400 sq ft house.

    Choose your corn stove wisely, some are much better than others. We do not have clinker problems, only need to empty the ash pan every couple of days, if I'm being lazy. This heating season will tell the tale. I figure that it was costing us 1 to 2 dollars a day depending upon the outside temp to heat the house with corn. The house is toasty warm not cool. LPG last year cost me 1.55 a gallon, this year it has risen to 1.75 a gallon.

    Talk with stove owners in your area, check out www.iburncorn.com. Various brands of stoves, most expensive not always best but beware the cheapest.
    We have a Country Flame Harvester.

    If you do not live in a corn area and have to buy bagged corn - it probably would be expensive. I can buy from any of my neighbors or directly from the farm coop. Do some research - good Luck :hobbyhors
     
  19. MN Mom

    MN Mom Well-Known Member

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    We just bought a St. Croix corn stove. It has a cool feature of having a 2 stage burning area - you can dump the clinkers out without having to put the fire out or waiting for the fire to go out. They advertise 5min total care time a day. Supose to burn 15% moisture corn. We aregoing to mount it in the basement and duct it to.

    Total cost about $2500 about the same as one years propane fills. Now if I can just get the state to get the tax credits for burning corn in affect I would be happier.

    Jon
     
  20. tomorrowschild

    tomorrowschild New Member

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    Yup, ET1 SS, your post is spot on! And, in fact, one of the arguments against the use of certain renewable fuels (ethanol comes quickly to mind) is that it takes more input energy than one gets in output energy---but this "study" ALWAYS assumes a use of fossil fuels for the transprtation of the seed product, the tilling of the soil, the fertilizing of the soil, the harvesting of the product, etc. This, of course, skews the result to what the writer may want you to see/believe. None of the above is a necessary part of growing a crop, whether corn or anything else!
    In other words, if one does things for oneself, the "infrastucture" argument falls apart rather quickly, doesn't it?