Generator or Woodstove?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ThreeJane, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. ThreeJane

    ThreeJane Me Love Your Face

    Nov 5, 2004
    North Idaho
    The last big storm and power outage finally convinced hubby we really need alternative energy.

    He wants to buy an automatic switch generator powered by LP gas to power the furnace, fridge, lights, etc. I want a woodstove that doesn't rely on outside sources for fuel.

    The generator would be about $2000 installed, the woodstove about $2600 installed (we have high ceilings, durn pipe costs!)

    Which do you think is right? He's got a point about food not spoiling, etc. I think I've got a point about delivery of LP gas - what if we're low and have an ice storm that knocks out travel ability, or we're low on cash, or it's the end of the world as we know it and no more propane delivery!

    So, what would you do?
  2. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

    Jun 23, 2005
    I'd get both, but I'd get the wood stove first, because then you can start heating with wood. You can save the money you would have spent on gas for heating to buy a generator next. If there is a winter event which causes you to lose power, you can always put your frozen fod outside to keep until the power comes back on.

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    What Bearcreek said.. You would only need a generator for rare occasions. Having one that would run you largest things one at a time would get you by, and cost less. One that runs on gasoline would cost less also.
  4. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    Carthage, Texas
    I'd hate to depend on externally delivered fuel sources for all of my heat... You say ya'll have a furnace right now... probably requires electricity to run, no matter whether it actually burns oil or gas, or electricity (for the heat source). What do you do now, if the electric's go out?

    I may be crazy, but I'd rather have a reliable backup. The grid goes down, the genny comes on... but genny's do break down, and we all know what "murphy's law" states. The woodstove won't fail, as long as you have wood, and the means of starting the fire. I'd avoid with a passion any stove requiring any kind of electric blowers or whatnot... and the stove will work All Winter, regardless of whether a fuel truck can make it up your road.

    *I wouldn't want every minimum wage fuel delivery person knowing I had a nice cabin up in the mountains*.... but that's just me! :rolleyes:
  5. veme

    veme Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 2, 2005
    I'd go with the stove.
    It is low tech & doesn't require fossil fuel.

  6. longrider

    longrider Southern Gent

    Jun 16, 2005
    Opelika Alabama.
    I would get both. My uncle was a lifelong Alabama Powerman, everytime a storm was forcasted he got his gear in the truck and waited for the phone call. As a high line forman he knew how long power would be out and his crew worked until it was back on.

    He said to me that power is rarely out more than a day and even more rare two days. which is just long enough for the freezer to warm up a bit when left shut. As he and my aunt live in an area where there are frequent black outs ( even he cant control the grid ) he decided to install a generator from lowes hardware. The 8000 watt unit can handel up to 15000 starting watts and will power his whole house.

    Simply, he had an licenced electrician come out and install a pigtail and switch. When the power goes out he just walks out, turns off the main power and plugs in the generator and throws the switch.

    even with this set-up i would have at least a small woodstove or perhaps a park style grill under cover to cook on.

    the generator, electrician labor and parts cost less than $1500.

    GREENCOUNTYPETE Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    wood stove first then with $ saved a small generatort just to run refrigerator and freezer
  8. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    May 9, 2002
    That's a lot of money for a woodstove and piping. You know, you don't need to run insulated pipe the entire way up, just through the roof itself. The rest can be standard stove pipe which is inexpensive and provides heat that you would lose with double or triple wall pipe. Then pick up a nickle's worth and look for a good used stove big enough to heat your place.

    No doubt fancy dedicated generators are really nice and all, but because of your location, you are not as likely to have power problems as frequently or as long as someone in a more remote area of the state. Was this your first outage?

    You can do the same thing with a portable gas generator and extension cords for a lot less money.
  9. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 24, 2003

    You live in the cold....put the food outside to keep it cold--thats what we do if its a long outage...we also have a $500 generator(Coleman gas) that we drag up from the barn if needed but it'll on run the furnace, or water, or freezers so we swap things out....since its gas we can always siphon the vehicles if needed. Plus you could run an inverter off your vehicle too and forego a generator....or in combo. A vehicle is quieter....But since its a portable genny we have used it at job/construction sites as well. :shrug:

    I dont know what your looking at for a stove and the triple wall pipe is expensive but block is cheaper---an inside block chimney bricked over and made to look good will cost as much as the pipe but just plain block then customize as you get $$$....a good heater woodstove (nothing fancy) $500-600 less used. Outside block chimneys take a long time to warm up and create a good draft---not my first choice (BTDT)

    Northern tool has a few husband sells Shanendoah steel box and round type stoves...easily heats 2000 sq ft in below zero weather. Our block chimneys were $130 each DIY about 13 years ago...we have 10ft ceiling in that room. Chimney is 20 ft or so total height.
  10. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

