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  1. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    Why are wood furnace not more common? If you are looking to heat the whole house it seems that they would work better. I
    have a 2 story house and the upstairs is about 2-4 degs cooler then the rest of the house. My thought was that you need your chimney thimble close to the central air duct work for it to work. This is my third year and it been working well.

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  2. derbygreg

    derbygreg New Member

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    I looked into the Brunco http://www.brunks.com/Bruncofurnaces.html but since my house is a wide open floor plan, the only cool room is my first floor bedroom.

    If I had a house that was not open, it is worth considering. Imagine logs up to 30 inches long. My Isle Royale limits me to 22" logs which are hard enough to handle.

    It would be cool to see one of those furnaces in operation. They would have to be more efficient than a boiler.
  3. Lignums

    Lignums New Member

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    Allot of people have them in my family, unfortunately they say that codes are different now a days versus the old days, but I don't know. My neighbors put one in bought to Tractor Supply, that thing takes damn near fence post size stuff. 3 feet long 18 inches around. Fill it up once a day.
  4. Stevebass4

    Stevebass4 Minister of Fire

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    too much work and more expensive that the top of the line HE oil burner - that said i use my insert to suppliment the oilf furnace
  5. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Moved by request of the Boiler Room King :coolsmile:

    Just to put in my two cents, I think it is because builders don't think that they would be an easy sell in a pre-built house, and they are a somewhat difficult and expensive add to retrofit to an existing house. They also can't really be used as the sole heat source (Codes, along w/ mortgage and insurance co's don't allow it, IMHO wisely - the "automatic" aspects of a gas or oil system are better protection against unexpected abscences...) Thus in addition to the cost of the furnace itself (not cheap, they are considerably more than woodstoves from the prices I've seen tossed around) you still have to pay for the conventional furnace and it's plumbing.

    In the meantime, they didn't have furnaces back in the bad old days when wood WAS the primary heat source, and up until recently the low costs of dino-fuels made the extra work and hassle of a wood furnace not worth it for most people. OTOH, stoves and inserts kept selling because lots of people liked to burn them for "ambiance" even if they weren't terribly interested in the heat.

    Even today, it isn't unreasonable to sell a $4-5K max investment in a wood stove, given current fuel costs thats a fairly short payback period, probably well under 5 years. It's a lot harder to justify (and come up with the cash for) a furnace setup at $10-15K or more, which seems to be what Eric and friends are talking about spending - the payback is much longer, often long enough that people don't figure on staying in the same house long enough to get it back.

    Gooserider
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Actually, you can get into a wood furnace for a lot less than a boiler. The units themselves are $2,000 to $3,000 and aside from the chimney and ductwork connection, not much to do but hook it up and start feeding it wood. Wood-fueled hydronics is a whole nuther game. And yes, $10,000 is not an unreasonable estimate when all's said and done. Still cheaper than most cheap cars, and it starts paying you back immediately, instead of constantly draining your bank account.
  7. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    This is my third year of having a wood furnace. I wasn't real happy with it until recently when I hooked it up to the cold air supply side of my gas furnace. I could never get the heat circulation I wanted. Now with my gas furnace fan ciculating the wood heat, my house is very comfortable. My only problem is that I am running my gas furnace fan constantly. I need to find a way to run my furnace blower in sync with my woodburner blower. Are there any products that accomplish this? If not, any ideas of how to do it?
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    It's not my area of expertise, but I suspect you can run a wire from whatever is controlling the blower on your wood furnace to turn on the gas furnace blower at the same time. If the voltage is different you might need a transformer or a relay, but I bet they're both 120V. Should be easy.
  9. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    I was thinking something on the order of an A- B switch so that I would still be able to run the gas furnace when necessary. My gas furnace is 4 yrs. old and has a circuit board that everything is wired into. Nobody will ever accuse me of being an electrician so I may have to talk to my furnace guy $$$
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Keyman is an electrician and guys like elk and nofossil know a lot about wiring. I'd give it a few days before spending any money, although in the final analysis, that might be your best bet.
  11. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Safest way is probably a relay. They're pretty cheap and relatively easy to wrap your head around. Don't know about code implications, though. I can sketch out a circuit if that's the way you end up wanting to go.
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    OK, I hadn't been making a big difference between "furnaces" and "boilers" - you are right the HVAC type units are a lot less than the boilers. I also agree that the boiler option is less than most new cars, but it's still a lot longer payback. Given the numbers I've seen for average time people stay in a house, it seems that one could question whether a hydronic system would pay back soon enough. I'm also not convinced that a wood system would pay back for home sales - As part of "possibility planning" when Mary-Anne got her layoff notice, we called a couple real estate places to find out what the house might be worth if she needed to relocate and sell it. One guy's first reaction as soon as he walked in was to say that the two woodsheds w/ 7.5 cords in them, plus the additional 2-3 overflow cords stacked next to them was a NEGATIVE...

    I suspect you would need to do a home brew setup, but it shouldn't be that hard. The only big concern I would have is that you would want to be sure that feeding power back along the gas blowers lines when the gas furnace thinks it's off won't hurt anything in the gas furnace electronics. Unlikely, but possible.

    To avoid this, I would come up with an independent power supply line for the blower, and put two relays in parallel to control it. One relay would be switched by the gas furnace, the other by the wood furnace - if either or both are on the blower works, if both are off the blower doesn't. Since the only thing that either unit would "see" is it's respective relay coil, you have total isolation and safety for the control circuitry. (This assumes there isn't any sort of safety circuit that checks to see if the blower is on, if there is, you'd also need to figure out a way to satisfy it....)

