Can i heat my whole house with pellet stoves?

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tjmortenson

New Member
Oct 2, 2019
16
Pequot Lakes, MN
I am strongly considering switching to wood pellets or corn to heat my house. I currently heat with an outdoor wood boiler, but I need something that I can leave for a day and not worry about tending the fire every 6-8 hours. I was planning on an indoor pellet boiler, but I would need to do some upgrading to my ductwork, and probably add a couple loops with hydronic baseboards upstairs. I am wondering if 2 stoves would work instead. I have attached a picture with a sketch of my main floor layout. The upstairs is 1800 sq ft, but is separated into two halves, and I'm only concerned about heating the 2 rooms at the top of the stairs, which I'm hoping will stay comfortable from warm air rising up the stairway. My concern is the unfinished basement getting too cold/freezing, and the lower level being somewhat uniform in temperature. My house is a 1950s farm house, with poor insulation. I am on track to burn 20 cords of wood and 1000 gallons of propane this year, although my wood boiler is old and somewhere around 40% efficient. The main floor is ~ 1,920 sq ft, upstairs that needs heated is about 500 sq ft. Basement which just needs to stay around 50° is same size as the main floor.

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FixedGearFlyer

Burning Hunk
Oct 8, 2010
208
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
20 cords of wood?! :eek:

You must be talking face cords, right? So between 6 and 7 full cords?

We're in an 1890s schoolhouse that is about 1600 square feet on two floors, plus an unfinished 1000 sq foot basement.

The previous owners burned about 8 full cords per year and we're now down to just over 4. I'd say that half the savings was upgrading the furnace and the other half was windows, insulation, and weather sealing.

We actually put in a PP130 pellet stove to use during the shoulder seasons and when we're away during the winter. With a couple of box fans directing cold "return" air into the room with the pellet stove and a couple of ceiling fans, the pellet stove actually does an admirable job of heating the entire house, including the second floor.
 

Jeremy6500

New Member
Jan 22, 2021
34
Indiana
I currently heat my 2200 sq ft ranch with 2 pellet stoves. One is a PP130, the other is a USSC 6500. My house is shaped like an L, so I have a stove at each end. So mu short answer would be yes.

I am curious. You mentioned duct work. My USSC 6500 is actually a multi-fuel furnace, so it is designed to be tied into duct work for central heat....either as a supplement or a main furnace. If you already have duct work, would something like this work for you?

My PP130 will run for about 2.5 days on a hopper full of pellets. They do have a hopper extension you can add 200lbs of hopper capacity. Of course you also have to manage ash build up in the fire pot etc.

My USSC 6500 uses less than my PP130. Probably a little under a 40lb a day and has a 320lb hopper, so it runs for quite a while prior to needing refilled. Also, if you clean it super good, it doesn't seem to be bothered by ash build up nearly as fast as the PP130....so I have filled the hopper and left for a few days at a time with no issue
 
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Dataman

Minister of Fire
Sep 10, 2018
990
Newport, Wa
I have Harmon XXV and 2600 House (600 Downstairs with Elec Heat). I use 2 Box Fans to push heat down the hall. 68f in Bedroom and 74 in Hallway. I use about 2 bags a day if really cold. 1 Bag or less if not that cold and I use Furnace during the day (Heat Pump, I switch at 30f). On my 3rd ton this Season. About 10 bags left. I hope to not get into the last ton I have sitting. Will buy 10 bags tomorrow at ACE if available. By March the Pellet stove is off most Winters (my 3rd season).
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Our USSC 6039 Multifuel heats the entire 2 story remodeled farmhouse just fine on corn. I leave the door to the second story open ant the heat rises and keeps it toasty as well. Keeps the house close to 70 unless it's real frigid outside, then the high efficiency central furnace (propane) helps out a bit.

I do run a humidifier and keep my RH as close to 50% as possible. A dry (low RH) house 'feels' colder than one with humidity plus it keeps the wood furniture from drying out, static electricity at a minimum too.

I do burn quite a lot of corn but my corn is free so no cost in fuel at all other than hauling it down the road with a farm tractor and loading it in the stove in 5 gallon buckets, something I don't mind doing 'cause it's free.

Corn does produce a LOT of ash compared to pellets so frequent cleaning is necessary.

If you use 1000 gallons of propane a year, I'd be looking for an alternative. Propane is gonna go way up in price and soon. I own 4, 500 gallon bottles all piped together but I keep 3 full and valved off and run on one and fill it in the summer when it's cheap. I look at the other 3 as my savings account against high priced gas. One bottle a year (425 gallons) heats the tractor shop (PEX in floor heat) to 60 ambient and provides for the furnace in the basement when needed to agument the corn stove.
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
130
PA
Yes, it would probably work the way you have drawn it. Unless your basement has an exposed wall, it'll probably stay around 50 degrees without any heat at all.

Or you could replace your old inefficient wood boiler with a corn/pellet boiler instead.

The guy that owns this business is my neighbor: https://americasheat.com/index.php

He builds them in a big shop right outside his house. I can't tell you about the quality of his stuff though, because I've never used any of it...
 

SidecarFlip

Minister of Fire
Yes, it would probably work the way you have drawn it. Unless your basement has an exposed wall, it'll probably stay around 50 degrees without any heat at all.

Or you could replace your old inefficient wood boiler with a corn/pellet boiler instead.

The guy that owns this business is my neighbor: https://americasheat.com/index.php

He builds them in a big shop right outside his house. I can't tell you about the quality of his stuff though, because I've never used any of it...
Interestingly, one of the farmers down the road has one but the HX is compromised so it's basically junk
 

mtnbiker727

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2019
130
PA

If you slid the left stove around the corner towards that door, the heat would get around that little bathroom better and the dining room would probably be warmer.

Another thought is to replace that fireplace with a pellet insert.

Your bathroom won't be very warm with the pellet stove out there in the laundry room. You might want to get a little electric heater in there.
 

zrock

Minister of Fire
Dec 2, 2017
1,118
bc
I would look into upgrading your wood boiler.... I built one a few years ago out of a old wood furnace and put a coil in the firebox... It was used to heat the same size house and a large shop and only loaded it 2x per day morning and night and it kept things to hot... Once i built the shelter around it man could that thing produce some serious heat more than we could ever use i had to add a coil outside to cool the water down as the storage for the heated water was way to hot...
Not sure about your area but i see fairly new boilers for sale all the time as people to not like the work involved... You have so many walls in that place its going to be hard to get the pellet stove to do everything.. If it were me i would upgrade boiler, install pellet stove in living room, add a few ceiling fans. and add thermostats to the other rooms to have zone control for the boiler this way you can keep the rooms you do not use much a little cooler and force more heat to the rooms you use... Or if you have valves in your mechanical room for the boiler heat you can turn down the rooms you do not use that way as well...
 

Former Farmer

Minister of Fire
Apr 12, 2008
591
NE Wisconsin
Do type of heat do you have now? Forced air, hydronic baseboards, electric baseboards, etc? How is the outdoor boiler supplying heat? What is the 1000 gallons of propane being used by?

I see that you have some ductwork.

I have a pellet boiler in my basement and it keeps it quite warm down there.