    Oct 14, 2006
    A generator is used anythine their is a power outage. The wood stove will be used only in the winter to keep things warm. You stated that you uised propaine is that for heat or is it electricty? I pesonily would get both. The gernearor for electricty and the wood stove for heat. The prices are mutch more reasonable for a small generator and a wood stove unless you contract everything out.
  11. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 25, 2004
    Just in case you're not convinced yet, another vote for the woodstove for reasons already talked about by other posters. Then, with the money saved by heating with wood, get a generator if you want. We've heated with wood forever, never saw the need for a generator though.
  12. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

    Oct 4, 2006
    Northern Michigan (U.P.)
    If you have the woodstove, then you don't need the generator to run the furnace. Unless you have a very long power outage, you can get by without electric lights. Just use candles or Kerosein lamps. That leaves you with keeping food cold. If you keep the door shut, food will keep for a couple days. if you loose power for longer periods, I'd think about a freezer that runs on propane. If that suits you you could get propane lights, too. Just seems like more to go wrong with a generator that sits most of its life. Plus, I hate the noise.
  13. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Another vote for the woodstove. The only thing we need the genny for is to run the well pump. With just the woodstove, no blower going, the house stays well into the 60s.
  14. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2005
    Central WV
    How do you get your water - is it city water or do you have a well and electric pump?

    How do you cook? Gas or electric?

    If both your ability to have fresh water and to cook rely on electricity, I'd be swayed in favor of the generator. Otherwise I'd go for the wood stove.
  15. DixyDoodle

    DixyDoodle stranger than fiction

    Nov 15, 2005
    Eastern Ontario, Canada
    Woodstove, hands down! Like Texican said, if it can break, it will! So long as you have wood, you are well off.

    I'm thinking back to the big ice storm we had several years ago. The power was out for a week. You know what happened to a lot of those generators? They ran out of gas. Second problem? By a week's time, gennys were considered the item of choice for thieves. Many people woke up in the morning to find an empty square in the snow where their genny had been. It's pretty hard (and not very practical) to sneak into someone's home to steal their woodstove.

    Plus, there is just something nice about a woodstove. Rustic and comfy. Generators are just.....yuck.

    We don't have a woodstove here yet, no $$$ for it right now, but I'm dreaming of the day we can have one put in at last. Every time the power goes out, I kick myself for not having one yet.

  16. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    I thought it was a mite high for a stove, myself...

    For $2600, I'd think you could get a decent stove, and possibly even a small genny....
  17. zant

    zant Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Generator-and go with a diesel-every try to find 5gals of propane in an extended outage??You can buy a wood stove and piping for a heck of a lot less than 2600$...only use the insulated pipe for going through a wall,why waste all the heat you wanted??Build a small shed for your genny and shoot the damn thieves..
  18. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    Tough call.

    Here in Florida I'd go with the genset first easily.

    It really comes down to about three things:

    In your climate for a big part of the year you've got to stay warm.

    You've got to have light to see with and some way to cook.

    You've got to keep your frozen and refrigerated foods from spoiling.

    Which season of the year do you have your most frequent power outages?

    If it's the winter go with the woodstove. You can put the food outside to keep it from spoiling. The woodstove will keep you warm and with most models allow you some degree of cooking.

    Light is easily provided by fuel burning lamps or lanterns which are comfortable in your climate whereas lighting an Aladdin in Florida most of the year will near run you out of the house.

  19. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2002
    South Central Michigan
    Well, it says you are from North Idaho......true? I wouldn't be in a northern state (I am in Michigan) without a woodstove myself. We have had ice storms here with power out for 10-14 days. I have a Kitchen Queen wood cookstove that I absolutely love. Other than the gas involved with cutting the wood, I heat for free with wood off our place. In the winter I dry my clothes next to it and it has a huge water reservoir which heats my water. So 6 months out of the year I cook on it and heat my water and dry my clothes. I do have a propane cooking stove for summer use and propane hotwater heater for showers. If the power goes out long enough for me to worry about my freezers, I am able to can my meats and dry my veggies and make fruit leathers out of my fruit. Generators suck up a heck of a lot of gasoline, and here we would have to store so much to get by that many days.
  20. tamsam

    tamsam Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2006
    north central wv
    Heck we didn't plan it this way but we use the gen in the motor home when we really need it. We can go out there to make coffee and such but we still use the wood heater to keep the house warm. I have several 12 volt lights I rigged up for light on short outages and have kero lamps. Even if power is off for a while we can run a cord in to run the fridge and charge the batteries for the 12 volt lights and radio equipment. DW and myself are both ham radio operators and montor it 24-7 just in case of people needing help. We also have a 20,00 btu propane heater we use when we are away and run it on 100 pound tank. It is my belief that you can't be to prepared for things that are going to happen. Right now we can prob stay in for a month with no problem if need be. Could stay longer but some of my meds is by the month so a trip to the drug store has to be made once a month. Where we live a 4wd is almost a have to. Anyway good luck with what ever you decide. Sam