Deciding on a new Furnace

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Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
Hello all,

I’ve been running an old 1970s Virginian model 103 wood stove for the last few years and I’m going to buy a furnace this weekend. My house is fairly large, 3000sqft 2 story plus a 1100sqft finished basement. Closed floor plan, average insulation. The stove struggles. The stove is in the basement, and the furnace will take its place. Located in central NC, so our winters are pretty mild.

I have 2 very reasonably priced options. A 1557 hot blast, or a old simple huntsman; I’d guess 1970s or very early 80s. Out or only those two options, which would you choose? Neither has to last forever, I’d say 3 years. Down the road id like to upgrade to a Kuuma 100, or possibly an OWB. But I can’t afford that now.

I’ve read about some of the complaints with the hot blast. I can replace blowers and wiring etc. Assuming the firebox isn’t cracked, it should be good to go right?

Firebox for the huntsman is around 5cuft. And the hot blast appears to be close to 7. My current stove is 2.9.

I appreciate any suggestions on which to go with.
 

laynes69

Minister of Fire
Oct 2, 2006
2,626
Ashland OH
Personally I would go with neither. Currently there's the Kuuma, PSG Caddy Advanced or the Drolet Heat Commander and those are the only options I would choose. Being in North Carolina like you said, winters will be very mild. If you're on a budget and can swing it, I would order a Heat Commander (especially with a 26% tax rebate and a manufacturer's rebate through this month). Either furnace you listed would heat the house, but trying to keep the chimney clean and the amount of wood they burn it's not worth it!
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
Yeah the Hot Blast (known to owners as the wood blast, for its appetite) and the Huntsman are both poor options really...unless you really like making wood and cleaning your chimney.
Buy the VF now...it will never be cheaper than they are today...especially with the 26% tax credit (for the whole install) you'll thank me later!
Lamppa has a finance option now too...but I would probably tend to lean toward putting it on a home equity line of credit, if you can't pay cash, and have the HELOC option...
 
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JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,730
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Out or only those two options, which would you choose? Neither has to last forever, I’d say 3 years.

It's not all about how long it lasts, but about efficiency, chimney maintenance and how much wood you want to process.

In the warm climate you live in, it's going to be VERY hard to burn wood in an old school furnace without having constant issues with creosote. You will not be able to run any of those old school furnaces hot (where they run "cleaner"), as you will overheat the house in very short order. Those old furnaces, in short, blow their load fast....and if you don't let them do it, they will burn very dirty.

Your situation is best suited for a newer, more advanced, furnace, they do a MUCH better job at controlling the burn while at the same time doing it cleanly and efficiently. They get more even heat out of a single load over extended time. So a single load may produce half the BTU's/hour....but do it for twice as long. This is what you are after in your climate.

I know I love my Kuuma, and so does my other half.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
4100 SF though. You folks think that these old wood furnaces will idle much?
In NC, yeah...unless you can see through the cracks in the walls or something...
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
4100 SF though. You folks think that these old wood furnaces will idle much?
I can’t imagine either option Will run us out of the house. My father in law has been in hVAC for 30 years, so we rigged up a “hood” over my current stove, since it’s in 1 of 5 rooms in the basement and wasn’t even coming close to heating even just the basement and first floor, let alone the second floor. So we made 2 2x4 foot metal hoods above the stove up where a tile would go, then ran an 8 inch Duct from each one with a 400cfm blower in each to pull air, and ran these into the return for my central furnace. So it’s capturing all the hot air coming out of the stove, and it really can put out a lot of heat. Then I just blow it around the house. Doing this I can get the house to 68 when it’s in the 30s outside. And the 3rd floor is low 60s. Insulation is poor up there. And I get 10-12hr burns.

So i just don’t think either or those furnaces. Will run us out. I need a significant step up from my current setup.
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
Anyone know the current lead times on a Kuuma? I think you guys have pushed me enough to just order one now. It’s never going to be cheaper then this year with the tax credit. I’m just kicking myself for not ordering before they raised prices in sept, would have save a grand.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
Anyone know the current lead times on a Kuuma?
I don't...but this is typically their busy season, even more so the last year or two...you can message Dale, he usually gets back to you pretty quickly...oh, and as far as the price, I'm pretty sure the Sept price increase was more like $3-500...I think you have to go back a year or more to get to a $1000 increase.
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
You’re probably right. I spoke to dale last spring and Checked the prices at the same time and ya it was about a grand less. I get it though. With all the problems going on right now, the price increase is understandable.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
Just ordered the Vapor fire 100! 3 week wait time before it ships. I should have it installed before we start burning this year. I’m really excited. I appreciate you guys pushing me to just order it now instead of waiting a few years.
Buy once cry once. You'll be a warm n happy camper.
It will very likely never be cheaper...espcially with the 26% tax credit, which applies to the install costs too.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,481
SE North Carolina
Buy once cry once. You'll be a warm n happy camper.
It will very likely never be cheaper...espcially with the 26% tax credit, which applies to the install costs too.
Two thoughts. it just doesn't get cold enough here for a wood furnace. and it gets hot in the summer. How old is your AC /heat pump. 10 years or older upgrade unless its 16 SEER or higher. If you heated with out wood what would your average winter monthly bill be?

