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Will Pellet Stove Heat 2,400 sqft home?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by papaya410, May 13, 2014.

  1. papaya410

    papaya410 New Member

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    I'm looking to install a pellet stove insert into my 2,400 sqft 2 story colonial home and "hope" to use it as a primary heat source, because electricity too expensive... The house has central air and I just hate how the heat pump blows this cool warm air to heat the house.

    My biggest concern is the distribution of heat due to the layout of the house and the placement of the pellet stove. I understand that pellet stoves act more like space heaters but I hear people use it to heat their whole house....

    Unfortunately, I don't have blueprint of my house but bare with me.
    - The house has 2 wood burning fireplaces; basement level and 1st level both in the back right.
    - Both stairwells are in the middle (above each other), basement stairs entrance is in the back of the house while the 2nd fl entrance is in the front.
    - 1st fl living room has the smallest fireplace
    - Basement is half finished with biggest fireplace, other half is storage and the furnace with all walls insulted
    - 2nd floor has 4 bedrooms
    - Every room has return and supply register

    Will it be possibly to get good heat distribution to all levels of the house with my layout or do you recommend another means of heat? We are Northern Central Maryland, so it was chilly this winter....Any info will help!

    Thanks

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Greetings. There isn't a simple answer except to say yes and no. The whole house is unlikely to be entirely heated by pellets unless a pellet furnace was to be installed, or if the house is exceptionally well sealed and insulated (most aren't). 2400 sq ft is a lot of space to heat. During milder weather say temps in the 30s and 40s, one stove on the 1st fl might heat the house well, but when temps drop into the teens you may need to supplement with the central heating system. That's not the end of the world if the cost of pellets in your area is significantly less then the cost of the current heating.

    Question: Does the 2400 sq ft include the basement or is this additional sq ftg.? You can do a rough estimate by looking at this past winter's heating bills. How much oil or gas was consumed during Dec and Jan? Convert that to btus and divide by 62, then divide again by 24 to come up with the hourly btu heat load. That will determine the size of the pellet system.
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  3. TimfromMA

    TimfromMA Minister of Fire

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    Finding a single pellet stove that will heat the entire house will be hard. Pellet stoves are nothing more than a space heater so moving heat around will be a challenge. A pellet boiler is your best bet for a truly whole house system. Perhaps put a stove on the floor you spend most of the time. My house is also 2400 sqft divided across 2 levels. Our lower basement level is finished but we aren't down much so we put our stove on the upper level and we stay nice and warm even on the coldest winter nights. We just have to keep all the doors upstairs open.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Rereading I see that I missed the part about the heat pump. That makes calculating a bit tougher because there are other electric loads and then there is the efficiency of the heat pump itself. A pellet furnace may be able to tie into the trunk duct. If so, that is what I would consider. It will have a larger hopper system that will make for less frequent reloads. Otherwise consider the biggest insert you can get and put it in on the first floor.
  5. papaya410

    papaya410 New Member

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    Hmmm, thanks for the reply, I kind of figured that's what I would hear. I haven't heard much about the pellet furnaces, many of the places around me only sell the stoves and when I inquired about the furnaces they don't really say much good things about them. Is that something that can be connected to my existing duct work?
  6. johnnh

    johnnh New Member

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    I am new to the pellet stove game but I have had excellent luck heating my entire home with an M55. I can run it on the lowest 2 levels to boot, depending on the temperature outside. I have 2200 sq. ft total, cape cod style, 900 downstairs and 1300 upstairs. The house is extremely tight and insulated to the max, with an open concept foyer which I suspect helps the heat get upstairs. Unfortunately, there are so many variables that you cannot compare one house to another.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Depending on the setup, yes it could be tied into the HVAC ducting as long as it is near the supply plenum. This needs to be done correctly with backdraft dampers so that the unit will heat properly.
    Here is an example furnace.
    http://www.harmanstoves.com/Products/PF120-Pellet-Furnace.aspx
    and a 52,000 btu fireplace insert
    http://www.harmanstoves.com/Products/Accentra-52i-Pellet-Insert.aspx

    Question: Does the 2400 sq ft include the basement or is this additional sq ftg.?
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  8. papaya410

    papaya410 New Member

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    Yes, the basement is included in the sqft. The pellet stove dealer had mentioned that my current duct work is only meant to handle low/mild temperature distribution and that pellet furnace heat would not handle that....is that correct?
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    In that case I think you can heat the whole house with a first floor insert, just not the basement. You could put a second pellet stove in the basement or just space heat with electric.

