Indoor vs. outdoor woodburner.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by MelissaW, Oct 29, 2006.

  1. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    We currently use an indoor woodburning furnace exclusively to heat the house (about 1600 sf without the basement). Over the course of a typical winter, we burn approximately 4 1/2 cords of wood. We are considering switching to an outdoor furnace. My question is, do the outdoor woodburners use more wood than the indoor ones? Our neighbor has an outdoor one and goes through WAY more wood than we do, but they use it to heat water as well, which we would not be doing. They also keep their house quite warm (75 degrees) while 65 degrees is fine for us. Any opinions? Thanks!
     
  2. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Yes, outdoor woodburners use a great deal more wood. We looked into them before we purchased our wood cookstove and were appalled at the difference in wood usage, the expense of the burner itself and the cost of installation. The advantage of not having the dirt in the house simply didn't outweigh the added expense of the equipment, wood usage and the fact that we wouldn't have heat if the power went out. I think your neighbor heats water with theirs because if it is like all my neighbors that have them, the water going through pipes and radiators is what heats the house.
     

  3. scorpian5

    scorpian5 Well-Known Member

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    My wood boiler uses less wood to heat my house than my father does and the houses are both similar in size and construction. The biggest differance in outdoor wood furnaces is that people burn green and junk wood in them that is stored in a pile and snow covered and wet. When you throw a wet peice of wood in the furnace smokes alot, Try it in your indoor stove it does the same. I burn mostly green wood in mine but is covered and my furnace doesnt trow any smoke when it fires and only a small amount when it shuts down the fan. I have some friends that have installed wood stoves in there houses and have had a lot of problems with there chimmneys getting plugged up because they are not firing them hard enough. My furnace is a AQUA-THERM and i am very happy with it.
     
  4. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think the indoor type are much more efficient - less wood. At least the potential is there for efficiency.

    I have old water radiators, and much prefer the water heat from an indoor wood boiler. The house was designed with only a wood boiler for heat back in the 20's.

    An outdoor unit will use more wood; is not designed to the same specs as an indoor unit; requires you to dress up 2x a day to reload it, and if a real cheapie or used/installed poorly will smke a lot at times. You will need to convert the water heat to air with an exchanger in your house - not a bad thing, but more $$$, another step, etc.

    I'm sure the person with the outdoor all-air wood furnace will add to this discussion. His units look interesting, but I have to wonder about efficiencies, does not look like much insulation on it, and very close to the house - smoke & insurance issues I would think if not very careful with installation. Not knocking it, just a few things to think over on those....

    --->Paul
     
  5. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

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    The outside boilers save you from the mess that wood creates and you don't have to worry about burning your house down. However, as has been said above, part of the reason they tend to be wood hogs, is the poorer quality wood run thru it, uncovered, wet and most importantly, their capacity for very long firewood, the wood never gets split. wood doesn't dry well from just the exposed ends. Splitting is an important part of getting seasoned wood. Also the heat that is radiated from the boiler is lost when placed outside and the pipes that transfer the hot water disapate heat, too.
    City's are banning these outside boilers because when set on "smolder" they gag the neighborhood. better firing practices, dry wood and taller stacks would improve this a great deal.
     
  6. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks friends! It will be interesting to get more input to hear the pros and cons of both types.
     
  7. farmerscotty

    farmerscotty Well-Known Member

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    well I think a forced air outside wood heater doesn't burn anymore wood than one in the house, and doesn't smoke you out like a boiler type. These are very efficient! check them out......Yes I sell them, over 18 years.......But, hey it works! So don't flame me because I answered the ladies question.......just check out the website.


    My unit is so well insulated it will have snow on it in the winter......and as long as you are to national fire code you are fine on insurance. Many people have never seen a Lil'house outside woodheater, and like them I didn't believe something simple and cheap could work......well after 18 years I think it does work.

    www.outsidewoodheater.com

    Scott
     
  8. GrannieD

    GrannieD Well-Known Member

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    I looked at stoves for outside wood heat & was floored at the cost....I saw Scott's unit at Farm Fest a year ago & talked to another gal who had one for her old farm house...I have been fortunate in the past winter being very moderate so it might not be fair to compare,but I think I'm using very little more wood with this unit than I was with the plate steel box I used before..In any case it has been a pleasure to fire up when I go to check critters in the morning & when I close up in the evening...Much better than my having to haul the wood in on my dolly & haul the ashes out...I hope I don't find out about its value in a bad winter,but talking to Scott & seeing the quality of his wood I think he is probably telling his clients what works for this unit...I have sure gotten what I wanted...& I'm "an old lady" doing it... GrannieD
     
  9. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most (at least all that I've looked at, and that is dozens of different companies stoves) of the outside boilers are less efficient than a good quality indoors boiler or forced air furnace. The outside boilers do not have to meet any efficiency or environmental standards, and are becoming outlawed in many urban and town areas due to unpleasant smoke, etc.
     
