1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Stove vs furnace vs stoker

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by agcowvet, Sep 8, 2012.

?

Which option, and why?

  1. Wood/coal furnace

    40.0%
  2. Stoker in basement

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Wood stove on first floor

    60.0%
  4. Direct-vent stoker on first floor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    (Edit to add link.)
    Hi all, trying to sort out my options for heating this winter.

    Built approx 1870, frame construction, 2 stories, about 1700 sq ft, some insulation (not to current standards, but not awful), replacement windows. Haven't spent a full winter here yet, just couple months of last one which barely qualifies. Been busy with many other projects here so now that it's getting cooler...this one's at the top of the list.

    Current heating is forced hot air, oil-fired. Natural gas not available, probably never will be.

    Question is, what to supplement/replace the oil with? Ran through around half (275 gal) tank in 2.5 months with thermostat set near 60; other experiences with similar houses, albeit hot water heat, suggest average consumption at 3 to 4 tanks in a more normal winter. Not a nice sort of expense.

    Previous (or maybe once removed!) owners had an old Riteway furnace in the basement--still there, not hitched to ductwork, nor is it usable--firebox rotten in at least one spot, who knows how many other spots are close. Chimney discussion in a separate thread. Likely would need relined. Link: http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/hairline-cracks-in-tile-liner-usable-or-must-reline.89878/

    Thinking wood (or wood/coal) furnace in basement tied into ducts; or wood stove on first floor run into a new metalbestos chimney; or stoker stove (burns rice coal--anthracite--needs electricity to run) tied into ducts in basement, or direct vent on first floor. Pellets are out; cost per BTU is way higher than rice coal around here, and have the same drawbacks as far as needing electricity / added complexity.

    Constraints are:

    --would like to spend no more than $2k; less is better of course
    --would prefer less complex and not dependent on electricity; not a complete necessity though.
    --young children--then again, both my wife and I grew up with wood heat, and survived just fine.

    Had (have, but needs internal rebuild--d*&# tenants overfired badly) an old Defiant, which heated most of a previous house in Northern NY to our satisfaction. Could also buy a new stove, would lean towards Englander NC30 if that route.

    Several local possibilities for coal and wood stoves for sale also.

    Thanks much for your input!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    With a young family to tend to and a tight budget, I would advise the simplest course, put the heat where you need it. That sounds like a first floor install of the 30NC, but I need more info about the first floor layout and options to know if this is a good option.

    Questions:
    Is there a good central location for the stove with a possible chimney to tap in with a liner added?
    Is the first floor plan relatively open for decent heat circulation?
    Is there an open stairwell to the 2nd floor?
    How is your wood supply for the heating season?
  3. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    Questions:
    Is there a good central location for the stove with a possible chimney to tap in with a liner added?
    Don't know if trying to tie into the current block chimney on the first floor (exterior to house, partly interior in the garage) would go well...but it certainly could work out. Would need a new hole in the wall, insulated thimble, and a new hole in the chimney. This install would put the stove in line with the stairs' opening, could move it laterally enough that it probably wouldn't be an issue. Thimble would be about 6' from stairs, then stove moved further away.

    Is the first floor plan relatively open for decent heat circulation?
    First floor is *relatively* open; the living room is pretty large, where the stove would live. But doorway only into DR. LR shares wall with kitchen, so it would be pretty easy to put a couple stub ducts thru the wall (one high, one low) for convection (or putting a fan in).

    Is there an open stairwell to the 2nd floor?
    Yes, sort of. Not like some, but an oversize doorway with no door. Can see air movement here no problem, with dust in the air or a sheet hung here. Would probably need to cut a couple return registers from the bedrooms to get them warm.

    How is your wood supply for the heating season?
    Better than it could be but worse than it could be also. Have log load cut early this Spring, some was dead on the stump, but no time until lately to start working it up. Bad planning I know. Probably can get some drier stuff to mix in.

    Thanks much!
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I'm shying away from the coal option because it takes electricity, you'll need some ducting, and frankly I don't know much about what your options would be for a proper furnace that would stay on budget. You might want to try www.nepacrossroads.com for good coal info.

