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)

Will a pellet stove heat my whole house?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by lissac67, May 31, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. lissac67

    lissac67 New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    I have 1800 sq ft colonial house. There is a spot in the unfinished part of the basement where they previous owners had a coal stove. They "said" it heated the whole house, 80 in the basement, 70s main floor and 60s second floor, where the bedrooms are. Each floor is about 900 sq ft. There are three grates installed going up to the main floor. It isn't an open floor plan, but the kitchen, dining room, living room are all in a circle so there are open doorways all round. And the second floor has an open stairway, no door. There are four bedrooms upstairs, but they are small. Is it crazy tot hink the right sized stove will heat this all from the basement? I just want to know what I really should expect from a stove before I decide to buy one. Thanks!

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Do not expect any kind of stove installed in an unfinished basement to provide much heat to living spaces above. The bare concrete will absorb the heat like a sponge.
    It`s a big waste of fuel that will not accomplish much except heat the earth around the house.
    However the old Nashua coal stoves did have a built in heat exchanger duct with a fan that allowed ductwork to be connected and heat directed into a floor vent. They were powerful and if your setup was similar it could very well have worked effectively.
    John
  3. lissac67

    lissac67 New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    So reading more about this, it doesn't seem all that likely that this will work, am I correct? It is a typical center hall colonial. And I know for a fact the first owners heated this house with their coal stove right where it is in the basement. But from reading here, it doesn't sound likely. The other option would be to put a fireplace insert for pellets in the family room. But we spend A LOT of time in there, that is our main room. Would the insert be too loud and would it get too hot in there? The basement doesn't need to be heated full time, so I can use a space heater or even turn on the furnace for the time my son is down there (it is really his playroom). The house is small enough that I would need to do it as a fireplace insert, not a freestanding stove somewhere else on the main floor. We watch tv in there and everything, so it can't get too hot. But I would want it to heat the second floor, too. How likely is that to work?
  4. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    I added an exception above in my first reply to you.
    John
  5. lissac67

    lissac67 New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    I don't believe there was a built in fan, it doesn't look the intricate. The vents are simply vents cut into the floor in the kitchen, bathroom and living room of the main floor. If you look through them you can see into the basement. So that leads me to believe they are simply to let the warm air rise, no fans or enclose duct work of any kind, if that makes sense. They had a huge coal hopper built, too that still holds a bunch of coal. So I have to believe it worked for them somehow...I have learned so much reading this forum, but it seems the more I learn, the more confused I am. lol
  6. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    OK, It`s entirely possible that a good portion of heat still managed to escape from the unfinished part of the basement where the coal stove was located even though some heat had to be absorbed by the surrounding concrete. I assumed it was a wide open unfinished cellar. (I need to read slower)

    My neighbor once had a large wood stove in his unfinished basement (cape ) that burned 4-5 cords of wood and barely ever got any heat up the stairs. In contrast , my smaller wood stove used to blow me out of my finished basement till I cut in floor vents to allow better heat flow. My point is that concrete does absorb a major portion of heat . And the better method of heat transfer that you employ will also make a big big difference.
    John
  7. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Just for what it is worth I vividly recall when I first viewed the drawings for a new oil furnace and specifically the baseboard hot water zone in my finished basement I asked why so many feet of baseboard heat was needed as compared to the upstairs floors. The design person told me the basement always requires more linear heat to be installed than upstairs because the heat loss is greater below grade.
    My plumber confirmed this. I always found it difficult to believe but it might well be a fact.
    I can tell you now it is 65 degrees in my basement. (heat off) Upstairs it is 72 (heat off)
    John
  8. lissac67

    lissac67 New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Where the stove is is open. There is a small finished room that is my son's playroom, maybe 12 x 12, but i am sure that would warm up just by being down there if there is a stove in use. What I am trying to figure out is it if is better to hear the basement and main floor with a stove down there, or get an insert for the main floor to heat that and the second floor, and only heat the basement with the oil furnace when my son is down there (will be in school full time in the winter).
  9. lissac67

    lissac67 New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    7
    Loc:
    Massachusetts
    Yep, we have feet and feet of baseboard heat in the basement. More than for the upstairs rooms, so I bet it is true.
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,518
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    The house I currently live in was at one time heated by a coal stove in the "unfinished" basement.
    There was also no electricity here at the time it was installed.
    Before that there was supposedly a coal or wood stove in the kitchen.
    (I remember a propane stove in the kitchen , no heater on the side like some had)
    This house and the one next door (the one I grew up in ) both had the coal stoves removed in the late 50s, replaced with Texaco oil burners for FHW)
    My parents coal stove heated hot water (not steam).

