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Poll: Outside Wood Heater (not a boiler, but...), Green or Obscene?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Mo Heat, Jan 6, 2007.

?

(Assuming issues are addressed) Green or Obscene?

  1. Green :)

    92.0%
  2. Obscene :(

    8.0%
  3. I’d buy one, but would hate to see one next door.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I doubt this thing is UL, Warnock Hershey, or EPA certified, but those things could be addressed by a company of sufficient means. There may be return air issues, [and chimney stability issues,] but assuming all issues mentioned were addressed, does this seems like a good alternative to an outdoor wood boiler?

    Check it out. You can skip the first minute of the video to get right to the device part.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3005961029383795932&pr=goog-sl

    This company is likely run out of someone's garage. There are some interesting photos in the slide show. Here's their web site:

    http://outsidewoodheater.com/

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    Not too many choices in the poll, but probably good in concept (like you said - maybe a few issues to work on). I definately wouldn't want one attached to my house, and if my neighbor had one, I'd like to be sure there was a good fire stop between the two houses. Been selling them for 18 years??? (I think that's what he said in the video). Wally doesn't look that old, and I think he may have been the chief engineer on that design... Block is only 6, and I don't think I'd let him engineer the heating system for the house (but I'm sure he does have his own ideas).
  3. twistedgrain

    twistedgrain New Member

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    I have one of these heaters, and I almost didn't post about it because of the bashing that people have been doing on here about them, but I love it. This is admittedly a very simple invention, but it is UL approved. There is a return air system built into it, that works very well. I have a two story house and this thing keeps me nice and warm with no cold spots anywhere. It will burn for twelve hours and still be easily rekindled after that time. I obviously don't care for the single wall chimney that is on it now, but I am going to be looking into getting insulated chimney down the road. We just had some snow here and I couldn't get back to my wood supply and had to revert to the gas furnace and it just doesn't heat the upstairs as well as the wood burner.
    I'm ready for the flames, but this does work.

    Dan
  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Hi Dan, Thanks for stepping up. ;)

    My poll got a very limited response, and the small vote was strongly against the device, but that seems typical with most new ideas and from people sitting on the sidelines with little or no direct experience. At least the three of us that bothered to supply some accompanying verbiage are somewhat positive on the device's potential.

    It is arguably more desirable than an outdoor wood boiler with its on/off cycling and horrendous smoke.

    However, potential shortcomings of any outdoor stove that occur to me are:

    - The fact that it is outside in the cold. With inside stoves, all the heat except for the exhaust goes inside the house and the chimney is kept warmer and thus works better with less creosote.

    - You've got to go outdoors into the cold to stoke an outdoor stove.

    Why did you decide on the outdoor stove instead of an indoor model?
    How long have you had it? Is it holding up well?
    Did you install it yourself?
    Care to share the total cost as best you can guesstimate?
  5. twistedgrain

    twistedgrain New Member

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    No problem. and nice to meet you.

    1. The unit is completely insulated, and when it snows the snow will sit on top of the unit and not melt. (except of course around the chimney) All of that heat goes into the house. I agree completely about the cold chimney which is why I want to work a way into putting a factory built S/S insulated chimney on mine when I figure out the logistics and the money.

    2. It is true that I have to go outside in the cold and load it up, but the mess all stays outside too. (except for the mud on my boots this year)

    3. My decision for this unit was mainly because my house doesn't have room for a wood stove in the living area. I could have possibly put a furnace in my unfinished partially dirt floor basement, but that wouldn't have been much better than going outside. I would have had to have the chimney lined if it is even big enough to get a s/s liner down. I have a 90 year old house that used to belong to my grandparents, and I know they had a coal furnace back in the day. (my ductwork is still scorched from it) so I'm sure it would be possible but $$$$.

    4. This is my second year and no complaints. It is simple enough if there were problems I think I could handle fixing them. The guy that I bought it from is very helpful with all of the questions I had, and even talked to me on the phone before I ordered so that we both thought that this would work in my situation.

