Looking into a new wood furnace.

Mitchum Posted By Mitchum, Feb 9, 2019 at 8:31 PM

  1. Mitchum

    Mitchum
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    I'm new here, so bear with me on posting. I'm looking into getting a new wood furnace. I bought the house that I live in during the Summer, so burning wood for heat is a relatively new thing to me. I've scoured the internet for knowledge for the past 6 months or so and have learned a lot. i also realize that there is a lot more to learn.
    I currently heat with wood on a Clayton 1600m that has seen better days. She still burns well enough to get the job done, but I would like something more efficient and built better. The previous owner told me that he went through about 9 cord a year, and he wasn't lying. The setup is a 2 story farm house about 1700-1800 sq ft. with the furnace in the basement. The chimney is approximately 20-25 ft. without using a tape, and is block with a terracotta/clay tile liner. I burn primarily ash, hickory, walnut, maple and oak.
    Now getting to the heart of the matter. After a lot of research I've narrowed it down to a select few furnaces. It's between the Kuuma Vaporfire 100 and the PSG Max Caddy. My house is quite a bit of a fixer upper currently, but will be buttoned up with new windows before the purchase. I plan on making this my long time home, so that is the reason for the higher end options.
    I want the best wood furnace which I consider the Kumma to be, but I also like the secondary electric heater on the Max Caddy in case my memory slips and I forget to load it up before bed.
    I welcome any advise that all of the experts on here have for me.
     
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  2. JRHAWK9

    JRHAWK9
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    Looks like you are barking up the correct tree, IMO. Back when I was deciding, it was between the Caddy and Kuuma. My only concern would be if the VF100 would have enough fire power, as I'm pretty sure the Max Caddy is capable of more peak output.

    Do you have any fossil fuel records you can look back at to see what your heat load is like?
     
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  3. Mitchum

    Mitchum
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    The house used to have an oil burner like over 10 years ago, but since then the previous occupants heated with wood exclusively. That is one of my concerns, being that if the fire goes out it gets cold.
     
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  4. DoubleB

    DoubleB
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    You're on the right track to want a 2nd heat source that is adequate for the house. Most insurance companies require an automated heat source other than wood for when you're gone on vacation. Or when you have arm surgery and your house is 100% on the LP furnace for a few weeks like I did. Or, since you'renew to burning wood, there's a chance the appeal of wood will wear off as life moves on, and you wouldn't want to find yourself trying to heat 100% with electric in Ohio. So I'd suggest you seek an economically viable and efficient source of heat like nat gas or LP (yea, like most regular people that we know.)

    So in addition to your options, you might consider an LP/nat gas furnace in your basement that side-vents out of the house without requiring a chimney flue. Between (Max Caddy + LP furnace), (Max Caddy w/ electric heat), and (Kuuma + LP furnace), you might find that the lower upfront cost of Max Caddy with electric is not worth the long-term benefit of better backup.

    Especially because having real backup might let you use a smaller/less expensive wood furnace.
     
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  5. laynes69

    laynes69
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    While an all in one option sounds appealing, I would opt for a high efficiency furnace and a separate woodfurnace. Either both installed in series or parallel. That way you get the best of both worlds. We have a 90% LP furnace, and a Caddy. Around here, we pay about 12 cents per KWH, and the LP in the tank we purchased was .99 a gallon. Purchasing an LP tank allowed us to shop at our convenience without any hidden fees. Depending on how tight you make your home, you may find the Caddy to be enough, but for sure the Max Caddy would handle just about anything with that footage. Don't forget, a modern woodfurnace requires well seasoned hardwood and a 6" stainless liner or appropriately sized chimney.
     
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  6. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    A Max Caddy with backup electric is gonna be as much as, probably more than a Kuuma...at that point I'm doing just what these guys have already mentioned...add a stand alone fossil fuel furnace.
    Backup heat here is fuel oil...
     
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  7. Wood1Dennis

    Wood1Dennis
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    This is how we do it. We have a Caddy wood furnace with an LP furnace backup, connected in series. The LP fan is used with the wood furnace. The high efficiency LP furnace is ducted out the side of the house so the flu can be used for the woodburner.

    I grew up in a house with a wood furnace with electric backup that my folks built in the 80s., It was a great system as long as you never go away and have to run the expensive electric heat. In my place I don't ever want the LP to run, but when we go on vacation, or even take off for a weekend, it really is not all that expensive to let the LP furnace take over.

    Also worth considering is what happens if you decide you don't want to, or can't heat with wood any longer. If you had an 'all in one' it probably is a lot tougher to put in the LP in later.

    One last thing, out house is 1700 square feet and the Caddy is just the right size. The house is only a couple of years old and pretty efficient so it is likely more efficient than an old farmhouse. You are probably on the right track looking at the Max.
     
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  8. Mitchum

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    Thanks for all of the info guys, but I have one question. What are your thoughts on installing a heat pump instead of an LP furnace? I realize that it may be risky running both on the same duct work, but i have extra vents in all of the rooms that are not in use. I figured that I would run duct work through them. basically making two individual systems. They were hooked up to the old system I assume. My thought is to run that as a back up heat source and air conditioning during the heat of the Summer. I mean the heat pump would basically just be for if the fire dies down in the night or goes out for some reason. There is pretty much someone always at the house, so I'm not really that worried about things like going on vacation or for the weekend.

