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The BIG question, Indoors or Out?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by HydrordyH, Jan 27, 2010.

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  1. HydrordyH

    HydrordyH New Member

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    My wife and I are building new (2000 sqft or double that if we need to include the basement) next spring and we are trying to figure out our heating option. We have 60 acres of, mostly, maple located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We would like to take advantage of the wood boiler tax credits and lean toward gasification. We are also leaning towards radiant flooring. I can set up the basement to handle wood and keep the boiler, wood, tank, etc separate from the rest of the basement. We are also looking at having a small wood insert or stove in the family room (backup heat, ambiance). I think that about covers our situation.

    Now the question is indoor or outdoor? Indoor would increase our insurance yearly premium by about $75 and in the garage, unfortunately, is out of the question. I know from reading on this site that in the past some of the new outdoor gasifaction models are still working out kinks. Has anyone had any success with their outdoor model? I know some people also have put their "indoor" units in sheds. I would definitely entertain this option to store wood and not have to stand out in a blizzard but I'm to excited about an additional outbuilding. Cost is going to come into play as well, outbuilding vs some sort of chimney, boiler room in basement, insurance cost.

    I guess i'm really looking for recommendations on units that would fit our needs, either indoor units or outdoor.

    Also, do most people heat their hot water with these units as well? I'm assuming this means you would have to burn year round. I would not want a heat source in my basement in the summer. Is this where electricity comes into play and how? I know I dropped a load here but any help on items would be great. I'm open to additional comments/input.

    Thanks for your time!

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Moving this to the boiler room for the BIG question. These folks will help you out.

    Post questions about the insert in another thread in the Hearth forum.
  3. taxidermist

    taxidermist Minister of Fire

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    Mar 11, 2008
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    Fowlerville MI
    First welcome to the site. I have a eko 60 and it is in my polebarn. I would never put one of these in my house. Some here love theirs in the basement but not me. I had a car in my barn last week for 7 days while I was working on it. I pulled it outside after I was done and it had a layer of flyash over the whole car. They tend to smoke alot while loading them too.


    So my vote is in a shed.
    Where in da U.P. are ya?
    Rob
  4. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I am a firm believer that an indoor installation, when possible, is the best solution. From an efficiency standpoint you can't beat indoor installations. All of the heat lost from the boiler, piping, storage, etc is lost to the house you're trying to heat. It's a win win.

    And I personally take great pleasure in occasionally starting a fire in my PJ's on a Saturday morning. No boots required.

    The mess is easily contained with some forethought. I use a wagon to move my wood around. All I have to do is empty the bark/sand from my wagon once in a while. Smoke is mostly a non-issue so long as you address your door seals up-front and only load the boiler when it really needs to be loaded. I think most newer boilers are 100% good-to-go stock with better seals than a few years ago.

    So I vote indoors. I have mine indoors and I can't imagine going outside to tend fire. Not to mention the fact that the outdoor units are more visable and more prone to be banned in the future (others can correct me if I'm wrong here). I feel it's much more descrete to burn inside....
  5. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    I built a small 180 sq ft concrete block building on a cocrete slab for my Seton. Its about 30 feet from the house. I sleep better at night knowing my house is not in danger of burning down from something going haywire. I built a 14'X16' woodshed right next to the boiler building. I can simply go in one door, go over and open the other door and my wood is right there.

    Welcome, BTW, where are you, I live about 3 miles west of Rapid River.

    Pat

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  6. huffdawg

    huffdawg Minister of Fire

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    I was thinking about putting it all inside as well but I chose to put it in an outside room attached to the back of my shop.
    The reason I did this was the space it would take up and also the heat from it would make the house or shop unbearable in the summer, as I
    want to heat my dhw in the summer. Not to mention all the wood chips , bark mess ,and the smell of smoke.

    Huff.
  7. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Inside Pros - no heat loss during heating season, convience (loading in PJs)
    Outside Pros - keep 'the mess' (ticks, bugs, dirt ash, bark) outside, Major catastrophe doesn't burn house down

    Just a SWAG but I think the majority here have their units outside. But some of the ones inside - NoFo comes to mind - luv having it inside
  8. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    hey patch , i like your set up.simular to mine. 12x 30 building 12x10 is boiler room.plenty of room for wood. i notice you use a small square nose shovel also.
  9. Rory

    Rory Member

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    I enjoy having my Tarm inside. I do heat DHW all year, about 1 fire a week in the summer. The ambient heat loss from these units is nowhere near what you might suspect, it doesn't heat up the basement at all, and my plumber thinks leaving the pipes uninsulated is good as we burn the condensation off about once a week all summer. My Tarm took the place of a woodstove in a basement room that has a pool table, and I need to put a radiator in there now because the Tarm simply doesn't lose enough heat to keep the room cozy.
  10. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    Hi Hen, thanks, yeah it works good. I made my boiler room big enough that I can store about 3 weeks worth of wood inside and still have plenty of room to move around. Got to finish the outside above the block this spring with some left over exterior cement board, paint the doors and trim and I'll be done. Just barely got it done in time last fall. I was still laying block in early November ! ? LOL

    I'm using the square nose shovel for the ashes. Thats the only thing I don't like about the Seton, gotta shovel out the ashes , but I only need to do that about every 2 weeks.

