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Am I a candidate for a gas stove?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Stefan A, Mar 10, 2008.

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  1. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    I moved into a log home 5 years ago and this will complete my 5th winter burning wood exclusively for heat. I have no ductwork so other than setting up a bunch of electric heaters(and I won't do that), I have no choice. There are things I like about wood-burning - like the money saving and the "atmosphere" it brings to a log home. I had never done it before I moved here and I was willing to give it a try. But I am starting to grow very tired of it. I do not enjoy cutting, stacking, and hauling wood. It's really a huge chore to me. Plus the mess in the house is not very nice. I could put up with all that, but the main problem is that I am not good with keeping up with the fire. Sometimes I just don't have the time to spend time building the fire. The past few days I had been out most of the day and by the time I got home from work today, the house was in the low 50's. I often wait until the temperature gets to about 60 before starting a new fire - but sometimes I just don't have time. If I keep it going 24/7, it just gets way too hot in the house - especially up in the loft. So once it starts getting really hot up here I just let it die out. Since it's a log home, the heat stays inside longer than a traditional home - but it also really gets too hot. I know I can open windows, but I am not too good at finding that balance between heat and cold. So, I am wondering if replacing the wood stove with a gas stove is the answer for me. I know it will eliminate the need to cut, stack, and haul wood. But how do they do with heating? I am assuming that I can just turn it on and off at will and keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Can an automatic thermostat be used with a gas stove? Or do I need to manually adjust it. I will miss the look of wood, but do you think I am a candidate for gas?

    Stefan

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  2. thechimneysweep

    thechimneysweep Minister of Fire

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    Hi Stefan,

    If there was ever a candidate for a gas stove, you've got my vote. There are many gas stoves in today's marketplace that will heat the same area as a woodstove: just make sure you buy a heater-rated or furnace-rated stove that puts out the btu's you need to heat your house. These can be connected to a standard wall-mount thermostat, a programmable thermostat, or a hand-held thermostatic remote, so you'll never have to worry about overheating. Direct Vents are the most efficient type, and will require that you install a conversion kit in your existing chimney, as shown in diagrams #5 and #6 at http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/hodvent.htm.
  3. BotetourtSteve

    BotetourtSteve Member

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    Have you priced LP gas?! It may make you rethink your decision. After I received my second propane bill of the winter that ran a cool $3.99/gal (I've since switched to another provider at $2.55, but still), I was in the stove shop within the week. I had been burning an old school stove ever since I've lived in my house (11 yrs) that did fair, but ate a lot of wood and did not provide meaningful overnight heat, which in turn led to a propane furnace cutting on and/or supplemental heat from gas logs. Long story short, I was using about 100 gallons/month and you can do the math on that. I purchased a new stove that indeed provides more heat and longer overnight heat, using the same or slightly less wood. After one month, my propane usage dropped just over 50% to less than 50 gallons/month.

    If you have plenty of money to spend, I would say sure, switch to propane. If I were you however, I would consider using both propane and wood. Installing some type of gas heat (logs, stove, wall mount, etc) will give you more heating flexibility than relying solely on wood, but keeping your wood burner will keep money in your wallet and keep the ambience of your log home intact. Even if you decide to forgo cutting the wood and simply purchase it, you will still save money over propane only. And yes, there are many gas options out there that are thermostatically controlled.
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, if you are NG it might be a considerations - but if LP, you are gonna want to think twice!

    You will be very happy with the heating either way, but the LP is going to cost you!
  5. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    For me it would have to be LP. No, I have not priced LP but I know it's expensive. And I do not have money to burn. So going gas would actually be difficult financially.

    Stefan
  6. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    What about pellets? It would seem to me if you could remember to throw a bag in the stove every day or so and clean it out once a week, you'd be good. Many of them will light themselves and have thermostatic controls as well. Mot everyone is "cut" out for wood, but this is a nice alternative.
  7. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    Check the price of pellets vs gas then you can figure out the true cost to heat per BTU. Pellets might be better for you. Gas is the "easiest" in there is no work and essentially no maintenance.

    Another choice is direct vented gas heaters. They are like gas stoves but much more efficient, but at the cost of aesthetics.

    http://xj.cdevco.net/spaceheat
    http://www.alsheating.com/
  8. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    No, I have not considered pellets. I have heard that it is quite dirty. But I am open to all ideas. Even hints on better managing what I already have.

    Stefan
  9. metz

    metz New Member

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    I have looked in to ductless mini split heat pump. Expensive up front but extremely efficient.

    http://www.mrslim.com/
  10. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    Metz - thanks for that suggestion. That seems like a great idea. That way, I could keep the wood stove, and use the heatpump when I don't have the time (or am too lazy:)). Plus I could get it in mu bedroom which currently is heated mainly by electric heat since heat from the woodstove takes way too long to get in there. As an added benefit, I could remove my window A/C units - although I don't mind them.

