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Looking for resources to assist in furnace replacement

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by CSH, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. CSH

    CSH New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    11
    Here is what I currently have:
    - 2900 sq ft house in northern climes of the Great Lakes with average to a little above average insulation. (Insulation upgrades planned)
    - An oil forced air furnace circa 1974 that is very inefficient and ridiculous to feed. Oil use is running about $900/6 weeks. (225 gal roughly @ 67*)
    - A 500 gal in ground oil tank at the end of it's life.
    - Electric water heater that I'm to too concerned about but wanted to add it as a reference point.
    - There is a separate (not connected to or near furnace) wood burner on the opposite side of the basement that need serious work. It is literally falling apart. This is a much lower priority. I will take that discussion to a different forum.
    - A brand new Carrier 5 ton air condenser I don't want to lose or at least get cash back on.

    Goal: upgrade as to a more efficient primary system with support to cover outages and/or lower primary source use keeping expense vs usage savings in mind.

    My choices for fuel are propane, oil or electric. (wood and biomass). I am interested to have a secondary source of heat during power outages. I live in a rural area and we frequently see several day outages as well as to reduce of oil/electric expenses.

    I do not want an outdoor heat source.

    Oil prices are about $3.70 and climbing. Electricity is 6.2 cents/kwh. Right now propane isn't really a contender but I am open to the idea. Geothermal installation is too expensive. Natural gas is not available. Wood or pellets would be purchased and some wood supplemented from our property. The primary heat source would NOT be wood/pellets. I am physically unable to move wood and handle feeding a fire several times a day.

    Expense factors:
    -old in ground oil tank will have to be decommissioned with any choice.
    - if oil/propane are chosen a new above ground tank will be needed.

    I would like to have a set up something like a main furnace that is either electric or oil burning with wood burning capabilities. I am not clear if a single unit that does both or a dedicated furnace with an add on is a better choice. I looked at the Yukon wood/electric furnace but have no idea what it would cost to run if electricity is used more than wood. I looked at an add on stove to an existing furnace. I also looked at a heat pump but would lose my brand new a/c condenser.

    Are there any resources that will help narrow down my choices? Any resources to help figure out a budget?

    Right now my very rough estimates are:
    Oil Furnace - $3k installed/old hauled off
    New oil tank $2500-3k
    Old in ground tank decommission - $2500-3k. (Likely done a little later than install to help cash flow if permissible by ordinance)

    This sketch has lacks any secondary fuel features. Electric looks better because of the new tank but may be shooting myself in the foot long term. I plan to be in this house at least another 5-10 years possibly more but I hope not.

    I want to do this right but as cost efficiently as possible or do the upgrade in stages. Any thoughts? I'm completely overwhelmed.

    Thanks!

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    West Michigan
    Most of the combo units I've seen discussed on this forum are intended to be wood/pellet primary, other fuel secondary. As a result I don't think they're going to be quite as good in the "bang for your buck" department if you're really not focusing on wood heat as a primary source.

    If I were in your shoes I'd get the best, most efficient propane furnace I can find (assuming propane can be competitive in your area) and then invest in a new/used stand-alone stove or forced air wood furnace somewhere down the road for backup.

    I think your best source for information, regardless of direction, is going to be your local HVAC guys.
  3. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    I have recently have done a replacement of my mother in law's 35 year old wood/oil combination furnace. When time allows, I will do a thread on the complete installation.

    IMGP5623.JPG

    The furnace is a Ardent Energy F-75 R. For backup, not yet installed, there will be a 13 KW duct heater installed just to the right and below the furnace limit switch. This has been a very simple and inexpensive installation.
    Back 40 likes this.
  4. arngnick

    arngnick Member

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    Since you say that you can not easily handle burning wood I would agree with stee6043.

    If you could burn wood for a good part of the time I may suggest a boiler similar to mine...It does not require any electricity to burn wood since it operattes on natural draft and does it well. If it was match with a heating system that could operate by thermosyphon you caoul heat your house even while the power was out. The vedolux models can also be fitted with a pellet head or an oil head for use when you do not wish to burn wood. Accorning to smokelessheat.com the changeover takes about 30 mins to complete. Storage would also be nessasay with a boiler like mine.
  5. CSH

    CSH New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
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    Thanks everyone for your feedback. Right now my HVAC folks are just pushing the usual replace e furnace with something that doesn't quite meet my goals.so I am trying to formulate a basic plan so we can fill in the details and get a budget nailed down.

    I would burn wood if physically able but unfortunately I'm not. I don't have the strength or stamina to manage it multiple times a day. It has helped to at least understand the combo units are better suited for wood as a primary wood source. That is new information and helps narrow down the options. Now to figure the best primary fuel source. I hate that oil is so expensive and will undoubtedly go higher. I know oil provides more BTUs but I can't help but wonder if electric prices are more stable.

    Any thoughts on secondary add on stoves?
    Thanks again!
  6. Back 40

    Back 40 New Member

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    Loc:
    PE Canada
    Hi there,

    How did this furnace work out? Did it heat the home with ease? Could you tell me how large the home was and condition of insulation? I just order this furnace, should be getting at the end of the month. My house is 1850 sq feet with good insulation? We see average temps of -10 to the high -teens with some days getting into the -20's. I would have purchased the 101, only it was too large to fit into my house.

    Just trying to get an idea of what could be expected, the price is great on this. $1900 plus tax, and 400 for the connection.

    Thanks,
  7. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    On another Forum I have done a detailed description of the installation . If I post a direct link , the link to that site will be scrambled . Google " Campinspecter Wood Furnace Install Part 1 " and you will find the Thread .

