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Basement Pellet Stove

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by jayman81, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. jayman81

    jayman81 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Messages:
    32
    Loc:
    Canada
    Hi Everyone,

    I recently bought a new home in the cold Canadian North - Eastern Ontario region. Winters up here are pretty chilly at times and we're already off to a cold start. We've been dealing with temperatures of -20F this month already and it's not even winter.

    My home is a 2006 and fairly well insulated from what I can tell. Currently on a forced air propane furnace with a radiant heated slab in my basement. (I don't know the efficiency or BTU rating) With my wife and newborn at home at the house at a consistent 73F, I'm running upwords of $500 a month on propane so far. Prices for propane this year have really jumped in my area to 75C per litre (about 2.83 a US gallon). I can get 3T of pellets for around $900 with tax and delivered.

    I'm looking at options to lower my propane usage for heating. My HW tank is currently propane heated and my radiant is supplied from this tank. I'm not looking at displacing these elements but putting something in place that will either supplement my propane heating for replace it entirely (if possible).

    My house is around 2500 square feet, raise ranch style and completely open concept. I am hoping that I can make a pellet stove work in the basement and have it heat both levels. I understand that it won't be even heat but I'm hoping I can maintain 70F+ temperatures on the main level. The basement slab is heated already and the basement is both insulated and dry walled so the heat loss on the down stairs level should be minimal. The stair well going down to my basement from the main level is very open so my hopes are that heat from a pellet stove will make it's way up and heat the upstairs as well. I would imagine the recommendation is to have this pellet close to the stair well?

    I have read many posts on here regarding a basement pellet stove heating an entire house and the results differ mostly based air circulation, insulation levels, climate etc. but if I factor in my house as being fully insulated, radiant basement slab, and open concept (also open ceiling, no drop installed yet) what are my chances? Is this worth pursuing? If the idea of displacing my propane heating is a real possibility, I would spend the $ on a larger stove unit to accomplish this.

    My wife asked me, is it possible to hook up a pellet stove to an existing forced air system? I have heard that it's possible but most likely dampers would be needed to isolate the propane furnace to prevent both blowers from running at the same time?

    Many of the sellers in my area are selling the Harman brand. Can someone recommend a model which would meet my heating requirements given the square footage and my intention of making this my primary heat source?

    Thanks, I appreciate the feed back.

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  2. lbcynya

    lbcynya Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Messages:
    475
    Loc:
    W Michigan
    Hello and welcome. While the floorplans could be dramatically different, I too have a well insulated, newer, raised ranch and my pellet stove is in the basement. You'll hear mixed reviews, but I get almost NO heat upstairs while maintaining a 72+ degree thermostat setting on the pellet stove (without the wood stove, can be a 10 degree delta between upstairs and downstairs). I too assumed I would get more heat headed upstairs. I actually agonized about stove size because our bedroom is above the lower living room where the pellet stove is ad I was afraid that I'd overheat the bedroom. No such luck, almost no difference in room temp directly above the stove. Since we burn cord wood upstairs it hasn't been a priority to see if I can get more heat upstairs.

    Long story short, with limited additional details, I would suggest a pellet boiler that would tie into your existing forced air system (pricey) or put the stove upstairs. Then you could can zone off the basement floor and use propane to heat the lower space.

    PS - All my experience has been north of 0F. At 21 below, what you're trying to do is almost impossible, IMO.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
    gbreda likes this.
  3. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    central ct
    Pellet stoves are big space heaters. put it where you want the heat in the rooms you use most.
    Augmister likes this.
  4. Enigma869

    Enigma869 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2011
    Messages:
    248
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    I don't have any experience with having a pellet stove in the basement. It's challenging enough having the pellet stove on the main living area with he type of temperature you're talking about. I suspect that it would a bit better in your style home, given that the basement in most raised ranches are not closed off from the rest of the house.
  5. Ogilvy

    Ogilvy Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    New Brunswick
    I have a small 3 bedroom bungalow and have given up on trying to heat the main floor with my pellet stove from the basement.
    I do know people who have heated from the lower level of a split entry with out issues, so depending on your floor plan it may be possible.

    On another note, before I put in the pellet stove, I burnt wood. The ceiling in the basement was not finished and the heat from the stove kept the main level floor nice and warm. Once I installed a drop ceiling in basement, the heat never transferred upstairs the same way again.
  6. pell it

    pell it Feeling the Heat

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    Rhode Island
    gbreda likes this.
  7. Snowmobileaddict

    Snowmobileaddict Member

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    Cedarburg, WI
    You will likely be best served with a pellet furnace or one the duct able stoves.
  8. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    Yep.