second thought. im guessing youd burn 3-4 cords a year. are you going to be the only one responsible for running/loading the furnace? anything with turndown that can you you to an 8 or twelve hour reload schedule would make it much more managable. Do it right the first time. wood savings alone over 5 years with a new system is likley a wholes years worth of work or more.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
it just doesn't get cold enough here for a wood furnace
I'll let you NC guys battle that one out...my thinking was yes, the winters are more mild, but that large house kinda offsets that sooo...
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
Two thoughts. it just doesn't get cold enough here for a wood furnace. and it gets hot in the summer. How old is your AC /heat pump. 10 years or older upgrade unless its 16 SEER or higher. If you heated with out wood what would your average winter monthly bill be?

second thought. im guessing youd burn 3-4 cords a year. are you going to be the only one responsible for running/loading the furnace? anything with turndown that can you you to an 8 or twelve hour reload schedule would make it much more managable. Do it right the first time. wood savings alone over 5 years with a new system is likley a wholes years worth of work or more.
We have a geothermal. It’s incredibly efficient. I don’t save any money burning wood. Hell i probably spend more money between chimney inspections, saws, chains gas etc. than if I just used the Geo. But it is getting up there in age, 2002 model and install. but I live on 20 wooded acres and I love being out in the woods felling skidding splitting milling etc. and it keeps me in shape. It’s my one of my few hobby. And I enjoy burning wood..

As for wood. We have a old 1970s Virginian wood stove thats a wood hog. And a lot of the mature trees on my property now are poplar. So I burn a ton of it during the day and the good stuff at night. So it comes out to around 5 cord of poplar and 2 cord of oak hickory ash maple etc. you get about half the heat with poplar. If I was burning all good wood, probably 3-4 cords. I’m years ahead on my wood, this winter will be the last burning mostly poplar during the day. For the years after I have all oak, maple, ash, cherry, and beech. We usually burn 24/7 from mid nov-early March. But ya 8-12hr reloads would be nice, that’s kinda what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping my wife will be willing to throw a few splits in once in a while. She does not touch the old Virginian thoigh. She doesn’t know snd doesn’t want to know how to mess with the air controls and stuff. But it sounds like the Kuuma is very hands off, throw the wood in and let the computer do the rest. I think I can convince her to do that.

Idk my exact heat bill, because it’s tied into the rest of the electric. But most expensive bill ever was $275, usually in February. And close to the sane for a month or two in the summer. But that’s all our power, not just hvac. It’s dirt cheap for a 4000sqft house. Our last house was Less than half the size and cost more to heat in the winter even with a new split system. Geo thermals are great.
 
Last edited:

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
My only complaint about this whole situation is I think I’m going to have to recut roughly 7 cords of wood from 24 inches down to 20-21 for the Kuuma. I
But anticipation of getting this last year I started cutting all my 22-23 and 23-24 wood at 20 inches. So it’s just this years wood that’s going to need some work. Any suggestions on a efficient way to do this?
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
My only complaint about this whole situation is I think I’m going to have to recut roughly 7 cords of wood from 24 inches down to 20-21 for the Kuuma. I
But anticipation of getting this last year I started cutting all my 22-23 and 23-24 wood at 20 inches. So it’s just this years wood that’s going to need some work. Any suggestions on a efficient way to do this?
Build a rack, cut a bunch at once...I feel your pain, I had a VF200 the first year, and 15-20 cords of 22" wood...the 200 took 16" :(
After cutting 6" off every log that year, I decided I was going to find a 100. (I to had already started cutting at 20"...and you can kinda sorta fit an occasional 22" piece in the 100)
Here's a pic of what I'm talking about...just some scraps laying around (not my design or pic) works best to run a ratchet strap around the whole stack while you cut it...
maxresdefault.jpg
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
So it comes out to around 5 cord of poplar and 2 cord of oak hickory ash maple etc. you get about half the heat with poplar. If I was burning all good wood, probably 3-4 cords. I’m years ahead on my wood, this winter will be the last burning mostly poplar during the day.
You may want to keep getting some poplar too...the VF100 is a bit on the large size for our home so I spend a good part of the winter burning "low BTU" woods like Poplar and Box Elder...used a bunch last winter, have a bunch on deck again this winter.
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,481
SE North Carolina
We have a geothermal. It’s incredibly efficient. I don’t save any money burning wood. Hell i probably spend more money between chimney inspections, saws, chains gas etc. than if I just used the Geo. But it is getting up there in age, 2002 model and install. but I live on 20 wooded acres and I love being out in the woods felling skidding splitting milling etc. and it keeps me in shape. It’s my one of my few hobby. And I enjoy burning wood..