    5. I did the install myself with a buddy. The only hard part was cutting the hole in the side of the house for the heat duct to come in. All of the heat goes into my living room and up the stairs which are in the center of the house off of that room. For the cold air supply I blocked off a return air from the far downstairs bedroom and hooked it up in there so that it pulls the hot air into the rest of the house. I was able to get into my basement with the 8" return line easily by opening a swinging window and making a small plywood box with a hole in it to fill the void.

    6. The cost of the unit was $1295 (they went up a $100 this year) and I had to buy the ductwork and i made an angle iron frame for it to sit in so total cost was probably under $1500. The best part about the single wall chimney pipe is that I start with a fresh stack every year, and I burn small hot fires to keep the creosote down to a minimum. As long as I can use quality dry wood once the fire is established I don't have any visible smoke, just a heat signature.

    I will be the first to say that this unit is not cutting edge technology, but it is a great bang for the buck with great customer support.

    If I had my choice I would love to have a tarm boiler with a large storage capacity, but that is a long time for a ROI even if your wood is free. I am not saying that some day when I build a house I won't go that route, but as of now I am happy with my effective heating that I have.
  6. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Dan, Thanks for the detailed info. Interestingly, your situation is exactly what I had envisioned as a good fit for that stove.

    I have some friends in a 100+ yr old, block and cement farm house that's had a couple wood frame rooms added on. It's impossible to heat that place effectively with propane ($$) or a wood stove (poor heat distribution). So there is usually only one room in the house that is comfortable. I could see your outdoor stove serving that house well, helping distribute heat through, at least, several rooms, including the main living area and one bedroom. It would also eliminate the horrendously dangerous chimney install they have through a window using single wall pipe that is below safe clearances, had a big horizontal run, and accumulates more creosote than any other I've seen.

    I doubt they could afford this stove since they bought a conventional wood burner just a few years back to replace their old Monkey Wards, no brand Franklin, barn burner, but I think I'll introduce them to it anyway. Food for future thought.

    Thanks again for the update.
  7. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I don't see that it is all that different in concept from my Ultima ZC, which sits in an uninsulated chase that is essentially outside the house. My heat and return are currently the upper and lower louvres, although I will eventually hook up the central air kit and run hot air into my existing ductwork. The outside unit is certainly bigger and presumably not EPA certified, and you don't get to watch the fire, but the idea is the same.
  8. coalkirk

    coalkirk New Member

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    One minor point but UL doesn't "approve" anything. They test and if it meets the required standard, they "list" it.
    The unsulated pipe from the unit to the house doesn't seem like a good idea.
  9. twistedgrain

    twistedgrain New Member

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    There is no uninsulated pipe from the unit to the house except for the return air. That doesn't get hot, it goes the other way. The heat comes in through one vent in one room and gets pulled through the house by the return air system. You can put in as many return airs as you want to make it move where you want it to.
  10. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    I wish this was a more progressive idea. This invention could hardly even be called an incremental step towards inproving woodheat. It suits an extremely small niche market, is not even close to clean burning and pioneers zero new technology.

    This unit could have been built 20 years ago and still not have been technologically advanced. Nothing but a 55 gallon steel drum inside an insulated box. Whether it heats your house or not, its still a joke.

    And from a safety standpoint, any chance there are fusible link dampers, or a smoke sensor to shut down that blower incase that firebox burns through?
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    I kinda like it. I seen them before. I might git me one of those for my damn too huge garage.
  12. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Dang Corie, that seems a bit harsh. And your two statements (above) seem to contradict one another. At least with regard to Dan's "niche".

    Here's how I'm thinking in a metaphore. If a simple organism that might ordinarily be considered inferior (e.g. a worm), somehow survives a catastrophic environmental event (e.g. a fire) because it fills a certain niche (e.g. lives underground), it is generally considered to now be the superior organism for that situation compared with organisms previously deemed superior, but that got burned up and extincted in the fire. The worm is then arguably, more "advanced" for that niche.

    Seems like the same thing for this wood heater in Dan's situation.

    What would you have suggested Dan install instead for his situation if he has no room inside for a more conventional, or advanced design, wood stove, but he still wanted wood heat?
  13. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Mo, I think comparing organisms and natural disasters to wood furnaces is a poor metaphor.

    Here's how I feel.