    I have a stove in a basement office and it's great for that. It also contributes to the heat on the next floor, but it's a much lower contribution than the other stove on that floor. As others have noted, pellet STOVES (not to be confused with pellet furnaces) are big SPACE heaters, dependent on air flow to heat other areas.

    We may also hear from the "cut a hole in your floor" advocates on this thread. Check your fire codes first - generally not allowed.
  9. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
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    262
    Loc:
    great white northern ontario
    I second the motion, it also happened to me. I'm still trying to heat the whole house with my Accentra and getting frustrated with every year going by. My newly acquired used Fahrenheit furnace should be my happy pill, I hope! I just have to get it installed ASAP, my projects are slow as molasses.
  10. Cincinnati Kid

    Cincinnati Kid Feeling the Heat

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    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Cincinnati
    I've got two pellet stoves, one in the basement and one on my main floor. They still don't heat my entire house. I have to run two electric space heaters, one in the master bedroom and the other in the master bathroom.
  11. gbreda

    gbreda Minister of Fire

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    Lakes Region, NH
    Agree with the consensus. Go with a furnace if possible. Next best to look at would be the Drolet with ducting.
  12. Jeff Lawson

    Jeff Lawson New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2013
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    Loc:
    Colorado
    Gotta go against all of the consensus on this one. It's all to easy to assume that a ducted forced air style unit is right for you just because your wife asked a question. I'm new to this, and although the forced air units are available, they are some of the most expensive units. If you need something that operates exactly like your propane forced air, then okay, I guess that's the answer. But everything I read about what you wanted to do was offset your expensive propane usage, which is exactly what we have tried to do this year as well.

    The decision is all about trade offs, and you really have to decide what you want to do. For example, we spend 80% of our time in our family room, which happens to be the bottom level of a 2200 sf tri-level. The family room is now shorts and t-shirt temperature and the rest of the house is not quite as hot, but very comfortable. We like the sleeping area a little cooler anyways. I will say that we got the arctic blast a couple of weeks ago and with lows of -10 and highs of 0, we were toasty comfortable. What you want to do is not impossible as was said. Especially since you say you are okay with some cooler areas.

    I say all this because I bought a 20+ year old used stove for $600 and with a little bit of a learning curve it has turned out great for us. So although not for everyone, there is value at the complete other end of the spectrum too. I personally would start by thinking about what you want to accomplish. Is the room with the radiant heat where you spend most of your time? If so, maybe you might consider a pellet boiler. Or, it may actually turn out that the radiant floor heating just isn't cost effective. That's for you to evaluate.

    I would recommend putting a pellet stove in the room you spend the most time in, and move the air around the rest of the house as best you can. If you are handy, consider a quality brand used stove. If you like the comfort of a warranty, go the new road. But this kind of gets you in the door with pellet heating. You will save on propane, and after the season, you will have a lot better idea if you want to make a much bigger investment in a pellet furnace or boiler.

    Or depending on your installation situation, put a free-standing unit in your basement and see how it works for you. If it's not what you want, move it upstairs or sell it altogether and get the forced air unit everyone wants you to get. Either way, a pellet stove in the house is definitely going to offset your propane usage, period. Life is a lot better when the mama and babies are warm and comfortable. ;)

    Just my .02 As far as I can tell, everyone suggesting forced air units all have free-standing or inserts. If that's not the case, some cost estimates and feedback on the value and financial payback of those units would give the OP more info to make a more informed decision.

    Welcome jayman.
  13. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    That's a very reasonable perspective, Jeff, and not that different from our situation. My concern is for folks who aren't comfortable with having the 2nd story drop to something around 60'F, especially when bedroom doors, bathrooms, etc., are shut. We can essentially prevent our central, forced air heat from coming on if the LR and basement stoves are both running, but we'll chew through $10-$15 / day of pellets at $5 / bag, and our upstairs will be at 61-64'F. That's the temp we want as we sleep better, but many want it considerably warmer. So when I see someone is keeping their overall temp at 73 with central heat, I start to think, "Well, you need to think through this...".

