Woodstove Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by silentcrow, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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    I'm getting an early start, so I have plenty of time to save...

    What are the pro's and con's of a wood burning stove (heat only), v. a pellet stove? I can't keep paying $300 gas bills in winter. My grandad used to use a wood stove, but it rusted out before I moved in. It would be located in the garage/basement. I keep the upper floor closed off since it's only used for storage (and a chick brooder at the moment:) The house isn't huge, but not well insulated. I can't change that as some of the walls are made of Insul-Bric and covered in plaster. Any stove suggestions?
     
  2. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

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    We have both a catalytic Blaze King and a Harmen pellet stove. The pellet stove is good if you can't carry or split wood, pellets are easier, but expensive.

    The best is the Blaze King -- last December ZealYouthGuy asked me how much they cost -- didn't see the question until now, because e-mail notification is unfortunately shut OFF for the last long while. Brand new, it cost $2,600 CDN, or $2,150 USD at today's exchange rate, with dual fans, the largest model.

    The long burn times are at low heat output, excellent for spring and fall. The output is variable and thermostatically controller from 6,000 Btu/Hr to over 90,000 Btu/Hr -- if you sit there and chuck good wood in. We burn pine and spruce, and some birch.

    From another post of mine:

    Harmen Pellet stove is good over a large range, from 7,000 Btu/Hr to 55,000 Btu/Hr burn rate and it is electronically controlled -- I know, I know, not organic, etc., etc., see above if you want organic, i.e.; get a wood stove. We got this one second hand for about $2,500 CDN, 75% of new price, it is heavy cast iron.

    [​IMG]
    Harmen Pellet Stove, In New Position Near Dining Room Table.

    Good Luck whatever you do,

    Best idea is to insulate -- inside and or outside -- reduce your heat loss.

    Alex
     

  3. Mastiff

    Mastiff Well-Known Member

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    If you are in an area that does not loose power in the winter and you don't mind the constant noise of those dang fans a pellet stove might work for you. Everyone I know that has ever lived with one for any length of time... myself included.. does not care for them.
    I can't stand the noise of the fans or having to run a generator when the power goes out to stay warm.
     
  4. mohillbilly

    mohillbilly Well-Known Member

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    Cons
    having to clean up the messes from the wood you bring in
    having to go outside and get your wood , especially if its real cold or sleeting
    cleaning the chimney once or twice a year
    the room the stove is in is always the warmest

    pros
    Cheap! especially if you cut and split your own wood
    Being able to cook on the thing if you dont feel like using your gas or electric stove, we do this a lot! kids love it!
    The heat from a wood stove is kind of heart warming and makes you feel like your doing the right thing for the enviorment
    the subtle scent of smoke in the air, we burn red oak and hickory for the most part.
    not having to rely on the SOBs at the gas or electric company
    the room your stove is in is always the warmest

    Bottom line, heating with wood is the way to go if you want cheap efficient heat. Like alex said, make sure your house is insulated and sealed up pretty good. I have never used a pellet stove. Always been a log burner. We use an old "Aspen" wood stove. They run about 600 bucks or so new. got mine used for 75. used it for about 3 years then I realized the top of the firebox was starting to rust ou/burn out, so I welded a piece of quarter inch plate steel on the top. Been fine since.

    Anyway, do realize a few things, (I am assuming you are new to wood stoves), Proper installation is very important if you dont want to burn your house down. Use double wall insulated stainless steel going through your ceiling androof. Do not use triple wall air insulated. You will get too much creosote build up due to the lack of thermal retention in the pipe. Make sure it is installed away from any flammible area. I spent abpout 900 bucks making a tiled floor and the back wall tiled also with an 1 inch air gap behind it. My stove does not use a damper on the exhast flue. I control the burn through the air intake on the stove. (airtight design) . Any wood that you burn should be "seasoned". Meaning cut and dried for at least 9 months. Use hard wood if possible, Oak walnut hickory, etc. The heat output is better and last longer than the softwoods.

    Another option may be a shell corn burning stove, you might look into them if you live in an corn growing area of the country, I would not use a pellet stove in my opinion, the cost is expensive compared to a log burner and the pellet makeing process im sure negates the enviormental offset.

    I aint no expert on the subject but have been around wood stoves all my life and installed a few of them. I hope I have helped
     
  5. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

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    When we bought our stove the fella tried to sell us a pellet stove. Told him I can go out back and cut stove wood but not pellets. If you're buying your wood I suppose pellet stoves should be considered if you don't want to bother with cutting and splitting wood.