    I don't like the idea of a manual switch, as my idea of having the dino-burner is to have an automatic safety backup - If something happens to keep everyone out of your house for a week unexpectedly, the dino heat should kick in automatically at least enough to keep things from freezing - a switch that has to be thrown defeats that.

    Gooserider
  13. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm going to talk to my boss today, he installs gas furnaces and air conditioners as side work. We haven't had any really cold weather yet, but based on how it's performed with the gas blower in 30's and 40's, it's a big improvement.
  14. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I'd do a DPDT relay - it's like two three-way switches ganged together. I'd set it up so that the gas blower was connected to the 'common' terminals.

    The 'normally closed' contacts would go to the gas controller, so that when the relay is unpowered, everything works as it does now.

    The 'normally open' contacts would go to 120vac line (assuming it's a 120vac motor), so that when the relay is energized, the fan is on.

    I'd connect the relay coil in parallel with the wood blower motor, so that when the wood blower is on, the relay is energized.

    That way, the gas blower operates exactly as it does now, with no electrical difference, when the wood blower is off. When the wood blower is on, the gas blower operates, but is electrically isolated from the gas controller - no possibility of electrical back-feeding to the gas controller.

    I'd make a wiring diagram, but I need another cup of coffee first.

    Thoughts, anyone?
  15. derbygreg

    derbygreg New Member

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    johnsopi,

    What kind of furnace do you have?

    how about a link or picture?

    I agree with what you say in your profile.
  16. eernest4

    eernest4 New Member

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    I think nofossel hit the center of the bullseye, sounds like just the way I would do it.
    1968 associates degree electronics,ct school of electronics.
  17. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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  18. Tony H

    Tony H New Member

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    Sounds like it would work well. One other thought if it's a newer furnace it might have a relay installed for seperate blower operation if so you could wire another thermostat directly to this and set it the same as the wood burners or use one of those dual fuel thermos to run the blower and wood burner
  19. reaperman

    reaperman Member

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    I currently have a wood furnace in my new home which was installed during construction. I really wanted a woodstove, but I knew the best way of heating the entire home and basement was with a wood furnace. I knew I would miss the radiant heat from a woodstove. But I figured I'd take advantage of the newly installed ductwork. It worked just great last winter, my first burning year with a wood furnace. The HVAC guy who did the install, never hooked the wood furnace to the return air vent. It didnt seem to make a difference in heating, but I wanted a 2nd opinion. So my wife's, cousin, who does HVAC, was visiting a few months ago. I had him take a look at my set-up. I asked if he would duct in the return air to the wood furnace. He said I didnt need to, yet. My basement isnt finished-off. The mechanical room is studded but no sheeting on the walls. There is a open stair-well, close to the mechanical room, which was all I needed to get return air, he figured. If I sheet-in the mechanical room, blocking off the stairway, then I would need to duct in return air, but not until. I asked him about running the furnace fan at the same time for return air. He said it could be done with a relay easily enough. And I think he said another relay could be installed to drop the speed of the circulating fan. A low fan setting is all that's needed to circulate air. But he again figured I didnt need this either. I was surprised a new gas furnace didnt have variable fan settings. But I guess who monkey's around with that kind of stuff. I'd check into slowing down your furnace fan if possible, I think that would get annoying running constantly with the fan on your wood furnace. Best of luck.
  20. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    one thing to bear in mind ,most furnaces (wood add ons) have a "capacitor assisted" blower mounted. this type of blower does not like to be slowed down , the capacitor tries to make up the shortage of power usually with bad results. now the "whole house" furnace is likely not using one of these, so it can be slowed, but take care to check before trying to do that with the blower on the add on wood unit
  21. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Another thing to bear in mind if you start closing in the mechanical room is to think about where the wood furnace (and the gas unit for that matter) will be getting their combustion air from. You might need to add outside air to them.

    Gooserider
  22. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    My wood furnace is tied into the cold air return. That is were also were the fan is. So the fan pulls from the cold air return. It is just like a oil furnace as far as the setup go. Whats real nice is in the summer I use both furnace fans to blow the cold air to the 2nd floor.
  23. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    Thats the problem with the wood furnaces. They are installed right beside the main furnace. I have mine installed in series, 2 wires from my wood furnace to my LP Furnaces board, thats it. Now the thing is to NOT have any returns in the basement, or the room if you are using a furnace. The problem with most of them is they have independent blowers, which draw air from the room with the main furnace. When I reducted mine, I took out all air returns in the basement. I also have filtered outside air by the wood furnace, just incase it needs it. I know I can close my basement up, and not lose any combustion air, or have negative pressure in my basement. They do work well when using the main cold air returns in the house. One other option for your wood furnace, would be to put a limit in the plenum of the main furnace. If the air gets to a certain temp, then the Main furnaces fan could kick in for assistance. This way it doesn't run all of the time, only when certain temps are reached.
  24. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I added air ducts in my basement, so I could control the house temp a bit more. It would get to hot some times. My furnace is set up as a stand alone unit.
  25. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    Thanks for all the suggestions guys. My boss looked it over and said the relay is the way to do it. He's coming over Monday to set it up. I wonder how much warmer the house will be when the blower is not blowing cold air between woodburner blower cycles. As it is, the house is so much warmer than last winter and a much smaller fire is doing the job. I think I might start saving for a new wood furnace instead of a fireplace insert.
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