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Newbie in need of advice!!!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Swedge, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    First I wanted to introduce myself. I moved in the a new to me house with an open fireplace last fall. I immediately new it was destined for an insert. Anyway, due to the lack of funds last year, we didn't get a stove and we only burned but a few fires, knowing it was costing us. My father in law cut down 4 big dead chestnut oaks last year and I took the majority of the wood. They are currently on my property in small piles, some stacked (wifes list doesn't ever seem to include stacking wood). My estimating skills are rough, but I'd say I have about 3 or so cords. I've done some shopping. I'm kind of set on a Jotul Rockland. I was quoted at approximately $5000 installed. I am currently on a heat pump with propane backup for when the real cold hits.

    I have about a half acre of woods on my property. There are maybe 3-4 standing dead trees at about 12 inches dbh, probably oak or hickory. I also have a large dead chestnut oak (28" dbh) ready to come down. Between this and other sources, I probably have a couple of seasons of free wood (thinking about 10 cord).

    Anywho, my questions are:

    1. Since the trees that came down last winter were dead, do you think they are adequately seasoned?
    2. If so should I spring for the stove this year or continue to collect wood and wait until next season?
    3. Will I see significant savings to justify the stove? (Gotta keep the boss happy)

    Thanks for any responses in advance. I never thought I'd spend so much time on a website about wood burning.

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  2. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of wood burning, and if you think you have spent a lot of time before you buy a stove, just wait until you are up and running!

    As for your questions:

    1- even though the trees were standing dead, the core wood can still be wet.
    2- I am assuming the three cords a split. If they have been split around a year then that should provide you enough fuel to get your feet wet.
    3- what are you waiting for! Get that thing installed! While you are at it, get moving on next year's wood! Not knowing your setup in the house, I will blindly say yes, you will see savings.

    Just realized I may have flipped around some of the answers. I will leave it to you to piece the information together :)
  3. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Where are you at? If your temps are in the 30s or below then that heat pump will be working overtime and use the propane backup. You need to calculate what your winter costs are to find out if the cost of a woodstove is going to be worth it, see if you can get that from the previous owner.
  4. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Swedge, welcome to the forum. Where do you live and how much space are you looking to heat with the insert. Some guys don't save all that much money because their utilities are so low. Oil heat is my alternative so I end up saving $2500-3000 per year. So your savings depends a lot on what you currently pay in utilities vs the wood you have acquired.

    either way wood heat is a lot of fun.
  5. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    There is another thread that covers the topic of saving money burning wood fairly well - the answer really is it all depends. One can spend a lot of time calculating actual costs / BTUs used in the home etc and then once you start burning it may not matter - you either like the lifestyle (and thus will justify whatever you want) or you wont. Either way, the fixed cost of the stove install is done so you are 'stuck.'

    With that said - from your description it sounds like you have a really good start and could easily justify burning wood to heat. Personally now that I've started I don't think I'd want to live somewhere without it, but that, again, is the lifestyle choice :)

    I do hope you have shopped around and received more than one estimate on that install - also be sure and check out the reputation of whatever installer you decide on going with. I'd hate for the followup posts to be about a poor installation.
  6. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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  7. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    Thanks for all of the quick replies. I'll be heating about a 2200 sq.ft. colonial. I'm paying 0.09 / kwh. During the coldest month last year I used 2157kwh, but last year was fairly mild. I'm paying 3.89/gallon for propane. I used 50 gallons of propane from Sept 1 to January 8th last season. I have a fill up coming in November. Gulp.
  8. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    So I just checked my tank (475 gallon). It is at about 85% full now, so I roughly used 122 gallons last winter. At 3.89/gallon that is about $475 in propane. Also assuming a baseline kwh usage of 595 (month of Sept last year), I spent 5757 kwh on heating last year at $518. So a rough estimate of $993 to heat my house last year. That seems pretty cheap. If i figure on the stove saving me 60% of my heating costs. That is a savings of $595 a year. So about 8 years to break even. I'm going to have to mull this over some.
  9. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    Welcome Swedge. As others have said, savings really depends. Your utility costs look relatively low, but you will definitely save money with that free wood of yours if you do all that work with minimal tools. This is where the lifestyle part comes in. It is a lot of work. The other consideration is that many people are much warmer when they switch to wood heat. So, if you keep your thermostat at 66 now and keep the house at 70 with the insert, and save a bit of money, I'd say you're doing just fine. You might find your wife likes being a bit warmer too.

    That said, I would not recommend spending $5,000 on an insert if your primary motivation is to save money. Still not sure where you live but I'm guessing your climate is pretty mild.
  10. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Where are you? Does .09/kwh include delivery charges? And your tank needs filling after using only 50 gallons? Sounds like you're in a cheap electric, warm area. :) (scratching head)

    Welcome! I got my stove on CraigsList after researching types here and could not be more pleased - so $5000 may not be needed, depending on how flexible you can be.
    Wingfire likes this.
  11. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    I am in South Central PA around Hanover/Gettysburg. They top off the tank 3x a year no matter how much is needed. Yes, I am paying .07KWH for electric, plus .019KWH for delivery through Adams County Electric CO-OP. My wife likes the looks of the inserts vs a stove, which is why we were leaning that route. I might try to get a decent stove off of craigslist, and have it installed where I can swap it out with an insert in the future.
  12. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    Also, a lot of the stoves that I have been coming across are catalytic models. I was trying to go non-cat, but I suppose I would for the right price? Thoughts?
  13. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Cat/Non-Cat isn't that big of a deal really (although some will argue one over the other as a sacred duty). There are pros and cons to everything. Whatever you do, having a good quality stove and dry wood will make for a good experience. My preference is for the longer burns with lower heat output from the cat stove, but you can manage your heating needs with a good non-cat too.