    If you want to explore the wood option further, it would help to have a rough floor plan and some pictures of the possible locations. This sounds possible, but I am looking for gotchas that would kill the budget.
  5. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    Coal stoker would HAVE to be used...almost no way, new, and definitely not one that's ready to duct in. The really plain Alaska will run just under $1700 but that's without a power vent, or a hood to tie into the ductwork.

    Don't mind a used wood stove either, as long as it's not been irreparably overfired. The VC could likely be made to work again with about $300 in parts and the better part of a day's work...but it's an 8" outlet...worked fine on a 6" flue up north but code inspection here might kick up more of a fuss. Then again we never ran it with the front opened up.

    Attached is a photo of a hand-drawn diagram. Monday I can scan something if needed.

    Thanks much for your input, and knowing which questions to ask. IMG_0346.jpg
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    That looks like it would work with the stove in either location. If necessary a fan can be used to assist convection. It sounds like you have a handle on the process. I would go for the 30NC. That seems like the better long term investment. It'll be cleaner burning and easier to manage. Regardless of stove, dry wood is going to be key to a well behaved, low creosote burn.
  7. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Messages:
    1,451
    Loc:
    WI, Milw
    2 nc 30s ( 699 at HD internet shipped) Chimney will need lining, new for the second stove. Other than running fans to create thermal flow no power required. Minimalist solution. Wood part on the cheap used pallets + ify splits gets you by or the biobricks+splits same until split supply prime. Nice thing about a wood stove are the options available to keep your toes warm and lowest cost vs any type of solid fuel furnace arrangement holding the propane or fuel oil unit in reserve. or in some cases still have heat when no power available, Bonus you can cook on the top of a wood stove with a little bit of care as well.
  8. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    Sorry for the misunderstanding--the drawing shows two possible locations for stoves--I'd only need one. How do you get that price on an NC30 at HD? When I look it up it shows $899. Maybe because it's showing the nearest store price?

    Now to decide the best/lowest cost/least hassle (pick two, right?) way to get a usable chimney. Metalbestos (probably exterior) for the upper--Southern-- location on the drawing, or make a hole into existing chimney and line it (rigid? flex?). How do you clean a lined chimney?
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Based on what we know so far, I'd go with the existing chimney and line it. That will be a cleaner look and less expensive. Does this chimney have a clean out at the bottom? If so, the bottom of the tee (at the thimble) can be extended and capped down at the cleanout door level. Otherwise, the tee is capped at its bottom. To clean, remove the connector and vacuum out after sweeping.

    What was the original intent for this chimney, the Riteway? What is the tile size in the block chimney and what condition are the tiles in? Is there anything else currently running on this chimney? If so, it can't also be used for a wood stove.
  10. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    8x12 tile, not in great shape (see link in first post for photos). Not missing any pieces but quite a number of cracks. There is a 'cleanout' in the basement which is more like a second 8" thimble two feet above the floor with a galvanized duct cap (not a door like some). The only existing thimble is in the basement, and was used for the Riteway--also 8".

    So it's possible, then, to just extend the lower leg of the tee down until it's about at the level of the basement thimble then? What supports this dangling 8 to 10 feet of pipe? How much space do you need to be able to get the cap on or off? Sure would make it easier--thus more likely to be frequent--to sweep if don't have to think about dirtying up the living room.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    For easy cleaning, one option is to seal up the current thimble and bust out a correctly sized rectangular hole below it, then install a cleanout door. Or you could install a second tee with a cap at the lower hole and cap its bottom. But I'm also wondering if you could snake the 6" flex through the existing 8" hole and then cap it outside of the chimney. Flex is light, I wouldn't worry about supporting it. It will be permanently attached to the tee and just dangle unless it is also supported at the lower hole.
  12. DuckDog

    DuckDog Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2010
    Messages:
    131
    Loc:
    Eastern Ontario
    If you have existing ductwork I cannot imagine why you would consider anything but a forced air wood or wood/oil furnace. To not use the ductwork would be a huge shame imo. I grew up with a wood/oil furnace and sure miss it compared to my woodstove now.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Sometimes it is just better to heat the area that needs to be heated. Ductwork heat losses can be significant in an uninsulated basement. And unfortunately, all ductwork is not created equally. There's a lot of bad ductwork out there where lazy workmen left large leaky gaps or didn't screw together round duct take off runs and used duct tape instead. These runs often fall apart and are blowing air into crawlspaces and wallspaces. Another ductwork problem is when it is just poorly designed. In older homes it can set up for gravity fed coal systems and backwards of what is required for good forced air heating.
  14. FyreBug

    FyreBug Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2010
    Messages:
    771
    Loc:
    Kitchener, Ontario
    A zone heater like a wood stove will only be a temporary solution. So if you must, buy a stove that is reasonably priced and throw some heat ie. a Englander 30NC or one of the larger Drolet or Century.

