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Wood Stove vs. Wood Furnace?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by ronoz, Aug 20, 2008.

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  1. ronoz

    ronoz Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    CT
    I am looking for some help with a new stove/furnace purchase and am hoping that someone can help? Last year I heated my home using an old steel stove with attached blower (approx. 800cfm). I connected the 10" warm air distribution pipe directly to my HVAC duct work located in my basement in order to blow the warm air up through the floor bents located on the first floor. I own a 2 level colonial style home and this unit worked quite nicely to heat the entire house even the second floor which was usually 2-3 degrees cooler than the first floor. The problem is that the stove that I have, located in the basement, was not very efficient as far as burning wood. It is an older stove with no baffle inside, no door gasket and no secondary heat chamber. In order to help make the burns last longer, I installed a damper on the flu pipe and I usually left the air intake (located on the door) closed approx. 3/4 once I established a fire. After doing this, I could get approx. 2-4 hours of burn time using mostly harwood (oak, maple) before I would have to add more wood.

    I have looked at numerous furnaces/stoves online and am wondering if anyone has an opinion on which one would work the best for me in my home. I am looking for one that will be the most efficient when it comes to heating my home as well as one that will provide me with longer burn times so I don't keep eating through all of my fire wood. Last year I used approx. 7-8 cords of wood between December and May and did not use my stove 24/7 to heat. The ones that I have looked at online so far have been:

    PSG Caddy 1500 furnace
    PSG AN 30 furnace
    Yukon Super Jack furnace
    Yukon Big Jack furnace
    Ashley 24AF furnace (US Stove)
    Energy King 360 furnace
    Woodchuck furnace
    Fire Chief furnace
    Englander 28-3500 furnace (similar to setup that I have now)
    Country ST 310 stove
    Quadrafire 5700 stove

    I know that there are many others out there and woukld love to hear all of your suggestions. My price range is approx. $2500.00. Which stove/furnace will give me the most bang for my buck?

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  2. deerefanatic

    deerefanatic Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
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    676
    Loc:
    Ladysmith, WI
    Here's some shameless advertising.... :) I have an older energy king (EK185) with hot water coil that I'm pulling out of my place...... First $1k gets it...... I just don't know what freight on it would cost you..... (Or I can deliver, but freight will probably be cheaper..)

    In all, our Energy King gave us good service..... It's just that the chimney was defective and it smoked us to death....... So I can say that Energy King should be a good choice..... That's all I know on the subject.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    If you want to really heat the whole house, I would cross the stoves off the list....or assume they will be located upstairs in the living area.

    I think the Caddy is the only really clean burning one, but the price is higher than $2500 (I think)....
    The Ashley seems like a decent unit at a pretty amazing price, so that is something to consider.
  4. ronoz

    ronoz Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
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    Loc:
    CT
    Webmaster, I found the Caddy 1500 online at ibuyfireplacesdotcom for $2,058.00 and could have it delivered for approx. $2,200.00 total. Would you say that it is one the the best options mentioned? Will this thing eat through wood like crazy?
  5. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    MD near DE&PA;
    I have the Yukon Big Jack this will 4th winter. I love it. I'm heating @3000spft 3 floors.
  6. ronoz

    ronoz Member

    Joined:
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    How is the Yukon for efficiency? Does it go through a lot of wood? Do you burn 24/7 throughout the winter?
  7. Gator eye

    Gator eye Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
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    190
    Loc:
    Michigan
    I got the Super Jack heating 3200 foot. And unless it's 10 below out I always had doors and windows open trying to heat the outdoors too....Big Jack would be more than enough stove for your house.

    I went though ten cord, that's 24/7 heating,,,,, now that I am learning a little bit more on running the furnace I am hoping to cut that down to 8 cord. I just have to learn how to build a small fire, hard to get rid of that bigger is better thing.
  8. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    I may be getting the 1950 usstove hotblast this season. Its EPA Certified. Also will produce up to 140,000 btus of heat. Its a well built unit, and comes in the range of 2000.00 here at rural king. The firebox is tiny compared to our old 1500 hotblast, but it has the burn tubes, and all the exhaust goes into a second heat exchanger to pull more heat from the unit. It has a 1/3 hp 4 speed blower and from what I have seen it well built. It has a fully lined firebox, with a little ash port to clean ashes while the unit is in operation. Basically the same thing as the caddy. I heard before that they were built by the PSG company. We burnt about 7 cords last year to heat our 2400 square foot home. Im hoping to hit 4 or 5 cords with the 1950. Its quite impressive, and I am ready to update the old woodfurnace. Also it is meant to be installed in series with the current furnace. It shares all the ductwork including the returns, which allows the unit to efficiently move air through the home. If I get it, I will keep posted on it.
  9. applewood

    applewood New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
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    19
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    The psg caddy and the Yukon eagle are both great furnaces and I was THIS close to buying the caddy mainly because the yukon does not have csa certification for Canada. Both have their pros and cons.