    I would have to look at the ductwork to see what he is talking about. Are the plenums and trunk ducts sheet metal? If yes, this should not be an issue.
  10. Krik

    Krik Member

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    Unless this dealer sells pellet _furnaces_ and has actually taken a look at your system I'd take that with a big grain of salt. Might be he's trying to sell what he has, rather than what you really need. A lot of duct work runs fine with oil- or gas-fired furnaces and can handle higher temps, but perhaps it's an air flow issue (impossible to assess without doing a Manual D calculation or at least some rough eyeballing of air flow capacity).

    One thing to keep in mind, though, is that a modern heat pump has similar operating cost to pellets [EDIT: unless you have expensive electricity or super-cheap pellet supply]. So you _may not_ be able to save much money, especially after you account for the cost of the pellet stove/furnace. Many utilities also now offer rebates for heat pump equipment - you may be better off looking at upgrading that and also take advantage of the lower cooling costs that come with that. And finally, this could be an issue with aux heating coils kicking in all the time due to misconfiguration of the heat pump, which just about kills the overall efficiency of the system.

    Not trying to talk you out of pellets, but it may not be the silver bullet you're looking for ... I use a combo of heat pump and pellet stoves, but that's only because I a] don't have natural gas, and b] a heat pump the size I need is extremely expensive.
  11. papaya410

    papaya410 New Member

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    @begreen - Yes the plenums and trunk are sheet metal. My concern with the 1st floor insert is that fireplace box is much smaller than the one in the basement. I would need to take some measurements and see what size stove would fit and hopefully that size would be able to heat the 1st and 2nd fl.

    @Krik - We only have the option of electric. I had consider about upgrading my heat pump which is about 10yrs old, but I haven't done much research on the topic. I believe that it operates just fine, not sure about about efficiency. During the summer which can get very hot and humid here in MD, cooling costs were very cheap which also included a pool pump, which also lead me to believe that the house is insulted fairly "well" bc my wife kept it an like an igloo. However, this past crazy winter we just had, the avg temp for one month was below 30 degrees and heating cost for that was more than doubled! Ever since then we kept it around 68-71 (to me thats kind of cold) and the bill wasn't that drastic but it was still up there.

    I was thinking of using a pellet stove to take the cold crisp out of the air especially in the bedrooms. And that's kind of where I am right now...
  12. Krik

    Krik Member

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    A ten year old heat pump is going to be significantly less efficient than a modern one, especially on the heating portion. What size (in tons or mbtuh) is your heat pump?

    On taking the crisp out of bedrooms: most pellet stoves are, as far as I know, not approved for bedroom install. So you're still left with the problem of getting heat into them unless you get the pellet stove near a large air return and circulate that way (or pipe in a pellet furnace to the duct work).
  13. TimfromMA

    TimfromMA Minister of Fire

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    Our pellet stove is at one end of the house and our bedrooms are at the other and we have no problems keeping warm. A couple strategically placed fans can really help move the heat if the stove can't do it on it's own.
  14. papaya410

    papaya410 New Member

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    I'm not sure about our heat pump, but I believe our air handler is a 4ton. We didn't plan doing bedroom installs, more concerned on the distribution of heat to the 2nd level considering the layout.
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  15. Krik

    Krik Member

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    Same here, but it all depends on the house. It's a pretty expensive experiment if the better option was to upgrade the outside heat pump unit instead. Running an experiment with the wood stove(s) might be helpful.
  16. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    IMHO, since you asked, you have two better options.
    1> You are very close to coal as a heat source at significantly lower $/btu than pellets. Coal stoker units provide 2-3 times as many btu's/hr as pellet stoves. They are also quite beautiful and comparatively priced. You can also get coal hot air furnaces, if you desire. You can store coal outside OR inside. Can't do that with pellets. Look at leisureline, keystoker, and Reading stoves. Also visit nepacrossroads.com also as a source of info. You can find prices of coal delivered to you there as well. Heating with coal and a stoker is not what your grandfather had to deal with by any means!
    http://www.leisurelinestoves.com/
    http://keystoker.com/products.php#as
    http://www.readingstove.com/heating-stoves/coal-stoves/

    2> Your heat pump is outdated for sure. The latest and greatest advance seems to be mini-split ductless heat pumps with SEER's up to 22 that put out full heat rating down to as low as -5 degrees. They can be bought with one outside compressor and up to 6 inside units. Each unit can be separately controlled as a zone so if you don't need that room as hot/cold, you can use the remote to program the change. You can get ceiling mounted, baseboard mounted and even suspended ceiling mounted indoor units. Also, there is no ductwork heat loss so efficiencies are even higher.

    http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/ductless-mini-split-heat-pumps
  17. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    Check out the PSG Alterna Caddy, great pellet furnace.
  18. Arti

    Arti Member

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    I suspect that you are due for an update on the heat pump. Some of them have resistance heaters in them to boost the output when it gets cold up or if you bump the thermostat up more than a few degrees, These resistance heaters consume a lot of extra electric.

