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Value of cord?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by 4acrefarm, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    159
    Loc:
    western ma
    I was wondering what you all value a cord at? When I pay it cost me $200 plus moving it 3 times minimum. When I scrounge it is time and fuel. I am considering a solar project and want to crunch the numbers. I want to all the guys that have free wood also. Thanks

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  2. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,615
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    I sometimes get free logs delivered right to my house. I still need to buck it, move to the back with a garden cart, split, move again, stack, wait a year or 2. The wood is worth plenty to me after that.
    To save 1 cord of heat per year I'd spend maybe 200 or 300. So if the improvements last 20 years And I had the cash I'd spend 5-6 grand in a heartbeat.
  3. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Solar has a looooong return time. Like 20 years or more, though MA has insane tax incentives on solar that make it cheaper than most places. And at the solar breakeven point you get to the base price of electricity (which here is really spendy for heating). For me there is no alternative cheaper than firewood. NG is the cheapest alternative now, but there are no gas lines in the rural area that I live. Propane and heating oil are really expensive here, more than electricity lately (we have cheap hydro). I also looked at heat pumps but they have about a 7 year return time here and they cost a lot up front (like solar) and the 'return' is based on the price of electricity, which is expensive for heating (10 cents a KwHr here with taxes and fees and credits). I get my firewood "free", averaging $40 a cord in gas. I always have an option of $175 a cord for 'emergency' spilt dry Doug fir wood delivered, or $300 for 3 cords of green Doug fir logs delivered by dump truck that I could buck and split and dry here.

    Comparison of the cost and heating value of firewood vs electricity: my firewood species averages come out to the BTUs for Doug fir, my baseline for comparison. That is 26.5 MBTU/cord. Then multiply that by 63% stove efficiency (I get better than the EPA BS numbers but I use that as a base) and I get 16.7 MBTU of heat into the house per cord. Translating that to electric heat at 100% efficiency, there are 3412 BTUs per KwHr, or 4,894 KwHr per cord of wood for me. At 10 cents a KwHr, that equates to just under $490 per cord of wood "saved". So its a no-brainer for me. $40 in gas and hauling/splitting labor vs. $490 in bills. Better that a 12:1 return on firewood, even with low electric rates. Even if I buy firewood its $100 green with some labor or $175 split and dry, vs. $490, its still a great deal compared to hydro. Solar would/will never be that cheap.
  4. 4acrefarm

    4acrefarm Member

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Messages:
    159
    Loc:
    western ma
    I was thinking $300 also. My solar project would be homemade, 3 to 6 k, 460 sf of panel 1200 gal storage.
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    All depends on what solar I guess? I put 16 panels up last fall and expecting a 7-8 year break even point. My total cost was roughly $10,000, so worked out to about $0.36/Kw installed.


    As far as to use it for heat, you'd need alot of panels and quite a bit of sun for most of the year. In the shoulder season I won't feel too bad about kicking on a 1500w heater, but I wouldn't expect to be able to heat the house all heat on electric without going broke.

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