Wood heating pros/cons

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Narrow Way Farm, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. Narrow Way Farm

    Narrow Way Farm Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    We are new to this board and are trying our best to not rely so much on modern things.. I love my electric don't get me wrong, but I sure hate that bill!! Especially when in December we paid $350.. we have an old farm house, 2200 sq ft. and have 5 bedrooms. We have 2 heatpumps, and when it's cold they work hard.. we really would like to use some wood heat verses gas of any sort. I am just always worring about fires though, and then there is the cost, we are so tight right now it isn't funny, believe me that $350 bill killed us!!! Is it safe to buy one used? with the layout of our home we really would have to get like 2 small ones, one at each end of the home. What are good brands, types? I know nothing about them, but have seen them recently in a local paper for sale, and they are all used which would fit the budget better.
     
  2. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,180
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    WI
    For heating related questions it is always helpful to know where you are located.

    First things first. How well insulated and weathersealed is your house? Do you want a central wood burning furnace or a space heater or 2 in the living space? Sounds like that is the option you are considering. Do you have a suitable chimney(s) or do you need to build or add one or two? I would suggest looking at new stoves in a store that specializes in quality wood burning stoves (not a Home Depot, Menards, or other big box store). You want to get a bit familiar with what a quality stove is like, and the features that they have, construction, materials, etc., so that if you look at a used one you have a better idea of what it is. There are some wood heat forums on the internet which I can't recall at them moment, too.
     

  3. Narrow Way Farm

    Narrow Way Farm Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    the attic area is insulated and portions of the house are insulated underneath as there are areas that are newer and have all the modern things done to it, and then there is the original part of the house a very small portion I might add, that has no way of gettin under it. All new windows in newer section and the windows in the older section are newer as well with double panes. Hardwood in all the old section and new sections which are all bedrooms except one room all have new carpet we put in this past summer. No existinig chimney's as the origininal was tore out before we bought the house. we are looking at just supplimenting our heating so the heatpumps don't have to work so hard, nothing really big I guess is what I am gettin at. We just want to help the heat pump not to have to work so hard, in long run saves me money. A smaller wood stove for 2 areas is what we were thinking about.
     
  4. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,981
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    Any fire contraption will need to be fluted. Look at fireplaces. Some of them are very energy efficient and will heat up an area well. Also, look into corn burners. They are new enough that you may not be able to find one used.
     
  5. whistler

    whistler Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Without an existing chimney, your biggest cost might end up being not the stove, but a chimney. The double wall stainless steel insulated chimney is not cheap -- $25 a foot on the low end. And while you might be able to get a decent used stove it is not wise to get a used chimney, imho.

    whistler
     
  6. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

    Messages:
    2,053
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    KY
    Ya need a stovepipe. Get a free-standing wood stove on feet. Get some of the insulated floor and wall pads to put under it and behind it. Cut a hole in an exterior wall and run a 2 or 3 wall stovepipe out through a terracota thimble and up the outside wall to the roof level.

    Make sure your stovepipe is right side up...everything that runs DOWN the pipe on the inside, should stay inside the pipe. The joints only fit one way, but you'd be amazed how many upside-down stovepipes I've seen, and when the creasote is on the OUTSIDE of the pipe, it truly becomes a fire hazard. Also, make sure ya put a damper in the stovepipe on the 1st joint above the elbow that comes out of the stove itself. That way, you can really control temperature and burn-time.

    I keep at least an 8" clearance from both interior and exterior surfaces. put a weathercap on top. You could set up and install a free-standing unit like this for less than $500.00 in most areas. It would REALLY cut down on your electric. Regular cleaning and maintainance keeps it safe.
     
  7. wvpeach1963

    wvpeach1963 WVPEACH (Paula)

    Messages:
    710
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2006
    Location:
    west virginia
    wood heat in my veiw is a must.
    what happens when the electric goes out?
    You heat with wood.
    And before the enviormentilist's start screaming too hard,
    on my 140 acres i find enough dead wood to cut every year and totally heat the house.
    Going to add some solar and some batteries and should live through the next ten day electric outage just fine.
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,360
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    MN
    Your biggest expense, and the cause of most fires when not properly done, is the chimney.