  10. BeeFree

    BeeFree Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For years we used an inside wood stove, similiar to an Ashley wood heater. For backup we had a gas stove. We took out the gas stove and put in a ventless heater. I would have to chuck wood in the stove at night during the winter to keep the gas heat from coming on. The ashes would have to be taken out and the wood brought in. It was nasty and you could never get the house dusted. I was the one that took care of the stove while it was in the house.

    Then DH discovered the Hardy furnace. He had one put in. It sets a distance from the house. It is stainless steel. It is not even warm to the touch when it is going and yes the snow will get on it in winter. It heats our outside garage and the house too. It doesn't use as much wood as the inside heater used. Dusting the house will last 2 weeks instead of 30 min. No nasty wood piled in the house. DH does the filling and cleaning of the outside stove unless there is a problem that he is sick or gone. Then I do it.

    This furnace also heats our water. It is circulated through the hot water heater. WE have bought 2 generators in case the electric goes out during the winter.

    The only thing that is wrong with ours is the we didn't have the sense to have it installed sooner.
     
  11. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I have an outside Classic Wood Boiler. 400 gal. insulated water jacket. It's about 10 years old now. Advantages: safe, no creosote chimney fire worries, no wood to bring in the house, heats the water in the hot water tank, also have underfloor radiant heating in part of the basement that is junctioned off a valve which saves on the furnace blower kicking very often, will burn 4' lenght logs to save on splitting and cutting, has automatic damper control.
    Disadvantages: burns more wood, have to load twice a day outside, need to dig underground trench for water lines to the house, more expensive than an indoor wood stove.
     
  12. Northman

    Northman Well-Known Member

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    I have a Central outdoor boiler I currently have an older mobilehome I bought it to live in while I build my cordwood house. It cost me 1600 to heat year before last. last year I burnt between 6 and 7 cords of wood. mostly poplar and some birch. the trailer isn't insulated well at all and windows are single pane. I also have a 12x32 addition which is better insulated. so thats almost 1400 square feet. in addition heat my water as well. I have 40 acres of woods in which to cut from and take mostly the poorer quality trees. yes I do burn "green" wood. I average a savings of $30 a month just for heating water. add that to the heat savings and I save near $2000 a year and don't have to worry about this trailer with a 2 minute burntime going up with family inside. My boiler is 100ft away and the smoke hasn't once been a problem. (no neighbors)

    Once I have the house built I am putting a garage where I now have the trailer so I can use the heating lines and plumbing for that and heat both buildings and heat water for the cost of keeping my woods clear of fallen trees and crap wood. might not be effective for everyone but sure is nice for me.

    yes I do have a generator but I would have one regardless of what kind of heat I have.
     
  13. sgrmtndrone

    sgrmtndrone Well-Known Member

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    I have used both indoor and outdoor . As for outdoor furnaces we have 5 Lil House furnace's in use on our place . They do not use more wood . I have been useing a Lil House for 10 seasons now . And the first one is still going strong . 4 of the 5 have been bought from farmerscotty . He is great to deal/visit with and stands behind the product he sells ! The Lil House will pay for its self the first season and is easy to install .
     
  14. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Great information. Thanks so much! My husband will definately want to check out the website for the outdoor forced air furnace tonight when he gets home. I'm still torn. There are so many differences of opinion. Not having to run a bunch of water lines would certainly be a plus, but the thought of cutting down on the HORRIBLE amount of dust the inside furnace makes is really tempting. We are lucky to have a top notch woodlot here as well as a good woodshed with a roof, so we would still be burning nice dry hardwood. All of your opinions will help. Thanks so much for helping us make this decision!
     
  15. Bruce in NE

    Bruce in NE Well-Known Member

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    I bought a Lil House outdoor furnace from Scott a year ago and would not go back to an indoor stove, altho I kept my old indoor stove in place in case the power goes out. I burn mostly hardwood and think the Lil House only burns about 10-15% more wood than my indoor did. But my wood is free so it's worth it. I gladly exchange a little more wood cutting for a pollution-dirt free indoor environment any day.
     
  16. Oilpatch197

    Oilpatch197 Well-Known Member

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    Does it still work with no electricity?

    a indoor stove would work with no electricity, but would one of these outside Boilers work with no electricity?
     