    I think if the OP looks at this and weighs it all out, he can reach a good decision. Your post certainly adds a good perspective to the discussion, and thanks for that.
    Jeff Lawson likes this.
  14. Micmann

    Micmann New Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    I agree on both ends. A 2500 sqft home at -20 will be difficult to heat no matter what the method, But like Jeff said if you're looking to offset and not replace your heating costs, a free standing stove can help. If you want to stop the propane bills, you need a pellet furnace appliance, a free standing will not cut it...a couple of them might, but not just one.

    I have a basement dweller in a 1500 sqft cape. Much smaller than your home. I run a P61 with insulated walls and have an open ceiling (no sheetrock or dropped tiles). Just by itself there is not enough air movement from basement to first floor and certainly not the second. I did cut 4"x9" floor grates in each room on the first floor (yes I'm one of those, but they are small and since i have partial balloon construction, floor grates are no worse than any already fire hazard). I then cut a 20"x20" hole in the top of my basement door and another in the bottom of the door. I then mounted two box fans on the back side of the door and 20"x20" grates painted to match the door on the front. Installed a variable AC transformer to control their speed with no motor noise. The fans suck the hot air up the stairway and the floor grates act as returns back to the basement. Moves the air extremely well. My basement is 87 degrees and my first floor is 72. My second floor is about 64 and needs supplemental from my boiler. My goal was never to totally replace dino juice, but supplement it. I have done just that. With a new oil system and pellets I went from almost a 275 gal tank a month to 200 gal for the whole winter also heating hot water.

    The reason I say all this is because it is very hard to move hot air made by the stove when going between floors. You will need assist it somehow. Everybody has their methods. I do not believe it will naturally convect enough through your house to get the results you are hoping for. If you install a dropped ceiling you will never get any real effect on the upper floors.

    If you try to install it where you want the most heat or come up with methods to move the air and use it to cut, not replace, the propane bill you might be satisfied with it.
    Madcodger and Jeff Lawson like this.
  15. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

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    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Mcmann is right on.
    I vented and blow 75% of the stove`s heat up thru an existing living rm floor grate and with a fan blowing (cold )return air back into the (finished) basement thru the other floor vent at the end of the hall.
    I can keep the both the 1st fl and the basement at near even temps of 68-70 degrees unless it gets down to 0. Some of the heat on the 1st fl does go up to the second floor bedrooms via the stairway where that floor stays at around 62+ degrees. I do this most of the winter with my little Harman P-38 and 1-1/2 bags a day. I used 3-1/2 tons last year. I don`t usually push the stove above # 4 and never into turbo mode. When it gets below 0 the furnace will kick in automatically .
    I just filled my oil tank (took 168 gals) exactly 11 months since the last fill. Oil furnace mainly used for DHW.
    It would otherwise have been impossible to get enough heat up and out out of the finished basement if I didn`t run duct work up thru the floor vent and the basement would have been stifling hot.
    Yeah the duct work looks like hell coming off the front holes of the P-38 and the floor grates ( former wood stove use) are not within the present building code but I did it 30 yrs ago and never was sorry. The P-38 is an ugly thing to look at anyway so no big deal there.
    Bottom line is you have to compromise somewhere to deal with a pellet stove in the basement and have it work to your benefit.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
    Jeff Lawson likes this.
  16. bob bare

    bob bare Minister of Fire

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    park county montana
    Been running floor vent and 12" slow speed fan for years.As long as you have a return path,it works.Cannot believe all the negativity about floor vents and fans!(Legal where I am)Integra in dirt floor walk out basement heats whole house,rarely turn above #3.0 degrees about the breaking point for this cabin,temp in bedrooms can drop to 58,fine for me.87 basement,72 1st floor,64 upstairs.
    Jeff Lawson likes this.
  17. Big E

    Big E Member

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    149
    Loc:
    Upstate Panhandle NY
    Big E in my basement. Installed a on/off switch for the forced hot air Oneida Royal oil furnace. Took off door to blower and turned on fan, let heat go through ducts. Haven't had oil heat on in years. My 2 cents
  18. jayman81

    jayman81 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2013
    Messages:
    32
    Loc:
    Canada
    Thanks folks for the replies. Based on this thread and other research I've done I'm going to scrap the stove in the basement idea or at least park it and perhaps look into a pellet furnace and make the pellet my primary heat source.
  19. SwineFlue

    SwineFlue Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    605
    Loc:
    NE Pa
    Since you mentioned Harman, see if any of those dealers have experience installing the PF100 furnace onto an existing system.