    If you are on such a tight budget, I would plan for only one wood stove. Perhaps your current heat pump setup can be used to distribute the heat around, if it is forced air? Or just go with a warm room or 2, and the rest of the house stays a bit cooler. We typically only live in a couple of rooms, and nice to sleep with good blankets & a cooler room anyhow. :)

    The 2 stoves is 2x the expense, 2x the dirt, 2x the ash areas, etc. While it would work fine, your best bang for the buck is to stick to just one.

    I am in Minnesota, so anything I'd suggest more than this wouyld likely be a bit of over-kill for you. :)

    --->Paul
     
  9. Richard6br

    Richard6br Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    54
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Just out of curiosity, have you checked into geothermal heat, seeing how you already have 2 heat pumps ?? I don't know that much about it but it may be worth looking into. Before you decide on wood heat, you may want to contact your insurance company and tell them what you are planning, they have strict requirements for wood burners, and proper installations.
     
  10. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    [​IMG]
    Flue needs to extend 2' above roof.

    [​IMG]
    We needed to put up a scaffolding, again to be safe with the flue construction -- two hired helpers Monty and Chuck. Am I ever glad Nancy forced me to get some help.

    [​IMG]
    This package shows all the things you need to be safe.

    [​IMG]
    An insulated flue, and double wall Stainless steel is a type A flue, and what is required for wood heat, we used an 8" ID flue, with 2-1/2" high temperature insulation all around.

    [​IMG]
    The double wall air insulated steel flue is below the ceiling flue support thimble at the top. Our wood stove is a catalytic Blaze King, 82.5% efficient (you will burn 17.9% less wood, and longer than with a standared air tight)

    [​IMG]
    Finally you need to protect the floor from all those sparks.

    You probably will delete this because it seems too much, but it is what is as safe as it can be, efficient and long lasting.

    Good luck,

    Alex
     
  11. Narrow Way Farm

    Narrow Way Farm Member

    Messages:
    6
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Alex,

    Thanks for the info and the great pics.. surely won't be deleting all that it is exactly what I need to see.. I am going to show hubby this now!
     
  12. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

    Messages:
    15,597
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
    Alex, I don't know if I asked you this question before, but how do you clean that chimney of yours? Do clean if from the bottom or do you take the chimney apart from the roof everytime?
     
  13. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,693
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2003
    If your current electric bill of $350 a month for the winter almost killed you, I don't see how you're going to afford to buy and install a wood stove, let alone two of them.

    Many electric utility companies have special low interest loan programs for insulation and heating equipment upgrades. That may be far more worthwhile. Geo heat pumps work quite well in the winter. Good insulation does wonder for keeping your heat in the house. Storm windows are great and double pane is even better.

    You mentioned 5 bedrooms and a good bit of square footage. Do you need to heat it all? If you can consolidate into a smaller area for the winter, that can save quite a bit of money.

    Fwiw I did the home insulation route on my century plus farmhouse. And did it via the utility bill. It roughly cut my utility bill in half, but the loan payment was nearly the same as that half, so it was a wash while I paid it off.
     
  14. Stillponds

    Stillponds Active Member

    Messages:
    25
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Location:
    North Arkansas
    Heat pumps are very economical especially in the south. At 27 degrees an air source heat pump uses roughly 1/2 the amount of electricity to produce the same amount of btu's as a resistive heater. Most all heat pump systems have resisitive back up heat, to moderate temperature swings. I recently installed a heat pump and found that I can shut the resistive heat circuit breakers off and even at temperatures in the low 20's the heat pump has no problem keeping up.
    I would suggest learning how your heat pump operates (especially when the resistive heat kicks in and minimize or prevent its use totally, as I have). Inspecting and sealall duct work, sealall air leaks into your home. You might be surprised to find that your wasting a large portion electricity.