    Stefan
  11. Thechap

    Thechap New Member

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    I have a Harman Mark III and burn nut coal. I get 24 hour burns. Coal is not as dirty as you might think.

    Bryan
  12. pcampbell

    pcampbell Member

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    Could you post the price of LP gas there for the curious?
  13. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

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    For where you live you really should look into a coal stoaker boiler or furnace.. From what everyone says its fine and dandy. unless you live so far away that shipping kills you. It certainly cant be any more dirty than a wood stove or even a pellet stove if you handle the stuff correctly. Personally I haven't any experience with coal but am looking at it but I only have to look at the ceiling to note the crap that a grinder type corn stove puts out. I doubt it could be worse than that. If I lived where you do I would dive on a nice coal stoaker and either use my hydronic or put in some staple up radiant . Take a look at what they have to say in the anthracite coal forums and get a feel for the gear. If I lived anywhere near PA it would be a no brainer rather than searching and weighing various possibilities to but my cursed oil boiler into mothballs
  14. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    You never said what type of stove you have. Different wood stoves, heat in different ways.
    I find that if I deal with the "mess" once a week, my wife is accepting of it. She complained about the mess until we took a look at the actual numbers; we are saving about $3000+ a year and it just keeps going up. It seems to me that is the first thing you need to consider is the $$ involved. It should be pretty easy to figure out how many BTU's you are producing with the wood and convert that to a gas unit and how much it'd cost to run it. Today there are oil fired stoves, pellets, wood, gas and corn/other. At this point the wood is still beats everything; usually even if you buy it cut/split.
    As far as managing the heat, it sounds as if you are burning full loads that get you too hot, then cooling off. Have you tried burning smaller loads and cylcling to keep the inside temp what you wish it to be when you are there; then a larger load in long burn mode when you are not or overnight.
    Since I don't know what stove you have it is hard to comment but for instance, a Hearthstone Heritage might give you more even heat over the cycle if your heating area was compatible with its output.
    In any event, there is a lot to consider here and the heating season is almost to its end. You have enough time to really figure out what will work for you and design it to come out exactly as you expect going in. Take the time to do so....
  15. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    I am using a Vermont Castings Encore stove. It has a catalytic cumbustor. I am supposed to really get it heated up(which is why I burn full loads) before I shut the damper to use the cumbustor.

    Stefan
  16. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Wood is by far the most economical and I do buy mine csd.

    Stefan: if you do buy a propane insert- get one with at least 40kbtu with at least a 50% turn-down or even greater turn-down. Mine is only 24k btu and do have some regrets about that. Can`t get the real heat the few times we really need it.
  17. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It is work to heat with wood. Every day of every week of every month in the heating season you need to keep the flame going. I think many of us grow tired of the chore by spring and are happy to see it go. Also, most of use are happy to see it start back up again in the fall. No free lunch though, that work gets you good heat and there's nothing cheaper.

    The gas stoves are thermostatic, very efficient with no duct losses, and maintenance free. All you have to do is keep the propane tank full. I find the flame picture consistent and boring but it is hard to argue with the convenience factor. Cost is high. So high that you might be better off with electric wall heaters which I use as backup.

    If you truly want to rid yourself of the chore of woodburning and you don't want to add ductwork then your options are small. I would go to pellets before LPG myself. Not sure that your information was good about them being messy. Perhaps ask that question in the pellet room.
  18. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    From my admittedly limited POV, propane is the most volatile as far as price is concerned. I have heard of price anywhere from $2 to $4 a gallon. At that upper price range, electricity is probably a better bet than LP, although you are probably in Excelon's service territory (not good). If you put in a big tank and buy it in the summer when prices are down, LP can be a good thing, particularly if convenience is a factor. Coal is relatively cheap, but isn't the greenest fuel out there, if that matters. I'm sure others may differ with me on that one. The ductless heat pumps are great if you have one room that you want to condition eg: that bedroom, but don't last that long if you run them all the time. The rotary compressors they use don't last nearly as long as the competition.

    Rereading your original post, it sounds like you have a really bad stratification problem and no central heating system. Any zone type heater is also going to cook you out in the loft, whether it is wood, gas, pellet or coal. I would suggest a ceiling fan in the peak of the house to push it back down to the first floor. This should help right now before you do anything, and is cheap to try. It might also be time to consider a central heating system and leaving it set at 60 or so to moderate some of the extremes you are seeing. I think a regular air to air heat pump with electric backup is going to be the cheapest to install if your basement is accessible and will give you central A/C to boot. If the basement is finished, you could run a loop of baseboard around the house, but then you are buying an oil or LP burner. The possibilities are endless; you just have to put a value on the convenience of a thermostat.

    I'd still seriously consider a pellet stove with a good ceiling fan...

    Hope this helps!