    Buying used I would seek advice from folks here who have burned whatever stove or insert you are looking at and see what the weak points are to identify excess wear or abuse before buying. Being familiar with these points will go a long way to not buying a lemon and losing out in the end. You can also likely save some money by doing your own liner install if your chimney isn't excessively difficult. Just some other thoughts...
  14. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    Hey Swedge, Just to clarify that's about what I would pay in 5 weeks of winter heating bills without wood heat. I love wood heat, but if my heating bills were that low I don't think I could justify all the time and mess I put into 24/7 wood burning. (I know that most people who read this will be shocked to hear this::P ) That being said, wood heat allows you to keep your house way warmer and just feels warmer then other forms of heat. Not to mention it is way more fun.
  15. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Ok here's my two cents on this:
    First as was mentioned definitely get more than one price, and make sure your chimney will be lined, and I think insulating the liner is always a good idea. The rockland is a very nice stove but if I remember correctly it is a flush mounted stove so you probably won't get much heat out of it without the blower running, which isnt a big deal unless you lose power often, this may not affect your decision but something to think about. As for your firewood, wood doesn't really season until it's split, and split wood laying directly on the ground will start rotting so despite what your boss says get that wood stacked and elevated off the ground. If you have a solid 3 cords that's a good nut for this winter, you van always buy a cord and mix it in with your seasoned wood if you think your short. And whether you get the stove now or later keeping your supply up isn't a job that ever really stops, ideally you have next years wood split already. As for justifying a woodstove to your wife, as soon as she gets used to sitting next to that stove it will be justified, my wife fought me on getting one and I did the smart thing and ignored her because i knew she didn't know what she was talking about and lo and behold she loves loves loves our stove. Get that bad boy installed, keep your woodpile growing and welcome to the forum buddy.
  16. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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  17. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    I would buy neither of those, but that is just me, no way would I pay $1k for either of those stoves. If looking at a freestanding in front of your fireplace with a rear vent you better check your clearances.
  18. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    That first one appears to be one of the "everburn" models - if so then it may well be the same model as the first stove I burned. Suffice to say that I replaced that brand new stove after one season and although I lost 80% of what I paid for it, I'm much happier to have it gone. IF you were to pursue that stove, the key thing is to inspect the refactory as that goes first in those stoves - very easy to get broken up/damaged and it is a fairly expensive repair.

    The cat version (the second link) has a much better reputation. I don't know how much effort it will take to fix those chips, but if that doesn't bother you the stove may perform quite well. Likely you may need to replace the cat (probably $100 or so?) - best to assume you will need to and be happy if you don't. Any used stove you are likely to need to replace a few gaskets but that is simple and relatively cheap. As long as there isn't obvious signs of major abuse (warped metal etc) that second one may be a good one. I don't know about the value - seems a bit high given the cosmetic issues (and what appears to be rust on the top plate?) asking but that may be the market this time of year.
  19. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Personally I can't see the justification in buying a used stove just to heat this winter with the intention of replacing it next year, you don't rely on wood for heat, just seems like a whole lot of effort and hassle to shop for and install a used stove only to rip it out and replace it next year. I'd save your money, save your time and hold off until you can get the stove you want.
  20. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    Yeah, that may be what I do. If I did put a freestanding stove in for this year, I would make sure everything is installed so that I could simply connect the insert when I get it. Also I'd probably move the freestanding stove into the basement and have a chimney installed since I plan on having that area finished next year. Here is a picture of the fireplace:

    [​IMG]
  21. Swedge

    Swedge New Member

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    I already did the measurements for the Rockland and the cast iron surround will coverall almost all of the arched soldier course of brick. I'm going to have to decide soon as install appointments are booked until the end of the month.
  22. dafattkidd

    dafattkidd Minister of Fire

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    I know it's been said and you are more interested in an insert, but that fireplace would look great with a freestander sitting on the hearth.
  23. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Don't rule out the possibility of finding a used insert as well.

    However, even if you buy a new insert you can do the install yourself - so those appointments for install may be moot.

    I do agree with dafattkidd - a free-standing stove could look very nice on that hearth. However, it is an individual decision. For visualization purposes, take a look in the pictures forum and see some other examples - show them to 'the boss' as well, you may be surprised at how nice they can come out. You may end up getting more heat and avoid the need for a fan (less noise and no power requirements) with the free standing stove.
  24. Monosperma

    Monosperma Member

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    Only $475 for a whole winter's worth of propane at $3.89/gallon tells me either your house is cold all the time or else you have a well-built house that isn't losing that much heat. Factoring in that you have a wife, I'm going to go with the latter theory. The cost of wood or chainsaw/truck/fuel/time could easily reach or exceed $475, so based purely on money alone, the math is not telling me to put in an insert. Of course, there are reasons other than money to go for it anyway. One thing, though: I would advise against putting in a cheap stove this year and a better one next year. That sounds like a lot of work to me. Just go another year with the $475 propane, start seasoning your firewood, and then get the stove you want next year.
  25. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I didn't read all the replies, but based on your initial post, I'd get that wood split and stacked this month and start budgeting to buy a stove in the spring when prices are lowest. Keep track of what you're spending on heat this winter, if you need to justify the expense to SWMBO.

    While you have time on your side, start watching for used stoves. You get extra points from the wife if you already have her sold on a new stove, and then find a used one at half price.

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