Wood Furnaces

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by 6e, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    Our propane just keeps going up in price and so we are seriously considering buying an outdoor wood furnace. We have unlimited amounts of wood available. We have been looking at the Free Heat America brand. Does anyone have one of these brands or any other that you can give me your thoughts and opinions on? It would serve our primary heat with our forced air furnace working as back up. We're thinking about their model 100 as it comes complete with everything you need to install it. I do have some questions:

    1.) How much wood does one of the small ones take and how long does it take to burn through on a typical winter day?

    2.) How warm does it keep your house? We usually keep our thermostat at 74-76 degrees.

    3.) Do you feel they're worth the price?

    Any other input would be appreciated. Thanks :)
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We went with the Empyre, higher grade stainless steel, ash pan and a grate system that has to improve air mixing for combustion. Fire burns up not down. Uses a real insulated chimney not just a steel pipe (but most do now too) one of the bigger doors for loading with a simple rugged latch (not a convoluted multiple hinge), electronic draft control for temperature (a down side to me really but it has a good record), and a good rep on service/warrenty. All that said it's hard to find folks who dislike the brand they bought. Always worth asking again but try a search here it's been talked about often. Outdoor wood furnaces use alot of wood period. If you want efficient wood heat go with an inside furnace or airtight stove. I don't and am ripping out the one I have as its about the biggest waste of heated house space you can have! JMO
     

  3. mink

    mink Well-Known Member

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    i have a woodmaster and used 22 cords of 18-20 inch wood last winter here in new york. we have a severe winter compared to you so id imagine your wood needs would be alot less. i keep the temp about 74 but i can turn it up after a cold day and know its not costing anything. also all my hot water is heated at the same time....and endless supply as long as the furnace has wood. in my opinion with fuel oil predicted to be 2.50 and more a gallon up here its one of my best investments as i have all the wood i can ever burn in my lifetime.....mink
     
  4. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    I did do a search for this topic, but didn't find anyone that has actually used the Free Heat Machine. There are so many different kinds and they each say that they're the best and the others aren't, but I wonder what kind of life expectancy this thing should have? For $7,000 it'd better last a long, long, long time! :)
     
  5. scorpian5

    scorpian5 Well-Known Member

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    I have a Aqua-therm wood boiler that is going on its third year. It has an airtight firebox and is more efficient than my fathers wood boiler that is in his house.
     
  6. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    The name "Free Heat America" reeks as there is no such thing as free anything.....other than air. Any company that uses the word "Free" should be avoided altogether.

    The initial cost of the wood burner is far from free. And most outside wood burners are rated to last 10 - 12 years. Pump replacement is an all too common repair.

    Lets not forget the neverending deluge of smoke emitted from these things.

    Having said this, yes, outdoor wood burners can save people some serious money provided they have a ready supply of cheap/free firewood.
     
  7. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    Never lived in Kansas, huh? Coldest place I've ever been for one day in my life is Niagra Falls - second place is Kansas City.

    A friend of mine has an outdoor wood-fired heater/water heater here in NE Ohio where winter is long and cold. He heated his house and supplied hot water for a family of four on four cords of wood last year. I have no reason to think he's mistaken about that amount of wood - especially since he bought it all.

    Can't help with brand/model, but I've talked with several folks that have them and never looked back... Apparantly Ross has done his homework, so I'd re-read his post and look for more folks that are informed/experienced on that level.
     
  8. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    Do the outdoor wood burners require electricity to circulate the warm air through your house via duct work? or does it just naturally circulate?

    We have heated primarily with wood since about 1979. Currently we have our second Ashley wood-burning inside heater. We have had no problem with it smoking in the house but we may be just lucky. When we first started heating with wood, my husband cut most of it from downed trees, etc. on our property. Now that he is 62 we buy some and cut some.
     
  9. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most all of the outdoor wood furnaces are water jackets, non-pressurized. You curculate water tot he house, eith use radiators/ baseboards, or a heat exchanger in your air system/ ductwork. So yes, you need electricity to make them do anything.

    They keep insurance low as they are not in any building; and they can be loaded about 2 times a day & provide heat for 12 hour periods. (Once a day loadings are silly claims; only if you don't really need any heat that day & it's on idle....)

    The negatives are that they use a lot more wood as they just are not regulated & engineered as well as an indoor furnace/ boiler. One tends to use poorer, wet wood & that makes them really use up fuel, and smoke - which some models are pretty bad at.

    You need to figure out how much heat you need, how big your house is, how cold it is, and so forth to size the furnace. What is the btu rating of your current heating system???? I'd start there, wood furnaces have some sort of btu ratings as well.

    What works for one on a 1200 sqft house in a warm climate wouldn't even get the inside above freezing here in MN on a 2500 sqft. You need a little more info for any meaningful type of help with that. Your questions on that are just not answerable as you ask them - you can set the thermostat wherever you want like any other heater, & if you want it 90 degrees in your house, it will burn through the wood as fast as it can to produce that.... On the other hand if it's only 20 degrees outside & you set your thermostat at 65 degrees, the thing will idle along all day, not burning much and the wood you put in the morning will last all day - tho you could get a lot of smoke..... More heat needed means more wood is burned. Set your thermostat as high or low as you want, and if the wood furnace is big enough to provide the BTU your size house needs at your outdoor temperatures, it will get you there.

    The outdoor units are really neat if you need to heat 2-3 buildings that are within 75 feet of each other. For heating one building in a warmer climate like you have they tend to be a lot less efficient (more wood) and a lot dirtier (more smoke) than other options. But, they will do what you want, if you size it properly.