    However, your best bet is 1) invest in tightening up your house 2) once that is done get a decent high efficiency wood furnace or pellet furnace. Do not cheap out on some big box store furnaces since they are not high efficiency and may have questionable quality and life span. Of course for some thing like that you'll be north of the $3K range.

    Laynes69 on Hearth.com has also an old house with a similar house setup. He might just jump in and offer his opinion on this.
  15. blwncrewchief

    blwncrewchief Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2011
    Messages:
    166
    Loc:
    Northern, IN
    Going by these constraints, especially the price, I think a good power house stove is going to be your best bet such as a 30, drolet, etc. As long as you can deal with the children issue. Your floor plan looks like it will actually heat fairly well with a stove in the living room. A stove is going to be a "zone" heater so the house will not be perfect but I think it will set up some pretty decent natural convection loops and will be better than allot of homes with a stove. The things I see that lend your house well for this are: No rooms are more than one doorway from the room the stove is in except the kitchen/mud room. The stair well to the second floor is directly into the stove room. The second floor mirrors the first floor so you will get "some" heat to the second floor even if you close the doors. There are no long hallways in the house.

    The only way I would do a wood furnace in the basement would be if: I could get a quality, high efficiency wood furnace such as a PSG Caddy. Realistically if buying a new one by the time you do a chimney/ductwork/etc. you will be in the $4-5,000 range unless you can get some kind of deal. Second would be access to the basement for wood. Would you want to hall 3-5 cords of wood into the basement to feed the furnace? For some that have a walkout or other easy way this is not a big deal. If you have to haul it down the stairs this will really suck. If you have easy access to get the wood to the furnace you can easily justify the cost with what you will save on heating costs over oil.

    If you are ok with a steel stove it is darn hard to advise just not getting a brand new proven stove like the Englander 30, Drolet Baltic/Myriad/Austrial/Legend or Ht2000. These can had for $800-1,100 new with a full warranty. If you want to spend more money on a fancier stove there are tons of good stoves out there. If you want to spend more money on a longer running stove, well there is blaze king.

    I can't help you much at all with coal options.

    The issues with wood you don't talk about is what is your access to wood? Do you have room to store at least 2 years worth? Are you or someone at home able and willing to deal with the wood/load the stove? For some people these can be negatives to a wood stove. For some people like me: I have plenty of room for wood. The wood stacks don't bother the wife or neighbors. I enjoy c/s/s wood and have the time/tools to scrounge. If i don't have time to cut wood I can get it delivered for $150-200 a cord. Both the wife and I can run the stove and someone is home enough to load it 2-3 times a day so we can run pretty much 24/7. And to be honest we just enjoy the stove and the heat from the stove.
  16. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Messages:
    1,809
    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    With a 2k budget, it would be hard to do a wood furnace. If your basemet is leaky and uninsulated and a stove placed above, you might take chances with pipes freezing unless you supplement the basement. A good option would be a budget furnace for now like an englander and a liner for the chimney. A more efficient furnace will save you wood and chimney maintenance, but will cost more. If you don't mind cooler spots in the home then a stove may fit, but there's nothing better than having an even heat through the home with a woodfurnace. If your ductwork is leaky, you can buy a bucket of mastic at home depot to help tighten things up. Our basement is drafty and uninsulated and our ductwork is uninsulated in the basement also. Still the basement stays warm from the radiant heat from the woodfurnace, as well as the 2 floors above. We don't worry about freezing pipes and our floor stays warm above. We have 42 windows our home is 2400 sqft with 10' ceilings. We keep the 2 floors above the basement warm (2400 sqft) and the basement warm also (1200) sqft with a furnace that has a 3.5 cu ft firebox. Can't be beat, and we used less wood than many of our friends with smaller houses with wood stoves. If you don't have a way of getting wood easily in the basement it could be a problem, but we don't store wood in our basement, maybe a 1/8 of a cord in a small rack. Stoves are a great option for most people, but for us it would have taken 2 stoves to heat this home and we didnt want that.
  17. AKSHADOW

