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OT - Heating with Wood

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  • OT - Heating with Wood

    Considering the projected high cost of heating this winter and to supply an alternate heat source in case of fuel/electricity loss, I am considering installing supplemental heating fueled by wood.

    Since in the past this group has been a fountain of good information, I thought I would ask for your advice.

    I would like to hear of your experiences, recommendations for suppliers and suggestions for installation.

    Thanks in advance,


  • #2
    First check with you insurance company.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      "earth stoves" and "blaze king" are common around here , both are fine stoves.

      pellet stoves are fine as long as the power stays on , they are very efficient. pellets are nicer for the wife to handle than packing logs. (I used to build & weld up pellet stove prototypes)

      I did have a wood stove in the living room and one in the basment , the one in the basment worked good at keeping the floors warm. the one in the living room would almost run you out of the house.

      packing in wood was kind of messy, the stove in the basment was nice as I could toss logs through an open window right into the house and not pack in down the stairs.

      years back we could buy a logging truck load (14-16 cord)of smaller logs for about $800, not sure what one cost now, but it was cheap.

      wood is not much work at all if you have kids who can split and stack, then pack the wood in. lol

      good luck.


      • #4
        About five years ago I bought a Yotul woodstove and have never looked back. Furnace hasn't been lit since. The Yotuls are the only stove manufacture that builds their stoves from the ground up including their own foundry. I did what you are now doing and checked out everything I could before buying. There are several companys that are made in America but their castings can be from anywhere. Anyway, I think my stove was around $1800, maybe more. Be sure to go with porcelan, {spl} you won't regret it.
        I heard this week on tv that heating oil would probably be 60% higher this year. I would definately go to wood. Some areas may have restrictions, so you want to check that out.


        • #5
          growing we had two wood stoves that went 24/7. there was central heat, but the PU's liked the self sufficiency idea.

          we to bought the wood in bulk and it arrived on a logging truck. I can tell you that even with chainsaws and a hydraulic log splitter it is tough work. That equipment lets you process more per hour, but I swear you still burn as many of more calories per hour! Having grown up with the work, I inherited none of their romantic notions of self sufficiency! Then again coming in on a winter day, or coming down on a cold morning and always having a warm stove in the kitchen was special.

          the very basics are a supply of dry hardwood, at least 2 seasons, an airtight stove (you want to maximize efficiency, it doesn't really flame, more sort of glows), and most importantly have the chimney installed properly and constantly clean it. This is important – if you should clean your chimney in a fireplace every couple of years and you have 20 - 40 fires, think how often that stovepipe needs to be cleaned with it going 24/7. A chimney fire is the fear of all wood burners. You set your self up to do this yourself and the chimney will have a clean out.

          The insulation of the chimney and the pieces that support the chimney as it goes through floors and roofs must be for wood stoves – learn and understand this yourself, its easy for an installer to use the wrong stuff. That’s what happened to us, our house caught fire because the installer used the wrong grade of insulated chimney (almost lost the house – rural fire dept drained the pool with their pumper and that saved it).

          If you really want to do big, when my parents built their current abode they installed a wood fired, hot water heat system. The heater (not a boiler, it just heats the fluid) is in a separate out building with underground pipes running into a heat exchanger in the house. The exchanger has an electric furnace back up.


          • #6
            Back during the last wood heat craze (1977 or so) I heated mostly with wood for a couple of years. As Mcgyver says, it's a lot of work if you do the cutting/splitting yourself, and if you don't you lose a lot of the money-saving advantage of it.

            But there is nothing like looking at a woodshed packed solid with 4 cords of wood in October and feeling gloriously independent.

            At that time I had a top-loading downdraft stove made by Mohawk Industries. I doubt they're even still in business. It wasn't much to look at, but it worked great.

            As far as chimney fires....give the fire enough air to BURN, not smolder. There's a great urge to cut the draft way down, especially at night to prolong the burn time, but resist the temptation and you'll get much less creosote buildup.
            Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
            Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
            Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
            There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
            Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
            Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


            • #7
              We popped $3,000 grand for a Lopi Endeavor two years ago and learned a lot along the way. (BTW, the following Summer I got another LOPI for the shop at a yardsale for $50.00 and he helped me load it on my truck!)