  17. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    yup. during the ice storm of 2000, we were without power for 4 days. The automatic damper I propped open enough to let in air to keep the fire burning. However, the circulating pump needs power to operate. I used a back up generator for the power outage. If you were off grid, I'm sure one could rig a basic small solar panel to run the pump with battery and converter. It is not a high amp output and 1/12 hp gundvold (sp?) pump.
     
  18. sgrmtndrone

    sgrmtndrone Well-Known Member

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    I have a 10W solar panel on a battery with a 300W inverter for outages for the blower on our Lil house . The blower don't take much to run , it is only 6cfm . Also a 5W panel on another battery for some basic lighting . If need be I can fire up the genny . Wish the kids would do the same to be prepared .
     
  19. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

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    We have a Hardy furnace, it works well. No, it won't heat the house without electricity, but we have a generator. We will be starting the generator to run the fridge, lights and computers anyhow, so no real additional burden to have it run the pump on the outside wood burner and the furnace blower when we need heat.

    I'm not sure how it compares to an indoor wood burner with regards to wood consumption

    I guess you would have try an indoor vs the Hardy in the same house over the weather conditions to see a valid comparison.

    I would guess it uses more wood, there are bound to be some losses in the piping going to the heat exchanger in the forced air furnace, but most of that piping is in the basement so the heat isn't wasted. The outside jacket around the heater is insulated and snow will stand on it so not much heat is lost outside.

    We do have nice even heat distribution throughout the house just like when we are burning propane. Some houses I have been in that have a wood burning stove, the room the stove is in is 90 degrees and the far end of the house is 50. I'm willing to burn a bit more wood to have good even heat distribution, not to mention keeping all the mess and fire risk outside.

    I also like the ability to burn longer pieces of wood and larger rounds with out splitting them.

    We have about a 10 foot stack on ours, when ours isn't in 'burn' mode, it doesn't produce much or any smoke at all. A lot of times I have to go open the door to see if its still lit, which it is. The solenoid activated damper closes when not in burn mode so no air gets in to produce the smog that some outside burners cause, I suggest anyone that is considering one check for that feature.
     
  20. HeavenHelpMe

    HeavenHelpMe Well-Known Member

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    We just bought a Central boiler a few months ago, and so far we love it. It has gotten pretty cold here in the mountains already and the heat is fantastic! We also love the free hot water. Our electric bill was $15 cheaper than our summer bills the first month we had it going. We will be using ours from September through May each year.

    So far, the only downside as far as wood consumption has been when it is very windy. We had a windier than normal cold day a week or so ago, and it burned quite a bit of wood at that time. We don't have too many days below freezing normally during the winters here where we live(Daytime temps). Most days we fill it up just once and add little stuff now and again if we get a gap in the wood somewhere. Cardboard or small sticks/kindling. You get an insultated layer of coal 3 or 4 inches deep, and it keeps the water jacket pretty hot for quite awhile without having to have a roaring fire going all the time. We are fortunate enough to have access to free wood constantly, so that expense is negated. We are still young and healthy enough to cut, split, and haul our own out of the acerage we have access to. It is, I admit, a lot of work to have one of these. But, we enjoy this kind of thing and the money we will be saving is worth it!

    Ours is never very smoky. I don't know where some people get that. Maybe it's just where we set ours on our land, but unless the damper had just opened, there's not much smoke at all. Certainly no more than an indoor woodstove or fireplace. We were able to set ours pretty close to our house, but up a hill a bit. We don't walk far out our back door to get to the furnace. It's pretty nice! When we got it put in, we did a lot of the set up work ourselves and saved quite a bit of money. My husband dug the trench for the pipes, we poured the concrete pad ourselves, we put the hole in the basement for the pipes, and assembled the pipes ourselves, too. The installer just had to hook the pipes up to the boiler and our oil furnace heat exchanger and our hot water heater. Saved us about $1000 in labor.

    We did a lot of research and found, as far as we're concerned, Central Boiler is the best for the money. We talked to people that had that brand, people who had other brands (and they cursed those other brands, believe me!), and did a lot of comparison shopping with the specs of each model we were looking at, the warrantees, etc. Central Boiler was the best we saw over all, and so far we are very pleased. As long as we maintain ours the way the company requires, we will have a 25 year warranty on the furnace. You have to read the fine print to see what it covers, doesn't cover, and what you have to do. Still, it was the most reasonable. And, it's so safe compared to indoor wood heat. The security is worth all the money alone.

    So, there's my input. Hope it helps. :)