    edit: n/m, just saw your other thread.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  20. e-zlight

    e-zlight Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    16
    Loc:
    East Waterboro Maine
    I wonder if one of those 4x7 vent fans would be enough to move the air up stairs for a few degrees warmer? I have a floor vent in my daughters room (no duct work), and would put it in there. If it's setup to move the cold air from the upstairs bedroom to downstairs living room. Would it be enough to pull the heat up the stairs a bit more from the dining room/living room area? The wall side to the dining room is open to ceiling level, while the living room side is walled with a door opening at the base of the stairs. I would basically only use it on the super cold nights. I have 2 pellet stoves on the first floor (one living room, one dining room, both at the front corners of the house), and the heat radiates upstairs naturally from there. Until this week we have been heating the whole house with 1 of them. (just repaired the other one) My bedroom drops to mid-low 60's normally, but when we hit -30* with windchill, it dropped to 55 in my bedroom. A bit chillier than I like, but more concerned about the temp in my daughters room.

    Maybe instead of having it set to turn on when the bedroom drops below a certain temp, I can set a thermostat on cool stage in the living room connected to the fan, and if the living room gets over, say 74*-76* it will turn on to circulate? This way it would only run when we have the big stove in the living room turned on, which would be only days it drops to single digits or lower. The big stove running can easily get the living room to 80*+ in short order on medium.

    Any thoughts about this setup, or recommendations on a fan would be great.

    I remember reading last winter on here someone had these floor vent fans setup in his house, and it worked great, within a couple degrees upstairs-down. But for the life of me I can find his thread to figure out what brands/models he used.
  21. Pellet-King

    Pellet-King Minister of Fire

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    WOOD STOVE 'NUFF SAID
    Cory S likes this.
  22. Wooden Head

    Wooden Head Member

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    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    West Michigan
    I have 1200 square feet on each level. Using a castile on main floor and Santa Fe in basement. Run both on low in temps from 20 to 30. Run upper on medium and basement on low below 20. Run upper on low and basement off above 30 (if basement is not in use).
    Make sure you have enough humidity in the air for main living area. I'm burning Sommersets.
    Madcodger likes this.
  23. FFRKing

    FFRKing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2011
    Messages:
    16
    Loc:
    Kansas
    5-10 degree lows and 25-30 highs. I have a Quad Castile insert in a finished basement. 1700 square foot ranch, split bedroom layout. I run the insert on High when it is this cold and maintain 75-77 downstairs and 72 upstairs in the hallway where the thermostat is. Stairway is offset a little from the center of the house with the kitchen, dining, and living room between the stairs and thermostat. I close off the two bedrooms in the hallway by the thermostat. My kids have had there rooms the basement for the last 6 years. Master bedroom is eight feet from the top of the stairs but has a vaulted ceiling and is open to the master bath. This stays a little too cool for my wife, but I sleep great. We use a small Eden Pure infrared heater for a couple of hours before going to bed some nights.
    In my mind, the key to my success is that I run my furnace fan in continuous mode. I block off a couple of return air vents upstairs and it forces the return air to be pulled from the warmer basement.
    I bought the Castile insert used for a good price. If I had bought a new insert, I would have stepped up to something with more output. I think that I am running on the ragged edge of the Castiles capability, but it works. I burn between 2 - 2 1/2 tons a year. This year I found Somersets in town.
    We also spend most of our time in the living room downstairs.
    If I were to do it again, I would check into a pellet furnace to try to heat the whole house but am pretty satisfied with my results. I went from an average of 3-500 gallon tanks of propane a year to having not filled up since Nov. 2011, and my tank is still just above 30%.

    Chris
  24. Dandar

    Dandar New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
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    6
    I have a two level cape with finished basement. The stove is in the basement. Total space with basement is roughly 3300 sqft.

    The stove can heat the whole house in the high 60s but the bedrooms will be cold in the low 60s. So I still use my oil powered hydro air system to keep the whole house in the high 60s, and use the stove to help out.

    Oil use went down quote a bit since I installed my pellet stove so it seems to work. I keep the basement in mid to high 70s and I installed a return duct there so that heat both radiates up and is also pulled into the ductwork to help out with oil use.
  25. Big E

    Big E Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Upstate Panhandle NY
    X2...run furnace fan continuous, 100 gal. of oil for hot water...that's it

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