    --->Paul
     
  10. sgrmtndrone

    sgrmtndrone Well-Known Member

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    We been useing a Lil'House wood heater for years now and we love them . You can see them here Lil'house In his testimonials you can see what we think of these furnaces . The first 2 on the page are ours . For the $$$$ they are the best ! Of course this is my $.02 lol .
     
  11. Nancy in Maine

    Nancy in Maine Well-Known Member

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    Wow, Mink! That seems like a lot of wood. We have been thinking about an outdoor boiler, but would have to convert and it'd cost us about $8000 up front for the works. Still, here in Maine burning only wood, we use oh, maybe 10 cord all year and our house is 2000 square feet. How large is your house?

    We use 2 and sometimes a 3rd stove. We don't consider our house very well insulated. That's why we burn so much. My parents also burn wood almost exclusively and they burn 3-4 cord. Their house is about half the size of ours.

    We heard they were wood hogs, but is this normal to burn that much wood with an outdoor boiler?
     
  12. suitcase_sally

    suitcase_sally Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is that 22 FEDERAL cords or FACE cords?
     
  13. RedneckPete

    RedneckPete Well-Known Member

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    An outdoor wood boiler will burn 50% more wood to provide the same heat as a properly installed airtight wood stove.

    Thus, if you burned four full cords with an indoor, airtight wood stove and switch to a outdoor boiler, you can expect to burn six cords. If you use it for hot water, you will burn more again. Also, don't forget the cost of electricity needed for the pumps and the fan in your furnace.

    For some, keeping the mess outside and the longer burn times is worth this trade off. If you go from burning four cords of good stove wood to burning eight cords of old railway ties and construction waste, the trade off may be well worth your while.

    Now I'll get flamed for suggesting you burn old railway ties.

    Pete
     
  14. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Outdoor wood boilers are being outlawed in some areas due to the amount of smoke/fumes that they often produce. There are no efficiency requirements for outdoor boilers/furnaces, and most of them aren't engineered, they are just welded together.
     
  15. Ole Man Legrand

    Ole Man Legrand Well-Known Member

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    My SIL next door and I have a wood burning water stove for both houses. We have enough wood split for 2 years. We only use them when it is 25degrees f and below. It dosen't cost much to run the heat pump down to 25 F I have been useing my stove for 21 years, all that time my fuses have been out of the hot water heater. Solar panels heat the water in the summer.
     
  16. mink

    mink Well-Known Member

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    my furnace runs from mid sept to the first of may, as i said the winters are long . some days in early fall and late spring its warm as you would imagine and on those days it just takes a few pieces of wood . on winter days that are say 10 degrees i burn 2 wheelbarrows , level ones, morning and nite . hence the advertised 12 hour burn. now when we get a cold spell of -20 for a week or 2 straight i go up to 3 level wheel barrows a day. my furnace has a forced air draft in the front door so when its not calling for heat the fire just about dies.then the thermostat in the furnace lets the water go down to 160 degrees then starts the forced air draft blowing and the fire comes back to life til it gets back to 170 degrees then off again. house thermostat just controls the fan on my oil furnace in the cellar . when the house needs heat the fan just blows threw a heat exchanger.......looks like a car radiator......and my house heats back up to temp just as if my oil furnace was working. i had an air tight wood stove before and the house used to used 20 face cords. the house is 30 x40 2 story old farm house completely remodeled and attic has over a foot of insulation. i hear people say they use 4-5 cord of wood i always assume they mean a cord 4x4x8 not stove wood......mink
     
  17. mink

    mink Well-Known Member

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    Is that 22 FEDERAL cords or FACE cords? the 22 cords are ''face cords'' i cut anywheres from 16-20 inches or so. if it was all cut 16 inch i say i use 7-8 cords of 4 foot wood.
     
  18. 6e

    6e Farm lovin wife Supporter

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    We very rarely get temps below zero, except in wind chills and that we have a lot of! We are wide open on the north side and it seems like that wind blows 60 miles an hour out of the north all day every day. Our house is 1500 sq feet and is brand new construction. We have a wood burning stove in the living room that does a very good job at backing up the furnace during the day, but I refuse to leave it burning at night when no one is awake to keep an eye on it should something happen. But at night is when the house gets the coldest and it seems like the furnace runs all night long and we're filling the propane tank every other month. We mostly need the wood burning furnace for the night time hours.

    I've read some more about that "Free Heat Machine" brand and it seems to have a lot of the features that you're to look for when buying one. It also have an upgrade that is about $800 that goes in that slightly pressurizes the inside of the stove to allow more complete burning of the wood and cut down on smoke and ash. The main thing I noticed about this brand is that it comes with all of the insulated lines and the heat exchanger that goes into the duct work and the wiring.

    I will say a life span of 10 to 15 years isn't much of a lifespan in my opinion for the amount of money that they cost. How fast do these things rust out? I noticed that this one comes with a free supply of anti-corrosive additive. It's all stainless steel, but I don't think it said what gauge. I think it was 409? Does that sound right?
     
  19. Iddee

    Iddee Well-Known Member

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    I installed the Taylor outside wood burning waterstove last Nov. I will not go back. It keeps the house warmer and better humidity than the gas ever did. I don't know how much wood I used, but when it was below freezing, I would fill it twice daily. Above frezing, once daily. I figure 10 heating months will pay for it in gas savings.
    You can find it here... http://www.taylormfg.com/
     
  20. bob clark

    bob clark A man's man

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    I have a 'heat source one' outdoor furnace and it is a wood hog. We get a lot of heat and it works fine but is inefficient. Look for a furnace which injects air above the burning material so the gases emited will burn instead of going up the flue. I am looking at a corn stove to replace the wood furnace. A corn furnace that can also burn pellets and is efficient. Getting to old to cut the wood.