    AKSHADOW Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Loc:
    Fairbanks, AK
    With your budget...get a DS Machines hand fired, put it in the basement or first floor and be done with it. They also have a furnace that would meet your heating needs as well.

    http://www.rtstoves.com/
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    45,989
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Well put laynes. There really aren't any universal solutions. One has to take into account the house layout, venting options, current systems condition, house insulation, wood supply, budget and accessibility For example, if there is no other access, bringing a large wheelbarrow-sized load of wood daily down narrow basement stair will get old quickly, even if a wood furnace is a good solution. In our house a convective stove heats the whole 2000 sq ft house remarkably well. But the same stove in a rambling ranch might not heat the far end well without some fan assistance.
  19. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    Wow, leave it alone a few days and look at all the added input! Thanks folks.

    Yep, that is a detail that I must've omitted earlier. There is no easy way into the basement. Firewood kinda sorta, furnace definitely not. No walkout, no hatch, but a 14x14 (ish) hole into the basement behind the furnace or through the window (about 12x24 or so, with the sash removed). Not to mention the fun times to be had going down there 4-5 times a day. But it sure would keep the pipes from freezing up. I think I can come up with a couple ideas to help prevent that, if needed--run oil furnace fan with a cap removed from a duct, to blow a little warm air there; heat tape, or something.

    Have some more air sealing to do in the basement for sure, but have a bit of time left yet before it really gets cold.

    Saw the DS Machines unit at the local coal dealer, pretty impressive, looks like a refined Hitzer. Tho I don't think I can justify the expense, not planning on staying in this house 'permanently', more of a 4 to 8 year plan.

    Access to wood isn't a problem, I can buy it already cut and split pretty reasonable, or by the triaxle load. Plenty of space for woodpiles too, 2ish acres, closest neighbor (other than farmland) is maybe a quarter mile away. Gives the cats something to chase mice in. Only downside at the moment is a bit of grousing about the remembered trail of bark and dirt across the LR floor--I suspect there's some carrier device that would keep most of the dirt contained, just have to find/make one.

    I think we're leaning pretty heavily towards the first-floor stove idea. If we had a hatch or walkout into the basement then it would be much less clear-cut, but I think in this house, it would turn out to be a real PITA.

    Coming attraction--"How I managed to collapse a chimney by making a hole in just one side", starring Mr. Sawzall and Mrs. Hammerdrill. heh. starting a new topic for that one.
  20. agcowvet

    agcowvet New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Loc:
    fingerlakes, NY
    Oh yeah, and the ductwork is far newer than the house, definitely intended for forced air--not gravity. Don't know what clearances are.

    Also can't tell what they would have originally heated this place with. No old chimneys around, nor remnants, but it's had a couple additions that might have removed remnants. Historically speaking it would almost certainly have been stove(s).
  21. Donna&JohnInNH

    Donna&JohnInNH New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Hi there, I see that you like tapping into the existing duckwork with a wood furnace. . .we are leaning that way but I wondered if it will work without a blower. We want something to heat the house when the power is out. Any info? Do they need a blwer to be effective or will the "heat rises" concept work well enough from the basement install?

    Thank you so much!
  22. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Messages:
    1,809
    Loc:
    Ashland OH
    Most woodfurnace's can be operated during an outage, but there's many stipulations. In order for gravity feed to work correctly the ductwork has to be built for it, most systems aren't built this way. You need to follow proper clearances from the ductwork, and all ducting must be made of metal. If it's allowed there will be instructions in the manual for an outage, usually panel removal and a low fire to be maintained. In the event of an outage, don't expect to keep the house at the same temperature. Unfortunately when outages have occured here it's been while we were sleeping, but things were just fine. Hope this explains a little bit.

Share This Page