    The furnace will heat your house with ease. Total area of the house heated is around 2,600 sq ft . 1949's insulation in 2by 4 walls , flat roof with some kind of lose fill insulation , with vinyl double pain windows . The heating season here by back east standards would be a shoulder season .
  8. Back 40

    Back 40 New Member

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    Thanks, that was what I was thinking. Not many of these have been install in Atlantic Canada. Are the claims for burn times accurate? Is the furnace a wood eater?
  9. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    The old combination Olson Wood oil combo just burning from 4 in the evening to 10 at night consumed 10 /12 cords (128 cubic ft)per heating season . The new furnace burning 24 hours per day for 6 months burned 4 1/2 to 5 cords , or 5 or 6 splits 4 to 5 inches in diameter 16 inches long are good for 12 hours .
  10. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    To focus on burn time is to eat red herring. A candle will burn all night but it won't heat your house.
    I won't dispute your burn time ... but a 16" split, 4-5" thick, what is the weight? If oak, maybe 7 lbs? Five splits at 7 lbs = 35 lbs. Well seasoned wood in an efficient wood burner will deliver 6040 btu/lb of heat. 35 x 6040 = 211,400 btu's. For a 12 hour burn, that's 17,600 btu/hr.

    Depending on outside temperature, wind, etc., a house may be able to be well heated at 17,600 btu/hr. Our 1500 sq ft house probably could with temperatures no lower than about 0 to +10F, but it would take up to twice that amount of btu's as temps drop to -20 to -30F or lower.

    My point simply is: know your heat demand requirement, then calculate how much seasoned wood (20% MC) in lbs you need per time period. You then can convert that to cords using available charts. You also then can determine how many lbs of wood will reasonably load into the firebox for a single load. But keep in mind, that wood burning is rarely at a constant heat output, although it can be modulated somewhat in a well designed wood burner (or for a wood boiler with sufficient storage, the excess btu's can be stored to be delivered later), and it usually goes through a start-up stage, then a high burn-high heat stage, and then a burn down stage with a gradual fall in btu output until only coals are left with very low btu output.

    All of this assumes an efficient wood burner, of which there are many, and then again there are many with low efficiency. And many of good design, as well as the opposite being true.
    hobbyheater likes this.
  11. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    The wood is Western Hemlock moisture content under 7% the moisture meter cannot get a reading . For much of the heating season the hourly heat load draw is less than 10,000 btu,s per hour .
    Before purchasing the Ardent Energy , I had had discussions with the people who make the Kumma but the heat draw was not going to be enough to gasify.
    With the very dry wood with basically a smouldering fire Granny sets the thermostat at 75 F and is quite happy .
    When Granny's old wood furnace failed my first choice was to install the brand new Jetstream that I had sitting here with 500 gallons of storage , but Granny wanted something simple .
  12. Back 40

    Back 40 New Member

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    Simple with a little efficiency is what I'm looking for. This F75 is priced well for my budget. And if it uses 6-7 cord of wood. I'll be happy.

    Does the chimney need cleaning anymore since the Ardent was installed? Does it draft well?

    I'm sad to say I'm looking forward to winter after the F75 is all set up in the basement. I love burning wood. Especially when you have an odd-ball block that challenges you when putting it in the stove / furnace. It gives an odd since of satisfaction when you get that door closed.

    Thanks for all the comments related to my questions.

    When you put the 5 or 6 splits 4 to 5 inches in diameter 16 inches long in the F75, is there still room for more?
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
    hobbyheater likes this.
  13. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    Granny tends to use the wood furnace on days when she should not. I cleaned the chimney 4 times in the first year to get a good handle on just how dirty it was going to get. This year I will do it at the begging of Nov. and again in April. Ardent recommends that once a week you give the fire box a 4 or 5 piece charge and let the furnace run wide open for an hour . Granny has been fairly consistent at doing this. Many times she just put 3 pieces in the firebox twice during the day and the 5 for overnight.
    I haven't looked at the manual but I think the fire box will hold 4 or 5 cubic feet. There are several people in the area that load them to the hilt and go several days, but not a procedure that I would recommend.

    These furnaces were originally made in Vanderhoof BC and were know as RSF Stoves and have a good reputation in this area .
  14. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    Have you also purchased the fan and its housing , fan limit control the thermostat and draft control.These are separate purchase item and increase the price by about $800.00 ?
  15. Back 40

    Back 40 New Member

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    The fan will be the fan in my oil furnace, but I did get the fan limit control the thermostat and draft control new. It was 400 for that. When we get it installed I'll post pics and let you know how it works on the cold days.

    Can the firebricks and door be removed easily to drop weight when taking it into my basement? Would that be about 100 pounds? How many bricks are in it?

    Thanks
  16. hobbyheater

    hobbyheater Minister of Fire

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    Do not remember how many bricks , but it would be at least 100 lbs. I also removed the door and the bricks to make things lighter, does not stand out in my memory so couldn't have been all that hard ! The manual is very straight forward .
  17. Back 40

    Back 40 New Member

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    I had the Ardent f75 installed about a month ago. The coldest weather we have had so far this season is -10. The furnace is doing the job with ease. I load this furnace around 6:30 am, and return to a nice coal bed around 5:30 in the evening during the work week. On colder days I load the firebox a bit more and weekends burn more wood as we are home more. I like it, and very happy we purchased it. The furnace was out 2 time for cleaning since we installed it. One complaint is lighting it, the fire box is below the furnace door and it drafts from the side so it can be a bugger at times. 9/10 overall. Thanks hobbyheater for fielding my questions.

    Some picture below

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