Furnace Recommendation

Boilers Posted By Boilers, Mar 19, 2018 at 1:25 PM

  1. Boilers

    Boilers
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    Mar 19, 2018
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    I have been looking at furnaces to heat my house (1600 SF main floor + full walkout basement). It was built in 2002 and seems to be well insulated. A portion of the basement is a garage where Id like to put the furnace. This garage has a single insulated garage door, a normal walkout door to the outside, and a normal door to the rest of the basement. It would be really easy to install the furnace and do the day to day tasks like unloading of wood, etc with the furnace located in this area. I plan to use this area primarily as a workshop. Im thinking the garage portion (~300 SF) would be heated from radiant heat alone. I could always install some duct to this area if the radiant heat wasnt enough. I would rely on the wood furnace to heat the main floor primarily and just keep the rest of the basement bearable. Also I should add that I live about right in the middle of Indiana. Our weather typically doesnt stay super cold for very long.. we may see a low of -10 degrees for a few days or a week. I really just hate getting surprised with a 4 or $500 electric bill. January is our coldest month and the average low temp for the month is 19 degrees.

    Questions:

    1. Does anyone see any holes or issues with my plan? If its cold out and I open the garage door for a few minutes, will this cause any issues with the furnace? I have a normal 2 car garage that I will use daily for vehicles, so I dont expect I will need to open and close the basement garage door much, especially in the winter.

    2. Which furnace model should I be looking at? I'd like something under $2k, able to heat the whole house by itself during average winter conditions, and relatively efficient. I have looked at the Shelter SF1000 (also known as a Fire Chief FC1000). I know one forum member has had persistent flash back issues, but I havent heard of anyone else having problems. I have also considered the Tundra II/Heatmax II, but theyre more expensive and seem to have a long history of issues among many members, though I havent heard much about the newer versions. Caddy and Kuuma are too expensive. It would take many years to recoup the $$ spent on one of these, considering I dont live in a frigid climate. If I dont go with one of these low-mid priced EPA stoves, I will likely go with an older stove and use it primarily in the coldest of months.

    Disclaimer, I like to tinker with things to some extent. I am a controls engineer, and like many of you, I'm sure I will modify some things at some point. A PLC with several temp probes and ability to turn on/off the blowers, forced air fan, maybe a VFD... data logging capabilities... audible temp alarms... this is going to be fun. I will try not to burn the house down.
     
  2. Mojappa

    Mojappa
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    Mar 14, 2018
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    brand new to the forum so I don't have much useful advice at the moment but from reading through the 12 page thread here about the Fire Chief I would stay well away from that one or it's twin, the Shelter, until those issues are resolved. I just upgraded from a Fisher Papa Bear to a Drolet Heatpack furnace but haven't gotten it hooked up. There is a huge Tundra/Heatmax thread here and it seems from reading through that one that the majority of the issues were in early models. that said, there's still plenty of room for tinkering and adding gadgets to make it work better.

    The downside to having just a stove in the basement is that they are technically space heaters so getting the heat to the rest of the house after the basement absorbs it's portion is a very frustrating battle (ask me how I know). Granted, house layout/build quality will help or hinder you a bit here too.
     
  3. maple1

    maple1
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    First thing is check with your insurance person about putting a wood burner in the same place as you keep vehicles.

    ETA: Re-reading, that might not be what you said. If you won't be doing anything typical 'garage like' down there, sounds like a plan to me.
     
  4. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    Welcome @Boilers !
    If this is a basement workshop, and it sounds like it is, you shouldn't have a problem with the ins co, but you better check with them to see if they are wood stove friendly or not...some are not so at least you won't have a rude surprise if you call them after the fact and they wanna dump you. If they have a problem with it, dump them, there are plenty of ins companys out there that don't mind properly installed wood fired heaters. Just make sure you don't call it a garage...always refer to it as a basement (best) or workshop (second best) install...call it a garage and things will come to a screeching halt most likely.
    Yeah, forget about that FC/Shelter furnace...inherent design flaws!
    The original Tundra was the one with the issues...although I think most of the newer ones were OK for the most part. Never did fix the crack in mine...works fine as is...I know there are a few of us running cracked ones with no issues. Its not like running with a cracked heat exchanger on a gas furnace...the firebox is always under negative pressure...and the crack closes up when firing anyways...opens when cold.
    If you are a controls engineer, you'd have a blast with a Tundra...I have. It made a HUGE difference in how it worked for me. It went from "I'm gonna tear this thing out" to "man, this thing works pretty good now" just with a timer, a temp controller, and a speed controller...and I only have about $40 in all this. (although I think prices are up a bit since then)
    I have not heard of any real issues with the Tundra II...but I'm sure they could be modded with some cool controls anyways, may not be quite as easy as with the Tundra 1...IDK.
    Let us know here how this works out for you, we don't hear from too many people with the Heatpack...it would be nice to see how well one of these works!
     
