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Just started comparing add-on furnaces

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Danno77, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. john26

    john26 New Member

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    The usstove furnaces are American made my brother was looking at hot blast and clayton models, I called usstove and they told me all the furnaces are american made. Some of the stoves and pellets stoves are made over seas.
    As far as the blower goes I use my blower on low (600 cfm) with out the gas furnace blower I have a parallel installation. The wood furnace plenium ties directly into the main truck line not the gas furnace. I also have a return duct tied into the wood furnace. It was down in the low 20's last week the wood furnace heated the house great up in to the mid 70's with 3 out of 8 vents closed upstairs and 1 vent in the garage.

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  2. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    thanks for that! I'm actually leaning towards the Firechief FC700, but for $200 more I can have the FC1100, so IF i do this, that's probably the way I'd go. Still up in the air about the whole thing, though. Sometimes I'm slow acting on these types of things, so I'll probably stare at them in the store for another year, and when i decide then I'll collect wood for another year. (I say that, but I can sometimes be a little impulsive, and as we just purchased the house, we'll be getting that 8K from the gov next spring, that might make me more likely to dive in head first)

    Anyone here have experience with either of these two stoves?
  3. john26

    john26 New Member

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    I was actually originally going to purchase a new firechief 500 I started looking on craigslist for used furnaces and found a 1 year old fire chief 500 for $500. I drove about 1 hour to purchase it and it had been stolen from the ownwers rental property. Bad news for both of us, but i about a month later i found a 20year old woodchuck 2900 for $350 on craigslist. It need some electric work and new bricks not a big deal. I have a total of $550 in the furnace not counting stove pipe or duct.
    Any way after looking at both furnace in depth I like ythe way the woodchuck is built a little better over the fire chief. I like the large rectangular plenum on top the and the shaker grate better on the woodchuk better. But after using the furnace i am not so sure about the secondary heat exchanger on it. The efficency rating on the woodchuck is 78% that is hard to get. The fire has to be very hot to engage the cat which means the fan has to be on then the house gets very hot. Both furvnaces are well built it would be a toss up between the two. I have looked at the energy king it is a very nice unit but it shold be for $3500. If you are looking for a used unit there is a nice woodchuck 2900 just south of st. louis for $1400 with triple wall pipe on craigslist.
  4. CrappieKeith

    CrappieKeith New Member

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  5. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    A. Is the price listed a "sale" price? it doesn't seem to say on the website.
    B. Am I right in seeing that it takes a 7" pipe? that might be a dealbreaker.
    C. How do you know that they qualify for the tax credit? i didn't see that on the website or in the manual. [edit:it's hidden in their tax credit information page. I still don't find any efficiency ratings listed on the website...oh well]
  6. CrappieKeith

    CrappieKeith New Member

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  7. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    gotchya, didn't catch the $200 off tag on the home page. found the pdf you mention, but it doesn't say anything about the particular efficiency rating for the stove other than it's >/= 75% (not being picky, was just curious)
  8. CrappieKeith

    CrappieKeith New Member

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    What's the fuel source?
    How much water is in it?
    How often will the furnace be calling for heat? A hotter burn will be more efficient...
    I'm trying to get you to understand this new method of testing is BS...it does allow US makers to compete with the Europeans as they use this lower heat method of testing which artificially inflates efficiencies by 10-12%
    Bio bricks ran near 90% in our furnace but how many people are gonna burn wood logs that are wetter? Ya see the % means nothing. It is also almost lying on the manufactuers part to say ...HEY everyone will get 80% for example.
    Flues draft differently.People have different size homes that are insulated differently which will change how often a furnace calls for heat. The more it calls for heat the more efficient it will be just as load sizes will change efficiency. A smaller load will take longer to satisfy that stat which will keep calling for heat to get satisfied making that fire burn hotter...

    Ask any testing engineer and they all agree....I have already. Yet there are guidlines and so we follow suit and spend the money to have our furnace tested ,which they do fall into the above 75% or better.
    I've looked at other sites.I have not seen any specific percentages and I challange you to get those numbers in the real world not sope testing facility were all of the condition are perfect for the testing which can also be modified to gain the % that they want to.
    That was another discussion in getting bids for testing.

