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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

    Mar 13, 2013
    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.


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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

    Aug 22, 2008
    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

    Nov 14, 2011
    Port McNeill BC
    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.


    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.
  4. arngnick

    arngnick Member

    Feb 15, 2013
    Mansfield, PA
    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

    Mar 13, 2013
    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!

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