              1. The size of the stove relates to how long it will burn and "not so much" how much heat comes out of it per hour. So we got stuck with a medium sized when we should have had a larger one. We get 10 - 12 hour burn. The larger one was supposed to be 14 -16 hours.

              2. When they talk about efficiency, they mean how pure is the air coming out of the chimney. So our wood burner is one of the highest rated in efficiency. That means that it sends 90% of the heat upstairs into the chimney to insure that the stove burns clean! (there is an advantage in that for you, the chimeney stays very clean)

              3. If you buy a "zero clearance" like we did than that means you need to buy the optional $250.00 squirrel cage blower that sounds whimpy if you want any heat from the stove. When my stove is ripping hot, I can lay my hand on the two sides and back. If that were not the case, I wouldn't need the blower. Not an issue until you loose electrical power which was one of the goals of the stove, emergency heat.

              4. If you ain't got your wood already you are late. You'll be buying wood that was just dropped and it's btu output will be nill for months. If the wood sounds like bowling pins falling off the truck it will light quickly and burn beautifully. If it thunks when it hits, its wet.

              5. Many new stoves don't have chimney dampers (they want all the heat upstairs for "efficieancy"). If your home is out in a cornfield like ours, the winds scream past the house and cause too much draft costing you much heat.

              6. Have it professionally installed. It cost me $400 for two extremely well working guys who spent 6 hours on my installation of my 500 pound stove! They did a flawless job and I can boast to the insurance company it was done by professionals to code. At first I thought I'd save the money and do it myself. That would have been a stupid error on my part. I do most of my own chores but glad I passed on that one.

              7. If you put it in your living room, you may have to watch TV in the nude. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just a little unorthodox!

              8. We have a large pile of wood stacked up in the backyard. I throw it on a small utiliity trailer and move it around to the front porch. I can get about 1/2 cord on the porch. When you bring in the wood the family cats will be buzzing around you looking for little creatures to play with. Thankfully, cats like playing with spiders.

              9. We only have to clean our stove out about once per week when using it hard. It's not too messy.

              10. Advise getting a stove that is deeper than it is wide. It's easier to fill the stove from the front door if you can just shove'em in lenghwise and not have to put them in width wise. You can also get a full pack using that methode. Otherwise, if you packed the widthwise stove you'd have trouble opening the door. (When we close the glass door, we are looking at the ends of the logs)

              11. We got a glass door on ours and we like it a lot. If the stove burns hot it keeps the glass cleaned off about 90 percent. We like the ambiance while we're watching tv in the nude

              12. We get by with about 4 cord a year in a 80 year old home with little insulation but it is sealed up pretty tight (no drafts). We burn hard once it gets cold out.

              Would we do it again, yea, but with the observations noted above. Good Luck.

              [This message has been edited by Your Old Dog (edited 09-11-2005).]
              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
              Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

              It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Your Old Dog:
                10. Advise getting a stove that is deeper than it is wide. It's easier to fill the stove from the front door if you can just shove'em in lenghwise and not have to put them in width wise. You can also get a full pack using that methode. Otherwise, if you packed the widthwise stove you'd have trouble opening the door. (When we close the glass door, we are looking at the ends of the logs)
                Oh how true this is. I bought and installed a new woodstove in my shop last year. Got the high efficiency, blah, blah, blah model. Works good and is sized just about right for the shop as far as heat output goes.

                But what I didn't check was the log size it took. It is very shallow and only takes like a 14-15" long piece of wood put in parallel to the door (when closed) Most wood you buy is the more or less standard 16-17" length.

                It is a royal pia to load, and will not take enough wood to hold a burn all night. I normally pride myself on doing plenty of good research before making a purchase like this, but I really screwed up on this one.



                • #9
                  last winter we used a palor stove it did good saved us 2 house paymants. the only problem was it was not big enough to last all night. so this year we got a new potbelly so we can put in a load of coal to go all night.