    These are things the general public is not aware of...the dirty lil secret,but we are forced to fall into line by the rules of the tax credit.


    Anything else you'd like to know......800-358-0060....we can really get into some stuff if you want to call me.


    Danno....check out apples to apples...btus to btus..then look at the weights.
    Look for an after burn.
    Look for heat exchange surface area and look to see draft speeds in the manuals.
    Note...a faster draft will run more heat up the flue being less efficient. There are only 8000 btu's per lb of biomass...(WOOD).
    Look at brick and ask what density it is.We use 2700 degree brick for example.The more dense the better thermal mass it has.
    Then look at where you are buying it.
    Is there service?
    Is it a retailer that has marked up the unit many dollars or is it the manufacture like we are?
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Keith, I think we have discussed this previously, but this site is not for promotion of your products...at all.

    Please see:
    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Forum_Rules_for_Commercial_Members/
    "If one of your primary reasons for being on the Forums is to get more business for your company, then we would ask that you contact us for paid advertising sponsorship programs as opposed to using"
  10. CrappieKeith

    CrappieKeith New Member

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    We will be contacting you shortly.
  11. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I'm too slow at making decisions. I've still been thinking about this and planning away. I'm leaning heavily towards the Firechief FC700.

    Is there anybody on this forum burning with this furnace? I'm guessing that I'd need to have about 8 cords on hand to run it. Add that to my wood stove and that COULD be 11 cords in a year. ouch. I hope my numbers are off with that, but I'd want to be safe for when I start to burn.

    The big holdup is still the chimney. I haven't decided the best route to do it. This impacts placement of the furnace, then I have clearances to deal with, then ductwork runs.

    I used 1700 therms of gas a couple of winters ago, but last winter I used just over 1400 so the furnace would need to do that...

    My basic math tells me that 1700 therms is about (x100,000) 170,000,000 BTUs. estimate low that a cord is 17MBTUs that means ten cords MAX to do what my furnace did. But my furnace didn't do it well then. Then last year I had the wood stove and put about 2.5 cords through it. So either way I'm getting the same BTU estimates for total winter heating. I did do some more random sealing up of the joint with caulk, and some more window work, so every year I think the place gets a little less drafty. I bet my cord average for firewood is something more like 21-22MBTUs because of the oak mixed in there, but like I said before, that's just making sure I don't make errors in the wrong direction. 22MBTU per cord for 170MBTU to heat all winter comes out to 7+. For a big old house of this size I don't think that's horribly unreasonable.
  12. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    Just spend the money, get the Max Caddy from PSG. Buy it last year so you can get the tax credit and be done with it. Plenty of heat, long burns, great warranty, made in America and works better than a puppys peter
  13. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately there is one factor that you have left out, the relative efficiencies of the furnaces.

    I think you mentioned the Gas Furnace was 93%, do not know what the wood would be except it would be a lot less.

    I have a similar building construction to deal with, The major loss once you have dealt with the roof are the walls. Unless you are going to strip all the plaster off, insulate and then re trim etc, there is not a lot you can do. You can insulate the outside, visually that might not be acceptable.

    Yes you can insulate underneath and the foundation walls, but the walls are the biggy.

    40 +- btu sq ft sounds right to me.
  14. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    You are totally right about the Efficiencies of the wood furnace. I totally didn't calculate that into the mix! I should probably add another 30% on top to cover for that.

    Let me run the numbers real fast I used 170MBTU to produce (93% efficiency) 158.1MBTUs of heat for the house. a Wood Furnace burning at 70% efficiency (Do you think I'm close with that???) would take 13 Cords.

    Can't insulate the outside of the home, it's brick construction. There is an empty attic space that's over the kitchen. It has 6 inches of insulation over it, but I think I'm going to do something extra there. We are talking about a 12x25ft area, so it could really help.

    I was in the hip space at the finished attic, and I think there is a little something I can do in there, too.