    Also it is sized for your heating load based on the sq ft of house however it is a bit over sized for the cooling load. This results in a lack of dehumidification during the summer months which makes you run the unit at a lower temp to feel comfortable. A manual J should be run on the house to verify this.

    One way to overcome this is with a new heatpump that is multi staged. IE it can heat or cool a lot or a little depending on the load.
    Personally it would be nice to see an updated heat pump and a pellet stove to help on the cold days. I guess the answer to your question is will a pellet stove heat your house. Sort of but it will not be the same temperature in every room, and to heat that many sq ft it might be best to put in 2 stoves.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
  19. mithesaint

    mithesaint Feeling the Heat

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    I use a Englander 10-CPM to heat my 2400 sq ft Colonial house. The stove is in the middle of the back part of the house, which is one large room. It heats that room very nicely, and the warm air flows down the center hallway to warm my office and the dining room, which are in the front of the house, and upstairs through the two story foyer to heat the three bedrooms that come off the stairway upstairs.

    In cool weather, it works great. The bedrooms are comfortable In cold weather, it works ok. In really cold weather, the master bathroom is just plain cold. Depending on the direction of the wind, sometimes certain rooms upstairs are pretty cold too.

    I'm adding a St. Croix SCF 050 to heat the basement, and help heat the upper levels. It's a bit undersized, but I got it for a great deal.

    The Caddy Alterna and Harman PF 100 both have great reputations, but I found the payback times on the investment to be way too long. Both units are over 5K new, not counting the install prices. With your heat pump, it would take a loooong time to make up the difference.

    I would either get a newer better heat pump, and/or look at a pellet insert for the main living area to provide supplemental heat.
  20. The Grintch

    The Grintch Member

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    My house is roughly 2500 sf and my P68 did a fine job. I have a colonial with a very open floor plan. Obviously it isn't perfect but the downstairs was between 72 and 68 depending on how far you were from the stove and the upstairs was a constant 65.

    We used 5 tons of pellets and about 110 gallons of oil.

    My neighbor used 900 gallons this winter!

    I'm happy!!
  21. Phoenix Hatchling

    Phoenix Hatchling Minister of Fire

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    You can also run the central air fan to circulate the warm air throughout the house. We did that this year and definitely made an improvement, especially given the harsh winter that it was.
  22. tjnamtiw

    tjnamtiw Minister of Fire

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    This is a yearly topic and most people say that it didn't help them in their situation. In my case, my ducting runs in a crawl space and I lose most of the heat before it ever makes it into the house. If your ducting is in heated spaces, then it could work.
  23. Owen1508

    Owen1508 Feeling the Heat

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    I agree just remember to tie in the cold air return as well.

    True

    Like many have already said it is quite possible with just a stove to heat a 2400 SF home, with good fan placement.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This was a cold winter. If the bills in this winter were not that bad I would just go with the insert. Even if you are only pumping in 30-40K btus it's going to help. It can work in conjunction with the heat pump and may save you some cash, if pellets are less expensive than your electric cost. Check that for sure.

    We'll need some fireplace dimensions to proceed.

    PS: If you chose to install a pellet furnace, so far I see no reason why you couldn't. It sounds like the stove sales person may be blowing smoke. But you really will need to compare energy costs to determine whether this is cost effective. You will need a reliable affordable source of pellets to make this commitment. It will be expensive.
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
    Owen1508 likes this.
  25. Phoenix Hatchling

    Phoenix Hatchling Minister of Fire

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    In my case the ducting is run through the unheated attic, but the ducts have a 6 inch thick insulated layer. No loss or minimal at best. Running the fan helped significantly in warming all areas of our living space as the distance from the stove horizontally was great. Up until this winter we did not, and needed to have space heaters and/or fans placed in rooms to somewhat alleviate the problem. If the OP already has ducting in place, it may be beneficial to try. This was an easy and cost effective method for us. As an added benefit, the air inside is filtered constantly, and with windows traditionally closed in the winter you would be amazed at the rate of gunk accumulation.

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