                  • #10
                    i have one of the Vermont Castings stoves with the catalytic unit in it. it was supposed to be the most efficient when we bought it five or so years ago. since then i have heard of folks having trouble with catalytic stoves, but we haven't had any trouble with ours.

                    my parents have a regular fireplace they use a lot in the winter (not every night). i honestly don't know if my dad has had the flue cleaned more than once or twice. when i put in my wood stove i was under the impression the same held true for a wood stove burning 24/7 for four months. ummmm.., that is not the case. i learned quickly that first season that you probably have to clean it at least twice during the winter months. i usually watch the weather for a clear day with no wind and temps at least in the high 20s. then i'll let the stove burn out that night and it only takes an hour the next morning to clean the flue (i bought the brush and rods for a few bucks at the local stove place).

                    otherwise we have had a good experience with the stove. i'd definitely do it again. i figure the stove and accessories were paid for by the third year with the savings on heating oil.

                    andy b.
                    The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining


                    • #11
                      We have been heating with wood since the 70s. We have a big Fisher wood stove downstairs. It's welded 1/4" plate and firebrick lined inside on the bottom half. It takes 30" logs and is about 2 feet wide and high. It will burn all night plus some. We have three chimney flues in a massive brick chimney that goes from the basement to the roof. It is 8' x 3'. The stove downstairs is right beside it and the bricks heat up after a few hours. The thermal mass is enough to keep the house warm for another 12 hours after the fire is out.

                      Up stairs in the same chimney but a different flue we have a large fireplace with air circulating passages around and behind the inside firebrick. In this fireplace is what is called a flush insert made of 1/4" steel plate with cast iron doors. It also has built in air circulation passages.

                      Either one is enough to heat the house but the downstairs stove keeps the basement warmer. We also have several ceiling fans including one that forces air from upstairs down the basement stairs. Above the downstairs stove there is a grate in the floor beside the chimney with a 8" muffin fan below it. This forces hot air upstairs.

                      The only time we ever put on both stoves is when it gets near -40. We have a well insulated house with all double glazed windows and R60 in most of the attic. In an average cold winter it takes about 6 to 8 cords of pine and fir to heat our house. We don't have hardwood here.

                      We also have electric baseboard heat as well as a natural gas furnace that requires no electricity.

                      As per my earlier comment using wood as your primary heat source here can make your insurance sky high or even make it impossible to get insurance. We are ok because we have primary and secondary heat that aren't wood.

                      I have a bunch of wood this year from my own property due to the beetle kill of all my pines. I still have to get some in but it is all standing deadwood so it is dry.

                      Wood heat is nice but it is a lot of work. With the price of natural gas predicted to go up 50% this winter I better get some more of that pine in.
                      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                      • #12
                        Chimney fires are SCARY, sounds like a 500,000 BTU propane stubble burner, low frequency roar, but really loud. It burned/melted the wind/rain cap off the top straight away, flames shooting up 2'+, sparks another 4', billowing black smoke like a freight train. It destroyed 7 sections of triple wall stainles flue. The renter had the door wide open trying to "Cool it off". Lucky I happened to be close bye. Last Old Dog

                        Not affiliated with the esteemed 'Your Old Dog'


                        • #13
                          In Salt Lake City it is expected that those gas people will increase the cost of unrefined natural gas 70%.

                          This will be a tough winter. Yet the consumers will remember this winter for decades to come as we are being subject to the "energy market" with no real alternatives.

                          Insulation and organic fuel is the answer. Do not pay for oil from the middle east or from any company associated with Dick Cheney or Haliburton.


                          • #14
                            Ah you have a fit young wife!
                            now get her a really good swedish axe and give her room to swing it. you go get the wheel barrow and stack it all in the barn.
                            Give wife a ten minute break every hour while you hone up the axe edge. you will have a months supply done in no time.
                            Get real; get a gas heater and a couple of one ton bottles where the truck can get into them in midwinter.
                            best of luck.


                            • #15
                              When the wife was young and fit we didn't need any heat, we made our own. Now we use a wood burning stove !
                              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                              Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                              It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.