    We didn't get a catalytic because we had heard so much about them clogging up and being expensive to repair. I'm from the 'simpler the better' school so no blowers and such. Get the best stove you can afford and, it's a long term investment and a well engineered and quality built stove is a joy to use.

    Don't get too large a stove thinking that bigger is better. If you have 2000 square feet to heat, get a stove sized for that, not one for 3000. If you get too large a stove the tendency is to keep too small a fire and then you have a creosote problem. Good luck.
     
  6. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

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    We have heated and cooked with wood for many years now in this old 100 year old farmhouse. We currently have 4 wood stoves. Not all of them are burning wood at the same time...but we have in some really cold winters. In our basement my husband built from a 55 gallon drum a wood stove. I'm sure you can or have seen plans for making them. A drum, a door, 4 feet..your done. It is the best wood burning stove I have ever had !! Not attractive but it sure can throw the heat. If you are using it in the basement ( can use it in living quarters too but does get hot..the body and isn't real attractive) look into this type..insultate around it as any wood stove and I know you won't be disappointed with it. If I had to have only one stove..I would make this type. Upstairs of course we have the kitchen cook stove, uses coal and wood. Ok for cooking and such but you do have to feed it constantly to keep the heat coming. Then also in the kitchen is the "brown box"..The coalmaster. I think you still might be able to buy these..different name perhaps...but we have had 2 of them..A Coalmaster (using now)..and a Woodmaster. Another good stove for heating !! Of course the Coalmaster will use wood and coal so that is always a good idea. It has a side door and a bottom drawer to empty ashes. We have in the past had a stove in our "suburbia" home many, many years ago ( a lifetime ago it seems) and the only problem with that one was you had to let the fire burn down to empty the ashes that built up. When you have no other heat in the house as we do..no furnace or central heat..at all..you don't want to let your fire go out even to clean the ashes. I would look for one with the ash drawer. Also in the living room we have a 1920 Kalamazoo stove. Big thing !! But it sure can heat a house..it will also use coal and wood..has a separate ash pan also. Never used a pellet stove or corn stove but in my opinion of trying to be self-sufficient as possible I would not want to depend on someone selling me the corn or pellets...what if you can't afford or buy them..then what ?? With wood you can always find some type of wood to burn to keep yourself warm . Read as much as you can on installation and buying wood stoves. Ask around at the local hardware store etc. of people who use wood heat. Go see what kind of stoves they use and talk with them about the pros and cons. If you are building a block chimmney see how to do it right or a stove pipe one. Don't cut corners on any of the installation..your life and families life depends on this !! Clean your chimmney a few times a year or more. We even clean ours during the winter...never much of a build up because we do burn them HOT..but safely !! Use your common sense on installing them ..use bricks or what is recommended against the walls for the heat. Get smoke alarms, if you don't already, and put them around the house and learn how to put out a chimmeny fire quickly if you ever,hopefully not, have too. We buy 20 tons of logs..pole length logs..each year for about $450. Price goes up it seems every year. Hubby cuts and splits all by hand..and that gets us through the winter with a little left over for the next. A lot of work..yes..and we have jobs etc just like the rest of the world does, homestead with our animals and are self sufficent with most of our veggies, milk, cheese, etc ..but we choose to live this way. It take time. If you only need to supplement your heating system perhaps you can do with less. Sure hope this helps you all in some way. Good Luck !!
     
  7. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    We have three stoves in our house: a wood fired Heartland, Sweetheart cooking range in the kitchen, a wood fired Jotul F100 QT in the living room, and a wall mounted, direct vent, LP furnace also in the kitchen.

    The Sweetheart will heat the whole house down to about 10 degrees above zero.

    The little Jotul QT is so small the folks who visit laugh at it, but it keeps the house cozy to -60.

    The LP furnace keeps the chill off the house in cold weather if the fires get too low.

    As for fire wood, we have been buying cords of 100" lengths and then sawing and splitting it ourselves. Last year our wood supplier came up with numerous lame reasons for not bringing our wood until finally it was too late in the year. This year will cut from our own woods, and haul free cookstove wood from a local wood working factory.

    With LP, and fuel oil going nowhere but up it seems to make some sense to burn wood.
     
  8. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband works at plumbing/(oil)heating store....and being in Maine they also sell woodstoves. They carry two makes of Shenandoah. Both are steel, one barrel type other box type. We have the barrel type in our camp about 1000 sq. ft and the box in our home(1700). Very simplistic design.... very quick heat with draft control on door to adjust for long-burning. Both have a coal grate (you can use wood or coal) and removeable ash pan. We use wood in ours for the most part. We have cooked on the top of both stoves by steeling a burner off a gas range.