    Yukon- Pro-has auto wood ignition from the oil... great for spring or fall cool nights ... you load the wood, thermostat lights the fire when heat is needed. Bit better oil efficiency because oil burner uses full heat exchanger...but only if you keep it clean form the wood fires
    cons- have to remove flue pipe to get at cleaning exchanger, no epa rating

    PSG pro- epa rated, glass door so you can see you fire.... talking to installers this is great wen setting up the furnace and chimney draft to get your best burn, easy access form the front to wood heat exchanger for cleaning, two separate systems wood and oil so if you have a problem in one your not down.
    con- oil side heat exchanger is not big so not as efficient as most new oil furnaces

    I ended up going the all the way and just bought an EKO 40 which is going in an out building and leaving the oil furnace and regency stove for backup.
  10. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    2,301
    Loc:
    Adamant, VT 05640
    OK, disclosures first, I am a furnace/boiler guy, not a woodstove guy (I have a 12 year old Waterford Stanley wood cookstove that's great to cook on and heat the house in mild cold, but that doesn't count)(it was cheap then, 'cause it was a scratch/ dent display model, and it's scary what Waterford cookers cost now!!)

    from 1997 to now, I had a Sam Daniels forced hot air furnace. Built like a locomotive, and I'm not exaggerating, but it only makes heat as long as you are nearby to feed it wood, and do actively tend/ feed it; I am now transitioning to an Econoburn 150 (arrived today, and it exceeds my expectations in terms of both craftsmanship and sturdy build)

    in a big rambling old farmhouse like mine, in a climate in one of the colder pockets of Vermont, no single woodstove would heat the whole space to a consistent and comfortable temperature.

    that said, for those who have a central chimney and a lot of open space/ air flow from the firebox to the living space, the ultimate in simplicity, in my mind, would be something like a Finnish soapstone fireplace, a site-built masonry heater, or a Hearthstone-type soapstone stove. My folks have a mid-sized Hearthstone, and while it takes longer than an all-steel stove to get up to temp (due to the high thermal mass of soapstone) it also gives off a surprisingly gentle heat during the peak fire, and then also keeps giving off gentle heat for hours afterwards.

    I am convinced that whatever you go with, quality of design and manufacture is priority one, but then the very close second is some sort of system design that includes maximum thermal mass. In the case of boilers, that equals water storage; in the case of stoves, that means something like a masonry heater or 100% herky-as-possible soapstone stove. Boilers let you pump heat to more various and distant places, whereas the masonry/ soapstone units depend on direct radiant heat and/ or air convection from the combustion unit to the heated space. Forced hot air furnaces (like what I've had for the last 11 years) are _wonderful_ in their _total_ simplicity to install and use and the good ones last nearly forever, but they basically only put out heat as long as you are there to tend them, unless you are someone who feels comfortable filling a firebox to the gills, throttling it down hard in a way that is sooner or later going to give you creosote trouble & risk of chimney fire, and then going to bed or off to work... In a really well insulated house, that may work OK (heat the house up with the wood/air furnace, and it stays warm due to insulation)

    A lot depends on the layout of the space-to-be heated, and your preference in technology (massive, expensive and thoughtfully-designed masonry or semi-massive soapstone stove - which needs to be IN the living space,
    OR large wood gasification boiler + relatively massicve water/heat storage + hydronic and/or radiant floor system, which you could put in a cellar or even a nearby outbuilding.

    I really hate to get rid of my wood/air furnace- it's a cast iron piece of superb simple engineering, built by the same family-owned company for the better part of a century, that'll probably outlive me and does a truly excellent job at exactly what it was intended to do (give fast/direct heat when you feed it wood), but it's not what fits what I am aiming for (I need the house to remain warm when I am away for a while at work, etc., without the oil burner coming back on). It might be the bee's knees in a better-insulated, or more open house, or in a more mild climate. So it, as others mentioned above with other stuff, it's up for sale, for a _substantial_ margin off what the same model (still made, still sold) would cost new; PM me if you're interested.
  11. ronoz

    ronoz Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    Messages:
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    Thanks for all of your info everyone! The Hotblast 1950 looked like a nice option as well but I found out that they have been discontinued and RK no longer has any.
  12. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    I used 4-5 cord last winter with the Yukon Big Jack, the house was all ways 76-80 during the winter. I burn 24/7and use very little oil. I find the B.J easy to use,and easy to start the fire. I start the fire at 5 am burns out @11 am I restart the fire at @ 3pm if needed. Last winter I did not reload the fire during night. so it went from 10pm to 5am keeping the house warm. I did replace the thermostat with a programmable one.
  13. brucewky

    brucewky New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
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    Loc:
    KY
    I am looking into purchasing a add on wood furnace. I am a complete beginner. Along with the furnace, what options should I get with it (fan, cold air return, etc). And what about installation. Will I have to build a chimney, should I use the fresh air return. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Bruce.
  14. johnsopi

    johnsopi Minister of Fire

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    The first thing I would do is go to yukons web site or any of the other and look at their lay outs. Then call customer srvice
    and talk to the reps.
    When I had my house built I had a chimney with a thimbel in the basement and it was in line with my airducts.
    This made my install easy. Like I said look at the diagrams on the websites and thing will make more sense
  15. ccwhite

    ccwhite Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    238
    Loc:
    Steubenville, OH
    I've had a Mendota dual fuel oil/wood for 25+ years. We have not bought a drop of oil for the last 3 winters. Its time to replace the old Mendota. So I looked into everything I could find info on and decided on the Woodchuck 2900. I can never see the point of a wood stove. I want a real furnace that is hooked up to both the hot and cold ducts of the house. No cold rooms. No having to leave the door open to get heat in there. I'll have the new wood chuck in sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'm using this opportunity to also install a heat pump. I'll put up some photos and update on the Woodchuck once installed. I already went and bought the Woodchuck and brought it home. Now I'm just chomping at the bit to get it in place and fire it up.

    I don't know if my rambling was any help but I would definatly recomend a furnace rather than a stove. And make sure you hook up both ducts. They're there for a reason.
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