    Pat
  11. sdrobertson

    sdrobertson Minister of Fire

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    I like having the boiler in another building. I went from a OWB to my current system and I have never had a boiler in my house so I'm not able to compare the two. I do know that the wife would not in any way tolerate smoke smell in the house. Here is a link to one of my posts on the construction. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/18299/
  12. ken999

    ken999 New Member

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    I've got an Central Boiler E-Classic 2300 outdoor wood boiler. It's the 2nd iteration...I think they are on #3 nowadays. From what I understand they have made minor adjustments with the latest model. Mines not too bad. There is a learning curve and dry wood is critical to getting the least amount of smoke from the unit. You might be able to get away with the 1400 with your size house being new construction. Overdo your insulation while building, you'll be glad you did down the road.

    All in all I'm fairly happy with the 2300.

    If I were to do it again I'd look harder at the Portage and Main outdoor gasifiers for a self contained unit. I hear they are built real well.

    I'll admit though...now that I've hung around here long enough, my new 'dream boiler' is a Garn. I COULDN'T have done one this time around...but next time....lol...

    Certainly, gasification is the way to go for me. I've got one semi-close neighbor. Getting the fire out of the house was comforting too. We were using a insert to help offset the oil costs. It was very nice, but the fire was still there, as was the mess/hassel.
  13. WoodNotOil

    WoodNotOil Minister of Fire

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    My Tarm is in the basement with heat storage and not really an issue as the basement is also my workshop. The trick to smoke from these units is to only load it when it has nearly finished the previous load. Opening the door at full boar will smoke a lot. There are a few like the Froling and Biomass that have fans that suck the air through instead of pushing it through and therefore don't have the smoke issue. On new construction I would suggest planning a boiler room off the garage or someplace convenient to make getting wood in and out easier, but not having to go outdoors to load it. You also save a ton on not having to bury lines to a separate shed. Also storage could be located in boiler room and still be close to the heat loads which is important. Lots of brands to choose from. Compare prices and features and pick the one that best fits your budget and needs. I would suggest pressurized storage and doubling the btu output of your heating zones to be able to heat with lower water temps. Radiant floors are great for lower water temp as well. Good luck!
  14. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    I have my Econoburn in the cellar-- and am pleased with that. I do get more fine ash dust than I'd prefer, but that (or at least the extent to which it is moved around) is probably in large part because I have forced air heat. Smoke is really not a significant issue, except maybe to someone who detests the smell of woodsmoke (luckily, my GF likes it when I come upstairs with a faint smell of woodsmoke). My idea of the ultimate set up would be a dedicated room within a cellar- I have no desire to go outside (my place is very windy in winter) to check or load the fire. Fire hazard? I venture to say that any fire risk with any 'modern' boiler is considerably lower than running a woodstove, which few people consider to be an unacceptable hazard.

    As I have mentioned to other people, if I were building from scratch, I'd strongly consider a Garn due to its 'all in one with no complex controls' design; also, if I were working with a totally clean slate, I'd also very strongly consider a masonry heater- very high efficiency and very low complexity.
  15. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    I have my Paxo unit in a 12x16 outbuilding. We had a house fire in 1988 (from an electrical appliance fault) which totally destroyed the house. We were asleep at the time. Thank God no one was injured. We are VERY sensitive to the smell of smoke in the house! Our storage is in the basement (1000 gallons). If you are really good, you will never get smoke in the house. I am not really good, paricularly early in the learning curve. The smoke, bark, dirt, etc. mess is contained in my outbuilding. I have a 6-8 x 8-0 opening in one end so I can load pallets of wood in with my Bobcat. One advantage of the outbuilding is the chimney is shorter. Of course, that savings is more than offset by the insulated undrground pipe.

    And yes, that is a metal roof on my outbuilding. I have a lot of 8 foot panels due to an error by the contractor - his loss, my gain. The building will be sided with log siding. The house is made of cypress logs and the garage has log siding. I am going to add two shed porches - one on each side. One is for the Bobcat and the other will be enclosed for a chicken brooder heated in part by the extra coil in the Paxo boiler.

    If you put it in the basement, I would rcommend sealing the room VERY well - spray foam would be best, add a good exhaust fan (attic fan type), and keep a broom and shop-vac handy.

