300sqft too small to heat with wood?

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Oct 4, 2018
100
Connecticut, USA
We have a 300sqft family room on the first floor of a raised ranch (living room, dining, kitchen are above it) in CT. Winters are mild: mid 20s to mid 30s. It stays in the 40s without heat. Am I right to think any wood fireplace is going to heat me out with all but the smallest fire? And if it's a small fire, would I need to be adding another log every 2 hours?

I know BTU ratings are almost meaningless, but I've noticed many inserts are rated 10k BTU up. We have electric, so I can easily calculate my BTU usage, and we never use a full 10k BTU to maintain temperature in the winter. That partially confirms my suspicion that 300sqft might be too small to heat with wood. I could always open the door, I know, but most of the time I want it closed because of children and noise.

I'm leaning pellets because of more precise control and instantaneous response (eg, run it for 45 minutes to heat the room up and shut it down).

Could someone comment on whether you think 300sqft is too small to heat with wood, and if it *isn't* too small, how often would I have to feed my small fire? (I've only ever run pellets, never wood)

Thanks.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
It depends on the space and if the heat can convect out of it to other parts of the house. A small wood stove would not be overwhelming. How often it is fed depends on many factors like how cold it is outside (CT can get into the teens), how warm one likes the room, ceiling height, wood quality and dryness, heat migrating to other parts of the house, stove size, etc. Figure a small stove being fed around every 3-4 hrs unless being pushed harder for heat.
 
Oct 4, 2018
100
Connecticut, USA
I'm just worried, even the small Regency 1150i rated for 600sqft +... 600sqft is twice the space (I know, many factors, but my starting point is 2x my space...)

8' ceilings, heated space above and to one side. 1/2 room has 4' concrete foundation walls built into the hill. Only two windows and a patio door with double pane glass. 72F is fine.

I know there are so many factors. It seems like a crapshoot. And if it's a $5k crapshoot to be used as the primary heat source, the pellet insert definitely seems more like a sure thing.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
Is the family room closed off or open to the rest of the house. If open, it should be ok. With a full load of hardwood that stove should burn about 4-6 hrs between reloads. However, you don't need to have a full load in it to enjoy a nice fire. Like pellets though, the wood must be fully seasoned and dry.
 
Oct 4, 2018
100
Connecticut, USA
Is the family room closed off or open to the rest of the house. If open, it should be ok. With a full load of hardwood that stove should burn about 4-6 hrs between reloads. However, you don't need to have a full load in it to enjoy a nice fire. Like pellets though, the wood must be fully seasoned and dry.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Family room is entirely closed off except for a 30" door which I'd like to keep closed half the time. When it's open, it opens into the foyer/stairs up to the living room. Still, a single door doesn't give much circulation. I tried it last winter by cranking the electric baseboards to 80F, leaving the door open, and using a fan. Family room was around 76 or 78 (uncomfortably hot), and upstairs was chilly. I guess I'm answering my own question. I've proven before I don't get good circulation from down there and 10k BTU of baseboard heating heated up the room to an uncomfortable degree.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
89,580
South Puget Sound, WA
A fan on the foyer floor, blowing into the room on low speed could make a nice difference in this circumstance. By establishing a cold air return path down low, hot air will replace it heading toward the stairs up high in the doorway.
 

buc74

Burning Hunk
Oct 16, 2012
149
Fort Atkinson, WI
We have a 60's ranch with a fireplace in the kitchen/dinette with 2 doors. Very odd design no doubt. This room is around 280 sq. ft. and not open except for the doors on each end. Our small insert (1.8 cf) does not over heat this area. By running a floor fan pushing air from the bedroom into the kitchen it moves the warm air into the rest of the house. Smaller loads of wood are used sometimes also. Our stove is a Hybrid (burn tubes and catalytic combustor) so we can burn a bit cooler and longer. Up to 10 hours between reloads. I did have concerns of overheating in this room but it all turned out fine. Hope this example helps and I feel you'd be fine with a small stove. Heck you could always crack a window! lol
 
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