    The best part about these stoves is the price. $600 for the barrel and about $700 for the box type brand new. Our barrel stove is about 30 yrs old...we blacken every other year. I don't like the stoves with glass...they always look dirty...my sister hates hers!

    Another option is a massive wood heater at Home Depot ... I saw was $995.

    Simple stoves bought used are also a good deal.... we bought another Shenandoah box type for $250 (20yrs old) that just needed to be sanded and blackened. Fisher stoves are also good stoves....cast iron and heavy beasts but nice...my parents have two...one in the house and one in garage.
     
  9. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    My suggestion for a trouble free, sturdy woodstove is to buy one that is made of thick plate metal (ie, not cast iron..it can crack) and one that uses secondary combustion to burn off votalites (not a catalytic).

    A very good brand in Lopi. It's made in the US.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    We also have 2 Nordic QT's, but they are gas (propane) stoves. We also have a Waterford Emerald gas stove in the main part of the house. I really wanted to heat with wood (we used to heat with a Vermont Castings woodstove), but my DH talked me into propane. I am SO glad he did. Since we are off the grid its nice for the heat to be a bit easier. No mess, no hauling, no coming home to a cold house. Plus the heat itself is much softer and less dry than wood heat. And its on a thermostat.
     
  11. motivated

    motivated Well-Known Member

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    We have a fireplace insert. It has been great. It is a Regency 2000. It keeps the house warm and cozy. Cleaning is easy and we have a guy clean it every summer.
    Jodi
     
  12. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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    I'm not totally new to wood stoves. We used one at my moms when I lived there, before my dad switched back to a furnace. My biggest problem is getting wood. I have no problem splitting or stacking, just getting it and cutting it...never used a chain saw before. I'm a bit skittish about them...family curse :) Everyone in the family that ever used one has been cut, and with me being an accident prone female....:eek:

    The type of wood stove we used didn't have any glass or blowers. I never even thought of the barrel stove...there is one out in the shed. What kind of "head clearance would I need? Everything is set for a stove in the garage...concrete floor, block walls. The chimney pipe is set up to go out thru the wall, then up the outside wall of the house. I'll have to get some pics.

    Would buying wood still be more reasonable than pellets? If I knew how to tap into the old chimney, I'd try to put something upstairs as well. It used to be used for a coal burner when the place was still a one room camp. Now it's the exaust for the furnace and hot water heater. How can I find out if tapping into the chimney can be done? I know it would need inspected and most likely needs some repair work done.
     
  13. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

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    we have a large add on wood furnace, it is wonderful. and it works well. it saves us a ton on gas, and if the wood burns down, the gas will kick on, but e keep it full. all winter long, and we love it.
    we also hav a wood cookstove for winter use, and it is grand,. we love it. helps heat too.
     
  14. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Call a mason for chimney work.

    You cannot have a woodstove and furnace in the same chimney or your homeowners policy can be voided. They may even request pics if/when you install.
    They will have all clearences as well as your local fire marshall/fire dept. Your local newspaper may have cord wood for sale in classified section. Here in Maine wood is about $85 a cord tree length and $170 cut/split per cord. A full cord is 4*4*8 and a face cord is only 3*3*6 so be careful and ask what their measured cord is.

    Ash wood can be burnt green....oak takes the longest to cure...but most wood should be 6 months dry at least before burning.
     
  15. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    HI Haggis;
    Where did you purcahse your Sweetheart stove? I have wanted one for yEARS! The only place I've found one is Lehmans but as I live in the South the freight cost is very high.


    Have a blessed day!
    tamilee
     
  16. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi Silent Crow;
    We have had a woodstoves which we use for heat (and cooking on with the older stove) for 25 years. I personally love having a fire in the living room.
    PROS
    1. independence from fluctuating/unstable fuel prices.
    2. physical activity of cutting/splitting stacking firewood
    3.warmth an open flame brings to a house, it's more like home
    4.connection with past generations who heated there homes with a fire, not the fancy modern contraptions of a central heater
    5. heat from a woodstove warms to the bones, not the on/off blowing "cool" air of a central heating system
    6. COOL ashes from the woodstove can be scattered around the roses and other plants that love a more alkaline soil. Here in the South our soil is highly acidic, so the ashes help to raise the pH

    Cons
    1. smoke blows down the flue when the wind is out due north (at least here in the South)
    2. DH would say cleaning out the ashes. I LOVE this job because I love the benfits to the soil.
    3. Chimney fires. If you don't have the flue cleaned 1-2 times a year you risk the chimney/flue catching on fire and burning your house down. The fire must be monitored. You can't go off to church or into town and leave a roaring fire in the stove.
    4.Creosote build up. Here in the South we have an abundance of pine trees. The pine has a low BTU due to the amount of pine tar. Pine when burned lines the inside of the woodstove and flue with an oily black, flammable build up. You must become knowledeable about the BTU values of different wood.