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  16. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Have to say I don't understand the people that are perfectly fine w/ a fossil boiler in their basement, along with a nice supply of highly flammable liquid or gas fuel, but get all nervous about a wood boiler... (And this includes insurance companies...) I would certainly not want a boiler that made me get dressed to tend a fire. It's bad enough having to gear up to go get wood.

    It certainly would seem simple enough to me in new construction to make a boiler room that was thoroughly isolated from the rest of the house except for a tight sealing door, which would minimize the mess issue. I would not consider any form of OWB.

    As to DHW, I think most heat it with the boiler in the winter time, why not as it's essentially a "freebie" to do so in terms of added energy costs... Some heat with the boiler and storage in the summer, others have gone solar (IMHO an excellent idea) others switch over to fossil or electric - there are cases for each option, and it's pretty much a case of having to evaluate the choices in terms of the individual situation...

    Gooserider
  17. Hunderliggur

    Hunderliggur Minister of Fire

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    I have been know to go tend my boiler in my bathrobe, muck boots and "smoking jacket" (my work coat). It only gets in to the teens here so you may need to dress warmer up norh!
  18. Frozen Canuck

    Frozen Canuck Minister of Fire

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  19. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    hey hund, you are my kind of guy MUCK BOOTS!! easy on easy off. I even keep an old pair with ice creepers on them for those icy nh days. o yes and my carhart coat smoked liked a side of bacon.
  20. muncybob

    muncybob Minister of Fire

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    It seems every boiler has it's particular nuances and associated learning curve. I elected indoor since our basement is for storage only, wood delivery to basement is fairly easy, boiler heat loss helps to heat living area above, don't have to get dressed up and face the elements( esp. after being nice and cozy for hours in my recliner) just before bedtime to load her up for the night and avoided the 150' or so of underground piping I would have needed and related cost.

    Early in my learning curve I was thinking I made a mistake by going indoors due to the smoke in the basement and the smell into the upstairs living areas. But I have learned how and when to load the boiler(this is just something you learn over time), sealed all air "leaks" and resintalled the smoke shield that I had originally taken off as it seemed to get in the way. A friend stopped over recently on a very cold day and he commented that he could not smell the boiler at all...good news to our ears since we were not sure if we had just become used to it or was it really resolved!

    Each installation has it's merits...make a list of pros and cons then decide which pros are more important to you. In the meantime start cutting wood!
  21. HydrordyH

    HydrordyH New Member

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    Great input, thanks and please keep it coming. Ticks...thanks for the reminder. We are in a high tick area and leaving them outside with the wood sounds better than bring them indoors. We are planing on having a detached garage, attached with a roof. There will be a breeze way between the house and garage and we were thinking of putting barn type doors on the ends to close this area closed off in the winter. This might be a good place for the boiler. I'm home with a sick 20 month kid so I will try to post our floor plan if/when he goes down for a nap. Thomas the train time.

    Rob, Pat, I currently live in Marquette and our new place will be just south of Beaver Grove at the end of Green Garden Road.
  22. patch53

    patch53 New Member

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    Ah, Beaver Grove, nice area, beautiful rolling hills. Good luck with your plans and hope the kid gets better. been there and done that with, lets see, 4 of 'em ! All grow'd up now tho, at least age-wise ! LOL
  23. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    If you think about a shed consider using a 20ft shipping container. They are cheap, water,wind, and rodent proof. They can be moved if for some reason you want to. You would have room for the boiler, storage, and wood inside where it is nice and warm. I know they look ugly right-------wrong. Just side them and they will fit right in with your landscape. Also you won't have to pay tax on them as they are a moveable shed.
    leaddog
  24. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

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    My plan is a greenhouse/boiler room attached to barn. All waisted heat will provide me with a heated greenhouse. Doors big enough to allow front end loader in make dumping wood a snap. I would have a plant starting station set up on the storage tank. I have been dealing with wood inside for a while and it is messy and involves more handling.
  25. OldDedHed

    OldDedHed Member

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    I'll throw in an idea from left field here. Since you're a youper, Hydro, have you considered corn as a fuel? I'm on another forum, iburncorn.com, and there are all sorts of folks on there from your neighborhood "on the up" from what I have seen. They decided that corn was the cheapest way to go. Maybe you have a woodlot and like to ride a chainsaw, but I offer this anywho. I have a UL-listed corn boiler in the basement of my house, 100K Btu, heats my 2500 s.f. house and DHW no problem. No splitting, stacking, bugs, or constant tending. Just empty the ash pan once a week and fill your bin. I have a vacuum system so my corn is cleaned and moved with a flip of a switch--no lifting at all, and no rodent problem, either. Just a little more work than a "traditional" oil or gas-fired boiler, and a hell of a lot cheaper than the oil boiler I had here when I moved in. Just my two cents' worth.
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