  5. Mojappa

    Mojappa
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    will do. And just to forewarn, I'm sure when I get closer to the install my presence in the Tundra thread will significantly increase. I've been through most all of that thread once but will definitely need to skim it for the important bits. I still get pretty lost when reading about how to hook it all together and make it work effectively but i'm getting there. I think the variable speed controller will be the first mod I consider since it seems to yield consistently good results, but that probably wont be until after my first winter with it.

    Coming from very limited (and not very successful) experience with a smoke dragon has only increased my desire to learn all this stuff and finally have heat somewhere besides the basement and to not have to burn half a forest to obtain said heat. lol
     
  6. Mrpelletburner

    Mrpelletburner
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    Jan 20, 2011
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    If I had to do it again, I would not be buying the FC/Shelter FC1000 model. While HY-C's support has been great, I feel as I have had to invest so much time troubleshooting and still not running 100%. The wife wants the stove gone. She is tired of dealing with the fire alarm going off in the middle of the night from the stove's flash backing.
     
  7. JRHAWK9

    JRHAWK9
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    Realistically, what choice do they have? It's the only thing they have left to offer at this point seeing the product is pretty much a turd.
     
  8. Boilers

    Boilers
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    Mar 19, 2018
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    One user having issues does not automatically equate to "inherent design flaws". Mrpelletburner has had ongoing issues with no resolution, despite MUCH effort. I cant blame him for feeling the way he does. Some other owners have mentioned things they dont like about how the stove operates, but nobody has had issues to the same extent as mrpelletburner.

    Bottom line is....I'm not ruling out the Shelter SF1000 based on one owners experience. Everyone agrees that it heats well. I mean its only $1200 at Menards right now. This isnt a $5k furnace..

    I would like to hear from more owners of both Tundra II and the Shelter/Fire Chief FC1000.

    If there are other options in my price range for EPA approved, efficient, clean burning furnaces, I'd love to hear about them!
     
  9. JRHAWK9

    JRHAWK9
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    ;lol !!!

    I dunno man, maybe I just have higher expectations. It doesn't matter if I spend $1,200 or $12, I want the product to perform as advertised. This furnace has not in everything I've read about it. I totally understand the tweaking of ones setup for optimal functionality for ones own situation. However, one should not have to touch it in order for it to burn wood safely out of the box.
     
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  10. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    He has had the most issues, but they have all had the same problem to some degree. The others have not been as vocal about it, but from what I gather, I don't think any of them are in love with it...or would buy again.
    I stand by my previous "inherent design flaws" statement...if for no other reason than the stupidity of putting primary and secondary air on the same intake.
     
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  11. Boilers

    Boilers
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    Everyone is welcome to their opinion, and you may very well be right.

    To be clear, Im not saying I am going to buy it either.I'd just like to see more reviews before coming to a conclusion.

    Are there any Tundra II or Heatmax II owners out there? Also where is a good place to price these? Drolet lists the MSRP of $2,199.00 but I see most retail stores have it listed at $3k+
     
  12. Mojappa

    Mojappa
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    I got the Heatpack from Northern Tool, came to a hair over $2,000 after shipping and such. I wish I had some useful, experienced based review of it but it’s just on a pallet in the basement for now.
     
  13. BoiledOver

    BoiledOver
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    Get a Cadillac from this outfit. https://www.lamppakuuma.com/furnaces/ Proven performance over many years and the vapor-fire 100 model is epa phase 2 certified.

    Do you have natural gas at the home? That is the gold heat provider now and for the near future. At this time it is clean, affordable and no up front costs unless the current unit needs replacing. A natural gas mod/con with outdoor reset would be extremely efficient.