    Chris
  19. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    I already have a ceiling fan above the great room - but I never use it except to cool off in the summer. The more this thread goes on, the more I realize I should learn how to properly use what I already have. As I said, financially it would be difficult to go gas. I have been thinking perhaps if I got one of those ductless systems and used it only as a backup when I don't get around to building the fire - that may be good. It was also hinted in this thread that I may not be using my stove right - but I have not seen a follow up yet.

    Stefan
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Use your ceiling fan. Seriously, they consume very little power and have a dramatic effect on thermal stratifciation. Mine on low uses 6 watts. 6 watts! and has been running since September. I think high blow is only like 36 watts. Energy star motor of course.
  21. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    Am I supposed to reverse it?
  22. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I have my fan blowing towards the ceiling as most do in the winter. In the summer it blows down onto the people in the room for a cooling effect.
  23. Fire Bug

    Fire Bug New Member

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    Hi Stefan,
    You definitely can't beat the convience of a gas stove over a wood stove, but their is a big difference in the wood heat verses the gas heat. The wood heat is much, much, a dryer type of heat.
    With the propane stove you program, the remote thermostat and forget it. Its the same principle of a gas furnace. You don't have to worry about rushing home to feed the baby,(wood stove) or to see if your house is on fire.
    You definitely can save a lot of money with a wood stove, especially if you have your own wood supply source, but it is very labor intensive work and commitment.
    The Propane is not cheap,(2.33 per gallon),around here and neither is the natural gas. Actually, the natural gas is more expensive around here and you can't shop around for the best price like LP. Plus, LP is domestcally produced verses NG which is dependent on our Arab Friends and George W. Bush and his oil buddies.
    The reason why orignaly wood stoves came about is because of the seventies oil embargo/shortage crisis. Remember that?
    Everyone I spoke to that burns coal, said wood is a warmer heat plus coal is very, very dirty.
    As far as pellet stoves go, I have heard several people complain about soot build up on the walls of their living quarters and lots of maintenance on the stoves, such as shutting the stove down every third day to dismantle the stove and clean the firepot of soot.
    I would stick with a regular wood stove before I would go to a pellet stove. You still have to go out and buy the pellets and bring them home and feed the hopper, correct? Plus, you have the maintenance of the stove and your at the mercy of the pellet suppliers who set the price of the pellets. Remember the pellet shortage a few years ago?
    I have to admit, when I had the open fire place and the wood stove, I constantly bitched to my wife about the work involved with the wood, but now that I have the LP Fireplace Insert,(which was definitely a great move verses the open fireplace), and the Jotul LP Stove in the rec room, I find myself sometimes boared and long for the cutting, splitting, hauling, and feeding of the wood stove. Figure that out! Especially since I have plenty of wood on my property, but sometimes not the time to cut, split, haul, stack,it.
    You definitely can't beat the warmth of a good wood stove!
    If gas prices goe up considerably higher, I will consider buying another wood stove, but they would have to go up much higher. Diesel fuel is already over $4.00 per gallon.
    The decission is yours and only yours, but what ever you decide, good luck and enjoy!
    John
  24. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Stefan:
    Regarding the ceiling fan: normally, you want it going up in the winter so the warm air curls around your ceiling and goes back down the walls. However, if you have a cathedral ceiling, you will want it going down all the time. Play with the speed until you feel air coming back down from above. You could even light a few candles and look for the flicker of moving air. I'm willing to bet you are going to need a little more than low speed to do any good. Try this and let us know how it does.

    I don't think anyone here wants to see you go to a propane or oil tank. Wood heat is definitely an aquired disease that sets off bells in your head when you haven't checked the stove in a couple of hours. It also takes a little time to learn how to wake up in the morning, look at the weather forecast and decide how to run your stove for the day. Not everybody wants the disease, but most that do are very happy with the symptoms! We are warmer than we have ever been and our fuel costs are rock bottom. Even if you pay to have wood delivered, it's a bargain compared to LP or oil.

    Hang in there and ask questions; someone here might actually say something that makes sense! I have learned a lot in the couple years I have been lurking here. Also realize that we are coming up on the shoulder season where you are trying to keep the smallest fire going that you can and this tests the abilities of even the best of us. With practice, you will be able to allow the stove to burn down to a pile of coals during tha afternoon, stir it up around sunset, throw in a couple pieces and be warm 'till bedtime.

    You might also want to check into the best way to run that catalytic. I decided against a catalytic because I heard they are finicky. I'm still too new at this to give you advise on it, but maybe you could get something simpler and play with that for a while. You could be into a new Englander for well under a grand, and may find this is an improvement!
  25. Stefan A

    Stefan A New Member

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    Thanks again. Yeah, I think I would rather save the money and stick with wood. I will just have to learn better ways to burn. Right now I am trying just a little wood at a time - rather than letting it go full blast and using the catalyst.

    Stefan
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