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Woodstove in Basement or 1st Floor

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Malatu, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    I’ve read numerous posts on different options for placement of wood stoves and have learned a great deal, but I humbly ask for advice.

    I have two options as far as a location for the stove or insert. I live in a 2500 sf two story home with a full basement.
    1. Place a wood stove in the full basement
    2. Install an insert in the existing fireplace on the 1st floor. (We've never used the fireplace)

    The goal is to reduce our natural gas heating bill by 80-90%.

    Things to know:
    1. Basement is partially finished. We spend very little to no time down there.
    2. 1st floor We spend most of our time on the first floor.
    3. 2nd floor We spend very little time on the second floor accept for sleeping.
    4. We prefer to keep our home between 66 - 69 degrees during the winter months.

    A friend of mine has his wood stove in his basement. He states it is the best place for it because it heats the entire floor above by warming the basement ceilings (1st level’s floors) along with the heat travels up the basement staircase. He is very happy with his set-up.

    I would prefer to place the woodstove in the basement but I have a concern.
    1.Wouldn’t much of the heat generated by the woodstove be absorbed by the uninsulated concrete slab and the uninsulated cinderblock walls?
    2. Would this amount of heat loss warrant not putting in the basement?

    As far as operating convenience is concerned, my first choice is the basement. Any help and insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  2. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    1st floor. You're right about the walls absorbing heat. Plus unless you put the wood in through a window, you're carrying it down a flight of stairs. There are countless threads about this very subject and nearly universally, the popular answer is: first floor is better than basement. Even amongst people that have basement installs-you'll see threads about better ways to get the heat up to the living area.
    BrowningBAR likes this.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The stove is an area heater. Put it in the area you want to heat. Uninsulated basement installs waste up to a third of the stove output. That equals a lot more wood burned to stay comfortable. And you deprive yourself of a beautiful fire view.
    dylskee and BrowningBAR like this.
  4. Prof

    Prof Burning Hunk

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    I have a stove in my basement, and although it works OK in my situation, I'd prefer to have it on the first floor. I still only burn 4 cords and heat exclusively with wood. My house is about half the size of yours though, but poorly insulated. Since you spend little time in your basement, as I do, it can be a bit of a pain running up and down the stairs. Also, it would be easier to keep an eye on the fire if the stove is in the living space--this is important for both safety and aesthetic reasons.
    dylskee likes this.
  5. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Another vote for the wood heater on the 1st floor.
    I have a similar layout as you, but a little less area....typical colonial with 780 for each the 1st and second floors, and finished area in the basement is appx 400 feet.
    If your basement is only partially finished, I think a wood stove is going to cook you out of that area, and then you have the issue of trying to get the heat from the basement to 1st floor.
    My small insert keeps the 1st floor around 68-70 (need to supplement with the oil boiler if temps are below 20 or so), and by the end of the day the temps upstairs in the bedrooms range from 67 to 64 or so for the one that is furthest away from the stairs.
    When I renovated my basement, I pondered putting a wood burner/pellet stove down there, but with the small area needed to be heated I ruled against it. Good luck

    Edit: Where about are you located, and can you describe your setup in the "finished" area of your basement? If the area in your finished basement is insulated, you might want to just put a thermometer down there that keeps track of high and low temps....Walmart should havethem for $20 or less. This way you can see what the "unheated" temps in your basement are...i.e. after I installed insulation and finished our basement, I think the lowest temp I saw was either 57-58 and this was on one of the coldest days last winter. (North Central Massachusetts)
  6. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like you are well disciplined. If you size your new stove properly (and put it in the main living space), you'll quickly discover how nice it is to have a 72-74º house (at least in the main area) and not even worry about burning expensive therms:) :) :)

    Yes, and yes (IMO) Plus, it's not just about air temp. The radiant heat from a wood stove (which I'm very much enjoying as I type) is so pleasant, I think it would be a shame to keep the stove basically underground.
    dylskee likes this.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Malatu.

    I too would vote for the first floor install.