    What is your flue status at the desired furnace location? Is there a masonry chimney right there? You say you had experienced a smoke dragon previously. Care to elaborate? How is your wood pile including moisture content? Modern stoves and boilers require truly seasoned firewood, unlike the owb (smoke dragons).
     
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  14. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    I don't know of any TII owners that hang out here regularly...there have been a couple mentions of one here and there, that's about it as far as I know. That's the problem with things that work right...you often never hear much about it. Its usually the people that are having problems that post here...and then they often don't come back for an update post after we help them fix things.

    The best place I know of is Menards...I think their list price is around $2k...can get it around $1750 when they do their 11% off sales. The only problem is they apparently are a "seasonal" product and they can't get 'em now...unless you can find a store that has one in stock, but none around here do...they quit stocking them after the Tundra 1 was sold out.
    The strange thing is that I was told by a Menards employee that they can't even order them right now...IDK if that will change in the fall or not...seems odd to me...but they did still have an active SKU # for 'em, so whatever that means, if anything.
     
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  15. Boilers

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    Yeah I would totally go the Menards route if possible. We have Menards in every sizable town around here. HOWEVER... Menards doesnt seem to carry any Drolet furnaces any more. They have Drolet stoves, but apparently the furnaces were replaced with Shelter products...thats just what I infer based on products available online. I may have to call Menards and see what they say.

    I do see this on amazon...

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071NVPSCV/?tag=hearthamazon-20
     
  16. BoiledOver

    BoiledOver
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    @Boilers
     
  17. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    They have always had Shelter furnaces. Like I said, my store still had a good SKU # in the catalog that was by the wood stoves...but yeah, call your store, see if you get the same answer I did.
     
  18. Boilers

    Boilers
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    From what I can tell, the Vapor Fire 100 is more than 2x my budget. Im not prepared to drop that much coin.

    Natural gas is not an option.

    As for the current flue... I am currently in the process of buying this house and the previous owner had a home built furnace in this location. He is removing it though, due to liability reasons. I know that the flue is 6", all internal to the house... What I could see from the basement was all black pipe (non insulated). I have not been able to look into this any further due to not having possession of the house yet. There is no masonry and the only portion of the flue that is outside is the top 4 feet or so where it exits through the roof.

    I dont recall mentioning smoke dragons myself, however my brother heats with wood, as does my brother-in-law. They both have the Valcourt Lafayette FP10. My brother-in-law used to have OWB for 4 or 5 years. My grandfather heats with wood as well. I have zero wood stocked up currently, but I am aware of the moisture level requirements.
     
  19. maple1

    maple1
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    You're not getting some kind of inspection done? That would seem to be standard due diligence on a buyers part. Bit of a gamble buying without knowing what you're in for, especially if you have plans for that chimney.
     
  20. Boilers

    Boilers
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    Mar 19, 2018
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    My inspection has already been done. Like I said, the current wood furnace is being removed by the owner before I take possession. I am not counting on being able to use the current flue, BUT I will want to use the same location. If the current flue doesnt meet the stove manufacturer's criteria, I will fix it myself or install a new flue that is up to spec. The good thing is that there is a current path directly up and through the roof. I will address clearance issues if there are any.

    I realize I am new here, and I have never ran my own wood furnace, but I am mechanically and electrically capable. Dad is a jouneyman electrician and HVAC tech/installer. We have installed many LP furnaces for existing and new construction, including custom ductwork. Obviously wood furnaces are a bit of a different animal, but not completely different either. I'm very confident we can handle the installation.
     
  21. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    ...and legality...since May 2017, thanks to the EPA, it is no longer legal to transfer ownership, or even move a non conforming wood burning appliance. You have 2 options with old school stoves/furnaces...the current owner can continue to use it in its current location, or scrap it, that's it.

    Sounds like you are already aware of some of the hurdles you will need to cross before being a satisfied wood furnace owner/operator...that's good! Many come here after they jumped in head first and now aren't happy with the results.
     
  22. Boilers

    Boilers
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    Completely understand! Have to cover your bases when dealing with noobs...

    I really don’t care nor do I have control over what the current owner does with his non conforming stove... but I do appreciate the info. I would have never known this, had you not brought it up!
     

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