    Question on clearances. One place I'd like to consider for the wood furnace is located directly under a return air duct. Clearance to the Ceiling in the basement is likely pushing it without a shield, and then take this thing and we are talking about a foot over the top of the stove. can this count as a shield? I'm inclined to think so, but it's galvanized. shouldn't reach temps that would gas, but just wanted to get opinions here...
  15. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    Some words of wisdom from experience.
    You get what you pay for with furnaces.
    I've got a Wood Chuck 526 and I love it. Especially now that I've worked out some issues I've had with it for about 6-7 years.
    But given a do over I wood go with the Caddy or Yukon. I bought the WC even after research of other units due to the fact that so many units in my area are still going after 20+ years.
    Clearances are minimal. I can put my hand on the jacket of mine when it's running full out and not get burned. Shield it.
    I don't like the 1 hole plenum on the FC unit. Mine was fully open on top and I had a box plenum made.
  16. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Closest Caddy dealer is 3 hours away. Should I let that bother me? How much are we talking for the add on furnace? the BTU and efficiency ratings on it look good (for a furnace)
  17. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I woodn't let it bother me. Any good HVAC guy can install one. I did my installation myself.
    There isn't really anything that can go wrong with furnaces that isn't plug and play.
  18. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Have you airsealed the attic? That is the number one place to seal and button up. A regular furnace will heat the home, but will require wood to be fed like a freight train to keep something like that warm. I agree with the Max Caddy. Its the largest woodfurnace that I know that has clean burning capabilities on it. No doubt you will burn some wood, but it will be much less with a unit that is efficient. I love our Caddy, its been a very good furnace.
  19. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    The attic is finished, so my hands are tied with much there. There are eave vents and ridge vents, one side of the attic has a hip space that you can access through some doors. When I poke my head in there I can see that there is insulation on the roof itself, but for a good portion of the attic I see insulation like on the left side of this picture. i think that the previous owner did a crappy job after repairing tornado damage. I think his reasoning was that the built in dressers provide a good buffer, so they didn't require insulation.
    I'd really like to completely do something different as best as I can in there. I have a good mind to open up the space above the rooms to see what is there. At a minimum I'll insulate the floor of that hip space (since it sits right above both bedrooms on the room below).

    Now, there is another completely different portion of the house, which I mentioned being above the kitchen. That area is pretty well sealed, but doesn't have a whole lot in terms of blow in insulation that is from LONNNGGGG ago. The intent for this space is to finish it into a master bath, when i do that I'll insulate the roof there, so I've been dragging my feet with insulating the floor of that space. It used to be a finished Servant's quarters about 100 years ago, so there is a bunch of lathe and plaster in horrible shape that needs to come down, otherwise I'd just go ahead and insulate the roof now.

    I'm due for a new roof at some point in the near future. I've considered a metal roof. my parents just got one and they did it by attaching 2x4s (flatwise) and then putting the roofing on that. Wonder if a better method would be to add 1.5" insulation foam in those voids between the 2x4s.

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  20. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Have you considered an energy audit with blower door and thermal imaging? I have witnessed first hand crappy work where I have torn it out and redone the work properly. Makes a huge world of difference when things are done right. The problem is alot of those leaks in your home were probably covered and not taken care of. If its shotty work then tearing it out makes things easier.
  21. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I have considered it, but don't know where to begin to get one. I've heard that NG companies do them, but I don't think mine does. They have a "home energy audit" button on their website, but it just leads you to a page shown below.

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  22. Como

    Como Minister of Fire

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    Certainly one possible option, depending, could be to add a couple of inches of XPS insulation to the deck prior to re roofing. Cutting around battens would cause thermal bridging and be much more hassle.

    It may or may not be practical in your situation. Or cost effective. Certainly unlikely to be so unless you need to re roof at the same time.
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I would be replacing the gas furnace with a larger one. It is obvious that the furnace is undersized from the get go. I like burning wood as much as the next guy but your problem is an undersized gas furnace.
  24. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Have you talked to my wife or something? It's in the plan, too. I want both furnaces, I want the wood burning one first. she wants the gas one first.
  25. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    Stupid cheap crappy fix.

    A tornado hit my house before I moved here. Previous owner sold it to a guy who then fixed it on the cheap (obviously). I think you can see which half of the roof he fixed. Now I know where a good portion of my heat is going. Not looking forward to figuring out how to add insulation there...

    on the different angled piece of roof right below there I finished an attic space to make it into a closet. I must have done alright on insulating it, because the snow is still there!

    Kinda pissed about this, and I'm not sure why i've never noticed it before. I've lived here for about 4 years.

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