    You live in Pennsylvania? It's MUCH colder up there than down here. Insulation of your home and weatherization is of PRIMARY concern. I don't know if it is possible to heat a home just with a woodstove in the winter where you live. pipes freezing comes to mind. I know that the Amish in Illinois (where I grew up) heated their homes just with wood BUT I don't know that they had more than one bathroom and it was probably downstairs near the kithchen where the hand pump would be.I guess a LOT depend on the size of your home. Maybe some of the older neighbors in your area could help.
    I'm glad that you want to heat with the woodstove. I'm a HUGE fan of independence and self-sufficiency. Hope all goes well for you.
    Have a blessed day!
    tamilee
     
  17. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Tamilee, I had to chuckle at your post! :) Folks a lot farther north than Pennsylvania heat their homes solely with wood! Where we lived in the Interior of Alaska, where it regularly gets down to seventy degrees below zero in the winters (wind chill can be colder than a hundred below), lots of people had only wood heat, even if they had plumbing in their houses.

    I've spent a lot of years in a house heated by nothing but one of those barrel stoves -- the kind you build yourself out of a 55 gallon drum. They work great, though they do use a lot of wood, and will cook you out of a small house. For a small house, or one that is well insulated and in a milder climate than the Interior of Alaska, I'd suggest one of the smaller drums. Ours always had a flat steel plate welded to the top (cut out part of the drum, and leave some extra plate at the sides for a warm place to put pots and pans) so we could cook on top of the stove. To keep the bottom from burning out so quickly, you should either have a few inches of sand in the bottom of the stove, or leave several inches of ashes in there at all times. And, something I would do if I ever had another barrel stove, is make a masonry stove out of it. All you'd have to do is build a form, set the barrel in it (leaving the front and top exposed), and fill with cement. That would make the stove a little safer (one of my daughters fell against a hot barrel stove when she was small, and burned her face -- she's completely recovered, but you do have to be careful with any stove), and it would also hold heat, so you wouldn't have to keep a roaring fire going all the time.

    The cost of firewood is going to continue going up. People who cut wood for a living have to buy gas for their trucks and saws, and they have the same expenses as anyone else, all of which are also going up. However, at some point in time, any fuel that isn't locally produced is going to become unavailable at any price. And, if you have property with a good woodlot, you can either cut your own wood, or get someone to cut it for you on shares. I guarantee that there will be plenty of people eager to do the latter.

    Kathleen
     
  18. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi Kathleen;
    Cool that you have been able to heat your home with a woodstove and in Alaska! I don't know anything about barrel heaters. We initially heated our home with what we call a "trash burner". It was oval in shape and made of a some type of metal: not cast iron like our current woodstove. We not only heated with the trash burner but I cooked on it as well. That's something I can't do on our woodstove. It's one of those with a firebox lined with stone and has an air chamber around it and an exterior layer of cast iron.
    We live in the southern most part of the Eastern Deciduous Forest, which in spite of its name has an abundance of pine trees. We lost 14 oaks last hurricane season so we're okay for firewood, for now. With the outrageous development however that will change in the not too distant future.
    We have had several cases of people unfamiliar with woodstoves, build houses and attempt to heat them with wood and they have burned down their houses.
    My son burned his fingers by touching the trash burner many years ago. He had no permanent damage either.
    Have a blessed evening;
    tamilee
    p.s. what is the weather like now in Alaska? We are having unseasonable cool weather, 40 at night 50 during the day. We 've got a fire in the woodstove now. Feels great!
     
  19. Bill in Tn

    Bill in Tn Active Member

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    When we lived in northern Indiana we tried a pellet stove for two years, but went back to a woodburner. The pellet stove didn't produce nearly as much heat, and was more expensive to operate. One good thing about it was that I was able to run it with a small inverter and a car battery. When we moved to Tennessee We installed a woodburning furnace, and ducted it into the cold air return. The furnace cost about the same as a quality stove, and doesn't much more wood, if any. I went down to the manufacturer, right across the stateline in Alabama and picked it up to save the freight costs. Worked out pretty good.