    There were also coal stove brooders in the chicken barns. They just radiated heat. Concrete floors.


    There are still coal nuggets to be found in the yards when digging holes in some places.


    I would believe they heated the whole house with coal ( having heated with a wood stove in an unfinished basement before), but they most certainl are exagerating the temps upstairs a bit. I doubt they were 60 on a very cold NE February windy day (even with insulation).
    I wouldn't want a wood stove or pellet stove in a room I wasn't in or had easy access to. (living room, family room, kitchen).

    Ask anyone who lives in a 3 story tenement house which floor they'd rather be in, in the Winter.(when paying for the heat)
    It will invariably be the upper floors. Heat rises.
    Unless there are apartments in the basement, the first floor tenants always have the highr heat bill.
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,099
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Pellet stoves, in general, do not put out the same amount of heat as coal stoves do......they are usually run at lower outputs.

    A stove in an unfinished basement is usually the least efficient way of getting the heat to where up want it. You might want to consider a Pellet boiler or furnace to tie into your existing system (or set up a few new ducts)......or put the stove in the living area if possible
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,610
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    We had a previous generation pellet insert in our living room for 5 years. It's blower noise was noticeable, this is a small wood furnace. But it never was so loud that you had to shout over it. On medium speed it was quite tolerable, though we generally ran it on high in mid-winter. Now there are much quieter units available and worth checking out for the family room fireplace. Go to a stove shop that has the stove you are interested in on a quiet weekday morning if possible. Have them run the stove at various speeds up to and including high speed. Listen to it. Some are noisy and others not so noisy.

    The new Quadrafire Mt. Vernon AE is very quiet and yet a powerful heater. It will easily heat the whole house as long as the heat has an easy way to convect out of the family room. The Enviro Empress is a bit smaller but is also a quiet insert and the combustion blower can be placed outside or in the basement if further noise isolation is desired.
  13. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,065
    Loc:
    Twin Cities, MN
    It works for us, unfinished basement, never touched the natural gas for heat since the install. I believe that everyone's situation is unique and that things are not black and white (never install in a basement, space heat only, 4' of vertical vent, outside air, no outside air, etc, etc). Do your research like you are, have a reputable stove person out to your house for a preview, heck call them all out for a consensus. By the way, our house is a split level tuck under garage, 1600 up 700 down. Open kitchen, dining, living directly above the stove, three brooms above the garage that stay a bit cooler which we like. Very well insulated with good passive solar, always 70+ and we're in MN, except for the basement which is underwear warm in the winter (which is NOT a bad thing as the winters get long here!).
  14. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Sure, each situation can be different and as you say not always black and white but you will seldom find substantial differences either unless there are some highly unusual circumstances surrounding the situation.
    And unless you have an unusually large stove and are burning plenty of whatever fuel you are using , I have to ask how you can heat 2300 sq ft at 70+ , keep the bedrms at just a bit (?) cooler , and maintain an unheated basement at underwear warm temperature. It defies logic to me.
    John
  15. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,065
    Loc:
    Twin Cities, MN
    The stove is in the basement, so it is not unheated. The basement is semi finished, have yet to get rock up, but it is insulated. I'm burning a 30K btu stove, yes it works hard during Feb in MN. Open staircase, some gravity vents, use the furnace fan to move air (not necessarily heat) and other fans. I'll take some photos if I can figure out how to post (Craig!). The bedrooms stay in the mid to low 60's on the coldest nights.
  16. MCPO

    MCPO Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,225
    Loc:
    western Ma , close to NY state border
    Ok, so maybe you do indeed have the right layout to get the most from a 30K BTU stove and I didn`t really want to call you on it either. I know my bedrms would be in the low 60`s too. I hoping to do well myself with the stove in the basement but I`m not overly optimistic about it.
    I`ll let you know next year how it went.
    John
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page