Looking for advice on Wood Boiler options

Alex MacAskill Posted By Alex MacAskill, Mar 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM

  1. Alex MacAskill

    Alex MacAskill
    New Member

    Mar 23, 2013
    Halifax Nova Scotia
    Hi All, I have been reading through this forum for a while now. Lots of good information.

    I am from outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It's been a long cold winter here for sure. I am in a new house this year, first winter and it was certainly an eye opener on the cost of heating this place.

    The house itself is 3 floors. About 4500 sq ft. Currently heated by a an old central warm air oil furnace and electric heat to heat the tiled areas.
    I have bought about $3000 worth of oil and figure about $150 a month on electric heat.

    Additional to the house I have a 1600 sq ft detached garage that has a warm air oil furnace as well, however, currently not using it too much during the winter.

    I have been tossing around the idea of an outside wood boiler, was liking the Empire Pro Series. But I am now leaning towards a indoor wood boiler and putting it in my garage and then piping the hot water over to the house as well. Then would have an water to air exchanger in the warm air furnace. The basement in my house is not heated very well at all, and I was thinking I would also add some hot water baseboards down there.

    SO, I am looking for opinions on what I should do here. Inside wood boiler? What make/model would be good for this setup?

    Anyone from NS out there with recommended installers?

    Any help would be appreciated. Let me know if you need any more info.

  2. Beerdog


    Dec 21, 2012

    You can satisfy your heating needs with either an indoor or an outdoor unit so that decision will come down to convenience and which approach can best be applied to your situation. There are advantages and disadvantages with either approach, mostly relating to convenience and lifestyle. An outdoor boiler will require some structure to contain the boiler and firewood. An indoor boiler would require space for the boiler, peripheral equipment and plumbing. You can heat water for storage, and the storage tanks can be located in the same building as an outdoor boiler or the tanks could be located within the home. The downside to outdoor burning and storage is that heat loss escapes to the environment and not to your home.

    You also currently heat via a hot air system and a boiler heats water. If you didn't change the heating distribution system then you need to heat the air with the boiler. Changing over from a hot air to a hot water system will be expensive as a retrofit, so a lot will also depend on your budget.

    You didn't mention how well your home is insulated, but you should first spend money on tightening up air leaks and insulating the house; as it may allow for a smaller system.

    The least expensive and immediate solution might be to install a wood stove if the costs are an issue.

    If you definitely go down the wood boiler path, I recommend you use a gassifier and sufficient water storage. This will allow you to burn efficiently and generate the least smoke emissions. Your neighbors will thank you. Also, heat storage sized to your boiler and heating load will allow you to burn as hot as possible (minimize smoke) and allow you to burn in batches instead of continually. This frees you up so you don't have to tend a boiler frequently during the day.

    There are some guys on here from Maine and Nova Scotia and you should tap their knowledge. Do a heat loss calculation to figure out what your maximum heat load is and that's the number that will determine the size of the boiler you'll need.

    Ask if you have more questions.

  3. maple1

    Minister of Fire

    Sep 15, 2011
    Nova Scotia
    I ordered the stuff (the boiler & its accessories that is) I wanted & installed it all myself - aside from my electrician wiring up the new hot water heater & backup electric boiler.

    I had a hot water system to start with, not sure I can help much with a hot air system. But there are tons on here who can - it would come down to heat exchangers & proper sizing & flows etc. for your heat loads.

    I talked to a guy from Atlantic Thermal Star at a Halifax home show a couple years ago when I was in my research stage. They had a Biasi gassifying boiler on display. He seemed to be quite knowledgable, that's the only input I would have for a local installer type. I think they have a website. He didn't know much about the storage aspect - he mused about plastic tanks (not likely the best idea), but if you can get the rest of the system details worked out, there are tons of propane tanks in Moncton for storage use.
  4. Alex MacAskill

    Alex MacAskill
    New Member

    Mar 23, 2013
    Halifax Nova Scotia
    Thanks for the responses guys.

    Do people typically do their own Heat Loss calculations? If so , is there a good trust worthy site with instructions to follow? Maybe even on here?

    Maple1 - I've been reading your thread on the install, very cool, lots of work done there!
  5. jsuiker

    New Member

    Mar 26, 2013
    Hey Alex, I'm new like you and am planning a gasser install. I found a great link in the 'links to articles' sticky in this forum. I must admit, there doesn't seem to be a good starting point for us new guys unless you're willing to sift through a whole bunch of miscellaneous posts (or am I missing a page somewhere?). In any case, here is the link for that thread:


    and here is a link for the calculation page that is referenced therein:


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