    Question: What have you done so far for getting fuel? Buying fuel for a wood stove is nothing like buying fuel for a furnace.
  8. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    +1 for the first floor. My home is about equal size, 30 is on the 1st floor, and makes the whole house comfortable.
  9. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    We like the lower temps for it keeps the humidity a bit higher. I don't mind wearing flannel lined jeans and layers on top.
    the room we would be putting the insert in is fairly small 12 X13. I'm afraid I'd have to over heat that room to spread the heat around. With that said, we do have a forced air system that could be used to distribute the heat. I assume that actually is a benefit?
  10. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    What do you mean by "30"? Are you referring to 30,000 btu rated stove?
  11. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I imagine the "30" is the NC30 a New Englander model stove.

    Our stove is in a 14x20 room but heats the rest of the house without making it too warm in that room.
  12. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    I'm in Delaware about 50 due east of Baltimore, MD. I refer to my basement as being partially finished because the previous owner divided it up into three seperate rooms. None of the partition walls are insulated. We use the basement strictly for storage.
  13. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Depending on the layout of the house, it's usually pretty difficult to distribute heat throughout the house with a central furnace blower. Many threads here on that subject. As begreen said, stoves are area heaters. In our case, the house is single level, pretty open with bedrooms directly off the main area, so they get pretty well heated. But if there are many rooms off of hallways, for example, it's a difficult situation to distribute heat.
  14. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    My stove is in the basement and I spend 20% of my time in the basement. It takes 2-4 hours to heat the basement to 76 or so and then the heat starts to rise. I use the stove to heat my basement and compliment upstairs heating. If you want to heat a full 3 levels, get a furnace. If you want a stove, put it on the floor where you spend the most amount of time. It's the most efficient thing to do...trust me, I learned the hard way!

    Andrew
  15. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    Oh, no. My Englander NC30 stove, as referenced in my sig. I think it is rated for 75000 BTU... someone will be along to correct me shortly.
  16. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    So .. is it safe to say ...having a forced air system really "is not necessarily a big bonus" when trying to distribute the heat from a wood stove?
  17. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    Not a darn thing .. I'm just looking to purchase and suspect I'll wait till the end of the season to make a purchase taking advantage of promotions. I used to burn wood 25 years ago in a small wood stove, so I'm a bit familure of the need for the wood to be well seasoned.
  18. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Sorry to say, but that seems to be the case in most situations. Do some searching here to read other people's experiences and ideas. Ideas abound because it's such a universal problem, but the consensus seems to be that it does little good to do it that way (central forced air) and sometimes even counterproductive, especially when the duct work is under the house and unprotected. One of the most recently discussed ideas is to place a portable fan on the floor at the doorway of, for example, a remote bedroom and direct the air out so that warm air is forced to replenish the cool air.
  19. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    You will use a heck of a lot more wood trying to heat the floor above where the stove is. Whenever i try this even with a blower i cant get substantial heat to the next floor up.
  20. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    It's certainly not too late to install a stove, but as Dennis's post suggests, it can be really hard to find truly well seasoned wood now. And the importance of dry wood is even greater now with the new stoves than it was 25 years ago. I burned wood at that time, too (Earth Stove) and you just can't get away with what you used to be able to anymore.

    You can get better deals in the off-season, but frankly, I don't think it's worth waiting for just for that reason, and you may be able to find good wood. You'll just have to pay more for it. Of course, if you're anything like me, you can spend the rest of the season just deciding what stove to buy;lol
  21. Malatu

    Malatu New Member

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    I hear ya! Part of the the enjoyment for me is the learning process. It seems the more learn about the topic at hand, the happier I am (long term) with the decision I make. Though, I won't discount the nature of self fulfilling prophecies. As the saying goes, Happiness is a state of mind!
    dylskee likes this.
  22. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Well, you're in the right place for that. Just ask a question here and you're likely to get more opinions than you know what to do with;lol
  23. stanleyjohn

    stanleyjohn Feeling the Heat

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    I vote for first floor if the plan is to save on your heating bill.My dad put his in the finished basement and very little of that heat makes it to the first floor.We have a small 1600 sq ft colonial and our harman wood insert heats the first floor to around 77 average while the second floor gets to low to mid 70s.
  24. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    If you can find them, you can always buy ecobricks or something similar for fuel this season. Ecobricks can be found at most Tractor Supply stores. They are basically like a giant pellet-a compressed brick of wood sawdust. Very dry, very effective for creating heat.
  25. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    That's right, or you can actually mix them with less than stellar cordwood, although I've never done it. They tend to be upwards of twice the cost of wood per BTU, though, so the economy of it would depend on what you use now for heat. But it could get you going.

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