    Assume a person really really wants a car. They have a bicycle that gets them around fine where they live, but they just WANT a car. But they can't really afford much and they can't even afford a safe unit. So they purchase something unsafe and with outdated technology. You can fill in whatever outdated, unsafe car you'd like. Point is, what have they really gained? Temporary ease of transportation, at the cost of what? Their personal safety?

    Does it really make sense then, to have bought the car in the first place?


    Dan wanted wood heat so bad, that he is hypothetically willing to sacrifice the air quality around his house, as well as the safety of his family? UL listed or not, that furnace is a joke. I can't find one mention of any safety provisions included in the unit, anywere. I don't see the return air being filtered in any way? I see a 55 gallon steel drum, with air blowing around it.

    I don't want to argue or get any feathers ruffled about this whole thing, but in my personal opinion, I wouldn't even want something like that blowing hot air into a shop or garage.
  14. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Maybe I relate to Dan because I bought a 1985 VW Rabbit 10 years ago for $1,000 to save money (only has seat belts--no air bags, no air curtains, no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, not much safety built into it by today's standards). So should I sell the VW because it's less safe than a 21st century BMW 5 series or a Lincoln Continental. Should I also sell my 20th century motorcycle that's certainly unsafe by any comparison to any auto, and completely non-essential?
  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    ...oh, and Corie, what *would* you suggest instead, for Dan's situation?
  16. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    How is this really different from installing something like an Englander add on wood furnace? If you put the Englander (EPA approved) installed in an insulated shed with insulated air ducts pushing the air into the home, it seems like I'd personally trust the England stove works product. Now, that said, I have no idea if installing an Englander that way is allowed or possible, but what I'm saying is the product IS EPA certified.
  17. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    It seems to me that DAN had a heating system prior to installing this system. My suggestion is to continue using what he had.



    Don't know why it seems your taking my attacks on the system so personally. Look at it and the engineering that went into it. Does that really seem safe to you? If it does, great, buy one. All I'm saying is that I wouldn't be caught dead using one. do you realize that if that 55 gallon firebox burned through, the blower would be circulating the smoke and embers from the furnace directly into your home. You're ok with that design?
  18. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'm really not taking anything personally. I'm just asking questions and trying to understand your specific complaints about Dan's stove.

    I didn't see anything about a 55 gallon drum on the web site. Are you sure that's how it's built? If so, I'd agree it's not a good thing. But Dan says it's UL listed. To me that means the designer(s) must have thought about safety issues like CO infiltration. Maybe there's a separate sleeve in there to isolate things, maybe not, I don't really know, but UL listings are usually aimed directly at safety issues.

    It just seems unfair to dismiss Dan's heater as a joke because it doesn't stand up against modern designs. If it's inherently unsafe, not just less safe than newer designs, then that's a more critical concern. But I wouldn't characterize that as a joke, either.
  19. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Gotta run to class, but here's a picture of the 55 gal drum firebox. You can see it through he "AIR JACKET CONNECTION HOLE"

    Attached Files:

  20. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I wonder if that's a user replacable part? :gulp:
  21. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Sure as chit , looks like a basic 55 gallon drum to me. Whatever opinion i had before had just now dropped quite a few points after seeing the posted picture.
  22. Harley

    Harley Minister of Fire

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    yes - and it is listed as one of the spare parts on the order form... and made of 16 gauge steel... so it should be fine for 5 years, right?

    That's why I made the comment about my dog being able to do a better engineering job than his dog %-P

    EDIT... that was probably a little harsh, but the point being... that particular setup is probably not real "safe" - Yup, probably a lot of them or very similar are out there and haven't burnt the house down and have heated the house very well - the bad feeling in the gut to me is from the marketing of it, regardless of its listing.
  23. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    One thing that might put this stove back into the "safe" category would be if there was a plate steel firebox "inside" the 55 gallon drum. That way, the drum would be an extra envelope of safety around an already safe fire box. If the 55 gallon drum wasn't exposed to the caustic combustion byproducts, it would seem to be a pretty descent design. Not cutting edge, but safe enough from burn-through of the thin 55 gallon drum.

    Dan, Doesn't your firebox have some fire brick in it? If so, is there also a plate steel firebox between the brick and the 55 gallon drum?
  24. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Directly from manufacturers FAQ


  25. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks Corie.
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