    Also, as far as cutting and burning wood for a main heat source, I love it. I have several kids(slaves) that come out and help me with all of the cutting and stacking. You can't beat free heat, unless of course you add free labor.
     
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  9. DoubleB

    DoubleB
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    Heat pump for heat is totally legit in my book. Quite common. If it were my house, I'd still need to get an HVAC guy in here to do it right, but once he says it's good then I'd be comfy.
     
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  10. maple1

    maple1
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    Go mini split heat pump, then there are no duct issues to worry about.
     
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  11. maple1

    maple1
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    Plus likely also more efficient.
     
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  12. Mitchum

    Mitchum
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    How well does a mini split disperse the heat though? I have an old farm house that isn't a very open floor plan. Plus, multiple units cost $$$.
     
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  13. Mitchum

    Mitchum
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    I would totally have an hvac guy do the install. Peace of mind is nice.
     
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  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    And they're ugly as sin hanging on your wall in your face. Looking like some sort of afterthought! Ha!

    You can buy some really expensive and less efficient alternative inside units that are less obnoxious but most folks use the wall units.
     
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  15. maple1

    maple1
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    Our upstairs one is a floor mount. Can sit on the floor. But is actually fastened to the wall - ours right above a baseboard housing. Same efficiency as the wall hung downstairs. Seems a lot quieter though & can send the air out from two places, low next to the floor and the top of the unit. So I think it works better than the wall hung overall. But it was an extra I think $400 Canabucks.
     
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  16. JMihevic

    JMihevic
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    I built my house in 1980 and have heated with wood and a heat pump for 39 years now. When I built the house I had the HVAC guys install a 2 row hot water coil above the heat pump air handler. I heat the water with a Tarm MB 55 boiler. During this past cold snap, with below zero temps, I heated only with wood. When heating with wood, I have the heat pump compressor and resistance coils off. Only the air handler fan is on to heat the house. I know this boiler is old technology and folks on here will call it a "smoke dragon" but it is trouble free. I love it and it really doesn't smoke that much at all. I have not replaced one part on the boiler in 39 years and I have used it every winter. I also heat my domestic hot water when the boiler is fired up.

    John M.
     
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  17. Mitchum

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    How many rooms does your system handle, and what was the price of your whole system? If you don't mind me asking.
     
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  18. maple1

    maple1
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    A chunked up layout will hinder how far the heat goes, same as with a stove. But the fans are pretty able, I think they send and circulate the heat further. We have 1500 sq.ft. down, 1200 up. The two we have likely get to 3/4 of the house. One more in the far end of the downstairs kitchen would cover the place pretty darn good. Ours were around $7800 Canadian installed. (Two complete separate units). Plus sales tax.
     
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  19. Mitchum

    Mitchum
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    For my situation I think that is a bit pricey for me to hardly use. I'm still thinking that a traditional heat pump would probably fit the bill. It sounds like its quite a bit cheaper, and I have the vents already there. Just need the ductwork ran.
     
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  20. brenndatomu

    brenndatomu
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    I don't see any reason a HP and wood furnace wouldn't work fine together.
    If going HP means you would go with a Kuuma, better call and get your order in before the price increase at the end of the month
     
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  21. sloeffle

    sloeffle
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    I had to look and see where you lived at. I've never heard of your town. Back in my younger days I would venture out to Eldora Speedway a few times a year to watch the Kings Royal and various other races. Of course we had to stop at Maid Rite and get some sandwiches on the way.

    Back on topic. I think you are money ahead on getting an air sourced heat pump. We have a ground source heat pump and during the shoulder seasons it doesn't pay to burn wood IMHO. The newer air source heat pumps have about the same HSPF in mild weather as our older GSHP. Please this post to give you some idea of what I've spent on heating and cooling with my GSHP for the past 9 or so months. If you feel your time is worth money, I think you'll figure out that heating with a heat pump during the should seasons is about a wash money wise vs burning wood.

    Wood furnace recommendations. I have a PSG Caddy and it has been a good furnace for the last 8 years. If money is tight after you buy your heat pump then I'd get a Tundra. The Tundra is essentially the same as the regular Caddy minus a thousand or so dollars. My Caddy can easily keep our 2,200 sq ft house ( 3k with the basement ) at 72 - 73 on a normal winter day. During a polar vortex I can keep it around 70 or so. Personally I think the Max Caddy will be too big for you house during a normal Ohio winter day. The only time a Max would be needed is during a polar vortex. If money is not an object I'd get the Kuuma and not look back.
     
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  22. Mitchum

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    Yeah, I'm about 10 miles or so from Eldora and go once a year. I also used to live in Greenville where I was there blocks from Maidrite.
    I think that I'm going with the kuuma and the traditional HP. I mean this is where we plan on staying and I want something that will last.
    My Dad keeps telling me to get geothermal and forget everything else, but I don't want to spend that much and still have to pay every month. My goal being pretty much free from any grid.
     
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  23. sloeffle

    sloeffle
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    When we bought our geothermal system the government was giving out a 30% or 33% tax credit back on the cost of the system. That is the only way we could of afforded it. Air source heat pumps have come along way since we bought our geothermal system. If I was putting one in today, I'd get a one of the newer inverter heat pumps that can pull heat out of the air up to 0F.

    This Old House recently had a series on building a net-zero house. They used an LG heat pump similar to the one I linked above to heat and cool the house.
     
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