    For instance set back thermostats are energy wasters on heat pump systems when they cause the resistive heat to come on. When the thermostat resets to the daytime temp your heat pump will sense that the room air is too low and turn on the resistive heaters (at twice the cost per btu) to quickly bring the temp up.
     
  15. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    Cabin,

    Clean from the bottom. Though it stays much cleaner than our old non-catlytic wood stove.

    Thanks,

    Alex
     
  16. stanb999

    stanb999 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,042
    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Location:
    PA
    Hey, Alex doesn't that just make a mess in the house? I been climbing on the roof for years. Sometimes having to clean off the snow. How do you keep down the mess? I'd love to doit that way.

    Also, Thanks for posting the picks with the right way the install a chimney. We get lots of bad advise about this topic on this site. Like some one mentioned above to keep 8" clearance to the walls. UNLESS the stove installation manual says otherwise. All clearances are 18" on sides and 36" on top for uninsulated wood heating appliances. Stove pipe has the same requirements.
     
  17. ChickenTracy

    ChickenTracy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    243
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2006
    Location:
    West Virginia
    If you can ever afford it I love those Taylor woodstoves. We have one that isn't usable right now & have the regular woodstove inside the house because we haven't been able to afford to fix it. The Taylor woodstoves you can fill it up & forget it for 24-48 hrs. It also heats your water too. Although the main problem is they are fan forced & in the event of a power outage you're without heat unless you have a generator. You don't have the dust & mess since the stoves are outside the house. Also, no restrictions on insurance with these type stoves. I hope to either be able to fix our or replace it soon.
     
  18. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    Nancy said NO. She, yet again, was correct. It is a messey buiness. I do the other flue for Katie-The-Cookstove (on the other side of the house) at the same time and just get all dirty and then clean up.

    [​IMG]
    Since there has been so much talk about cleaning my flues, here I am cleaning Katie's flue. That's how I do it, is that OK?

    Good Luck,

    Alex
     
  19. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,407
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2003
    Even with double pane windows, you get quite a savings doing the shrink with a blow dryer plastic stuff. We've done wood, and done electric, done propane, and done natural gas. Wood is cheaper to use, but for us would be very expensive to install in this house. Also, with allergies, what we would save on gas or electric we would spend on meds. My advice is to FIRST do everything you can to reduce the need for whatever kind of heat you need. Plastic, window quilts, wall quilts, closing off unneeded rooms or barely heating them, etc. THEN investigate all your options and decide. And just a hint--if you line dry clothes in the winter, as I do, notice if the chimney is upwind of the line. If it is, you need to extend the chimney quite a bit or stink of smoke.
     
  20. januaries

    januaries Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    265
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2003
    I live in Alabama and heat my small cabin with a small wood stove (jotul 602). Before I decided, I googled all variations of "wood stoves" and compared prices, area heated, materials, and brands. When I'd narrowed it down to a handful that I could afford, I began to ask people about brands they preferred and how real life with various stoves measured up to the promises on paper. Once I decided on the stove I wanted, I found a stove supplier who carried it and the stovepipe.

    I imagine it would be safe to buy a used stove if you're familiar with the make and model and have checked it to be sure it's in good condition. If the manual has been lost, you can usually either find it online or write the company for one. If you follow the installation directions carefully, you're pretty safe from housefires. More modern stoves are made to burn more efficiently, so you may prefer to pay a little more for one than to buy a cheaper version 15 years old.

    Regarding stovepipe: Inside the room, from the stove to the ceiling, it's good to use singlewall (the black pipe in the picture) because that lets the heat escape into the room and help heat it. When it goes through the ceiling, then through the attic and roof, it needs to be double (do they have triple?) wall pipe (the silver pipe in the picture). This not only insulates from housefires, but it also keeps the smoke from cooling off too quickly in the cold air and creating more creosote. Double wall is more expensive, so it's probably better not to run the pipe out through a wall of your house because that means more double-wall pipe outside to reach 2' above the roof peak.