As for wood. We have a old 1970s Virginian wood stove thats a wood hog. And a lot of the mature trees on my property now are poplar. So I burn a ton of it during the day and the good stuff at night. So it comes out to around 5 cord of poplar and 2 cord of oak hickory ash maple etc. you get about half the heat with poplar. If I was burning all good wood, probably 3-4 cords. I’m years ahead on my wood, this winter will be the last burning mostly poplar during the day. For the years after I have all oak, maple, ash, cherry, and beech. We usually burn 24/7 from mid nov-early March. But ya 8-12hr reloads would be nice, that’s kinda what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping my wife will be willing to throw a few splits in once in a while. She does not touch the old Virginian thoigh. She doesn’t know snd doesn’t want to know how to mess with the air controls and stuff. But it sounds like the Kuuma is very hands off, throw the wood in and let the computer do the rest. I think I can convince her to do that.

Idk my exact heat bill, because it’s tied into the rest of the electric. But most expensive bill ever was $275, usually in February. And close to the sane for a month or two in the summer. But that’s all our power, not just hvac. It’s dirt cheap for a 4000sqft house. Our last house was Less than half the size and cost more to heat in the winter even with a new split system. Geo thermals are great.
New furnace is the correct decision. Less time spent running the longer the heatpump will run is my thinking
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,570
NE Ohio
We usually burn 24/7 from mid nov-early March. But ya 8-12hr reloads would be nice, that’s kinda what I’m hoping for. I’m hoping my wife will be willing to throw a few splits in once in a while. She does not touch the old Virginian thoigh. She doesn’t know snd doesn’t want to know how to mess with the air controls and stuff. But it sounds like the Kuuma is very hands off, throw the wood in and let the computer do the rest. I think I can convince her to do that.
She will have no issues...it doesn't get any simpler to run that an Kuuma...its boring really.
The one thing is that it works better to do a load rather than a couple sticks here and a couple sticks there...all modern wood burners are "batch burners"
 

salecker

Minister of Fire
Aug 22, 2010
1,538
Northern Canada
Build a rack, cut a bunch at once...I feel your pain, I had a VF200 the first year, and 15-20 cords of 22" wood...the 200 took 16" :(
After cutting 6" off every log that year, I decided I was going to find a 100. (I to had already started cutting at 20"...and you can kinda sorta fit an occasional 22" piece in the 100)
Here's a pic of what I'm talking about...just some scraps laying around (not my design or pic) works best to run a ratchet strap around the whole stack while you cut it...
maxresdefault.jpg
I made one to shorten my original wood pile
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,326
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I live in a pretty warm climate, maybe like NC, and believe that his huge house makes this totally workable so long as some fluctuation in house temperature is expected. After all, the wood furnace is still just a woodstove with a blower shell to collect and distribute heat. If he can do it with a woodstove then he can do it easier with a wood furnace due to the whole house absorbing the heat.
 
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Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
New furnace is the correct decision. Less time spent running the longer the heatpump will run is my thinking
Exactly. The geothermal came with the house, and I love it in the summer. It’s dirt cheap to keep the house as cool as we want. But I just can’t afford to replace it with another geo thermal when it goes. Especially since I’d want to do a closed loop system, and our current is an open loop, so we’d have to dig new lines for it. So it woild be like starting from scratch which will cost north of 20k. We’ve already done some patch work on this one. But the longer I can make it last the better.,
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
I live in a pretty warm climate, maybe like NC, and believe that his huge house makes this totally workable so long as some fluctuation in house temperature is expected. After all, the wood furnace is still just a woodstove with a blower shell to collect and distribute heat. If he can do it with a woodstove then he can do it easier with a wood furnace due to the whole house absorbing the heat.
I think so. I especially with the different burn settings. Dale told me it can even be used in the 50s on low. It’s often in the 40s here during the day and 30s at night, and we do get some weeks in the 20s/30s during the day. Throughout the winter it’s always cold enough to burn at night. So sometimes I may just have to do 1 load a day in the evening and basically let it go out during the day.

And ya, our house is fairly large, insulation is bad, but I’ve been slowly fixing that. They didn’t even really insulate the upstairs. Think they ran out of money when they built it lol. So I added quite a bit of new insulation last year.

I’m hoping for a cold winter. I’m really jealous of the guys who get to start burning in September and burn through April or may. Trying to keep the house warm at -10 sounds like a lot of fun, to someone who never gets to do it.
 

Ncguy427

New Member
Oct 23, 2021
19
Greensboro, Nc
Build a rack, cut a bunch at once...I feel your pain, I had a VF200 the first year, and 15-20 cords of 22" wood...the 200 took 16" :(
After cutting 6" off every log that year, I decided I was going to find a 100. (I to had already started cutting at 20"...and you can kinda sorta fit an occasional 22" piece in the 100)
Here's a pic of what I'm talking about...just some scraps laying around (not my design or pic) works best to run a ratchet strap around the whole stack while you cut it...
maxresdefault.jpg
That’s a good idea. My wood storage is a ways from the house. So once a week I load up my trailer with this weeks wood and drive it over to the house and park it outside the basement. So I’ll just have to make part of that routine cutting down that weeks wood before I throw it in the trailer.

I assume you burned all the 6 inch pieces as well?

I notice the few 2020 approved furnaces all have smaller fire boxes that aren’t as deep. No more 26-30 inch deep 7cuft fireboxes. I wonder why that is? To meet the regulations, or just because they don’t need such massive fireboxes because they’re so much more efficient?